Hello from South Africa! After a seven-hour flight to Paris and a twelve-hour flight to Cape Town, we are finally here! I am taking tons and tons of pictures and cannot wait to share everything when we get back.

But today I want to share my tips on how to survive a long flight. If you know me in person, you know that I can be extremely impatient, which does not translate well to long car rides, flights, etc. It’s not so much that I’m afraid of flying as it is that I start to feel trapped and want to be anywhere but a box in the sky with stale air and less than a foot of space to stretch my legs. I’m sure some of you know the feeling!

I would never let this hold me back from traveling as much as I can, but I have had to develop some coping mechanisms over the years to make flying more enjoyable. This might sound strange, but I would rather have a layover (or even two) to break up a long flight than be stuck on one plane for multiple hours in a row. I like getting off the plane, walking around, stocking up on magazines and snacks, and starting each flight knowing exactly how soon I’ll be back on the ground. When I mention this to friends, most of them think I’m insane — and obviously I know that logically it makes way more sense to just get to your destination as quickly as possible — and maybe it’s because I always have a hard time sleeping on planes, but I’d rather have multiple short flights than one looooong one that feels never-ending.

In any event, the fact that I’ve survived long flights to London, Paris, Finland, and now South Africa in the past couple years helps build my confidence (and makes shorter trips within the U.S. seem way more manageable!). Here are a few things I do to prepare for a long flight and make the time pass by a little faster.

design darling steamline luggage

{Our vintage-inspired Steamline luggage}

  1. Choose your seat wisely. While I’m always tempted by the flexibility of having an aisle seat, I know sitting next to the window gives me the best (though not certain) odds of falling asleep, which is of course the best way to make a long flights go by faster.
  2. Fully charge your phone and laptop. There’s nothing worse than arriving at your destination with a dead phone, and having fully charged devices means you’ll have plenty to do long after you’ve exhausted your stack of magazines. And of course pack your chargers in your carry-on in case you luck out with a seat that has an outlet!
  3. Stock your devices with your preferred media. Whether you prefer audio books, movies, podcasts, TV shows, or some combination of the above, the best defense (against boredom) is a strong offense (of endless entertainment). I went a little crazy on Audible leading up to our flight to Cape Town. (And if you need a book recommendation or three, check out this post!)
  4. Order a sleep mask. This is my best hope for falling asleep on a flight (and at home, tbh). I have a cheap white fluffy one that I ordered on Etsy years ago, but if you’re going for style, these personalized sleep masks from Parker Thatch are about the cutest things I’ve ever seen.
  5. Don’t forget your headphones.
  6. Wear comfortable clothes. My go-to is a tunic-length button-down or sweater with black leggings. Bonus points if you have a cashmere travel wrap that will double as a blanket if you get chilly. And don’t forget socks!
  7. Stock up on snacks. I always buy a bottle of water and a variety of snacks in the airport terminal. Sometimes I don’t even eat everything I purchased during the flight, but it somehow comforts me to take off knowing that I won’t be starving when I land! And even then I’m always happy to have a granola bar (or, let’s be honest, bag of Twizzlers) in my bag when we get to the hotel.
  8. Bring a few beauty products you’ve been meaning to try. I’m not the best about mixing up my skincare routine at home, but one of the “fastest” long flights I’ve ever had was coming home from Finland with my friend Carly who works in beauty PR and brought a ton of samples for all of us to try out during the trip. If all else fails (meaning you can’t fall asleep, are low on snacks, and have finished whatever TV you were binge watching), it’s nice to put on a sheet mask and do the kind of pampering we don’t always make time for in our day-to-day routines. You can browse a wide array of eye and sheet masks here, but a few I’ve tried and loved are this detoxifying mask, this firming mask, and these hydrating eye patches.

What are your favorite tips for surviving a long flight? This girl still has to fly home from Nairobi next week. 😳

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  1. I went to Australia & New Zealand in the Spring and REALLY invested in my flight survival items. The big ones that helped me (in addition to your tips above, which I totally agree with!!):

    1) Compression socks – even though they’re not fashionable, it really made a difference in leg comfort, and I got off the 21 hour trip ready for my 5 mile hike I had on Day 1
    2) S’well (or other temperature maintaining bottle) — I don’t like having my tray table down, and I really prefer cold water, so this was a great way to stay refreshed but not worry about spilling
    3) ZzzQuil – I don’t use sleep aids, so this was a first for me, but it definitely helped me get my 8 hours in while on m flight!

  2. Great tips! May I offer another? I always take a makeup bag with just enough of a lot of little things I might want. Instead of my big pill box for the trip, I have a tiny one with 2 does of Advil only, one dose Benadryl for sleep/allergies etc. Also i have a small atomizer with face cucumber spritz – the smell and coolness will wake you up fast! Also in there are a couple pieces of gum, small chapstick and a small thing of face wipes
    I have all of these in a larger quantity in my big bag, but these little stashes keep me sane for a flight and are easier to get to