Long flights are a source of stress and without a bit of preparation, they can also be exhausting. Even if it means going on a long-overdue vacation or back home for the holidays, you might lose track of time somewhere between departure and arrival.
But it’s all worth it if you follow a few simple rules! And after all the time spent saving and working, well, of course, you deserve it!
10 Tips to Smooth Your Long Flights
If deep vein thrombosis also known as DVT is a real problem on 4-hour trips, imagine the risks on longer flights.
In short, DVT is when the blood thickens and forms clots in deep veins, most often in the leg area. It can be painful or just uncomfortable. Yet either way, it should be taken seriously.
Who’s at risk?
It’s a myth that only older people suffer from DVT. A few specific factors, like pregnancy, sitting for a long time, being overweight, birth control pills, smoking, and recent surgery can contribute to DVT.
And it can happen to ANY age group.
Aggravating factors can put unnecessary pressure on the veins.
If you take birth control pills or smoke, it’s important to know that this alters the quality of the blood, and the risk of clotting increases on long flights.
So if your legs get hot and swollen or feel any specific pain, take extra care and have them checked on arrival.
The best way to prevent DVT on long flights is to wear compression socks. Seasoned travelers use them all the time on long trips. It’s a simple precaution and prevents potential leg problems.
Yes, they are horrendous and no one feels glamorous while wearing them. But who cares? Health is more important and they are hidden under a pair of pants.
Plus on a plane, people aren’t really looking at your legs.
KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING
When traveling on long flights, these tips will help reduce the odds of DVT.
- Get up from your seat and walk often. Stretch out at least every 2 hours. Sitting for an extended period of time is no-nono.
- Wear loose clothing. Aside from being more comfortable, you’ll avoid any type of unnecessary compression.
- Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water throughout the flight, even if you’re not thirsty.
- Avoid crossing your legs.
If you want to read more about Preventing DVT
Airplane air has an extremely low humidity rate. This is why your throat gets dry and you feel thirsty. Usually, the flight attendant will pass by with a water tray.
Take a glass every time.
Avoid alcohol. You may think that having a drink or two is a good way to pass the time or calm your nerves, but it’s a bad idea.
Alcohol is a major dehydrator. Same with coffee.
Water is always the best choice!
Related Reading: Do You Drink Enough Water?
3. EARS POPPING
No matter what age, from infant to 150, ear aches on long flights are very common. They’re annoying to downright painful.
When my kids were small I had to deal with their ear-popping pain (and my own) during take-off and landing. For us, landing is still the worst.
The first thing is being sure that everyone flies healthy.
A common cold or sinus problem can seriously aggravate the discomfort on a long flight if your ears tend to pop.
Smaller children may not know what’s happening so if they have a pacifier, use it. And have them drink small sips from their bottle for when the plane takes off and lands.
To alleviate symptoms, older kids and adults can try hard candy, chewing gum, yawning, and swallowing motions.
I’ve never used these, but special earplugs are available to help regulate our inner air pressure, which reduces ear popping.
Are we there yet? Kids ask this all the time, right? But so do adults!
But so do adults during a very long flight.
I know I keep checking my phone to see what time it is until I lose track of time zones.
Time seems to stand still as we sit squished uncomfortably in our tiny seats hoping everything will just fast forward to arrival.
The first thing my girls do is pull out the headphones.
Books, music, movies.
After the captain rehearses his usual speech, select your playlist for the next 15 hours of confinement.
Most large carriers have a good selection of music and movies. But if you want to finish your favorite series, then don’t forget to download it at home before flying.
Ebooks are also a lifesaver. Read an excellent story on your Kindle and I promise time will fly by.
On a day flight, you’ll have plenty of paper or screen time to keep you busy.
But on night flights getting some sleep is crucial.
So turn off that movie and
- RELATED READING:: Lack of Sleep: How To Get Back in the Rhythm.
- If you want to sleep without being disturbed, make sure your seat belt is fastened over your blanket.
