What to Do to Prepare for a Long-Haul Flight


Long-haul flights can be exhausting and nerve-racking. In less than two weeks, I will be flying to Guatemala from Helsinki, Finland and I thought now would be a perfect time to write about my tips and tricks for long-haul flights to make the experience as enjoyable as possible. I know, long travel times are not fun and can cause dread in any of us, and that is exactly why I decided to tackle this topic, especially as I noticed that there is very little extensive information about the topic. So, let us get started!

Pack entertainment in various formats
Depending on the level of alertness, I tend to opt for different types of entertainment: sometimes I feel like reading a book, sometimes it has to be a podcast or an audiobook, a sudoku, a movie or just some uplifting or calming music. Don't rely on the in-flight entertainment, as it could be broken or there might be nothing you enjoy. Although, last year on our flight to Newark from Stockholm I had loads of fun playing chess against chess masters. I lost to a 7-year-old but oh well, at least I was keeping myself busy for some time.

Always an optimist, I also take with me some work but usually, I am too distracted or tired to get anything done. But the point is to have variety so you can do whatever it is you feel like doing. I am going to download some podcasts and music, probably also some audiobooks from Audible and a book if I get tired of screens or Kindle's battery runs out for some reason (it is very durable). This made me think of packing a power bank, and I had to stop writing and go put it next to my carry-on bag. One thing I like to do on flights is to write in my travel journal, it keeps me distracted and I like to have a record of the pre-travel excitement. It just gets me into a travel mood!

Choose what to wear in advance
Choosing your travel outfit helps you be prepared and less stressed and also plays an important role in the level of coziness you can experience on board. I go for comfiness over style, but I am jealous of everyone who manages to look stylish when traveling. For our flight to Guatemala, we are going to have a travel time of over 30 hours. There is no way I can put jeans on. I went and got a pair of high-waisted pants in a bigger size than I'd normally go for, and they are extremely comfy! I'll wear a white t-shirt and a cardigan and pack with me a blanket scarf and an extra pair of socks if I get cold. As we all know, sitting down for several hours is not good for us. Especially if you're on the pill, and even if you're not, I really really recommend getting flight (compression) socks. Also, remember to take a comfortable pair of shoes in case you have to run to catch your next plane. I wore heels once and it wasn't fun!

Consider investing in noise-canceling headphones
Buying noise-canceling headphones is something I've been thinking of doing for a long time. They would totally block out all the stressful plane noises and for those of us who fear flying, it would help with forgetting where you are. I know it is a bit of a splurge, but then again, they can be used in many different situations (I am thinking working and studying, mainly) and the increased productivity and the usability would make up for the price.

Arrive at the airport at the right time
I am the kind of person that shows up everywhere early. I need to be early to have time to adjust and to get myself mentally prepared for the flight. However, this is very individual and I am not saying everyone should show up early, but that it is a good idea to figure out what makes you comfortable, whether it is getting to the airport last minute or waiting there all night. If you are well prepared, have done your check-in online, packed your stuff according to the airline rules and don't forget your passport home, I think nowadays you don't need to show up quite as early as you used to. We are getting to the airport 1.5 hours before take-off. Getting through security is very fast at Helsinki airport, but we will see what's it going to be like on our way back.

Eat well beforehand & remember to take care of your basic needs in general
This helped me so much the last time I had a long flight. I become very irritated (just like most of us, I imagine) whenever my blood sugar drops, so I need to make sure I am eating well - especially as airplane cuisine is rarely commendable. Also, bringing snacks (salty is my go-to, especially as something happens to my taste buds up in the air) and a hand sanitizer is a must! Mine are from Bath & Body Works and they have saved me on multiple occasions. Besides, planes are a good place for catching a cold so it is worth it to try and prevent that.

I recommend packing a toothbrush, a toothpaste, and some facial wipes to feel as fresh as possible. If you want to sleep, pack a sleep mask. Talking of masks, I have seen many ladies with sheet masks on and I am planning to take one with me! It is an excellent way to help keep your skin moisturized, even if you might get some weird looks. And as a final note, related to the heading of this section: the cabin crew is there to help you, so if you need anything, do not hesitate to ask. I have asked for an extra pillow, water, tissues when my nose started bleeding... Flight attendants are angels, I love how caring and attentive they are, and we have to make use of that.

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So, here are some of my tips for preparing for a long-haul flight, I really hope you found them helpful. This was a very unstructured, unplanned post but I wanted to share some ideas and hopefully help someone. Good luck to those of you flying soon. Tell me your destinations & unmentioned tips in the comments below! If you want to see pictures from my upcoming vacation in Guatemala, head over to Instagram (@choose_curiosity) and follow me to keep up.

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