Surviving a long-haul flight in economy is like surviving a marathon. You need to prepare ahead of time, apply your game plan, then make it through the hours of torture. 

I almost always book economy, because let’s face it—first class is crazy-expensive.

Economy isn’t a huge deal on short trips but on extended ones it can be torturous.  

Over the years, I’ve developed my own routine for surviving these lengthy trips. Follow these tips and your flight will be just a little more bearable.

Long Flight Essentials


These are the things I always pack in my carry-on to get through prolonged journeys.

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Socks
  • Health Juice Shots
  • Approved Mask
  • Moisturizer
  • Eye Mask
  • Sunglasses
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Headphones
  • Portable Charger
  • Deodorant

Preparing For Your Long Haul Flight

Step 1: Hydrate and Supplement

Vive Juice Shot

Traveling is incredibly dehydrating. I like to keep as hydrated as possible in the days leading up to my flight. This means making sure I’m drinking lots of water and eating lots of fruits and veggies.

I also stock up on Vive shots and incorporate them into my routine a few days before my trip. Can you tell I’m paranoid about having a low immune system while traveling?

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Vive Organic’s blend of super herbs and organic citrus packs a punch when you need it. Take 1-3 shots to support a speedy recovery (especially when you’re in miserable condition.)

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Step 2: Lay Out Your Carry-On Essentials

Ally traveling in an airport with her Away carry-on luggage in Chicago

You should lay out all your carry-on essentials the morning before you fly. Once everything is laid out, I can identify any essentials I still need to stock up on.

It should be second nature at this point, but don’t forget to bring extra face masks in your carry-on bag!

For long-haul flights, I use a checklist to make sure I remember everything.

Step 3: Check-in For Your Flight


Check-in early for the option to choose the aisle or window.

Trust me, don’t wait until the last minute for a major trip.

The last time I did, I got stuck in a middle seat crammed between two old men on a 15 hour flight from New York to Moscow (ugh).

Pro Trip: Check SeatGuru to check out seat reviews before you confirm your assignment. Plusgrade is also something to look into. You can bid on possible upgrades before you fly.

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These are a travel must-have these days! After Heathrow lost my luggage for almost a week last summer, I invested in my first AirTag for my checked luggage, and now I'm obsessed!

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Step 4: Plan Your Travel Outfits

Ally in Miami Airport before long haul flight to France - travel outfit - monos luggage

For lengthy journeys I plan two outfits and bring two face masks. One for boarding and one for changing into when I arrive. I like to plan outfits that are strategically layered for the plane.

Since it’s always cold on the plane, I always wear a zip-up hoodie. It’s so easy to slide on and off while in your seat.

For my second day outfit, I plan something that will be easy and quick to change into. It makes a world of difference having fresh clothes to wear after a long flight.

Pro Tip: Make sure your outfit involves socks. Personally, I prefer compression socks for long trips. They’ve been proven to help circulation. Just make sure you have something on so you’re not going barefoot through security (gross).

Step 5: Plan Healthy Snacks or Meals


Unfortunately, I suffer from an over-packing problem and never have enough space to fit full meals in my carry-on.

If you can though, plan ahead and pack at least one healthy meal. I always settle for some healthy snacks like fruit leather, pistachios, and one of those little Sabra Hummus Minis. 

Airline food isn’t healthy and is high in sodium. I always sign up for a vegetarian or vegan meal when I book.

They tend to be slightly healthier, plus special request meals generally get served first!

Pro Tip: I swear by having 2-3 antioxidant-filled juice shots throughout my travel day. They’re great for an added boost of health during the flight.

Lately I’ve been loving Soja’s Digestion shots. It’s one of the best ginger shots I’ve had, thanks to the added pineapple juice, and is perfect for keeping your stomach settled on the plane.

Suja Organic Digestion Shot

These are quickly becoming my new obsession during travel days.

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Step 6: Charge and Upload All Devices

Charge Your devices anger portable charger charging

Make sure all your devices are fully charged.

Also, upload any information or entertainment you may want. It’s the absolute worst getting on a plane and realizing there’s nothing on the TV, or worse there is none.

