A long-haul flight flying over the ocean.

How to Prepare for a Long-Haul flight: The Best Expert Travel Tips

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Moving to a new country every two years

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Long-haul flights.

Who enjoys them?

They can be daunting, especially if you’re not properly prepared. However! with these expert tips, you can make your long-haul flight more comfortable and enjoyable.

After a countless amount of international flights and intercontinental ones I’ve compiled these tips for long haul flights. 

Free Long-Haul Flight Checklist
Table of Contents

Long-Haul Flight tips: Checking in

An important part of the journey is checking in on time, online.

Usually 24 hours before departure it is possible to check-in online and choose your seat. Some airlines open 36 hours before departure.

Check with your airline what time check-in opens.

What always a smart thing to do is, is to make screenshots on your phone of your boarding passes and travel itinerary.

Just to make sure you have it on your phone in case there isn’t an internet connection or if an app just fails to load.

Discover All Destinations

Book Your Flight and Seat as Early as Possible

When it comes to choosing your seat on a long-haul flight, reserving a seat early is key. 

When you want to reserve a seat, most airlines charge extra when you want to reserve it weeks upfront (not all of them). If that’s the case you can choose to pay or wait until checking in is available. Make sure to check when checkin becomes available. Set a timer and login to reserve your seat.

Choose your seat: Aisle or Window (Choose Aisle!)

There are basically two options, window or aisle.

For a long flight I would always choose aisle.

You don’t want to be stuck in your seat when you have to go to the bathroom while the other passengers besides you fall asleep…

So always choose the aisle seat.

You’re maybe thinking, but when I choose a window seat I can rest my head against the wall.

Well, that is most likely not going to happen. Resting your head against the wall has some disadvantages.

The sound of the engine just rambles through and becomes really loud and it will hurt your neck after a few minutes.

How to sleep on a long-haul flight? In my experience the best way to sleep is to sit straight and bent you head backwards against a small travel pillow. Cross your arms to keep you warm and good night.

Avoid the Middle Seat at all cost!

If you have the option, avoid the middle seat.

The middle seat lacks easy access to the aisle and can leave you feeling confined and uncomfortable, especially during a long flight.

If you’re unable to get an aisle or window seat, consider selecting a seat near the front of the cabin so you’re able to leave the plane earliest when you’ve arrived at your destination.

Also, a seat towards the front of the plane, tends to have less turbulence.

Choosing a seat Pro tips and tricks

Secret Switch

When you’re sitting at the aisle, most arm rests don’t have the option to be put in the upright position because there is no button.

Try to see if there is a switch, (feels like a small hook) on the downside of the arm rest.

You can pull it, which will make the arm rest go up. This will give you some more extra space if you need it.

Be careful though when they are bringing drinks or food with the card that you’re not too much in the aisle.

Empty Seats

Whenever there are many empty seats on the plane, ask if you can sit in one of the empty rows.

Flight attendants may allow it on most flights. You can move the armrests up and lay down to get some sleep. 

Essential Entertainment items for a long-haul flight

Besides the usually travel pillow and snack there are many items you can bring to make your sure time flies! (pun intended)

Pre-download Music & Movies

Time flies when you’re having fun!

So make sure to bring some entertainment on board.

Download music upfront on Spotify or Apple Music, or movies on Netflix. Having entertainment readily available will help pass the time and make your journey fly by.

So, don’t forget to prepare in advance and bring along some fun things to make your travel experience more pleasant.

A great idea is to download an entire season of a series. This will keep you entertained longer than a movie. The perfect time to binge watch something is on a long-haul flight!

Pro Tip: In case of a really long flight, wait the first hour with starting your movie or series.

The first hour is easy to get through; you’re adjusting to your surroundings and other passengers, and settling in.

After an hour you can start the entertainment. This maximizes the time of being entertained because it will take longer to loose interest in the movie or series.

Game on a Nintendo Switch

Depending on your age, (forever young!), a Nintendo Switch is a great item to bring on a flight.

It is easy to pack, and easy to set up in front of you on the small airplane table.

It always comes with two controllers so you can even give one to the passenger besides you to race them in Mario Kart.

I highly recommend this! Unless the flight is at night and you want to sleep then don’t, because you need some sleep! But a Nintendo Switch sure does help to pass the time.

Use an iPad

If you have the luxury of owning an iPad then this is a great item to bring along the flight. Download some movies for series and let’s go.

Playing with A deck of cards

A deck of cards is always great to bring along on a long fight. There are endless options of games to play with them so this is an easy-to-bring item with many possibilities.

Bringing some of these entertainment options will make a long-haul flight much more pleasant.

