So you’ve booked a flight to a faraway land. You’re excited beyond belief, but the thought of the 10-hour-plus plane ride ahead is starting to make you sweat. All you can think about is how uncomfortable it’s going to be; your back will ache, you won’t be able to sleep, and you’re going to be bored. There’s no denying that long-haul flights are rough (unless you’re in first class). Luckily, ways exist to maximize your comfort, help you sleep, and pass the time. Here are five tips on how to survive a long flight, and maybe, even enjoy it.

Prepare Your Body

Man stretches arms high in yoga pose in a corner of the airport before a long flight.

The most important thing you can do to survive a long flight is to prepare your body. Your body needs to be healthy and ready to endure an uncomfortable environment. First things first, get a good night’s rest the night before your flight. Getting a full eight hours of sleep will let your body heal and will allow you to get through the long travel day with enough energy.

Next, don’t overeat or eat greasy foods the day before as well as the day of your long flight. The last thing you want is to be cramped in a seat for 10-plus hours with a belly full of fried food. On the other hand, you need to drink a ton of water. Planes are very dry, and dehydration will make you feel more uncomfortable and sick, so make sure to hydrate all day before and during your flight. Lastly, try to spend 20-30 minutes stretching your whole body within five hours of your departure to get the blood flowing and your limbs loose. Airplane seats keep getting smaller and physical discomfort is the last thing you want to feel for half a day.

Pack the Essentials

There are several long-haul flight essentials that you should bring in your carry-on or personal item. The first is a neck pillow. Whether you plan to sleep or not, a travel pillow will make you so much more comfortable. You can use it to relax or to sit on for a cushion. You should also bring a sweater that you can use as a blanket as well as a pair of socks in case you get cold during the flight. Sleeping aids such as Tylenol PM will help make you drowsy if you need help sleeping and Ibuprofen comes in handy for headaches. You should also plan to bring snacks, a bottle of water, and things to keep you occupied.

Keep Busy, Move Around

Passenger watches a Youtube video on airplane tray table during a long flight.

The best thing you can do on the plane to pass the time is to keep yourself busy. You should have packed plenty of things to do in your carry-on such as a book, a laptop, a journal, an adult coloring book, music, or a portable video game. Naturally, you can’t bring everything, but as long as you have at least two to three things to do on the plane, you’ll survive just fine. Most transatlantic flights have in-flight entertainment as well, so you can watch hours of movies or play their online games.

One thing you should plan to do in addition to entertaining yourself is to get out of your seat every so often. Sitting in tight quarters for hours on end affects blood flow throughout the body. According to the CDC, a mere four-hour flight is enough to increase travelers’ risk for blood clotting. When going to the restroom, take a few extra minutes to stand in the back and stretch, or walk up and down the aisle. You’ll see others doing this as well so don’t be embarrassed to do a full on body stretch.


The easiest way to survive a long flight is to sleep. Everyone says they can’t sleep on planes, but there are ways to make it easier. If you book a window seat, you’ll have the best chance of sleeping because you can lean against the window. Use your pillow and blanket to cozy up and slip on an eye mask to block out the light. Pop an over-the-counter sleeping aid and you’ll be well on your way to a nice nap. Another way to find your zen, especially if you don’t want to take a pill, is to use a combination of sensory deprivation and relaxation techniques. On-ear noise-canceling headphones and eye masks paired with deep-breathing exercises should help calm your body enough to either fall asleep or at least rest during the flight.

Charge Up

You don’t want to be three hours into your flight and have your phone or laptop die. Make sure to charge all your electronics before your flight. You can use the charging stations in the airport, and many planes even have outlets at each seat now. A smart investment is a portable battery that you can use to charge your electronics while on the airplane—and during your trip.

Feel calm and ready for your long-haul flight? Use these tips to not only survive a long plane ride but enjoy it and arrive at your destination energized, refreshed and ready to explore the town. 

And should you still need a space to yourself until your overnight room is ready, we’ll be waiting with open arms.

Keep checking the HotelsByDay blog for more travel tips and city day guides.

Book a late-minute dayroom with late-afternoon checkout using HotelsByDay

Photo Credits:

Featured photo by Florian van Duyn

“Travel to Tokyo” by Harry Knight

“High in the Sky” by whereslugo 

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Julia Thompson

Julia is a corporate Account Manager turned Travel Writer. She spent 3 years in San Francisco as a Sales Rep for a tech startup before leaving the country to travel for a year on her own. She now owns a travel blog and works as a freelance writer for various clients.

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