what are some tips for the perfect long haul flight

A long haul flight can get overwhelming and recovery time can really be hard, especially if you don’t travel well. I love long hauls simply because it can be 7-15 hours of “nothing but me” time. I find that often, spending a little extra money will go a long way and will help me save money and time on the ground.

Here are 11 tips that can help make you love long hauls as much as I do…

11 Tips for the Perfect Long Haul Flight

Pick the right flight on the right airlines
Plan your long haul around your travel at the destination. I like to always use my preferred airlines, so that if anything happens, I still have priority. So, when planning, work backwards to plan your departure time. For example, on this recent trip to China, I wanted to land late afternoon so that I could have dinner, go to bed, and not get stuck in the jet lag circle. I wanted to stay on American Airlines and only looked for those flights. I also wanted to have a layover where there was a nice lounge to get ready for the next flight, since I knew the first flight would be 6 hours before getting on my 14 hour flight. I decided to leave early morning to have 2 hours to layover, relax, and walk around a bit as well as have breakfast. It worked out perfectly.

Centurion Lounge

Having a nice meal in the Centurion Lounge.

Spend the money for the ticket where it works for you
For me it is well worth the ticket price or miles for a first class seat if the flight is over 10 hours. Business works well under that. If you’re in coach, use seat guru to pick the perfect seat. For me, the extra money is worth it to not waste time on the ground recovering.

Dress the part
PLEASE do not wear PJs on to the plane, but dressy comfy. It’s okay to put them on if offered by your airlines, just don’t come on board with them on! I like to wear my compression tights under a pair of leggings. I wear a tank top under my shirt, so that once I am on the plane, I can take my shirt or sweater off and put on a big comfy shirt or PJ top to sleep in. Also, pack a pair of socks for the flight, but remember to put your shoes on when you go to the bathroom…Before you land make sure to change back into your clothes.

Get set up in flight
Pack your carry-on bags to set your space up well. I like to use a bag with an open top that fits under the seat in front of me and make sure all I need is in that. I make sure to pack a long haul kit with all I’ll need, like lip balm, toothbrush, wipes, lotion, Advil, and any of must-have options such as my favorite tea. I prefer to never touch my overhead bag. I also use a lot of sections and bags in my bags. Before you even take off, make sure all is set, so you are not fumbling for things.

Long haul flight packing tips

What I pack to have handy when I travel, similar to my triathlete’s special needs bag.

Reading material and downloads
Bring more than you think you will need. And, bring easy to read material that will help you relax and chill. Thus, my choice of the Andy Cohen Diaries…I also carry a lot of magazines, read through, and give to flight attendants.

Eat when they serve you. They have this whole food in flight thing taken care of, follow their lead. Make sure you do not try anything new and stay away from spicy choices. I also carry on a few of my comfort foods like dried mango, luna bars, and a piece of fresh fruit. Grab a little something from the lounge if needed just to have. If you’re not flying first/business, also take a bottle of water or two from the lounge.

Water, water, water. Don’t worry how much you have to pee, just drink water. Watch your caffeine intake before and during flight, so that it will not affect your sleep plan. And as far as alcohol, if you drink, drink it in flight! I always enjoy a glass of bubbly when I board and have bubbly or wine with each meal.

Long haul travel

Enjoying a glass of wine and some reading material in flight.

Plan your sleep
No laughing here…I plan my sleep before my flight. I look at the destination time zone and work my flight around that. For example, when leaving for China, I knew the time zone difference was 13 from home, so I had to plan carefully. I got on board, had some bubbly, and enjoyed some of the Andy Cohen Diaries (no judging). Once in flight, they served dinner. I ate up and asked them to save my dessert for when I got up. After dinner, I took my travel top off and put on the American Airlines PJ top. The S/M was so big it hung very low, so no bottoms were needed as my leggings were perfect.

While I was freshening up, the flight attendant prepared my seat and I crawled in bed and that was it. Now, I did prepare by staying up late the night before and not sleeping on my first flight. I slept a good 5 hours and was ready to be up. After freshening up, I worked a bit and watched a few movies, ATE again, and then took a 2 hour, what would be a Shanghai time, afternoon nap. I arrived rested and enjoyed a cocktail and light dinner before heading off to bed.

Get up and move/compression socks
Make sure you get up and move around when you’re awake! Try even to move your legs and do some legs lifts and twirl your ankles while you’re seated. I really advise wearing compression socks on these flights. Why? After hours of your legs being inactive from sitting and little movement, the leg muscles that assist in pushing blood back to your heart start to become inefficient. This causes all-over circulation to slow down. The compression socks and tights help promote circulation. I’ve learned this well from my triathlete and it really works.

Get to know your flight crew
This is so important, especially when traveling with children. They will be your best friend or worse enemy for the flight. I love to say hi, smile, chat, ask about where they fly, and share my magazines with them. If you’re not in first/business, when treats are left over, sometimes they will ask the kids if they want a little something.

Four Seasons Hualalai

Arriving fresh after a NYC to Kona flight.

Land fresh and ready
I have 3 tricks for this. First, an hour before we land, I get back in my clothes, wash up, and brush my teeth. I also drink a full bottle of water and freshen my make up, because I like to feel good. Then, I repack my bags, so that I’m ready to hit the ground running by putting all my in-flight stuff in my overhead bag, leaving my other bag for my trip. And finally, I don’t race to customs. Remember, chances are you will have airplane legs!

Happy travels…