This blog post was updated on April 10, 2020.

If you’ve ever wanted to book a vacation to an exotic locale, you certainly aren’t alone. A 2016 survey revealed that 41% of baby boomers chose Latin America as the international destination they most wanted to visit, while 34% preferred Europe. But even though getting the chance to explore a new place can be exciting, flying internationally isn’t always a lot of fun. To get through those long airline flights, you’ll need to be prepared. Here are some of our favorite tips for getting through a long flight without sacrificing your sanity.

Before You Fly

man booking flight on laptop


  • Book early: When flying internationally, you’ll automatically need to book earlier than with domestic routes. Not only will this help you score cheap flights, but you’ll also have a better choice of departure times and seating arrangements. You’ll want to aim to purchase your tickets during the prime booking window, which tends to be three to five months before you depart; book any earlier or later and you’ll likely end up paying more than necessary. But aiming for the earlier portion of that window will provide peace of mind — and that can give you time to prepare and calm your nerves before take-off.
  • Steer clear of family destinations: It’s not typical for parents of young children to book a long, international flight — but it can happen. You may not be able to control whether there’s a baby on board all the time, but it may help to stay away from destinations that are considered to be kid-friendly. It may also help to book a trip that departs at a time that wouldn’t appeal to most families. You probably won’t want to travel during a school break, either. This tip might not be foolproof, but it’s definitely something to consider if you’re trying to choose a destination or particular season for your vacation.
  • Upgrade your seat: As we mentioned, booking sooner rather than later will allow you to claim your choice of seat. This is the best time to take advantage of upgrades. Whether you have frequent flyer miles waiting to be used or you have an option to pay a little more for extra leg room, you’ll want to do everything you can to stretch out when flying internationally. Even if you do get a seat with more wiggle room, make sure to squeeze in some stretch breaks throughout the flight, too.

While on Board

A female passenger sleeping on neck cushion in airplane.

  • Get comfy: This is not the time to dress to impress. Leave the high heels, tight belts and trousers, and non-breathable garments at home (or in your checked bag). The clothes you wear on the plane should be comfortable and non-restrictive. Ideally, you should wear layers, since temperatures on board can vary, at best. Some people will even bring a set of pajamas and a pair of warm, fuzzy socks along with them. If you need to look put-together upon arrival, bring other clothes in your carry-on and change before you land.
  • Tune everything out: The key to getting through a long flight is to prioritize relaxation and quiet. That can be difficult to do on an airplane, but there are some ways to make it happen. Bring along an eye mask, a travel pillow, a blanket, noise-cancelling headphones, and some calming music, for starters. You may also want to bring some facial mist and plenty of water, as planes can be ridiculously dry. Pack plenty of things to entertain you throughout the flight (movies and podcasts can be life-savers!) and remember to charge all of your batteries before you board. Protein-packed snacks can help, too — no one wants to fly on an empty stomach or resort to junk food for several hours.

Flying internationally without losing your mind is possible — but it requires preparation. Next time you book a long airline flight, remember to follow these tips for maximum rest, relaxation, and overall enjoyment.


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