Preparing for a long-haul flight somewhere around the world for work or pleasure can fill you with all kinds of nervous excitement. You want to make sure you’ve packed enough (but not too much), have your mid-flight essentials ready, and are ready for success after landing so you can hit the ground running.
However, if you don’t plan for a long flight in advance, some unfortunate things can get in the way: jet lag, hunger, dry skin, cold temperatures, and unforeseen expenses at the airport or during the flight. .
No sweat. Get the following tips from travel pros who have mastered the art of flying for hours, and you’ll arrive at your destination feeling refreshed, energized and ready to go! And then, don’t miss these 5 secrets from former Delta employees.
Sometimes you have to book a flight at the last minute, but when you can help it, then book early.
“Long-haul or not, if you want a good flight, in a good place and at a low price, then you should book three to six months in advance of travel. Imagine an aisle seat, three rows from the bathroom, on an 11 hour flight,” says Steve Perillo of Perillo Tours. “Sometimes the price will drop at this time, but usually not. And the very act of booking moves your trip from a dream to a reality.”
Booking early also kicks off all your other planning, which gives you time to create the perfect one without worrying about booking other things like accommodation and tours. It can also save you money in the long run, as you’ll have more booking options to choose from at your destination.
RELATED: For more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Anyone who has taken a long-haul flight knows how real jet lag is. To help you settle in faster, choose an overnight flight, says Brian Lonergan, travel consultant at Fora. That way, you can relax in your hotel or rental without feeling like you’re missing out. Not to mention, you’ll be able to catch some much-needed rest.
If your flight arrives during the day, try to stay up until the evening so you can adjust to the new time zone more quickly.
On that note, consider making your post-flight agenda as simple as possible by booking an airport hotel.
“Getting to your accommodation with minimal additional transfer time or logistical effort can help you get oriented and can set the right tone for your entire trip. This is especially true if you’re traveling with young children,” says Longergan.
He adds that today’s airport hotels are very nice and not your parents’ airport hotels.
“Seoul-Incheon has the Grand Hyatt, while some of my best trips to Japan have started at the excellent Royal Park Haneda Terminal, with views of Mount Fuji and a breakfast buffet that rivals some of Tokyo’s five-star hotels. . “
If you’re on an overnight flight, try to keep makeup to a minimum and pack a toiletry kit so you can stick to your nighttime routine. This should include a cleanser, moisturizer and a toothbrush and toothpaste.
“I don’t wear makeup on a long flight because it clogs my pores and causes breakouts in the air,” says Kat Jamieson, founder of the With Love From Kat Travel app. Instead, it doubles down on an ultra-hydrating skincare routine that helps skin feel hydrated. (The air on the plane is noticeably drying.)
RELATED: 10 secrets about flying from airline pilots.
We can’t all travel first class, but you can prepare for some solid shut-eye on your long-haul flight.
“What you really need is a neck pillow so you can sleep,” says Perillo. “A lot of people think that the window seat, over the wing, is the most comfortable place on the plane. There’s less turbulence and you can lean against the wall.” On that note, he says that while the medication can help you fall asleep, it can worsen the post-arrival delay by causing a bit of a hangover.
In addition, wear comfortable clothes and shoes – with a fresh pair of socks to change into – and wear layers so you can stay at a comfortable temperature. Jamieson adds, “I also always pack a silk eye mask with me if it’s longer than a six-hour flight so I can get a good night’s sleep.”
Listening to a jet engine whirring for hours on end can start to wear you down. Today’s noise-cancelling headphones and earphones are a boon mid-flight, so take advantage of the technology. Not only do they dampen/eliminate the engine, but they’ll let you hear your entertainment better and make you feel like you’re in a bubble all your own.
A mid-flight stomach rumble is no joke, mainly because you have few options other than an $18 “carcuerie” board consisting of seven, cheese cubes, eight soggy grapes and four cardboard flavored crackers.
Before your flight, stop by the grocery store to put together a package of delicious snacks and pack them in your carry-on. Also, bring a reusable water bottle that you can refill after security.
Speaking of in-flight essentials, build yourself a handy kit of items that will improve your comfort levels as you zoom through the skies.
“Having your favorite personal care products at your fingertips can minimize the stress of long-haul flights and help you feel more like a human upon arrival,” says Lonergan. “Think lip balm, eye drops, moisturizer, oral care, pain relief, cough drops and bandages.” Your kit should be compact enough to fit in the back pocket of the economy seat.
They say it takes about a day per hour of time difference to adjust. So if you’re going somewhere eight hours apart, it could take more than a week to feel back to normal – likely just in time to get home!
Note the time zone of your destination and start adjusting about a week before your flight. Go to bed earlier/later and wake up earlier/later. Also, try to eat your food according to the schedule of your new destination.
“Changing your meal schedule is giving the body a heads up that its circadian rhythm is about to flip on its head,” notes Lonergan. “Be aware of in-flight meal service times. You don’t have to eat your meal as soon as it’s served, and you can bring your own food and skip the airline’s offering entirely.”
RELATED: 8 Airport Security Secrets The TSA Doesn’t Want You To Know
Flying is especially challenging these days thanks to staffing issues and ever-changing COVID protocols. And your flight attendants often bear the brunt of everyone’s stress as they do their best to keep everyone safe and happy.
“Being in that skinny tube all night is weird and a little scary for everyone. So every little connection between you and the staff feels extra special,” says Perillo.
Take some time to acknowledge their efforts and spark a friendly dialogue (if they have time). You can even bring a small “goodie bag” to make a nice and memorable impression. This might get you an extra treat, like a free drink or bigger pour, but more than anything it sets the stage for a happier flight for everyone.