Surviving Long Flights In Economy

Mount Rainier

Flying can sometimes feel like a game of chance- you never know who you’re going to sit by, whether the food will be edible, or whether the flight will be incredibly packed. I have the hardest time sleeping on planes and am forever envious of people who can fall asleep sitting up. I can usually only sleep on planes unless I am lucky enough to have scored an entire row to myself or have something to seriously sedate myself. I have compiled a list of some of my in-flight essentials and tips and tricks that I use to survive long plane rides, and hope you find these useful for your next long flight!

Pick Your Seat 

For me, I always prefer the window for long flights and the aisle for short flights. I hate feeling obnoxious on plane rides where I constantly have to get up and use the bathroom, but so be it. Having the window seat can sometimes allow me to get a bit of shut-eye because at least it is something to lean against.

Book A Special Meal

I am vegetarian, so I always book the vegetarian option. Even if you don’t have any special dietary needs, check out the meal options and see if one sounds good. The benefit to doing this is that the flight attendant always brings the special meals first, guaranteeing that it will be hot. If you are in the last row, you also won’t be stuck with the gross option that no one else wanted.

Bring A Sleep-Aid

I try not to take sleeping pills, but make an exception for 12 hour flights. I know that I won’t be able to sleep without it, and there is nothing worse than watching three movies on a flight and realizing you still have five hours to go. If you are using a sleeping pill for the first time, make sure to try it out a couple of days beforehand to make sure your body reacts well to it.

Sleep essentials: a neck pillow, ear plugs and an eye mask.

Bring Your Own Food

Bring food that you have bought beforehand and not at the airport. Trust me, you really don’t want to have to order that five dollar bag of chips mid-flight because you forgot to bring snacks. I love bringing almonds, trail mix, and bars with me on flights.

Don’t Drink

From experience, alcohol usually makes me sleep worse on planes. While it’s tempting to knock back a few glasses of complimentary wine, I always end up feeling even crappier after my flight if I drink. I try to stick to water, and sometimes I will bring my own tea bags and ask for hot water.  Make sure to stay hydrated.

Dress Comfortably

For me this means a sweater, leggings, and flats. I will also usually wear a scarf which can double as a blanket or head pillow, and socks (my feet are always freezing on planes.)

Be Nice To The Staff

I cannot tell you how many times I have gotten extra perks simply from being friendly to the flight attendants and ticketing agents. I told the ticket agent on my flight from Bangkok to Seoul that I was worried about my 45 minute layover, and he upgraded me to a bulkhead seat in front so I could exit the plane more quickly.


My skin used to absolutely freak out after flying, and I’m fairly certain it was from all that stale plane air floating around. I bring makeup remover in my carry on and take it off before I sleep on an overnight flight. When I’m finished with that I will put on a hydration mask so my skin doesn’t get incredibly dry. I also bring a toothbrush, toothpaste and lip balm. Towards the end of the flight, I will use wipes to wipe my body down and use perfume to feel a little more refreshed.

Exercise  Beforehand

If I know I have a really long flight ahead of me, I will do a really hard workout the day before. This makes my muscles happy and tired, and in turn allows me to sleep and relax better.

Charge Your Devices

There is nothing worse than getting on a plane and realizing your kindle is at 5% and you have nothing to do for the next 10 hours. Make sure your phone, iPod, laptop, and whatever else you bring has a full battery.

Long plane rides suck, there is no way around it. Try to think of a plane ride as a change to unwind and relax. After all, it’s one of the few times where you are literally unreachable for most reasons. That means no texting, no social media, and no checking your email. (Unless you pay ridiculous amounts for wi-fi, of course.) Catch up on that movie you’ve been meaning to watch or start that classic book you never have made time for. Try to think of plane rides as ‘you’ time- it makes it a little more bearable.


4 thoughts

  1. Nice tips. I think my main advice is to pick an aisle seat, especially for redeye flights (you cannot see anything out the window anyway at night!), and this way you can stretch your legs whenever you want!

    Liked by 1 person

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