The Long-Haul-Flight Survival Guide

Written by guest blogger, Scott

Most people who travel have undergone the discommodious experience of spending several hours in a small economy-class airline seat with leg room that would only be comfortable for a 6-year-old. Sometimes there is no room for your bag, or a baby screams the whole flight from elevation-induced ear popping, or the passenger beside you smells like he bet his buddies he could go a week without bathing (and won). Now think about all of your airplane horror stories and imagine them on an 18-hour non-stop flight. Kinda gives a whole new meaning to the term “cabin fever,” doesn’t it?

According to Fox News, non-stop, long-hour international flights are becoming more common, especially among traveling business professionals wanting to avoid layovers. Perhaps the longest (time-wise) non-stop is the nearly 9000-mile flight from Los Angeles to Singapore that can take upwards of 18 and a half hours. That’s basically the length of two full work days. Close quarters, stuffy air and sheer boredom can make 18 hours seem like a week. When you equip yourself like a traveling pro for flights like these, it will help them go quickly and comfortably so you can arrive at your destination rested and refreshed.

One rookie mistake travelers make is to bring too much on the plane. If it’s a full flight and you need to put your bag under your seat, you just gave up the little leg room that you had to begin with. Also, the more stuff you bring the harder it is to find what you need when rummaging around a dark cabin. To pack efficiently and preparedly for a long-haul flight, stick to some basic travel essentials.


You may immediately think sneakers are a good idea for traveling, but dealing with laces and knots and tightness can be a hassle from the moment you arrive at the airport. You will have to take off your shoes at security checkpoints and while in the air you could fall victim to swelling feet or, worse, you might be “that person” on the plane with malodorous feet when you take your shoes off.

Opt for slippers or other shoes, such as sneakers at, that are easy to slip on and off and are clean and comfortable. If you do get swelling in your feet and ankles, try to keep them elevated, avoid salty snacks and drink lots of water.


Yes, entertainment is just as important as anything else on long-haul flights. Remember that you will not have your cell phone or Internet, so bringing that 500-page novel you’ve been meaning to read, or splurging for the headphones to watch the in-flight movie might help you melt away some of those monotonous hours. If you have a Kindle or an iPad, you can load them up with books and movies you haven’t read or seen (and maybe some old favorites). These handy devices take up minimal space while holding lots of entertainment choices. Remember, an 18-hour flight there means an 18-hour flight back.

Sleep Aids

No, not pills to knock you out. We’ve all seen that guy on the plane with a neck pillow, blindfold and noise-cancelling headphones. While you might laugh at him at first for looking so incredibly dorky, you wont be laughing later when he is fast asleep and you are wide awake with a crick in your neck, listening to a wailing baby and your neighbor’s overhead light is shining in your eyes.

Emergency Survival Kit

No, I don’t mean in case the plane crashes and you are stranded on an uninhabited island (although that would be unfortunate). According to Gadling, airlines lose 3000 bags every hour. Hopefully you successfully make your way to baggage claim to snatch your belongings from the conveyor belt. But on the adverse chance your bag is lost or delayed, some simple supplies can tide your over. A change of clean clothes and underwear, toothbrush, socks, cell phone charger, travel contact case and solution or glasses, and extra money could be a life saver if you’re caught without your belongings in an unfamiliar place. If you take medication, bring several days worth in your carry-on just in case.

Food and Water

Most airlines offer drink service, and long-haul flights offer meals, but if you have dietary restrictions or want to stay health-conscious, there won’t be many options for you. Once you’ve passed airport security, load up on water bottles and healthy food and snacks.

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