How I Got Through My Long Haul Flight

How I Got Through My Long Haul Flight

Getting through a long flight can be a challenge. Airplane seating is getting tighter with less leg room and less recline. Budget airlines like Spirit and Frontier offer discounted rates – which also means even thinner seats and an extra charge for everything, including selecting a seat. Codeshare programs, like the partnership between Delta and Virgin Australia, make upgrades near impossible. The list of travel woes goes on.

To make things easier on myself and hopefully catch some ZZZs on my long haul flight to Australia, I did a ton of research on ways to stay comfortable through the flight. I thought I’d share what worked for me, here and generally on longer flights, in case it works for you too.

I dress for comfort.

I often see women traveling in dresses and heels, their make up and hair done. I’m not one of those women. For a long haul flight (or any flight for that matter), you’ll find me in leggings and a t-shirt or tank top with flat shoes. If I do have a commitment immediately upon landing, a long haul flight still leaves plenty of time to change.

I aim for the window seat.

I’m usually an aisle person so I can go to the bathroom and exit more quickly. For a long haul flight or overnight flight though, I like the window seat.

I found the right travel pillow.

Because my recent long haul flight was purchased via a codeshare, I was not able to choose my seat until check-in 24 hours beforehand. I was worried about getting stuck in the middle seat, so I researched pillows that might help me get some rest if I’m without the support of a window. The main contenders were:

trtl-pillow Trtl Pillow – $29.99

The Trtl has really strong reviews on Amazon and in a lot of other places too. While it did look like it would provide good neck support and is definitely going to take up less space in a suitcase, it also looked a little stifling to me. I was worried about overheating and that the wiring would bother me. I passed.


BCOZZY Chin Supporting Travel Pillow – $29.97

This one was intriguing in that it looked somewhat less restricting and a little more flexible. Again, this one has 4.5 stars on Amazon.


mypillow-rollngoMyPillow Roll N Go Travel Pillow – $24.95

For my trip down under, this pillow was appealing. I could lean it against the window on the plane and also use it at hostels if need be. In the end, I wasn’t able to chose my seat until 24 hours beforehand and I didn’t want to risk it.


aeris-travel-pillowAeris Memory Foam Travel Pillow – $24.90

I personally went with the Aeris memory foam travel pillow, even though I was kind of resistant to neck pillows. I did get the window seat so I put it on top of the pillow provided by Virgin Australia and against the window. The memory foam was great and it worked well for me. I tried to use it as an actual neck pillow on the way back and decided that still isn’t for me – so ill be using this to lean against instead.

I bring a Kindle or a good read.

When I can’t sleep or I’m flying mid-day, having some form of entertainment is key. I liked having my Kindle on my trip to Australia, because it’s lightweight and easy to carry around – but sometimes, like on a beach trip, it’s nice to have a physical book or two. I haven’t done this (yet), but many airport book store chains allow you to return your books after reading them at a 50% refund.

I bring ear buds.

Many airlines offer free headphones on long haul flights, but I don’t like to risk it. Bringing headphones allows for another form of entertainment when I want to zone out and watch one of the on-flight movies instead of read. If watching TV puts you to sleep on your couch, it could help get you there on board too. If you bring an iPad or something similar, you can watch your own movies and also play games or read if you want to.

I wear myself out before the flight.

I go to bed late the night before I fly out, and wake up early the day of. I exercise, I run errands. I do whatever I need to do during the day so when flight time comes, I’m ready to fall asleep easier.

I usually have a glass of wine or two.

Some people recommend against it and I’m not saying you shouldn’t stay hydrated (you definitely should) – but I like to have a glass of wine or two early on before or during a flight. On long haul flights, they’ll usually bring the drink cart by twice, which is just the right amount to get me feeling tired without feeling drunk.

I plan to sleep after they serve the first meal.

If a flight is over a certain length, they’re going to serve two meals – one right away and one closer to the end. Since they make everyone raise their seats up and turn the lights on during meal service anyway, I feel like I might as well eat it and go to sleep after. That way I’m not interrupted and I’m going to get hungry at some point even if I’m not right now.

Still Not Sleeping Through Your Flight?

Other people swear by Melatonin or some kind of sleeping pill. I don’t take these because they make me feel like shit the next day, which kind of defeats the whole purpose. That being said, they could work for you; maybe try this on a regular night and see if they work for you before going all in with a long haul flight.

If you’re used to sleeping in pitch black, an eye mask could help too. Virgin Australia provided this and noise blockers but both actually came with my travel pillow and were better quality. Either way, depending on your airline, they may provide this for you.