Around the World

Go Girls Present: Long-Haul Flight Survival Tips

listen-to-pilots-on-long-haul-flights

Listen to your pilot for updates. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Everyone knows how dreadful a long-haul flight can be. You’re cooped up in a small area for nine or more hours, the food is substandard, and your seatmates can leave a lot to be desired.

It’s not surprising that many people, including Go Girls, dislike or fear long-haul plane trips.  What is surprising are the creative survival tips Go Girls have come up with to combat their discomfort.

So whether you’re a seasoned pro or about to embark on your first long-haul flight, grab a snack-sized packet of peanuts and read on for tips from Go Girls around the globe to help you get through your next long-haul trip comfortably!

Remember to Move and to Breathe

“Breathing exercises really help me when I’m feeling anxious, particularly the 4-7-8 breath. To do it, close your eyes, and breathe in quietly through your nose, counting to four. Hold your breath to a count of seven. Then let all of your breath out through your mouth to a count of eight. I read somewhere that holding your breath momentarily can keep your mind from racing. It has definitely helped me and reminded me that I’m in control of my body.” – Melinda, Dallas, Ballpoint Visions

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Survival tip: Use whatever you need to get comfortable. Image by Flickr user Melissa Gutierrez.

I like to do some yoga stretches at the back of the plane every few hours that I’m awake. It keeps my circulation going and helps prepare me for a deeper sleep on the flight, and for being more alert when I arrive at my destination. – Joanna, Calgary, Vintage Girl Travels

“I know people who have used hypnosis or meditation (guided with recordings and not) during takeoff and other tough moments. Some folks prefer a glass of wine or anti-anxiety meds, or to sleep through as much as possible. Flying doesn’t bother me, but I find some breathing techniques from yoga or other grounding techniques help in frantic moments.” – Delia, Boston, Away She Goes

Keep Your Sleep Cycle on Track

“The best thing is if you can get some sleep because that helps it go by faster, and you can arrive well rested. Also, before take off, even before the doors are closed, scour the cabin for empty seats, and ask if you can move to them after or even before take off because if you have more room it will be easier to sleep because you can lay down. Even ask at the check-in counter and tell them you are nervous!” – Cailin, Hallifax, Travel Yourself

I make sure to keep my routine as normal as possible. The longest flight I’ve done is 9 hours overnight, so I made sure I had a snack, brushed my teeth, and did as much of my nightly routine as possible, then went to sleep for a bit. Just the act of doing something physically familiar helped me keep my emotional footing. I’m a huge fan of routines, especially when travelling.  – Hannah, Jackson

Treat Yourself to Some Luxury

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Survival tip: Flying in luxury never hurts! Image by Flickr user Richard Moross.

Flying with a good airline is important. Being comfortable to begin with can really help lessen the anxiety. I also try to think of things [to] distract [myself] while blocking out what’s going on. On one of my recent long flights, I worked on editing photos on my computer while listening to music, and it was a great way to distract myself and pass the hours, and at the same time I didn’t notice what was going around me, so it was easier to forget I was on a plane. – Leah, Nashville, Went Looking

“Always fly a good airline. Bring your own pillow and blanket – it adds to your luggage but helps bring [the] comforts of home. You can also get a spray called rescue remedy at health food stores that helps with anxiety.” – Carmen, Sacramento

Stay Calm and Fly On!

“I take Valium. I’ve never taken any sleeping pills or anything like this before, but I had to go on an 11-hour flight to Johannesburg a few years back for work, and my doctor just prescribed me Valium. It makes all the difference. You’re still awake, but you’re just super calm and don’t really care about the turbulence. I take it for all long-haul flights now!” Jenny, Munich, JennyRTW

When I used to feel anxious on a plane going through turbulence, I looked at the flight attendants, collecting and still distributing sodas in plastic cups with ease. I imagined I was on a big sailboat, navigating through choppy waters.  – Sarahlynn, Chicago, Sarahlynn Pablo

“My husband is terrified of turbulence, and he really finds it helpful to listen to the pilot. Some airlines have a radio channel for passengers to listen to the air traffic, and he says it soothes him to know what’s going on ‘up front.'” – Beth, Chicago

What’s your go-to strategy for dealing with long-haul or even short flights? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Joanna Farley
Blogging program mentor
Joanna Farley grew up in Crawley, England before immigrating at age 8 to Canada. She was infected with the travel bug at birth by her parents, and began her solo travels the day she finished university. 8 years later, her adventures have taken her to England, Ireland, Spain, Norway, Germany, Holland, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Mexico, as well as to parts of Canada and the United States. Passionate about all things ‘vintage’, Joanna loves wearing red lipstick and dresses from the 1940s while backpacking throughout the globe in search of adventures, new cultural opportunities, and swing dancing scenes. She writes about her attempts to combine all three loves – travel, dance, and vintage fashions – at www.joannaabroad.wordpress.com and as @joannatravels on Twitter.

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