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Experienced Travelers Share Their Best Advice for Getting Through Long Flights



I live in L.A., but my family is in New York, so at least twice a year, I'm taking that 6-hour flight back and forth. And it's a doozy. Being stuck on a long flight is no picnic, but if you do it enough, as I do, you definitely develop a routine. You realize what helps make you the most comfortable you can possibly be, and you make it happen. 

For me, it's a combination of an aisle seat, super comfy clothes, a neck pillow, lots of Netflix downloads, and a giant water bottle. The people of Reddit came through with a bunch of other tips and tricks to get you through those long travel days. These are the best ones.

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Gorilla_grilla69 suggests you download as much of a TV series as your tablet will allow you to and binge watch it all. Make sure it's something that you will be totally engrossed by. When I travel, I always download at least one movie and several episodes of something. If you're on a 6-hour flight and you watch a 2-hour-long movie, that's a third of your trip eaten up right there! You know you have a list of things you've been wanting to watch forever. A flight is the perfect chance to do that.

Another great way to occupy your time on a flight, according to BadWolfRU, is to download a flight simulator onto your laptop or tablet, load the exact flight and plane you are in, and fly it in real time during your flight. That's probably a great tactic for someone who likes being on planes and who, unlike the rest of us, doesn't want to spend the entire time trying to forget they are hurtling through the air several miles up in the sky.

Maimoudaki30 has a great idea for plane passengers who also like to read. They said they once bought a "megapack" of science fiction short stories on their Kindle. Even though they don't consider themselves a huge sci-fi fan, there was "something about the length of the stories, the relatively short build up leading to a quick pay off, over and over" that kept their attention and "made the time absolutely fly."

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I simply cannot express to you how important it is to stay hydrated while you are on the plane. The plane air is so incredibly dry, and if you don't stay hydrated, you will feel headache-y and sick and generally miserable. PartiallyLiterate warns that the teeny tiny bottles they serve on flights aren't nearly enough to keep you hydrated. What you really need to do is bring an empty, reusable water bottle through security and then fill it up at a fountain in the airport before you board. You can thank us for that tip later. Just be sure to avoid refilling it in the airplane's bathroom.

Not only is it incredibly important to drink water, but you have to stay hydrated and comfortable in other ways too. Baguettesy suggests bringing a little bottle of moisturizing lotion on board to make sure your skin doesn't get all dry and itchy. Others suggest allergy medicines, hydrating nasal sprays, or moisturizing body sprays to help keep you comfortable. If you are dehydrated on a plane, you will feel it. Guaranteed.

It's also a good idea to do whatever you can to stay clean while you're on a flight. Planes are gross, and when I say gross, I mean it. Whether people are using their feet to scroll through their entertainment options or sneezing into their hand and then changing the TV channel, people are constantly spreading germs and other nastiness on planes. Angryspacebird (and Naomi Campbell) thinks you should wash your hands or use disinfecting wipes to clean your immediate area and before you touch your face.

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Probably the number one most suggested item to bring with you on long flights in this Reddit thread was noise-canceling headphones. People swear by them. If you've ever been on a long flight, you know it's actually really loud. There's a constant whooshing sound that can be very distracting if you let yourself pay attention to it for too long. That's why it helps to listen to music or watch TV, but when you're not doing those things, noise-cancelling headphones can help cut out that annoying buzzing.

Another great way to pass the time? Audiobooks. Catmado80 had this great suggestion. Audiobooks are perfect for the plane because they don't require you to actually read, which can be uncomfortable and hard if the cabin lights are turned out. In addition to that, audiobooks provide hours upon hours of entertainment. A whole, detailed story, narrated to you while you just sit there and relax? Yes please!

This is more of a tip for when you land at your destination, but if you use the flight to try and get in sync with the time zone of your destination, you'll be much better off. RobMugabe suggests this. If, for example, it's in the middle of the night where you're headed, try to sleep on the plane. Use an eye mask or some melatonin to help make you naturally sleepy. This way, you won't be totally out of whack when you land.

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It used to be a thing that people got dressed up when they traveled, but thank goodness those days are over. It's so much more comfortable to travel in comfy clothes. Sweatpants, sweatshirts, tees, and yes, even slippers. Just do it. Apwr suggests wearing comfortable fabrics and layers so you can be comfortable in all different temperatures. This is key. Sometimes, planes are freezing, and sometimes, they're super hot. Wear layers so you can adjust accordingly and stay comfortable.

In addition to comfy clothes and staying hydrated, E-Plurbis-DumbDumb recommends wearing compression socks. They help keep your blood circulating and keep you comfortable while you're tens of thousands of feet in the air and hurtling through space. I'm sorry. I can't get over it! Flight is a miracle, and it's also extremely uncomfortable and annoying. 

They also recommend eating a filling meal before you leave so you aren't hungry and antsy. And let me tell you, the one time I slept soundly on a plane, I had eaten a giant burrito beforehand. It works.

Theburgerbitesback concedes that even though it costs extra, the extra legroom seats are usually worth it (unless you're very short). And I agree. I had to buy an extra legroom seat once for a last-minute flight, and it was so much more comfortable than the regular coach seat. The difference was exponential. I can only imagine what the difference is like when you get to first class. I can only imagine because sadly, I have never flown first class.

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This next one is a good flight tip, but it's also just a good life tip for being a nice person. Double_ewe implores us to be kind to your flight attendants and other airline employees. They deal with annoying jerks all day every day. You can be the bright spot in their day, and hey, that friendliness might even help you get a seat upgrade or other extra perks. However, the satisfaction that you are a nice person and a decent human being should be enough.

It's kind of shocking that this wasn't suggested earlier, but MmmmapleSyrup says if you are the kind of person who drinks alcohol, for goodness' sake, have a few drinks on your flight or at the bar in the airport beforehand. I tend not to do this because of my small bladder, but I am sure that when you are a little tipsy, the time flies right by. Of course, alcohol is dehydrating, so don't forget to also drink your water.

Gunzby's best advice? Fly a nice airline. There are sometimes worlds of difference between different airlines, especially if the flight is a long one. When Gunzby few to Italy, they used Lufthansa and had the most comfortable, pleasant flight of their life. On the way back, they flew a domestic airline that shall remain unnamed, but it was a disaster. Cramped and uncomfortable and just completely different. If you have the means, book yourself on a nice airline. 

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