How to Survive Long Flights in Economy Without Feeling Like a Zombie

February 21, 2022

A long-haul airline flight usually ends with one result: tired! Here's how to survive long flights in economy and not feel like a zombie...

The greatest challenge in air travel for most people who travel long haul flights is to remain comfortably seated in economy class for a period of up to 12 hours without going stark raving mad.

I have been there, done that, and survived to tell the tale. Here are some suggestions on how to make your long haul flight in economy class more bearable.

Pack The Right Long Haul Flight Essentials With You

If you want to survive a long trip you have to pack the right items for a long flight or international flights:

  • When your skin is dry you should always carry a good moisturizer. Apply immediately when you leave.
  • Pack your favorite lip balm.
  • Bring along antibacterial wipes.
  • Get rid of bacterial infections from plane seats with a washcloth.
  • Keeping sanitizer on your flight can help relieve stress.

Maximize Your Personal Items Allowance

In how to survive long flights in economy it's important that all the essential carry on items be readily accessible. Use just large luggage and a backpack for personal papers or travel essentials. Find the best backpack to fit your stuff but leave enough room for your knees.

Airlines have their own requirements (as well as aviation authorities) for personal items so check out their website before you head for the airport. Since I only travel on carry-ons my travel companion uses the travel luggage bag. The room in it is huge and contains a number of pockets to store everything.

Bring Your Own Entertainment and a Portable Charger

Don't be like me flying economy for seven hours with one crossword book. Naturally the hope is always that in your journey you will sleep like an infant and you get to the airport refreshed. This never happens to most people.

Always have a travel diary, puzzle, book, notebook or magazine handy for travel - save on transporting it.) Don't forget to bring pens too! It can sometimes require filling out an international request.

Of course have your smartphone on you and your laptop computer with you as no one knows what shows on a flight are available in the onboard flight entertainment. 

Bring Noise Cancelling Headphones and an Eye Mask

Airlines never provide you with a good enough pair for a long flight and they usually get worse as the flight continues comfort-wise. Plus, headphones really help to cancel out all of the sounds around you and allow for some much needed peace and quiet on an airplane.

If you bring your own headphones, you won't have to worry about whether or not you brought enough.

A good eye mask will do the obvious: Block out any light to help you get good sleep.

Wear Socks & Bring Slippers

Survive Long Flights...Wear Comfortable Socks

It's probably the best advice for survival during long flights. It was my first time flying long distances without wearing shoes. I like to wear socks because it keeps my feet warm. Second, shoes can be very uncomfortable while on an airplane.

Bring some light and lightweight slippers such as those for quick slip-off into heavenly comfort. How can smelly sneakers cause someone to feel comfortable on an entire flight? I tuck my shoes inside my bag or underneath a cushion to avoid any form of discomfort and make more room.

Don't Forget to Wear Comfortable Clothes

What you wear will play a big part in how long the flight feels. The last thing you want is to be too hot or too cold, or feel restricted in what you can do because of what you're wearing.

Wearing uncomfortable clothes on a long haul flight is going to make the process less enjoyable, as well as making it hard for your body to adjust if anything goes wrong during the trip. If there are minor changes in temperature throughout the duration of your flight you will be glad you wore something cozy.

Don't Dress to Impress

When traveling in Economy flight don't wear a fancy outfit for the occasion. Make sure you wear comfortable clothing and dress with layers. Carry a jacket, sweater or fleece in case you need to change your temperature from cold to warm.

Consider wearing an additional scarf to stay warm or even as a blanket. Ensure you have socks and sandals with your shoes when traveling.

Wear Layers

During flight I wear layers. Even if the jacket hasn't been removed from the aircraft by security, it is a good way to feel comfortable.

My layers are used for keeping my body warm and comfortable and for a good saving of storage space in my luggage. Having a thick coat or even a stiff coat takes up quite a bit of space.

Aside from that, I prefer layers that have multifunctionality. For instance, zip hoodies are easier to put on in confined seating spaces than thick pullovers. Eventually the hoodie could also be used for pillows.

Pack Your Own Snacks

Pack your own snacks for a long flight...even a burger!

It is now almost impossible for travelers to trust the food and drink in airports and during flight. Food options in flight vary significantly according to airlines and flight duration. You never know which beverage(s) they may be serving.

Your body may send an alarm to your body to in pack some of your own food! While airplane food can sometimes smell good, it can cause 'unpleasant feelings'.  

It also makes it very important to have a snack on hand to keep yourself sane from falling into a cloud. 🙂

Which Seat Should You Choose for a Long Haul Flight?

Getting Comfortable for Your Long-Haul Airline Flight

Middle seats are the middle ground between window seat and an aisle seat. Sometimes, middle seats aren't so bad when you travel with your friends or family members- especially if your party is only two people.

