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8 Hacks for Staying Comfortable on a Long-Haul Flight

By Fiona Mokry
Read time: 5 minutes

While many travelers enjoy jetting off to far-flung destinations, long-haul flights can wreak havoc on the body’s comfort and sleep cycle. Try as you might, it’s no easy feat to arrive at your destination rested and relaxed — especially when you cross multiple time zones and face the inevitable prospect of jet lag. So, how do you maximize your quality time on the ground once you land? Start by adopting these eight travel tips for staying comfortable on a long flight.

Prioritize Comfortable Clothing

Traveler wearing sweater and headphones in airplane seat
Photo credit: EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER/ iStock

Savvy travelers will tell you that investing in a plane outfit is guaranteed to be money well spent. Comfortable and cozy clothes that you can easily sleep in are a must for any long-haul flight. Fitted joggers offer a pulled-together look without feeling too casual for the airport, while offering maximum comfort once you settle in for your flight. For example, these men’s joggers (complete with waist tie and zip pockets) pair well with a light long-sleeved waffle hoodie. For women, these sweatshirts and matching bottoms tick all the right comfort boxes for an overnight flight.

Layer Up

Close-up image of person packing sweaters in suitcase
Photo credit: Panuwat Dangsungnoen/ iStock

Why is it that airplane cabins always tend to be either freezing cold or stifling hot? In the wrong clothing, you’ll find yourself on the losing end of a battle with the anything-but-comfortable climate. Fortunately, you can avoid this fight by smartly layering. Invest in a pair of moisture-wicking tanks or T-shirts that slip easily under hoodies; they also help whisk away sweat and keep odors at bay throughout long flights. Elevate the look while still staying comfortable and dry with smart-looking stretchable collared shirts

Bring Noise-Canceling Headphones

Traveler seated at airport with luggage, wearing noise-canceling headphones
Photo credit: PeopleImages/ iStock

A crying baby, a snoring seatmate, or in-flight announcements have the ability to majorly impact your quality of rest on a flight. Block out disruptions and pop in a pair of wireless noise-canceling earbuds, preferably one with a self-contained charging case that’s key for travel when you might not have access to a charger. Some over-ear headphones options are pricey, but they offer impeccable sound quality and noise cancellation. Plus, can you really put a price on decent sleep? If the answer is yes, then these more affordable headphones might be the perfect compromise.

Try a Pre-Flight Workout

Close-up image of runner tying shoes
Photo credit: Viorel Poparcea/ iStock

Breaking a sweat before you travel and following a workout with a hot shower may be the perfect routine before you head to the airport. If time allows, squeeze in some exercise the day of travel to work your muscles and promote circulation, which can make sitting on a long flight more tolerable. And you’ll tire your body out to (hopefully) promote better sleep. The hot shower should help you relax before you settle in for the long haul. 

Pack Plenty of Snacks

Close-up image of people dining
Photo credit: BraunS/ iStock

Most long-haul flights will offer a full meal service, along with snacks and beverages, but the quality of plane food is up for debate. Keep hunger at bay and your taste buds satisfied with packable snacks that offer high nutritional value to sustain you until you reach your destination. Try bringing peelable fruit, trail mix, and granola bars in your carry-on to ward off hunger. 

Book a Non-Stop Flight When Possible

Jet taking off on runway
Photo credit: guvendemir/ iStock

Nothing disrupts the careful preparations you’ve taken to rest well on a flight than the dreaded layover. It takes time and effort to settle into flight mode, find comfort, and drift off to sleep. That all goes to waste when you have to interrupt your journey with a stressful connection at another airport. It’s not always possible, but a golden rule of travel is to try and book a direct flight to avoid starting the process all over again and reach your destination as quickly as possible. 

Strategize Your Seat Selection

View from airplane seat looking toward front of cabin
Photo credit: Toa Heftiba/ Unsplash

If seat selection isn’t included in your economy fare, paying the extra fee to choose your seat could make all the difference for your flight experience. Whether you prefer the window seat for something to lean against or the aisle seat for mobility and a little extra leg room, it’s best to snag your seat preference ahead of time. And check helpful sites such as SeatGuru that show which seats travelers recommend (or recommend avoiding). Otherwise, you risk being assigned the middle seat, which cramps your limbs between two other people and leaves with you little support. It can also be worth it to pay a little extra for an extra legroom seat, such as one located at an exit row, for added comfort.

Pack a Travel Neck Pillow

Woman in airplane seat reclining with neck pillow
Photo credit: ArtistGNDphotography/ iStock

Finally, consider investing in a portable neck pillow, which provides needed support for your neck and can help you catch some quality shut-eye on a flight. There are an overwhelming number of travel pillow options out there, so it’s important to consider comfort as well as one that supports your body’s ergonomics. The Ostrichpillow Go Neck Pillow is made from high-quality, shape-adapting memory foam, and has a wraparound style to support proper neck and head position. Plus, its travel-friendly design compresses down to 60% of its full size. 

Note: All featured products and deals are selected independently and objectively by the author. Daily Passport may receive a share of sales via affiliate links in content.

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