How to Actually Enjoy a Long Haul Flight


Over the course of two years of full time travel, I’ve learned a lot about how to make a long haul flight not only tolerable but actually enjoyable.

When I traveled from the United States to New Zealand to work as an au pair, I spent 27 hours traveling. That long haul flight experience, or experiences more accurately, gave me an appreciation for the uninterrupted time you have when you’re living at 10,000 feet.

If you find yourself on a long haul flight soon, give these tips for how to enjoy a long haul flight a try.

How to Enjoy a Long Haul Flight

I can’t guarantee that any long haul flight experience will be the most pleasant thing you’ve gone through, but these long flight suggestions make the time fly by (sorry, can’t help myself) and help you to make the most of any long haul flight.

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Set Travel Goals

Am I the only one who gets to daydreaming on airplanes? I find I do some of my best thinking on planes and a long haul flight is the perfect time to put some of those thoughts on paper.

I especially like creating a “must-do" list for my destination (even if the only “must-do" you have is to eat a baguette in Paris). Think about the other places you’d like to travel to someday or the travel experiences you want to work towards.

Stretch Early and Often

It’s so easy to get engrossed in the movie selection and forget about moving around or simply just standing and stretching. I also find it’s much more socially acceptable to be up and walking the plane on long haul flights. Take advantage of that!

Catch Up on Movies You've Missed

This might be an obvious one. Most long haul flights these days have a huge selection of the latest movies, so take full advantage. I like to scroll through all my options right away, then make a mental list of the movies I’m most interested in.

It’s also fun to watch something shot or set in the place you’re traveling to. I recommend something to watch in each of my destination dispatches.

Adjust Your Clocks

Adjust your clocks, both material and internal, to the time zone of your ultimate destination. This helps you mentally acclimate to your new time zone. Try to eat meals and sleep when it makes sense for your next locale.

Journal Your Memories

If you’re on the return leg of your long haul flight, journal about the travel experience you just had. Write down all of the little moments you don’t want to forget. Sketch a scene that makes you smile. Scroll through your photos, organize them, and write down details that might disappear if you wait too long.

Read a Perfectly Timed Book

You have fewer distractions while on a long haul flight. Use the luxury of time to read a book you’ve been putting off for too long. Some of the books that I put off for far too long are The Book Thief, The Hobbit, and The Happiness Project. They all make great long haul flight reads.

A long haul flight is a great time to read a book set wherever you’re traveling to. I’ve put together quite a few travel book lists for a variety of destinations here

Pack an Electronics Organizer

This electronics organizer has been a travel gamechanger for me. It keeps my carry-on free of unruly cords and makes it easy to find what you need even while on a long haul flight. Who wants to riffle through a bag when you could be watching another movie?

Bring a Water Bottle (and Actually Use It)

Make your water bottle your best friend on a long haul flight. Bring it through security empty and fill it up at every water bottle filling station or drinking fountain you find. Hydration is key and might even help to reduce the effects of jetlag. I like this one because it packs down small and has a clip to attach to the seat.

Bring a Clear Skincare Mask

I genuinely don’t understand the bloggers who recommend bringing a sheet mask along on a long haul flight. I’m all for self care, but I can’t imagine looking my seatmate in the eyes after applying one of those ghostly masks in public. Instead, find an overnight mask that goes on clear. I found this one and used it without the worry of feeling like a fool.

Pack a Health Pouch

Pack a really small amount of any of the hygiene or health related products you turn to when you’re uncomfortable. I keep eye drops, hand cream, baby wipes, chapstick, advil and melatonin in mine. It is a great thing to have when you need to quickly make yourself more comfortable.

Pack a Bathroom Bag

There are a few things that you just don’t want to do in front of a stranger less than a foot away from you. For example, use a wisp, apply deodorant, or apply a facemask. Put these things in your “bathroom" bag and use any bathroom breaks you may need to freshen up.

Bring a Notebook

I tend to have some of my best ideas at 10,000 feet. Make sure you have a journal to jot down your thoughts, plan your upcoming travel adventure, reminisce on your memories, or play hangman with your seatmate. I love the Leuchtturm1917 notebook, but really any notebook that inspires you will do. 

Pack Bluetooth Headphones

I’ve had this pair of noise-cancelling bluetooth headphones for over a year now. They’re lightweight, comfortable, and relatively inexpensive.

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  1. Megan
    January 14, 2019 at 12:32 am

    love the mention of eating a baguette in Paris <3

  2. Margaret
    September 10, 2019 at 12:11 am

    I love your idea of a bathroom bag! I’m flying to Germany soon and I’m hunting down ideas to make the long flight less of a drag.

  3. Nicole Mcintyre
    October 4, 2019 at 11:53 pm

    It’s the little things that make plane travel enjoyable. Good hygiene is definitely one of them!

    • adobberteen
      May 14, 2020 at 2:53 pm

      I couldn’t agree more!

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