Hola! Bonjour! ‘Ello! I’m jetting off on an exciting international trip across the pond today! C and I are going somewhere we’ve never been before and I.AM.PUMPED. Any guesses where?! Stay tuned to my Instagram stories to find out! I’m so excited to share our destination with you (or actually two destinations) but until then I thought I would share some tips on how to survive a long flight. They can be really stressful….flying in general can be stressful….but luckily with the right tips, tricks and accessories, the phrase “sit back, relax and enjoy the flight” can be a reality!
This will be my third trip to Europe. The first time, I was so anxious about the long flight. I didn’t know how I would survive! We ended up doing a 24 hour layover in NYC to break up the flying time…..turns out, though, the long flight wasn’t that bad! The second time I flew to Europe, it was a nine hour overnight flight (my first overnight flight) straight from Dallas. Again, I was so anxious…..I usually can’t sleep on planes and I was so worried it would be awake the entire time and it would cause me to start the trip off feeling exhausted. It was much better than I anticipated, though! On both of those trips I actually enjoyed the flights and looked forward to the flights home!
This time around, we are flying nine hours overnight and I’m not worried at all! Scroll on down to see my tips for how to survive a long flight (and what to pack).
How to Survive a Long Flight
Keep Your Carry On Bag Organized
It sucks when you are blindly digging around in a carry on bag when it’s stuffed under the seat in front of you…..especially if your neighbor is asleep and you’re trying not to bother them! Having a carry on or personal item with organizational compartments is a GAME CHANGER. That way, you know right where everything is and can find for it easily. If I ever carry a tote without pockets/zippered compartments, I always put all of my small items in individual bags to help keep it organized. I am using THIS bag on my trip – it’s on sale for $35!
Download Movies/TV Shows/Books
Most international flights these days have personal TVs in the back of each seat. American Airlines has TONS of popular movies and TV shows to choose from and it makes time fly (no pun intended)! I always check the airline’s website prior to leaving to make sure they offer free in-flight entertainment (and to see what they are playing). If I don’t like the options, I download my own shows (and books) onto my iPad! Most airlines also offer chargers in your seat so you can keep your device fully charged for the duration of the flight (but I always pack an external battery, just incase).
Wear Comfy Clothes
That airport OOTD is cute and all but when you’re sitting in the same spot for 7+ hours, comfort is KEY. I always make sure the pants/bottoms I’m wearing don’t have pockets (the seams start to “sink” into my booty skin after a few hours of sitting and it is always so uncomfortable). I also like to make sure my bum is covered…..especially if I will be sleeping/pulling my legs up at all. My stomach bloats on planes so I try to make sure nothing is overly tight in the stomach area (leggings can even be painful for me sometimes). The last time I flew overnight I wore a loose maxi t-shirt dress and it was perfect (almost like a PJ dress haha, I pulled my legs inside it when I slept)! This time I will be wearing a super soft cotton jumpsuit. I also always throw in a blanket scarf because it can be used as a pillow or blanket, if needed.
If Flying Overnight, Stick to Your Night & Morning Routine
When flying overnight, it’s important to “trick” your body into sleeping to help you adjust to the new timezone upon landing. Going through your nightly routine as closely as possible is a great way to start! I pack makeup wipes and a toothbrush/toothpaste to help me get ready for bed as much as I can. When you wake up in the new time zone, do the same! Splash your face, brush your teeth, drink LOTS of water (and some coffee) and eat a balanced breakfast according to the timezone of your destination….I try to freshen up my hair and do my makeup in the airport bathroom after collecting my luggage because often times hotels won’t allow you to check in until the afternoon.
Pack Water & Snacks
Although international flights serve you a TON of food, wine/beer and all the drinks and snacks (which I love), I hate relying on flight attendants to come by to refill my water. I NEVER travel without my 32 oz hydro flask. I fill it up at an airport water fountain after going through security so that I always have water with me! I also get super hangry, especially when traveling, so having some healthy snacks with me is key. If you didn’t know, you can bring any food through security (even a homemade sandwich) as long as it isn’t a liquid – it saves a lot of money and is much healthier than airport food.
Take the Right Medications
I recommend taking water pills prior to flying because it will help keep you hydrated and keep any swelling down! Some people need Dramamine for motion sickness but I always take Gas X to keep my stomach bloating at a minimum. If you’re flying overnight, I HIGHLY recommend getting a sleeping pill prescription from your doctor or buying a strong over the counter sleep medicine (like Unisom). I know some people can get by on Melatonin alone, but if you struggle to sleep on planes like I do, I say go big or stay home haha.