- Use an eye mask. Some airlines have them as “gifts”. It’s better than nothing but I find them to be flimsy and not very effective. If you use eye masks often, then bring your own.
- On long flights, we tend to sleep more and take less care of our stuff. So while you’re sleeping, stash important docs in a safe place, you never know who’s watching.
- I always keep our 3 passports, tickets, and wallet in my handbag at my feet. Or in a money belt on my body, never in the
Better safe than sorry right?
6. CARRY ON
Waiting around Foreeeever to spot my luggage at the end of the carousel isn’t my thing no matter how far I travel. Long flights short flights, I hate waiting for luggage.
So the only way to go is with a carry-on. Even if it’s hard to teach my girls to travel light… well I’m working on it.
Carry-on space is limited so choose products wisely. Put them into the mandatory ziplock and place them in the seat pocket in front of you for easy access.
In my ziplock, I have lip balm, arnica, a small solid deodorant, a mini toothbrush/paste, lipstick, eye crayon, and a mini bottle of argan oil.
If you’re more of a gear person you can add a neck pillow, earplugs, fuzzy socks, and a personal blanket.
This is all very personal so adapt to your own needs when going on long flights.
7. FOOD AND DRINK
Try to avoid large meals, they will make you feel heavy.
Also, steer clear of alcohol and caffeine or you’ll feel the effects on your skin.
Meals on the plane are served according to your destination’s time zone.
So if you haven’t quite prepared yourself for jet lag before leaving you may be hungry outside of mealtime.
Snacks are the answer. Make them light and easy to eat.
8. WALK THE AISLE
Move and stretch!
On long flights, this gets your circulation going and could very well avoid thrombosis. A few stretches done every couple of hours will go a long way.
Ankle Rolls: While in your seat, lift your legs a few inches from the floor and roll your ankles several times in each direction.
Walk: Make sure the seatbelt sign is off and just walk the aisle back and forth.
Toe Raises: While standing in the aisle, place your hands on the top of a seat and raise yourself up on your toes several times.
9. COMFORTABLE CLOTHING
Dressing to fly is a complicated endeavor for a
A few guidelines to fly and shine:
- Breathable fabrics. All clothing should be breathable. You’ll be spending a lot of time waiting, flying and in transport. You’ll get hot, cold, and tired.
- Fabrics that don’t breathe are uncomfortable and make you feel “sticky” after a long trip.
- Bottoms: Many girls wear drawstring or elastic wide-leg pants. They are fashionable and comfortable during long flights. If you choose low-wrinkle fabrics, you’ve got a winner.
- Tops: Again, breathable fabrics for comfort. It’s easier to adapt to inflight changes in temperature if you choose layers. (tank top, blouse/t-shirt, sweater, and scarf.)
- No heels! Unless they are quietly waiting inside your carry-on. Wearing heels is impractical when running to the gate or waiting for hours. Your feet will eventually hurt.
- Large scarf: Long night flights have strong AC so bring a sweatshirt or a big scarf for extra warmth. Again, layering is the way to go for comfort and better sleep time.
- Fuzzy socks: If you first kick off those shoes, then put some socks on (for warmth and hygiene reasons). Some airlines gift them to you, otherwise, bring your own.
- Loosen up. Whatever you choose to wear, make sure it’s not tight or restricting in any way! Remember DVT above?
10. AISLE OR WINDOW ON LONG FLIGHTS?
If you need access to the bathroom often or if walking is high on your list (and it should be right?), then an aisle seat is the best choice.
On the other hand, choose the window seat if you just want to snooze on long flights without anyone climbing over you. Plus you can lean your head against the window for a little more comfort.
All aircrafts aren’t created equal.
Depending on the airline you’ll get different seat sizes, more or less legroom, and various width measurements. And if you fly economy, economy plus or business class, etc.. then your options just tripled.
To make better choices on long flights or if you’re interested in comparing airline seats, look at this chart on Seat Guru.
Long flights mean going to great places together to recharge those batteries!
So have a safe trip and enjoy 🙂