How to Survive a Long Haul Flight in Economy: A Step-by-Step Guide
Is there anything worse than being stuck on a plane for hours? It can be torture! I’ll show you exactly how to survive a long haul flight in economy class.
This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more.
Growing up, traveling solo, especially internationally as a woman, wasn’t something that was really ever talked about.
In fact, it wasn’t until Eat, Pray, Love came out that the idea became a bit more mainstream.
Even these days, after three years of living a nomadic life, I still have family warning me I shouldn’t be traveling solo, but now I realize when they make those comments, it’s not about me, it’s about them because they’re too scared to get out of their own comfort zones.
If you’re thinking about planning your first trip alone, don’t let those people scare you, instead embrace the unknown.
Traveling solo has been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life, and my only regret is not beginning to do it earlier because I mistakenly thought I needed to wait for a partner, friends, or family in order to make memories.
In this article I’ve listed all the solo travel tips that I’ve learned since my first trip alone to London five years ago.
They’re all tried and tested, and rules that I still follow on every adventure I go on. I hope they help you become more confident in navigating all the beautiful adventures that await you when you solo travel!
One of the best tips I can give you is to be assertive and always act confident.
If you aren’t that type of person naturally, then fake it till you make it.
The more you put out those vibes, the more you’ll start to genuinely feel that way.
Start walking with a purpose, keep your gaze even, and always act confident, like you know where you’re going even if you don’t.
If you’re lost, wait until you can duck into a shop to look at your phone or ask for directions.
This is important because, as you travel solo, some people will try to take advantage of you as a tourist, especially if you’re a woman.
Always remember, “no” is a full sentence. You don’t have to explain yourself to anyone.
If anyone continues to bother you after you say no, act crazier than they are acting. I realize it sounds nuts, but it works and will probably get others’ attention in case you need outside help.
Not sure how to act crazy?
Here’s an example of a time this method worked for me. While I was living in Harlem ages ago, two men began following me after I left the subway station.
My apartment wasn’t far, but the streets I needed to take weren’t well lit and empty because it was late at night. My intuition told me it was a dangerous situation, as they got uncomfortably close to me.
I tried speeding up, but they just sped up too. So I began twitching my head a bit and making other erratic movements while yelling lines from one of my Shakespearean monologues (besides travel blogging, I’m also an actor).
They instantly realized I would not be worth the trouble and doubled back to the subway station.
When you’re planning your adventure, research as much as possible.
Not only is it helpful with decision making, but as someone who deals with minor anxiety, it also makes me feel more secure before heading off on a big solo trip.
I’ll spend hours researching neighborhoods, accommodations, and activities before leaving.
The big thing I really go crazy about is making sure whichever hotel, hostile, or
Take the time to read all the reviews people leave before booking a place. Reading reviews has saved me on more than once occasion from reserving a spot that would have been a hot mess to deal with.
Oh, and always make sure wherever you pick gives you free Wifi. It’s next level annoying to show up at a place and have to use all your data.
Also, take time to read about what the transportation situation is like. Most major cities should have reliable public transit, but some are safer than others at night, or only run until a certain time.
I know transit can be an annoying thing to research, but it will also help you budget later on.
For example, Cape Town isn’t safe to walk around solo or with a group after dark. I know this because a local friend from South Africa told me ahead of my trip, so I knew to budget to take Ubers everywhere after a certain time.
Also, if you have social media and are feeling nervous or can’t find this kind of information, reach out to me or another blogger or person you know who’s spent time in the place you’re going and ask them for advice.
I’ve done this multiple times with people I didn’t know well, and they’ve almost always answered with helpful tips and even occasionally an offer to meet for a drink if they live in the area.
Are you more of a small town person or a total city lover?
You need to consider this when choosing where you’re going to go solo, because the last thing you want is to end up in a place that doesn’t fit your personality.
Though I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, and appreciate small towns, I’m way more of a city girl, so my first solo trip was to London.
I really love that major cities have tons of things to do versus small towns which are more for relaxing and taking it easy.