If you want to be sure you have a way to guarantee you get charge, get a portable charger. It’s a small power source for all your devices. 

Sure, you could bank on using the one near your seat (most have them these days), but they don’t always work well.

That’s why I always keep on of my Anker chargers in an outside pocket of my small bag. I can’t tell you how many times it’s saved me, especially abroad.

Oh, and don’t forget to put any converters you may need in your carry-on for when you land.

Anker Portable Charger

Compatible with most USB-charged devices, including iPhone 8 / X / XS / XS Max / XR (Lightning cable required), Android smartphones and tablets (including the Nexus 7), and iPads.

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Step 7: Write Down Important Information

Things to do before an international flight make a list

Write down any important information you’ll need for your customs form on a piece of paper.

Don’t rely on technology in case your device dies or needs the internet to function. I’ve had that issue more times than I care to admit over the years.

Now, I always write out the following:

  • Flight details for all flights (including your return)
  • Hotel details (Name, address, phone number, and booking confirmation)
  • Directions to the hotel (if you’re planning on taking public transport)
  • Key phrases you may need (if you’re traveling to a foreign country)

Step 8: Pack in Layers

Packing Liquids

Strategically pack things in the order that you’ll need them. The last thing you want is the giant mess of digging through your bag later at security. 

I like to first pack my second outfit at the bottom of my bag, along with my deodorant, hairbrush.

Next I’ll put in my make-up bag filled with essentials. Keep anything that’s a liquid or gel in a see-through ziplock bag for security.

Last to go in the bag are my Kindle, laptop, headphones, snacks, and travel documents.

The key is to have anything that you’ll need to take out for security at the top of your bag, especially if you don’t have any pre-check privileges.

At the Airport

Step 1: Check Bags

Arrivals Gate at Heathrow Airport

Check your bags early and head straight through security to avoid stress later. Then use the opportunity to ask if you’re able to move to an empty row (assuming you don’t have one already). 

Pro Tip: Take a photo of your baggage tags in case you misplace the claims tag. You’ll want that information in case a bag gets lost.

Step 2: Get Through Security and Ideally to the Lounge


If you’re smart, and a frequent traveler, you’ve got TSA Pre-Check, Clear, and Priority Pass all set up.

For you, this is going to likely be smooth sailing.

If you don’t have any of those programs I mentioned above, look into getting them. They’re insanely helpful for keeping air travel stress free, especially TSA Pre-Check in the US.

Priority Pass is the other one I now can’t live without, especially when traveling internationally, with long connections.

Basically, the membership helps you get into airport lounges, which generally takes the stress out of navigating crowded airports looking for decent food, drinks, and a place to sit with WiFi.

Sure, some lounges are way better than others–for example, don’t eat at the one in Tbilisi, Georgia, it gave me food poisoning, while the one in Napoli, Italy had an amazing breakfast spread, breakfast cocktails, and a custom espresso bar with a barista.

If I haven’t convinced you to join, then I sincerely hope the airport isn’t packed with people. If it is, just remember to breathe, take things one at a time, and treat yourself to something nice once the chaos is over.

Step 3: Hydrate and Stretch

Luggage at Cafe Nero Airport Coffee-2

Use any time remaining before boarding to get some walking or stretching.

It’s also the perfect time to have more water or a healthy snack before boarding. You’ll be happy you did once you’re stuck on the plane.

A Quick Stretch

Pro Tip: I like to buy one of those giant water bottles for the journey. I know they’re expensive, but it makes staying hydrated a lot easier. This way you can see how much water I’ve had over the trip.

If you the space in your carry on bag you can bring your own water bottle and ask one of the shops past security to fill it up for you.

Step 4: Use the Bathroom and Moisturize


I make it a priority to go to the bathroom and apply moisturizer to my face and hands before boarding. The same goes for using nasal spray and chapstick.

I know what you’re thinking—nasal spray sounds crazy. I thought so too, but my doctor told me you should use it before a flight to keep your nasal passages hydrated.

The air on the aircraft is dry, and hydrating them helps fight any airborne germs you may encounter.

The Plane

Step 1: Sanitize Everything


Use alcohol or antibacterial wipes to clean anything you may touch during your flight.

