Luckily, there are a few ways that you can make even the longest flight a little easier. Here, in no particular order, are some of our best tips for helping make the time pass as quickly as possible.
Choose the right flight
First and foremost, make sure that you choose the right flight. The only thing worse than sitting on a flight for 18 hours straight is having to change planes all bleary-eyed at 2:00 in the morning. There are also airlines that let you upgrade to a seat with a bit more legroom for a nominal fee, which can seem like something you don’t want to spend money on until about ten hours into your trip. Different airlines also offer different amenities, like brand-name coffee or extra-reclining chairs, that can make your flight a bit more manageable.
A lot of airlines have done a great job incorporating seat-back entertainment systems into their flights, but you’re going to want to make sure you bring something else to keep yourself occupied. If possible, try to bring a tablet or smartphone instead of cramming a bag with crossword puzzles and novels. This is the time to download all of those magazines and games that you’ve been debating spending $1.99 on – if you save opening them until you board, you’ll have something to look forward to. Just make sure to bring a portable wireless charger or you’re going to be really disappointed when you inevitably lose power.
This probably goes without saying, but make sure you bring some food of your own. Meals might not be brought out according to your internal schedule, or you might not like what the airline’s serving, or you may fall asleep and miss food service all together. Your best bet? Bring something that doesn’t need to be heated or refrigerated, won’t either smash or break into crumbs, and that won’t make your seatmates hate you. Some great options are crusty bread drizzled with olive oil and layered with dry-cured meat like salami, carrot sticks with hummus, an apple with peanut butter, or a bar of dark chocolate.
You don’t have to be that guy wearing a sweatsuit (although you definitely can be), but if you’re going to be sitting in one spot for a while you’re going to want to be as comfortable as possible. Obviously you don’t want to be wearing anything tight or itchy – think along the lines of a cute jersey dress or a soft shirt and slightly stretchy pants. Bring an infinity scarf or pashmina for if you get cold, and shoes like ballet flats that you can easily kick off (carrying a pair of thick socks isn’t a bad idea either). If you’re going to try and catch some sleep, you might also want to bring a lightweight pair of pajamas you can change into. That way, when you wake up you can change back into something that will make you feel a bit fresher.
Get some sleep
Unless you’re a pretty deep sleeper, you might want to consider investing in noise-cancelling headphones (or at least downloading a white noise app and bringing headphones), an eye mask, and a neck pillow. If you wear contacts, be sure to have your case, a small bottle of solution, and your back-up glasses handy.
You’re going to want to freshen up at some point during the flight, if at least for your own sanity. Baby wipes are portable and inexpensive – you can use them all over in lieu of being able to actually shower, and they’ll make you feel considerably more human (you’ll probably want to bring a small stick of deodorant, as well). There are also disposable toothbrushes that come with freshening beads or are pre-pasted so you don’t have to carry your actual toothbrush around.
And finally: the WORST ways to survive a long haul flight
Alcohol, salt, and caffeine. They seem like fantastic ideas at the time, but too much of any of them will just make you miserable.