These days, I try to find a balance between my love of exploring new cities and the occasional need to slow down in a town or small coastal city (Antibes is my go-to).
Also, if you’re anxious about traveling solo, it doesn’t have to be an international trip. You can always do a place closer to home for a few days to test the waters.
I’m all for getting out of your comfort zone, but it’s your first time traveling alone, the least you can do is make sure you end up in an environment that fits your vibe.
If you need any suggestions, shoot me an email, and I’d be happy to throw out some of my favorite cities and small towns to send friends to on their first trips alone.
Anytime I’m traveling solo, I always make sure my parents have my itinerary, well at least as much of it as I have planned, since I travel long term any time I leave the United States.
Always tell at least one other trustworthy person all your plans and give them your schedule.
Mainly this helps keep people from worrying about you, but it also could come in handy if something happens to your phone or laptop and you need to know flight or accommodation information at the last second.
Obviously, it’s also a good thing to have this person’s phone number memorized in case something like this happens and you need to get in contact with them.
You should always make sure your phone has service, since you might need it for last-minute directions or to call for help.
Depending on your phone plan and how long you’re going to be away, consider getting a local SIM Card.
I always get a SIM card if I’m going to be in a country for more than a few days, so I don’t have to worry as much about data.
You can pick up SIM cards at most airports and in big cities pretty easily. Since I’m not a big techie, I just tell the clerk roughly how long I’ll be in town and that I work from my phone a lot, then see what they recommend.
You can also look into getting an eSIM online if there isn’t a place that sells SIM cards nearby.I haven’t tried eSIMs yet, but have friends who give them mixed reviews, which is why I still get the physical SIM card.
I can still remember the first time I was in Paris solo for a day when my dad missed his flight to meet me in France.
That 24 hours in Paris was my first taste of being solo abroad, and it thrilled me until I ventured out and later realized my phone wasn’t working.
Thankfully, I knew my way back to the hotel, or I would’ve been desperately searching for somewhere with Wifi.
Now, even if I have a SIM card, I always download an offline map from Google Maps to have on my phone just in case.
I know it can drive some people crazy, but I love to take things as they come and not over plan my trips.
Being spontaneous is a magical thing, especially when you’re taking a break from your normal life.
My first summer long term traveling I only left a couple weeks empty, thinking I’ll just see how it goes when the time gets closer.
Well, it was lucky I did that because I ended up meeting my now ex-boyfriend on the beach in Antibes.
Having that time free made it easier for both of us to meet up again for dates in Athens, Amsterdam, Antibes, and Paris before we tried long distance (which, let’s be honest, never works).
The relationship may not have lasted, but it certainly left me with some pretty epic international dating stories.
The motto of my story is that the best part of solo travel is that magic can be just around the corner, and since you’re the only decision maker, you get to choose if you want to take the adventure.
Always pay to reserve your seat on transportation. If you don’t, I can almost guarantee they will toss you into the middle seat nobody wants.
I’ve made this rookie mistake too many times in my early travel days.
In fact, once the airline put me between two giant men on a 15 hour flight to Moscow and it was the absolute worst experience ever.
They were perfectly nice men, but I had absolutely no space and couldn’t sleep the entire time, which made staying awake during my seven-hour layover a nightmare.
Seriously, pay whatever they want to choose either an aisle or window seat. It’s always worth it!
Thankfully, I’ve never had to use my travel insurance, but it always brings me peace of mind knowing that I have it just in case.
There’s a bunch of different companies out there, but I always go with SafetyWing any time I travel.
I did a bunch of research and they have great coverage, plus their customer service is always fantastic any time I have questions.
SafetyWing has been my go-to travel insurance since 2020. They offer comprehensive travel medical insurence and have an amazing customer service team that are happy to help with any questions you might have!
I can’t believe I didn’t learn to do this sooner, but practicing carrying around your fully packed luggage is necessary when you’re traveling, especially if you’re solo.
Make sure you can lift your carry-on high enough to get it into the overhead bin. I made this mistake once on the way to West Palm Beach and since I couldn’t get anyone to help me, I ended up with a severely sprained wrist.