Regularly Stand Up / Move Around / Go to the Bathroom
Even if it inconveniences your neighbor, moving around will help you feel your best upon landing! I always try to get up and go pee between movies…..and I try to drink enough that I actually need to pee each time.
What To Pack
Linking my favorite products for reference!
iPad or Tablet
So you can watch movies, TV shows, read a book, etc., just in case your plan doesn’t have in-seat entertainment (although most overseas flights do).
I never go anywhere without my giant 32 oz HydroFlask! I fill it up at an airport water fountain after going through security.
I like this Turtl pillow! It’s really soft, easy to transport and doesn’t smash or move your headphones when wearing it.
Noise Cancelling Headphones
I’d recommend over the ear and in ear….over ear headphones work better but they can start to squeeze and cause headaches. They also aren’t overly comfortable to sleep in. I always bring two pair so I can switch back and forth for maximum comfort! Make sure one of your pairs has a plug in cord (as opposed to just blue tooth) so you can use the head rest TV!
This foot sling attaches to the meal tray on the seat back in front of you and is meant to help elevate your feet. I honestly didn’t have much faith in it but it cost like $10 so I figured why not try? I was impressed at how well it worked! It rolls up to be TINY and doesn’t take up any space in your carry on. I was able to pull my knees up a bit and get in a semi-fetal position to sleep which I appreciated! It definitely helped me stay more comfortable and be able to re-position myself overnight.
If you aren’t one for falling asleep to music/television, get some soft foam earplugs for the plane! I ALWAYS travel with earplugs – you never know when you will be in a noisy hotel room.
Although they turn the cabin lights off for the duration of most international flights, each passenger has their own reading lights that can be pretty bright. If your neighbor is up and reading but you want to sleep, an eye mask can be a game changer! If you have eyelash extensions, be sure to use one with eye bubbles so it doesn’t smash your lashes.
Under Eye Patches (or sheet masks if you’re not embarrassed to use them!)
Flying kills my skin and makes me look dry and ROUGH. Under eye patches really help brighten the tired eyes and help them look refreshed! If you’re OK with people laughing at you, a sheet mask does wonders, as well, and plumps the skin full of the moisture it is losing during the flight. I usually save my sheet mask for the night after the flight, though.
Blanket or Blanket Scarf
Planes are often cold so I like to travel with a small fleece blanket or big scarf, just in case. It also makes sleeping a bit more “cozy.” Most overseas flights provide a blanket and pillow, but I usually try to bring back up. You can always use it as a pillow, too!
Be sure to toss a hand sanitizer in your bag! I always carry one when traveling. You never know what kind of germs are in airports, subways, Ubers, etc. and sometimes when you’re grabbing a snack on the go there isn’t a place to wash your hands!
I talked about this above but sleep medicine is a MUST for me when flying overnight! I can’t sleep on a plane to save my life unless I have a little (or a lot of) help….. I’d recommend asking your doctor for a prescription (it also helps you adjust to the new time zone quicker) but if you’d rather not, try an over the counter sleep medicine like Unisom. It is non-habit forming! Also, be sure to pack any motion sickness meds you may need, stomach relief or airborne! I also like to take water pills to help with hydration and swelling mid-flight.
Travel Toiletries in a Clear Case
I like to pack all the toiletries I will need on the flight in a clear travel case so that I can grab the bag and see/access them easily in the airplane bathroom. Don’t forget your makeup remover wipes, toothbrush & toothpaste, contact solution & lens case (or glasses case) if you’re flying overnight!
Most overseas flights have plugs at each seat so I make sure to bring chargers for all of the devices I plan to use during the flight. I also bring an external battery charger, just in case. That way, everything is charged upon landing and I can hit the ground running once I arrive!
If you’re flying internationally, there’s a good chance you will need a black or blue ink pen to fill out customs paperwork upon landing. It SUCKS to be the person that has to ask your neighbor for a pen (especially if you have airport anxiety like me) and be the last in line to the border. I keep a pen in my carry on at all times now because I’ve forgotten to bring one on too many occasions!
This may sound silly but hear me out…….no one wants to sleep in shoes but it is also SO GROSS to take your shoes off on a plane. Don’t be that person. Bring a pair of comfy, fuzzy, cute socks with you to wear when you’re asleep! It will keep your feet warm and keep you comfortable without grossing out your neighbor.
Personally my feet and ankles don’t swell on planes so I’ve never had to use compression socks. However, my mom used them when we went to Paris and she swore by them! If you are worried about swelling, grab yourself a pair! Better to be safe than sorry.
If you have been on an extra long flight or an overnight flight and have any additional tips (or must have travel items), please leave them in the comments! I’d love to test them out on my next trip! Also, if you have any recommendations on books or Netflix/Amazon Prime shows to stream, drop them below