Connecting with Wifi

More and more airlines offer wife nowadays. Check if there is wifi available on the plane. Sometimes they have some good deals.

It will be much easier to pass the time when you have wifi!

Bring noise-canceling headphones

Noise-canceling headphones! Another must-have item for a long-haul flight.

They help to block out the noise of the airplane engines and the chatter of other passengers, allowing you to relax and enjoy your in-flight entertainment or get some much-needed rest.

In my experience the best ones are the apple AirPods or the AirPod Max.

The AirPods Max has the best noise cancelling but is a bit more heavy on the head and it’s hard to rest your head on the left or right side.

AirPods are more light and gives more flexibility in resting your head but the noise cancelling is a bit less than the Airpod Max.

(I use the AirPods Max because I always rest my head backwards)

Standard Essential Item tips

These are must-have items for a long-haul flight.

Bring some Snacks

While most airlines have snacks on board it is a good idea to bring some of your own favorite ones.

Pro tip, try to avoid bringing a bag of chips, because of the air pressure the bag will expand and might burst open when opening it. It also gives a lot of crumbs.

Bring candy, instead. Candy that lasts long is even better. Or if you want something salty, Pringles and some nuts are a great option. 

Also, don’t be shy to ask the stewards for a bottle of water or some other drinks.

Especially on long-haul flights drinks and some snacks are available at no extra cost.

Eye mask

This is one of my top items to bring. Buy one that really closes off your eyes.

Don’t go for the cheap one but get one of those eyepatches that almost look like diving glasses that make it as dark as possible. Thank me later.

During some long-haul flights, even at night, the lights are not switched off (don’t ask me why!).

It can also happen that your neighbor is watching a movie with the screen on full brightness, or is even falling asleep with the screen on full brightness (how can they sleep like that?).

So a good eye-patch is absolutely essential in my eyes (pun intended again), to sleep on the plane. Especially for an overnight flight.

Buy a good travel pillow

Get an Inflatable neck pillow. It works just as well as a regular neck pillow and is much easier to pack and it also weighs less.

Ear Plugs

Ear plugs are great to have on board of a plane.

Another reason why I prefer headphones over AirPods is because you can use ear plugs under the headphones.

It works pretty well to block out even more sounds if that’s necessary. But, ear plus can irritate after a while.

They can start to feel uncomfortable after a while so if you want to use them I would advise to use them only when you really want to sleep.

Wear Support stockings

Some folks get swollen feet during long flights.

It is a misconception that support stocking are only for the elderly.

People from all ages can benefit for them, as they have been scientifically proven to alleviate symptoms associated with vein disease and other discomforts.

Venous insufficiency, or vein disease, affects a staggering forty million individuals in the United States.  

When you have these items, it is time to catch some sleep! Some folks try to stay awake for the 24 hours. My advice is if you can get some sleep, then do it. 


During a long-haul flight and hours of travel, it’s easy to feel less than fresh.

Remember to brush your teeth and freshen up towards the end of the flight.

Pack travel-sized toothpaste and a toothbrush in your carry-on for easy access.

I always thought this wasn’t necessary on a flight but when you can brush your teeth you’ll feel so much more fresh when you step off the plane!

Free Long-Haul Flight Checklist

What to wear on a economy long haul flight?

What the most ideal clothes to wear are on a flight depends on the length of the flight. The longer, the more comfortable the clothes need to be! 

But first of all, it is not a fashion show so just go for the most relaxed set of clothes you can get!

An essential item to take take on long haul flights is a sweater with zipper and hoody.

If you don’t like the hoody then at least get a sweater with zipper.

The temperature on airplanes is quite unpredictable.

Sometimes it’s very hot and on other flights it is too cold. With an easy sweater with zippers adjusting to the temperate is a breeze.

Should you wear jeans on a long flight? I would advise not to wear jeans on long-haul flights.

Jeans aren’t very stretchy so it can start to feel uncomfortable after a while.

What to wear on a long-haul flight and still look stylish?

If you don’t want to look like you gave up on fashion entirely you could buy one of those stretchy chino pants made of jersey. These still look neat and fashionable and are extremely comfortable.

Even if you have a business meeting right when you land you will not have to change clothes, these are perfect. (I wear those all the time!)

What not to wear on a long-haul flight?

Anything that is not comfortable!

  • Shoes that are too tight (flip flops are not allowed)
  • Jeans or pants that can’t stretch
  • A belt thats too tight

Airplane Exercises for Long-haul Flights

Yes2Next made a great video about some simple excursies you can do during a long flight:

Dealing with the Jet Lag after a long-haul flight

These are my best tips from experience to deal with a jet lag.