Oh, and make sure you can wheel around or carry all of your bags easily, especially if you’re planning on taking public transit.
This summer I thought I’d be fine with my giant Monos checked bag, a big duffle bag, and a backpack, because I could easily wheel it all around, before quickly realizing I’d made a giant mistake.
As I was exiting a train in Belgium, the gap to the ground was a lot bigger than when I got on the train in London. There was nobody to help me, so I made a game time decision to just swing my bag down to the ground gracefully and hope for the best.
I literally fell out of the train and landed on top of my giant suitcase because the drop from the train car to the ground was too far and my suitcase was too heavy—everyone on the platform turned to stare and nobody tried to help me, talk about embarrassing!
Learn from these mistakes. I know you might feel dumb practicing these situations with your bags around your house, but trust me it’s better to learn you’ve got a problem while you can still fix it.
If you don’t have a
Depending on what kind of phone user you are, you might be fine with one charge for the day, but you don’t want to risk it while traveling.
I now have three portable chargers and never leave the house without at least one in my purse.
In fact, ifyou’re really into always staying charged, check out Away’s Bigger Carry-On. I bought one for my first solo trip and it was so convenient having a
Annoyingly, the battery that comes with the suitcase is fairly heavy battery, so I wouldn’t recommend carrying it with you every day. I quickly got sick of how much weight it added and went out and bought two smaller Anker ones for my purse or pockets.
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.
Since everyone in my family works in medicine, it’s no surprise my parents always remind me to bring a first aid kit with me on each trip.
I built my own go-to little bag with the following emergency essentials:
Some people may think that’s overkill, especially the tea bags and chocolate, but trust me, you’ll be happy one day when sitting in your accommodation and you’ve got a craving for a warm drink or a something sweet late at night.
One of my favorite ways to hype myself up before a big trip is to make a playlist with music that reminds me of the place or theme of my trip.
I’ll listen to it while I’m packing and in transit, plus any time I’m getting ready to go out and explore.
When I’m walking around during the day, assuming I’m in a place with a low crime rate, I’ll even pop in my headphones and walk around listening to my music while I explore the city.
Obviously, everyone should be careful wearing headphones around foreign spots, so use your own judgment based on where you go.
The main point of this playlist is to hype you up for your solo trip.
In fact, since I’m heading to Paris in a few weeks, I’ve already got my French playlist blasting as I write this article. It’s making me next level excited to as I begin making plans.
Sometimes things go wrong when you travel. It’s inevitable, so always have copies of important documents with you.
I keep a small copy of my passport and vaccine cards in my emergency kit, which always stays in my carry-on backpack.
Plus, I always keep copies of my itinerary, confirmation numbers, passport, vaccine information, and any visas in a folder inside my carry-on suitcase.
Oh, and I keep copies on both my laptop and phone, so my bases are covered.
Knock on wood. I haven’t needed them yet, but I know other solo travelers who weren’t so lucky and didn’t always have copies of paperwork with them.
Save yourself the potential headache later, and always have both paper and digital copies of the major things, like visas, vaccine cards, IDs, and itineraries.
I know not everyone has an easy time being alone, so if you’re one of those people and planning a solo trip, I applaud you!
In fact, even though I travel solo pretty much non-stop, and adore having my alone time, I even struggle with this occasionally, especially when it comes to dining solo.
My go-to move these days is to bring a journal with me to write in while I have a drink and wait for my meal.
It will keep you occupied, plus you’ll get to write about all of your adventures, which you’ll love looking back on one day.
While you’re traveling, embrace being solo and getting to do anything your heart desires. Go to that obscure museum you’ve been wanting to check out, or let yourself sleep in and sing and dance around your accommodation as you’re getting ready for the day.
The best part of solo travel is getting to make all the rules and getting to do all the things you can’t do when traveling with someone. Let yourself be selfish!
Life moves so fast, and it’s a blessing getting to spend time one on one getting to know yourself—embrace all of your quirks!
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve grown as a person because of solo travel. It’s helped me reconnect with parts of myself I’d long forgotten, and it’s always reminding me just how strong and capable I am.
