5 top tips for a great transoceanic flight

Oh, the long-haul flight. You know it’ll be worth it when you arrive at your destination and start your adventure. But sometimes the thought of 7 to 16 hours on a plane is a bit overwhelming. Those of us who work in the travel industry have taken many of these flights and have happily learned some tricks to make them a bit easier. These can help you arrive at your destination as ready as you can be for a great start to your trip.

Get moving

Leave time before you board so you can walk some laps around the terminal. Checking your bags makes you more mobile and better able to do this. Don’t forget, you’ll be sitting long enough on the aircraft, so get your muscles moving while you have the chance. On board, when the seatbelt sign is turned off, get up every now and again to walk up and down the aisles. Stretch your back and legs in the back of the plane, maybe even do some lunges. If you’ve managed to fall asleep, wake up when the cabin lights turn on towards the end of the flight and once again, get up and move around.

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Drink water

Drinking water is good sense in life, but especially when flying. The plane air is very dry, so it’s important to stay hydrated. Being dehydrated, even a little bit, will make you feel sluggish and parched. Bring a reusable water bottle to fill up at a water fountain in the terminal after you go through security. During the flight, don’t be shy in asking for a refill every time the beverage cart comes by. It’s also best to avoid alcohol, sugary drinks, and especially caffeine if have any hope of dozing off.

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Trick your brain

Shortly after take-off, reset your watch (if you’re one of the few of us who still wears one) or adjust the time on your phone to your destination’s time zone. It will help get your brain thinking on the right schedule, even if your body isn’t so sure what to do. Don’t think about what time it is back at home, and never, ever count how many hours you’ve been awake. That isn’t productive. Instead, jazz yourself up by thinking about where you’re going and the adventures that await you!

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Turn things off

Have you heard of blue light? It’s the light frequency emitted by all the digital screens in our lives, and it messes with our brain’s production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. As tempting as it is to catch up on movies you’ve missed, finish any lingering work, or play games on your phone, try to avoid electronics and the in-flight entertainment if you want to try to sleep. If you’re not quite ready to nap, or can’t fall asleep, try reading a good, old-fashioned book or magazine. Bring one that you don’t mind leaving behind if you finish it.

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Pack a sensory deprivation kit

Noise-cancelling headphones, an eye mask, slippers, sleeping pills, and a good neck pillow can do wonders when you’re trying to catch some sleep on an overnight flight. Depending on what airline you are flying, many of these may be amenities available in first class or business class. Even if you just doze for a little bit and don’t really fall into a deep sleep, the rest and break from distraction will still help with jet-lag recovery. You might also want to through in a toothbrush and toothpaste, so you can leave the plane feeling a bit more refreshed than you might otherwise be.

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Matt Holmes is the Founder & President of Boundless Journeys. Boundless Journeys is an award-winning tour operator that goes off the beaten path for immersive and authentic travel experiences.

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Comments (7)

  1. I have a transatlantic flight in a few hours and will try one of these tips. I will walk around the terminal for at least 30 minutes before boarding. I rarely do this but tried it one time with a friend and it was a nice experience.

  2. Rana Kal says:

    I actually do that clock trick when I fly. I also just sleep through the entire flight, if only we could have a “do not disturb” sign hanging above us so that the flight attendants could stop waking me up to ask if I want anything.

  3. Geoff says:

    I’d always assumed the role of noise-cancelling head was purely to enhance the listening experience and block out background noise (eg. of the aircraft engines). But I suppose the ‘blocking out’ of a sense also has its own therapeutic qualities that will improve your flying experience as a whole…

  4. Jerry says:

    I do most of the above, but find I struggle to sleep. I am also 6 feet 4 inches tall, and not so young and flexible any more, so any economy seat can only be uncomfortable.
    The answer I found was to put a couple of days music on my iPad. Combine that with headphones (not earplug type), a neck support and eye mask and I can now sleep reasonably well on most flights. I just leave the music running, so I don’t have to look at the device.

  5. John P. says:

    Trying to adjust to the new timezone as soon as possible is critical IMHO. I start doing it before I even depart.

  6. Jessica R says:

    These are some fantastic tips. My other half is a nervous flyer so he swears by the sensory kit just so he can relax. We always try and keep busy at the airport to keep his nerves down and then he can relax on the flight. I agree that it is so easy to e tempted to plug in but if you relax for the flight then When you get there you can start enjoying the country straight away.

  7. John says:

    Earlier in the year I booked a long-haul flight to Singapore. Then I had to have an urgent hip replacement. My sign-off appointment with surgeon was the day before my flight. Close and nerve-wracking. Luckily he said I could fly.

    Nervously I wore my DVT stockings. Did loads of exercises. And got up for a walk every hour. I didn’t dare sleep. Anyway I got there without mishap.

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