How to survive a long overseas flight

Collage of a woman in the sky enjoying headphones with a sunset contrail behind her.

Australia is an amazing island to call home, with beaches, cities, and exciting people galore. It’s just too bad we’re a seventeen-hour flight from everywhere.

So if you’ve packed your luggage, picked your travel insurance, and booked your plane tickets, here are the essential survival tips for enduring the long overseas flight.

Book your flight for your night

Collage of a plane flying at sunset

Jet lag can be a horror, especially if you’re travelling to the other side of the world. Do yourself a favour and book your flights for when you normally sleep. That way, you can maximise your rest and catch some z’s in a way natural to your circadian rhythm. When you land, you’ll be bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready to seize your holiday.

Prepare to be miserable

Collage of a man being really unhappy

Nothing heightens your misery like the thought, “It’s supposed to be better than this!” Instead, lean into how lethargic, discombobulated, and cranky long flights can make you. Accept that for the next sixteen hours, this is where you live. The more you fight it, the worse it’ll be. Treating yourself with acceptance and compassion can be worth all the travel tips in the world.

Horizontal time at home, stretch your legs at the airport

Collage of a woman preparing to do Zoom yoga

Your body is about to go through an endurance test in sitting. Get moving a few days before your flight with plenty of exercise, then lie down the day of the flight. You’re going to be sitting upright for a while, so better lay flat while you can. 

Finally, at the airport, take yourself on a tour of all the gates. Browse duty-free, keep those legs moving. Your gluts will thank you later. 

And make sure to take breaks on the flight. Go for a midnight walk around the cabin and stretch in the galley. Maybe the flight attendant has a fascinating life story: you never know.

Invest in compression socks

Collage of some sexy beast compression socks

Compression socks are saints. These miracles of hosiery keep your circulation flowing in your lowers legs and help reduce swelling, which is inevitable when sitting for so long. 

So if you normally get socks for Christmas, ask your loved ones to step it up and save your legs on your European vacation.

Choose familiar comforts

Collage of a woman wrapped in a cosy blanket

The idea that you’ll learn a new hobby, watch a new show, or read a new book on a long flight overseas is a lie. Delusion. Utter nonsense. Don’t fall for it. You’ll be too tired, stressed, and out of sorts to try anything new. 

Instead, surround yourself with familiar and cosy comforts. Your softest shirt. Your favourite movies. Delicious childhood snacks. The idea is to keep yourself calm and comfy.

Have changes of clothes

Collage of a change of clothes in a suitcase

A great way to help your brain adjust to the journey is to have different clothes for taking off, sleeping, and arriving at your destination. Pack some cosy pyjamas and stylish outfits you’re excited to wear: it’ll help you stay fresh and keep track of the transition.

Bring fresh wipes

Aesthetic packet of fresh wipes

Speaking of fresh, pack some fresh wipes. Planes notoriously do not have showers, and as fun as it is to wash in the teensy, tiny sink, a packet of neutral-smelling wet wipes can easily do the trick. (Just don’t flush them).

Download your favourite songs, shows, and movies

Person with hypnotic glasses scrolling their smartphone

“These are a few of my favourite things,” you say as your scroll through your phone or tablet. Download plenty of streaming options before you leave so you can while away the hours. Even a meditation app can’t go astray.

Stay hydrated, eat fruit and protein

Collage of a woman with healthy salad

Plane food isn’t exactly gourmet, so if you’re allowed, absolutely take some snacks with you. Fruits and protein bars work best because they nourish you with energy, vitamins, and electrolytes. (Just avoid nuts: they’re such a common allergy, you’ll likely have to chuck them out anyway).

Use sleeping aids that work for you

Collage of a woman yawning in an eye mask

Some people are blessed with the gift of “can sleep on an aeroplane”. Others aren’t so lucky. A few weeks before your flight, experiment with some ways to get yourself to sleep, such as melatonin, eye masks, or strong allergy medications. 

The idea is to sleep, not just get groggy, so recovery is important as well. Pay attention to how you feel after a sleep aid.  

Noise-cancelling headphones

Collage of a woman listening to headphones

Just like compression socks, noise-cancelling headphones are no joke. If you haven’t invested in a pair, consider it an early birthday present to yourself. 

While noise-cancelling headphones won’t eliminate every sound on the plane (sorry, screaming baby), they will do a lot to cut out the white hum of airconditioning, restless shuffling, and low conversation. You won’t realise how much all of this is driving you spare until it’s gone, so find a set within your budget and enjoy your cocoon of silence.

Less luggage on the plane, the better

Collage of a woman sitting on top of a suitcase

If you’re an over-packer, take note. Pick-pockets adore you. If you travel with ten little bags on the plane and a bonus case of duty-free champers, you may as well wear a shirt that says, “My wallet is in my back left pocket, and you can have it.”

Instead, reduce clutter mentally and physically (and repel thieves) by consolidating your carry-on into one little security bag for your travel documents and one main bag with your clothes, devices, snacks, and toiletries. Realistically, that is all you need. Everything else is dead weight or thief bait.

Travel insurance is actually worth it these days

Collage person sitting on their luggage against a city skyline

Travel is more chaotic than it was a few years ago. Airports are understaffed, thieves are about, and bags go missing all the time. Flights get cancelled or delayed. And as much as we ignore it, COVID-19 is still a thing. 

Consider investing in a travel insurance policy with enough coverage to reduce your stress on holiday. While long flights can be tedious, it’s even more infuriating when you have to fork out for a new one.

Have fun!

Last but not least, have fun. Overseas travel is a magnificent adventure, so enjoy it. The view is fantastic from 30,000 feet, and you’ll land before you can decide, “Chicken or veggies.”

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Compare international travel insurance policies - last updated 24 June 2024

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