15 Hours in Transit: Surviving Long Haul Flights

Africa. I made it.

After landing on this exotic, long-awaited ground, it took me an hour for me to actually realize that I am here. Actually here. In Africa.

It’s been awhile since I’d last been out of the country, so stepping on to foreign soil felt like a sweet homecoming.

3/7 continents checked off my bucket list. A completely new country, a completely new culture, a completely new place to explore.

Can you tell I am excited?

Now, it is no secret that I love flying. The fact that you are suspended thousands of feet up in the air in a metal contraption that somehow manages to glide through the sky while carrying the weight of humans and luggage, is magical.

But I know that a lot of people don’t feel the same way, especially when it’s the long haul. Long haul flights can take a toll on your body and your mind so that’s why it is important to prepare accordingly for those 8+ hours.

My flight to South Africa was 15 hours, which is 7 hours longer than any flight I’ve ever been on. For me, the flight seemed to go by in a blink of an eye, though I definitely was the only one. For my family, I know time couldn’t have moved any slower.

Though long haul’s can be painful, here are 5 tips that I live and breathe by that will help make the flight more bearable.

1. Entertainment


This is probably the most crucial part of surviving. Distracting yourself with a movie or book is a great way to make the time fly by. Nowadays, most airlines also have their own streaming systems where you can watch movies and TV shows easily for free, so you don’t have to worry about paying for WIFI or downloading a movie beforehand. This is a godsend, I’m so glad its 2017 and these streaming systems exists (bless). They usually have decent movies too, like new releases and even some older classics that you cant help but re-watch (Clueless anyone?).

Additionally, when I’m tired of staring at a bright screen for hours, just listening to music can help the time pass faster as well or just reading a good old fashioned book.

2. Spark up a conversation

Are you traveling alone or separated from the rest of your group in your very own isolated seat? Well, do I have an idea for you!

Instead of dreading the alone time or being scared of sitting next to a stranger, embrace it and start a conversation. You’d be amazed at the people you can meet on a plane, especially one that is flying overseas. Everyone has their own story, their own reasoning for going where they’re going. If given the chance, why not listen to it and expand your world view.

There is always the chance that the person might not be interested in chatting it up with you, but you can always give it a shot. Never doubt that you can learn something new from a stranger. Plus, you might gain a great story from it and why would you pass that up?

3. Comfort

The women I see wearing high heels and fancy dresses to the airport, I will truly never understand. Comfort is KEY. Wear clothes that you can breathe in and wouldn’t mind being stuck in for multiple hours. Also, it is important to layer since flights tend to get pretty chilly.

Along with clothing, it can also be a good idea to bring some type of pillow for your back or neck for falling asleep (which you should most definitely do.) I have a Mickey Mouse pillow pet that I bought in Disney World freshman year of high school, and I have brought it on every single trip I’ve taken since then (judge me, I dare you). It’s the most comfortable thing I have ever laid my head on, and it makes sleeping on airplanes 1000% better. I seriously recommend a pillow pet over a Tempur-Pedic pillow, you will NOT regret it.

Moving on from that brief pillow pet rant, I also suggest bringing an eye mask to block out the light and ear plugs if you have trouble falling asleep with noise surrounding you. Sleep is essential on long haul flights and anything to help ease it along is a necessity.

4. Snacks and hydration

Airplane food sucks. There. I said it. As much as they try, it is just not that great quality and I never feel 100% after eating it.

So that’s why bringing your own snacks is a great idea! That way you can supply yourself food that you know will sustain you and sit well with your stomach.

Hydrating should be an obvious tip. Something about flying a thousand feet above sea level really takes the liquid out of you. I like to pack my own water bottle and fill it up before going on the flight, just so I know I have it and to save plastic bottles. 

5. Move around

Ah, yes. We sometimes forget about this one. But sitting cramped in one spot for 15 or so hours is never good for your body, so getting up and walking around is a must. On my flight here, I saw multiple people getting up out of their seats and just walking back and forth down the aisle.

Yeah, it was kind of weird to see them tromping back and forth, but it’s not healthy for your body to sit in the same spot for however many hours straight. My sister tried doing that and started freaking out when she lost feeling in her entire leg. Typical.