Don’t pass up this opportunity to let traveling alone do the same thing for you!
This should go without saying when you’re traveling, but always keep aware of your surroundings, especially at night.
If you’re walking home after dark, don’t have headphones in, keep your eyes up, and walk with confidence.
Keep focused on the present moment and don’t let your mind wander. Keep all distractions at a minimum.
If you’re out socializing, never leave your drink out of your sight, even while it’s being poured. If you let your drink out of your sight, buy a fresh drink. Don’t take any chances!
I know it can sound overly dramatic, but things happen, and it’s always better to play it safe.
While you’re out, monitor people around you and how they’re behaving. If someone is making you uncomfortable, even if you don’t exactly know why, always trust your gut and get out of there.
When you meet people, don’t announce that you’re traveling solo right away, especially if it’s someone who may try to hit on you.
I always say that my friend who is traveling with me bailed on dinner or whatever it is I’m doing, so that it’s clear I have someone either waiting for me, or planning to meet up with me.
And never talk about specifics like where you’re staying or what you’re planning on doing with specific times attached.
Also, act like it isn’t your first time in the area. This makes you seem less like a target to someone who would try to take advantage of the situation.
Obviously, use your best judgement when chatting to someone new, though my motto is always better safe than sorry.
I’ve gotten to know people and later confessed to my little white lies, and I’ve received nothing other than respect for bluffing about not being solo.
The only time I’m ever fully open about being solo right away is if I’m approaching another solo traveler and trying to make friends.
Going with the theme of being careful who you tell about traveling solo, also be careful with posting your location on social media.
Never post an easily recognizable location or geotag photos of places you’re still spending time in.
Social media is incredible for so many things, but there are also a lot of creeps who track down targets using geotags and recent posts.
Thankfully, because I know this, I’ve always waited at least a few hours or days to post and tag things.
I know you’re likely going to be excited to post bits of your trip, but always play it safe!
I’ll be the first to admit that as a total night owl, I still have a really hard time waking up early.
Thankfully, the magic that comes with the experience of getting the city to yourself before it’s filled with tourists always convinces me to suck it up and force myself out on as many early morning strolls as possible.
One of my favorite super early mornings was when I forced myself to get up at the ungodly hour of 4 am in order to get to the Trevi Fountain to take photos before the crowds got there.
I had timing on my side because for about five glorious minutes I was one of only four other people there taking photos as the sun rose.
Total disclaimer though, I was so insanely lucky because Rome had just re-opened the Trevi Fountain after COVID, so there weren’t nearly as many tourists in town as there would be during normal times.
The magic of that moment will always be one that I treasure, because only a handful of people will ever get to have the Trevi Fountain almost entirely to themselves as the sun rises over Rome.
If you want nice photos for socials, this is the time to bring your tripod and set up some cool shots at the popular points of town.
When I first began solo traveling, I didn’t take any photos of myself because I felt embarrassed, and now one of my biggest regrets is that I only have photos of the places and not photos of myself in them.
If you’ve mustered enough courage to travel alone, you are definitely brave enough to strike a pose, or at least a selfie, during your travels.
These days I change in public, walk around with a tripod shooting pretty much nonstop, and am working on my vlogging skills producing content for my recently launched YouTube channel!
Trust me, it’s amazing what lots of practice and faking it until you make it can accomplish.
Check out the guide I’ve linked below to learn all about my solo travel tips for taking a wonderful photo on your own.
I believe everyone should keep a journal while traveling, especially if you’re doing it solo.
When you spend so much time with yourself, a lot of insightful things come to the surface, plus you’ll love looking back on all of your adventures one day when you’re older.
Not to mention, it’s the perfect activity to keep you busy when you go out for dinner alone.
Traveling solo means you’re going to be on a budget, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t treat yourself to a fancy night out every now and again.
One of my favorite things to do is get dressed up and go to either the theater, or a fancy restaurant or bar to have dinner and drinks.