However, middle seats are not good for solo travelers because they lack almost everything that both aisle and window seats have to offer.

A traveler in the middle cannot lean against the side of the plane for support, which is important when you need to go to the restroom.

If middle travelers want to see what's happening outside, they can't lower their window shade because it will also block all other windows on that same row. Hence, for all the reasons above, this why you want an aisle seat or window seat.

I've seen too many horror stories, and feel a sense in my heart that walking between sleep pods and seats in coaches causes a lot of frustration because of a bad seat.

I have no idea if the seat in which you sit will help you to board the plane or not. I decided to take my first steps towards long distance travel and plan it right. So we must first choose our seat. 

Download Music & Apps You Can Use Without Internet

Long haul flights sometimes seem like they take forever. It's long enough that it might feel like there are no ways you're going to be able to pass the time until it seems like you should be off the plane again. But, long flights don't have to seem so long if you can download some apps and music before your trip.

You want to download the apps or music beforehand so that you will have entertainment to get you through until they allow electronics again. You can download movies which is great because it means that they won't use internet during takeoff and landing so you won't have any disruptions with streaming them onto your screen.

And, downloading books is another way to have options available to you when boredom strikes on long flights. When boredom strikes long flights are long enough that listening to music or playing games can become tedious by the end of a long flight when there's been nothing else going on.

Walk Around the Cabin

Stretching is a necessity, as sitting for hours on top can be unhealthy and more extreme cases, prevent blood clots. Deep Vein Thrombosis can be a serious health problem that gets worse as we age. Walking even a tiny bit can make a big difference.

Ask a steward to give him water and he will give you something. Do not feel uncomfortable walking through the aisle and keep your body moving. You shouldn’t worry about your health. When passengers speak loudly or crying as they board the plane, ear plugs don't help. Bring noise-cancelled headsets and listen to music to wake up peacefully.

Bring a Travel Pillow

Sleeping on an Airliner

If you want to sleep on long haul flights, bring a pillow. If you don't, more often than not the long haul flight will be an endless nightmare of stops and starts between trying to get comfortable and falling asleep only to be disturbed again.

Do a Pre-Sleep Routine

I don't want to sleep in airplanes. It's almost impossible for to relax. To help get you in to the routine of flight, make sure that your sleep/wake up routine is performed at home.

Bring the plastic bag in along with a small washcloth, toothbrush and toothpaste and go into your bathroom. When you do this routine before bed it gives you the ability to get your body to sleep for at least a few hours. This will also help you to combat jet lag.

Skip Wearing Makeup

My wife tells me there's nothing worse than wearing mascara all day hygiene-wise. You just feel gross.

Similarly, wearing makeup is uncomfortable during a long flight and can affect your complexion too. It'll dehydrate your skin so it's a natural thing your pores will try storing moisture but instead clog your skin pores with your makeup.

You may not look as good, but you'll feel better.

Drink Lots of Water and Stay Hydrated

Flight causes extreme dehydration even without knowing it. This pressurized air cabin doesn't hold much moisture so it gets absorbed.

You get a bit a little less ozone when compared with ozone. This is why drinking enough water is essential.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol while flying, they are neither good for your stomachs nor for hydrating. When flying long distances flight attendants will give you all the water you want. Please...stay hydrated!

Wear a Sleep Mask

As I covered above, I have another favorite trick that helps get me into travel mode - I wear my own bed mask every night. It's not common to sleep with them, but it's essential to wear them to try to find some ZZZs.

Then when you fly, the flight attendants will shut off the cabin lighting about a half hour after the first meal service. (I know that is always the case for my long-haul flights.) 

Be the Last to Board the Plane

How to Survive Long Flights in Economy

When you're flying long haul, who wants to be stuck in a middle seat for hours and hours on end?

Whether the journey is long or short, we all hope that we'll get an aisle or window. And most of us want to sit by the restroom as well. So why not board last so that you can bag the best seats at the front of the plane?

These days the airlines might not accommodate you with this hack, but it's still worth a try.

Go to the Bathroom and Stretch Your Legs

Stretch out your arms or lift them up above your head. You can also open the window shade if there is an empty seat next to you. Putting more light into your environment will make long hauls easier because it decreases fatigue levels that come from long hours of darkness.

Try to Get Over Time Zone Differences by Sleeping

Depending on how far you're going, time zones will change. You can feel totally confused because the time is variable.

If time zone difference is a problem you can fall asleep while travelling. Sleep is difficult for most people, because the flights are long. Nevertheless, it's easy enough to sleep while flying.

You Can Survive a Long Flight by being Prepared

Traveling long haul in economy class can be a long and arduous process. Long flights have been linked to long term health effects so being prepared for your long haul flight is critical as it will ease the discomfort that you may otherwise experience.

Hopefully these long haul flight tips have helped you to prepare for your next journey.