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6 tips to make that long haul flight more bearable

Let’s be honest, though flying can be an exciting experience there comes a time during a long plane ride, when you just want it to be over already!

Cramping legs, restless kids, bodily pain, impatience, tiredness, boredom and anxiety can all creep in and make that long flight, well, even longer.

Now we can’t change the length of a flight, but we do have some tips for a long-haul flight and that should make it a much better journey.

Get ready for the long-haul flight survival guide!

Cat yawning, funny picture
Yes, long flights can be tiring as well!

1.The best way to sit

Let’s start with the most relevant as of course, we sit not stand during any flight. Posture and positioning are key factors on how you will feel during a long flight.

You'll want to look after your back or you'll be feeling the consequences of the journey long after you land!

Sit back as far as you can, with the bottom of your back just touching the seat. This takes a lot of pressure off the lower back (which can cause discomfort or pain) and you can even fold a piece of clothing or blanket and place it in the curvature of your back. This adds further support and relief, reducing the strain to such a large area caused by lengthy flights.

Keep your heels past your knees. Remember our bodies are interconnected systems, so what you do (or don’t do) with one part of the body, can affect another. Having feet placed flat on the floor or on a footrest, spreads out the stress on your body more evenly. This means your back isn’t being ‘tugged’ as it would if your feet where say behind your knees and your thighs and back have to do more work.

Adopt this position as much as possible while flying and your posture will be great, your back will be cared for and in turn your body will be more relaxed and comfortable.

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2. Drink water, water, water!

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We are at least 60% water, follow her lead every day!

Oh yes, the good stuff! Some like to drink a little alcohol or have a coffee or tea before or during a flight. Hey, we don’t want to spoil the fun, but whether or not you do, make sure that water is on your list of beverages too.

High up in the skies the air is different – it’s dryer and you need to stay hydrated. Even when only a little dehydrated, you can start to feel the effects. Some get headaches or feel sick, for others concentration is that little bit harder and you can become restless.

Why put yourself through all that when it can easily be solved by drinking plenty of water?

As a guide, if you’re in the air for three hours try to drink two small bottles of water (500ml/50cl each). You’ll feel more energised, your muscles and joints will be well supplied and you will be a happier person all round!

The only downside may be that you may have to get up to use the toilet a little more frequently. Small price to pay we think. And speaking of getting up….


3. Move around

Airplane isle, attendant talking to passengers
It may not be glamourous, but it works


Sitting in the same position for any length of time has an impact on your blood circulation. After a while you may start to experience numbness or 'pins and needles'. Particularly if you fly quite often, this can over time have an impact on your body.

So get up from your seat! Allow your legs to stretch and your blood to flow freely. Moving prevents cramping, swelling of the feet and fatigue.

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Walk the isle (wink!), take longer strides to further stretch and promote blood flow. And don’t forget to stretch you neck, shoulders, arms and back - but slowly as sitting for a while stiffens your muscles, so they have to be loosened gently or you could find you hurt more than you help!

Move often, at least every hour if possible and you will do your whole body a world of good.

4. Massage

Woman massaging lower back, cartoon
That hits the spot!

Many love a good massage on a regular day, but this is a time when it may be genuinely needed. If you are with someone you’re comfortable with, they can hit the hard to reach spots – particularly on your back.

If you don’t, you can still massage your own neck, shoulders, upper back and legs (down to the calves).

The benefits of massaging your muscles include:

  • Reducing stress
  • Increasing circulation
  • Relaxing muscles that are already causing discomfort
  • Feels great!

There are many guides - like a great one you'll find on Healthline.com here - on techniques to self-massaging, but we think you’ll know what feels right to you and what doesn’t.


5. Clothing

Man wearing grey tracksuit walking down the road
An ideal choice, perfectly modelled!

This is very overlooked and some would say what they wear doesn’t have much of an impact on their journey.

For some that's the case, but for others they may be sensitive to this or they may not even realise how different they’d feel if they considered what to wear on board a plane.

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You want to be comfortable, that’s very important. If it gets a bit hot or cold, you should be able to adapt in as easy and convenient a way as possible.

Here are some considerations and suggestions you might want to think about before you fly:

Breathable fabrics – cotton as well as linen are excellent choices when it comes to fabrics. They allow air to circulate and so keeps you fresher for longer. Not to mention they are also comfortable to wear over longer periods too!

Jogging bottoms vs jeans – ahh, the great debate…well, maybe not! But there are arguments for both out there. We’d say if given a choice, go for joggers! They are less restrictive, generally looser and can stretch to accommodate bodily movements and positions. You can also double up if it gets cold, and easily slip off if needed. Versatile and comfortable, jogging bottoms are very handy for a long trip.

Scarf/hat – basically anything covering the shoulders up. The air conditioning system on a plane can make it quite cold at times when its fully revved up during a flight. There's nothing that stops you from relaxing more than feeling cold. Keep a hat or scarf with you just in case.

Jacket, wrap, coat, blanket – for the same reasons as the previous point. Airlines will have blankets provided on a long flight, or bring your own comfortable jacket or cover (unless of course you are travelling somewhere warm, then just use the airlines blanket, sorted!).

Comfortable shoes – footwear on long haul flights will start to impact you in as little as an hour or less. You may find you have to take your shoes off, but that may also be uncomfortable and inconvenient – especially if you're sitting next to a stranger! It’s hard to determine what’s really correct as it can depend on an individual. General advice is bringing a pair of slip-on shoes is a good idea. That way you can 'slip' in and out without crouching down or being noticed! And, they are very comfortable to wear over a long period.

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6. What else to bring?

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So with that, there’s a small list of items that will help you get through a long flight in 2021:

  • Hand sanitizer. Of course, we live post 2020 now! But even still, public places are filled with bacteria and germs so this is just great hygiene practice anyway.
  • Face masks. As above, 2020! :)
  • Cream or body lotion. As mentioned, it gets very dry during a flight and you want to keep your skin as well as your lips moisturised.
  • Ear plugs. Noisy kids, chatty groups or just the planes engines; there are several things that can be a disturbance. Ear plugs cut all that out, so it’s always handy to have a pair as part of any flight itinerary so you can really escape into peace.
  • Entertainment. While we don’t feel we can say what the preferred choice is, mix it up. Looking at a screen for too long can start to hurt your eyes, bring some music you can listen to while giving them a rest – we recommend jungle or mountain music, or the sound of water - or just to try to nod off or relax. Crosswords or puzzle books are a great way to focus, pass time and keeps the screen watching time down as well.
  • Comfortabilities. Things such as travel pillows, compression socks, eye masks (the airline will have them as well but some like to pick their own) are all things to think about.


How did you find our list? If we want to get from A to B, then it may be that you find yourself on a long-haul flight. But using these tips, you’ll have a much smoother and faster-feeling flight.

Happy flying!

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