It always feels nice splurging on a quality experience, plus I’ve found in most places people are less awkward about solo diners, mainly because fancy places automatically assume you could be a
Don’t think this means you have to go to a fancy place. If that’s not your vibe, go do something that makes you excited. The point is to treat yourself to something special while you’re traveling solo.
You’re going to get to know yourself a lot better through solo traveling, but you should hopefully already know what some of your limits are.
It’s not safe to go too crazy while you’re out solo, never go past your drink limit. People could easily take advantage and it’s better not to put yourself in that situation.
There’s more to knowing your limits besides drinking. You should also know how much walking or how many activities you can handle doing in a day without getting burned out.
Don’t push yourself past your limits because you want to do it all. Take your time, be realistic, and enjoy yourself.
It’s beyond annoying this even has to be a solo travel tip, but wear a fake wedding ring while you’re out and about.
I never did this until I began getting drinks sent to me multiple times while dining solo in Greece. I don’t know what it is about Mykonos, but I was sent drinks there four out of the seven nights I was in town.
It was always awkward because without my glasses on I couldn’t see who the waiter was pointing out when the drink was delivered, so I’d always have to ask the server how old they were.
Without fail, they would always be old men and even after I would decline the drink, they would still come over and interrupt my meal with some lame pickup line.
They never took the hint that I was absolutely not interested in talking to them!
Thankfully, one very sweet server told me he’d tell them I was married, so they’d leave me alone. He said this happens a lot to solo female travelers and told me I should invest in a faux wedding ring.
Now I wear my wedding ring everywhere I go, and I just discreetly take it off when I find myself in a scenario where someone totally drop dead gorgeous is around.
People always say the French are mean to tourists, it’s a stereotype that’s been around forever.
The truth is, they don’t hate all tourists, they just hate the tourists that automatically start speaking in English without at least trying to speak a few words of French.
When you’re heading to a country where English isn’t the native language, you need to be learning the basic important phrases like “hello”, “goodbye”, “thank you”, “do you speak English” and “help”.
I always start doing Duolingo a few weeks before hitting up a new spot to learn all the basics. You can do little five-minute lessons, and they always do the important words and phrases!
Just like attempting to learn a bit of the local language, you should also make an effort to be friendly.
It’s easy to want to automatically keep everyone at arm’s length because you don’t want to be taken advantage of as a solo traveler, but you won’t make friends that way.
Chat up the server or bartender while you’re out to eat. They always give me the best local tips, especially on the food and bar scene in the city.
Keep yourself open to new exchanges, especially if people are excited to talk to you.
Seriously, you never know when you could make someone’s day. I was on a spontaneous day trip to Norfolk last September and began talking with a local family at the pub about the Queen’s death, which had just been announced that week.
Our conversation ended with them all giving me giant hugs. There was one older man, who must have been in his 90s, that just kept saying he couldn’t believe he’d actually met an American from New York and that I had made their year by coming to a town where few tourists from the states ever visit.
Seriously, always be kind. You never know when you might make someone’s day by giving them a bit of banter.
One of my favorite ways to socialize while traveling solo is to join at least one free walking tour, plus either a food tour or meet-up group.
There’s normally at least one other solo traveler in the group, or worst case other friendly travelers, who will chat you up.
I’ve made so many great friends this way, including my friend Erin, who I’m visiting next month in Lille. We were both solo travelers on Devour’s Florence Tour and hit it off as friends the next night when we went out to finally try a Florentine steak.
We had both been wanting to try this popular local dish, but because it’s such a large piece of beef, restaurants will only serve it to two or more people. By meeting on the tour, we could help each other achieve our foodie dream of trying the famous steak.
Seriously, if you’re feeling anxious about meeting people, join a food tour. Food and wine have a habit of quickly bringing all groups together.
You should push yourself to get out of your comfort zone at least once a day, unless it’s your first time solo traveling, in which case I understand just being solo for the first time is out of your comfort zone.
While you’re traveling, try saying that new phrase you just learned in the local language, or go horseback riding, or skydiving. Push yourself as far out of your comfort zone as you can.
I know it sounds crazy, but you grow so much as a person by doing this. Seriously, I can’t even describe how much my happiness and confidence level has gone up since I’ve started taking more chances in life, especially with travel.
