How to Keep Your Cool on a Long Haul Flight

More and more, I hear people say they’re not great flyers. Whenever someone tells me that, I want to make a joke about acrobatics, but I resist. Nobody likes being locked in a pressurized, metal capsule for hours on end. It’s cramped, and the company in your aisle may not be the best. All you want is to be able to sleep and make it to your destination in one piece. So with a bursting bladder, a screaming baby behind you, and a snoring man in the aisle, how do you keep your cool on a long haul flight? Here are some remedies to subside any frustration that may surface.


For any difficult situation, this is the first cardinal rule. Take a few deep breaths to sync you back into normal breathing. Don’t forget to breathe during your flight. If you find yourself taking short breaths or holding your breath for seconds at a time, make a conscious effort to regulate your breathing. Once you’ve got that under control, move on to some of the following solutions.

Water & Nourishment
If you brought your own water bottle and snacks with you on the trip, I applaud you. Smart move. If you’ve filled up your water bottle before you’ve boarded the plane, well I have nothing left to teach you. When the beverage trolley comes down the aisle, take your complimentary beverage. You paid for that expensive flight so pick a drink even if you’re not thirsty. You deserve it so enjoy. You’ll be thankful that you brought snacks with you when your stomach starts to growl, you don’t get an in-flight meal, and you’re on the edge of cranky. When your neighbor starts to drool over the snacks you have and has to pay $13 for a bag of M&Ms, you’ll have the last laugh.

Sleep Essentials
If you’re on an overnight flight and in a window seat, close the window, pop in those ear plugs, put on your sleeping mask, and position your neck pillow for what you can only hope will be a decently uninterrupted sleep. If it helps, turn on some soothing music or something you know will help keep you calm enough to pass out. Managing to fall asleep makes the flight go by quicker making it less painful.

Ginger & Breath Mints
For those who don’t do so well with flying, a bit of ginger root or a ginger ale will help calm that anxiety building up in your stomach. Breath mints, I’ve found, work well too. If you don’t have a toothbrush and toothpaste with you, breath mints can help you maintain some sense of hygiene. So if things get a bit rowdy in addition to your upset stomach, try these two remedies to help calm you down.


When you’re on a flight that is 4 hours or longer, you must must MUST get up and walk around, even if it annoys the people around you. Don’t encourage the blood clots, and besides, sitting for that long gets boring. When you’re sitting, rotate your wrists and ankles, change up your sleeping position, try a few of these yoga stretches, anything to keep the blood flowing. Go to the bathroom as many times as you need. If you have to go, go. Don’t try and hold it for the duration of your flight. Your bladder will not thank you, and you’ll likely be miserable. Again, don’t worry about disturbing others near you. Chances are they’ll do the same to you, and they’ll get over it.

Always be sure to bring with you some sort of entertainment that doesn’t rely on an internet connection. Not all airplanes are equipped with TV screens and wifi so I recommend bringing a book or magazine, a kindle or an ipad if you have one, and even a deck of cards. Dive into a good book, listen to music, or if you’re flying with someone, play some cards. It will help pass the time, especially if you can’t sleep.


Ask to change seats
Sometimes you might end up with truly pestering neighbors. Politely ask them to stop whatever it is they’re doing to annoy you. If it gets so out of hand or you feel really uncomfortable, ask to move seats or ask one of your other neighbors if they’d be willing to switch. The worst they could say is no, and you’ll have to revert back to the remedies mentioned above.

Any combination of these will help you keep cool on a long haul flight, or at best, not remember it all because you managed to sleep like a baby, unlike the one behind you kicking & screaming.

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