How to take the stress out of a long haul flight

Amanda Angus

Saga's experts have a few tips to make long haul flights a little bit easier

There’s so much world to explore, but unfortunately, being a keen traveller means you inevitably have to take a lot of long-haul flights. 

We’d all love to be first-class flyers and snooze the journey away in a seat that fully reclines, but for most of us, flying is something that has to be endured in order to get to the good bit at the other side. 

Fortunately, over the last few years our experts have taken more than their fair share of long-haul flights, and have a few tips to make the journey much easier!

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Bring a travel pillow

A sore neck cause by a lack of support as you try to sleep through the flight is not what you need after you’ve touched down somewhere exciting and you want to be out and about, exploring your new surroundings! 

You can get comfy foam pillows that squish into your hand luggage, or ones that you inflate yourself for even more space saving. 

Or if you don't mind something a little bulkier in order to achieve maximum comfort, try a 'J pillow' which has an extra strut for your face to rest against. 

Withdraw into your own little bubble

Invest in a comfortable eye mask and noise-cancelling headphones

These are great for shutting out the world and give you the solitude you need to get some decent sleep – plus if you have an overly chatty neighbour, it’s a subtle way of saying you’d like some time to yourself.

Stock up on lip balm

The air in the plane is very dry and you can end up with sore, chapped lips very quickly. 

If you suffer from coldsores, you'll know that when your lips get dry and damaged is when they strike, and going on holiday is not when you want to be dealing with these pesky, painful little annoyances! 

Even if you are one of the lucky people who don’t get coldsores, you’ll feel much more comfortable after applying lipbalm, so pop a couple of tubes or pots in your hand luggage.

Freshen up

Take baby wipes and moisturiser. There’s nothing like feeling clean to perk you right up halfway through your flight. If you’re about to take a nap, or if you’ve just woken up from one, or even if you need a bit of a pick-me-up, simply wash your face and hands and slather on some moisturiser – it will take away the grimy feeling you can get on long flights and leave you refreshed.

The baby wipes come in handy for this too, if you don’t want to make your way to the on-board toilets, or in an emergency – if you’re ever handed a chocolate ice lolly that melts down your arm on an overnight flight, you’ll be relieved you have baby wipes!

Go menthol

Or spearmint, or peppermint… if you take chewing gum, mints or even boiled sweets, you can avoid the annoying and at times painful experience of your ears popping as the pressure changes. 

As the plane takes off simply chew or suck a sweet, then again as the plane begins its descent, and you’ll have no problems.

Snuggle up

Bring woolly socks or slippers if you like to take your shoes off, as the air in the cabin can get quite cold. 

Kicking your shoes off can make you feel more comfortable and relaxed,especially as your feet can swell up to around two sizes bigger during the flight. 

And your fellow passengers will thank you for covering up your bare feet!

Bring eye drops

A few drops every now and then will stop your eyes feeling quite so tired and uncomfortable – and if you can’t face the idea of drops, you can get a liquid you simply spray on to closed eyes that will still do the trick.

Drink lots of water

Again, the dry air in the plane is not your friend – it’s really easy to get dehydrated, so make sure you drink lots of water to avoid getting headaches. 

And whilst you’re up above the clouds, perhaps order a tomato juice; studies have shown that something about the low pressure in the plane makes it taste suddenly much more delicious – and it’s said to have the added benefit of settling your stomach if you’re feeling a little queasy!

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.