It’s tempting to just write the entire trip off as a time to relax, but please, promise me, you’ll at least push yourself out of your comfort zone a bit more than normal.
I know this one sounds weird, but trust me, you’ll be so glad you did it.
There have been so many times where I’d pack and leave in a hurry, then panic that I’d either forgotten to pack something or left an appliance on.
When this happens, I can quickly consult my photos and give myself peace of mind for the rest of the journey.
Plus, if there were ever any issues with your accommodation, it’s good to have photos of how you left the apartment.
It is absolutely not sad to travel alone. In fact, it’s empowering!
You shouldn’t have to wait for someone to go with you in order to travel—I wasted so much of my 20s waiting, when I should have just taken a leap of faith and done it sooner.
I’ve gone through so much personal growth while traveling solo. It pushes you to rely on yourself and realize just how capable you are.
Anyone who tries to put down solo travelers as being sad clearly has their own personal issues. Don’t let their issues scare you into wasting your life. Book the ticket and embrace the journey, because we all have a limited amount of time to enjoy our lives.
Traveling solo is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself. You’ll learn so much on the road, including that you are a badass that can and will take care of themselves.
Sure, you’ll have minor mishaps here and there, but it’s all part of the adventure.
You’ve only got one life, with a limited amount of time on this planet. Don’t waste it!
I still remember sitting in JFK waiting to board my plane to London for my first truly solo international trip. I was sipping a glass of prosecco and texting my very adventurous friend Olivia, who was the one who urged me to finally take myself on a solo trip.
There was a lot of excitement, but also a lot of anxiety setting in, because let’s face it, going on your first trip alone can be daunting. Thankfully, she quickly talked me through my anxiety and I got on the plane.
If you’re feeling anxious, remind yourself that there’s a whole lot of magic on the other side of those feelings, and then find an adventurous friend who can talk you through the remaining anxiety.
I know that’s not always a reality for people, so if you can’t do that, sit and make a list of all the amazing things you have planned that will bring you joy to remind yourself how special
Just take things step by step, like getting on the plane, relaxing, checking into your accommodations… then next thing you know, you’ll hit a moment of relaxation and be living it up solo in your chosen destination.
Also, if you’re insanely anxious about solo travel, consider joining a group trip. I love doing them a couple of times a year to give myself a break from planning and to make other travel loving friends.
If that’s more your speed, check out Janet’s Journeys and Joined at the Trip. I’ve got nothing but positive things to say about the ladies who run these group trips, and can guarantee you’ll have a blast while making lifelong friendships with the other travel lovers on the trips.
I hope this article has given you all the confidence in the world to embark on your solo travels.
It’s certainly made me excited to get back on the road again next month when I take myself to Paris solo for Valentine’s Day, because let’s face it, you can always treat yourself better than any partner can.
Sure, it’s nice having a partner for travel, especially on holidays, but if you’re alone right now, prioritize doing nice things for yourself like booking trips or buying jewelry, especially during life milestones, big holidays, or even for no reason at all.
We only get one life and it would truly be a crime not to live it to the fullest just because we grew up thinking we needed another person to to travel with.
I promise you, even if it’s not always perfect, every solo trip you go on will empower you to become the best version of yourself.
Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions or need any more advice or solo travel tips, I’m always happy to chat solo travel!
Is there anything worse than being stuck on a plane for hours? It can be torture! I’ll show you exactly how to survive a long haul flight in economy class.
Are you getting ready to invest in some new carry-on bags? Look no further than this list of the best carry-on luggage for women to find the perfect travel bag!
Eating at restaurants alone doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. After years of traveling solo, I've got tons of tips and tricks to help you dine alone.
Wondering how to shoot beautiful photos while traveling alone? Read on to find out all of my tips on how to take good pictures of yourself while traveling solo.
Wondering how you're going to survive hours at the airport before your next flight? This long layover guide has all the tips and tricks you'll need to survive!
Wondering which book you should buy to pass the time on your next flight? Check out this list of the perfect books to read on a plane to find the perfect one!