8 Tips for Staying Sane and Well on a Long-haul Flight

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If you live in Australia and are heading off overseas, chances are high that you’re facing a long-haul flight. The good news is that there are some easy ways to make your next flight a little less hellish.

You’ve checked in, waited in line at security, and made your way to the boarding gate. Just 24 to 36 hours to go and you’ll be at your destination! Accept your fate and follow these tips to arrive happy and well, and with your sanity intact.

1 – Wear the right clothes

Always travel in the most comfortable clothes you own – loose fitting track pants and a t-shirt are ideal. Put on a pair of socks if you don’t already have them on and have a wrap or extra layer at the ready in case it gets chilly. Before it’s time to land, change into fresh clothes – even just a different tshirt or undies – to disembark feeling fresh and clean.

2 – Greet your seatmate

It’s easy to resent the person sitting next to you when they hog the armrest, spill their drink on you, or cough repeatedly (and aren’t wearing a mask). We’re all human and we all make mistakes, but it’s harder to hate someone you’ve bonded with than a stranger doing all the wrong things. Strike up a friendly conversation with your fellow passenger when you first sit down to find some common ground. Keep it brief if you see they’re starting to squirm or need their own space – you don’t want to be the person they talk about later as failing to take the hint.

3- Be sleep ready

Light and noise do nothing to promote sleep during a flight so take matters into your own hands with a good eye mask and noise-cancelling headphones or earbuds. Preload your phone with sleepy music or a podcast that helps you nod off (Get Sleepy is one of our favourites) and pack your charging cables. A neck pillow that supports your head could mean the difference between broken, half sleep and a stretch of a few hours, so don’t underestimate this item’s importance. The latest neck pillows are adjustable and have built-in structural support.

4 – Plan your entertainment

Sure, you can watch a marathon of movies, drifting in and out of sleep in between meals, but what happens if the screen on the back of the seat in front isn’t working? You have a one-way ticket to boredom, that’s what. Take a tablet or laptop on board as a back-up, and pre-load it with movies, podcasts, audio books and games. You’ll thank us for this tip later.

5 – Eat right

Plane food has come a long way in recent years as airlines try to outdo each other for our business. Go for the healthy option at mealtimes if you can and pack a few snacks in case the munchies strike mid-flight. Flight attendants can usually rustle you up something to eat if you ask, but there won’t be a lot to choose from. Bonus: snacking just gives you something else to do.

6 – Stay hydrated

As tempting as it might be to down a few glasses of red followed by a vodka chaser, your sleep will suffer, and you’ll arrive at your destination feeling less than fabulous. Sip on water throughout your flight to keep dehydration at bay. Bring your own empty bottle of water from home and fill it up just before you board. Most airports now have water filling stations dotted about. Avoiding coffee during the flight will also help reduce dehydration. You’ll be able to consume all the caffeine you like the minute you get off the plane – and the coffee is likely to be a whole lot better.


7 – Get in the right time zone

Minimise jet lag at the other end by getting your head around the time at your destination the minute you board the plane. Try to sleep roughly when it’s dark where you’re going and try to move around a little during the daylight hours. Keeping active on a plane isn’t easy, but ankle rolls, neck shrugs and stretches can be done in your seat. When you’re not sleeping, getting up for a walk and a stretch once an hour is a worthwhile goal.


8 – Freshen up

Taking a toothbrush and facial wipes on board are essential if you want to arrive looking and feeling like you haven’t just suffered through a long-haul flight. Cleanse and moisturise your face, change into your other clothes, brush your teeth and hair. This simple pre-arrival ritual really does make a difference and will get your getaway off to a great start.

Travel Insurance

We all know that the good times can take a slight detour when travelling. When the going gets tough, Travel Insurance Direct policies aim to do the heavy lifting and may assist with travel insurance cover such as airline delays to help keep your trip moving in the right direction, so you can refocus on the fun. 


I grew up in the US, Germany and Australia, so it feels more foreign for me to stay in one place than to move around. Since then, I’ve called Boston, London, Seattle, Brisbane, Madison and Sydney home for study and work as a journalist, travel writer and photographer. I specialize in adventure travel, social issues and interiors/architecture. Home is now an 1890s cottage in the Blue Mountains near Sydney. I traveled to my seventh continent last year – an action-packed expedition to Antarctica – and have memories galore of my travels. Snowshoeing in the Canadian Rockies, galloping with gauchos in Chilean Patagonia, trekking through Japan, and camel riding in Jordan are among the most memorable. My least favourite travel hiccup was being stranded in Cameroon when I should have been winging my way to Paris for a little me-time. You win some, you lose some.


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