Is it necessary to Adjust Your Sleep Schedule Before the Flight?

Is it necessary to Adjust Your Sleep Schedule Before the Flight?

Well, no.

I wouldn’t go that far.

What I always do is I either wake up early or I wake up late (if thats possible) on the day of the flight. If you want to sleep on the flight, wake up early if you want to stay awake on the flight try to wake up late.

This helps a little bit in getting adjusted with the time difference.

There is an app for that


If you’re a frequent traveler through different time zones this app can help you in overcoming your jet lag.

An app called Timeshifter may help you “resynchronize” your internal clock with the new time zone by establishing a routine for when you go to bed and when you drink coffee.

Your typical sleep schedule and the details of your upcoming vacation will inform the tailor-made itinerary.

The app will alert you to sleep, “seek light,” and when you need to drink some caffeine containing drink.

It did help me to stay more aware of when to carry out the steps to minimize the jet lag.


Stay Hydrated and Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine

During the flight, it’s important to stay hydrated and avoid alcohol and caffeine.

Both alcohol and caffeine can cause dehydration and disrupt your sleep patterns, making it harder to adjust to the new time zone.

Stick to drinking water or herbal tea instead. Some times it is tempting to drink some free beers on the plane but it is smart to stick with soda or water.

What works even better is a drink with electrolytes. Many sports drinks have electrolytes in them. You can buy small bags of powder with electrolytes.

Safe them for on the plane to mix with water.

Expose Yourself to Natural Light and Stay Active

Once you arrive at your destination, make an effort to expose yourself to natural light as much as possible.

Natural light helps to regulate your body’s internal clock and can help you adjust to the new time zone more quickly.

Additionally, staying active by taking walks or engaging in light exercise can also help reduce the symptoms of jet lag.

Power nap of max 45 minutes

When I arrives home, after long flights I would just crash down on the bed and sleep until I woke up.

But this causes the jetlag to continue longer. If you are super tired, then try to stick with a powernap of around 30 to 45 minutes minutes. This will help you to overcome the worst peak of the tiredness.

But it will also help you to go to bed at a normal time in your new destination.

Final Expert tips for long-haul flights

  • Enjoy the meal on board, who knows what you’ll get it is always a surprise!
  • Take every hour by the hour and don’t rush. There is no point in rushing!
  • Long-haul flights can get pretty tiring events you’re only sitting in a chair. So, don’t underestimate it and get some sleep whenever you can.
  • Try to enjoy the trip! Try to see the fun side of flying, fascinate yourself with all the different and diverse people around you from different cultures.


Hopefully these long-haul flight tips will help you to make the trip as pleasant as possible. Remember, flying long-haul flights is an exciting adventure on your way far away from home.

F.A.Q. How to Prepare for a Long-Haul flight

It sure is! Actually, a long-haul flight is whatever you deem long. If you find 4 hours a long flight, then thats a long flight!

One of the longest flights on earth is the flight from New York to Singapore which takes around a whopping 18 hours and 50 minutes.

The key to preparing for a long-haul flight is to make sure that you are well-rested and comfortable before the journey. Download my expert checklist at the start of this article to be fully prepared.

It is generally recommended to arrive at the airport at least 2 to 3 hours before your long-haul flight.

This allows enough time for check-in, security checks, and any necessary pre-flight procedures.

However, it’s always good to check with your airline for any specific guidelines or recommendations.

Flight attendants are there to ensure your comfort and safety during the flight.

They can help with various aspects, such as providing blankets and pillows, offering meal and beverage options, assisting with any medical emergencies, and answering any questions or concerns you may have.

Don’t hesitate to ask them anything!

Brushing your teeth during a long-haul flight is not only important for oral hygiene but also helps to freshen up and feel more comfortable.

Pack a travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste in your carry-on bag, and take a moment to brush your teeth during the flight.

It can make you feel more refreshed and ready to face the rest of the journey.

To ensure peace of mind, download my checklist at the top of this article of essential items to pack and check it before leaving for your flight.

Yes, it is always helpful to ask the flight attendants for assistance if needed, as they are trained to help passengers during long flights.

It is advisable to get up and stretch your body every few hours to prevent stiffness and improve blood circulation.

A man standing on top of a sand dune with his arms outstretched.

About the author

Chris Oberman is the founder and author of Moving Jack and has been traveling the world for over 20 years to 40+ countries.

He lives in a different country every two years which allows him to gain unique in-depth insights and experiences in new places abroad.

Quoted on Gritdaily.com, NRC Newspaper, Vice,and Feedspot.

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