When you see how blackened with dirt the wipe is, you’ll be glad you did.

Don’t forget tray tables, seatbacks, windows, armrests, and the overhead lights and air vent.

Lysol Disinfecting Wipes
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Step 2: Get Organized


Once boarded, get anything out of your carry-on bag that will make your environment cozier.

I like to pull my pashmina out to use as an extra blanket since I am always cold on flights.

Once cozy, I’ll send my family a quick text letting them know I’ve boarded. This way nobody stresses over you not being in contact for the length of your long flight.

Step 3: Be Friendly to Flight Attendants

Virgin Airplane at night

Flight Attendants are the people in charge of your comfort for a while, so you want them to like you.

The best way to achieve this is to be polite. Say hello and give them your attention when they have to do their safety instruction routine. Always say please and thank you when interacting with them.

Don’t forget these people have the power to move you to a better seat or empty row. At the very least you might get an extra blanket or mini bottle of wine slipped to you (they really will do this).

Trust me, I get extra wine and snacks all the time by doing this. A little courtesy and a smile can go a long way!

Step 4: Get Cozy


I like to take off my shoes and slip some fuzzy socks over my compression socks. I’ll also use the first few hours to watch a movie, or read

Make sure you have your water bottle handy while you relax. 

Personally, I also like to use this time to have a few glasses of wine or pop a melatonin supplement to help me fall asleep easier later. 

Step 5: Get Ready to Sleep


I try to schedule late-night flights to pass as many hours as possible sleeping.

Before passing out, follow your typical nighttime routine as closely as possible.

Use a face wipe to wash your face, brush your teeth, and of course, hydrate your skin with some moisturizer.

Since the air on planes is so dry, you should also use your nasal spray before crashing. You want to keep your nostrils hydrated so they can help keep you healthy on your trip.

Step 6: Sleep as Long as Possible

View from Plane

Grab your sleep mask, put on some music, and do your best to relax into sleep. 

I know it’s hard for most people to get comfortable enough to sleep well on the plane but try your best. Even a little sleep makes a big difference in how you’ll feel the next day.

Step 7: Morning Re-Hydrate

SUJA Juice

When it’s clear you aren’t getting any more sleep, admit defeat, and start your morning routine.

I try not to “wake up” until the lights are up and breakfast is about to come around. 

Admittedly, I get very little sleep while flying, so coffee is a must. I also make sure to ask for water with my breakfast.

You should drink as much as possible to re-hydrate after the time you’ve spent sleeping.

Step 8: Refresh Your Look


After breakfast, take your essentials to the bathroom. Brush your teeth, wash your face, and moisturize your skin. Break out the nasal spray to re-moisturize as well. 

I also like to at least change my shirt (changing out of pants is hard in those little stalls) and re-apply deodorant.

If I have a hot guy picking me up, or just have the desire and energy to really put in extra effort, I’ll also use some light make-up like under-eye concealer, mascara, and a dash of lipstick or gloss for a bit of a refresh.

Step 9: Utilize the Remaining Time


Once you’ve completed any customs forms, sit back, read your kindle, or catch another movie or TV show and relax.

When they make the seat belt landing announcement, don’t forget to repack your carry on bag.

You should always keep any necessary documents, including a pen at the top of your bag, or in an easily accessible pocket.

Step 10: Get Through Customs and Clean Up Your Look

AirSwiss plane flying over Switzerland

Once you’re outside the security area, locate a bathroom to freshen up. Change into the rest of your second outfit—assuming you didn’t fully change on the plane, and want to put in some extra effort.

Not going to lie, unless I have a reason to, I’ll make myself look presentable, but just keep most of my flight clothes on assuming I’m going straight to my accommodation solo.

I like to brush my teeth again, re-moisturize a bit, and maybe throw on some chapstick or lipstick.

Pro Tip: Throw on some sunglasses for an added layer of sophistication. They also hide any tired or puffy eyes.


Screen Shot at PM

Obviously nobody loves flying economy, but hopefully with these tips you’ll have a slightly elevated experience.

Coming from a notoriously last-minute packer, take my advice and plan out your packing ahead of time. 

I hope your trip is a slightly more bearable one after trying my recommendations.


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