6 tips for surviving long haul travel

Long haul travel: regardless of where you live in the world, or where you plan to travel to; at some point in your life you’re bound to be staring down the barrel of it. Whether a long haul flight, an overnight train ride, or a day-long bus trip…

It happens. It’s real life. And sometimes it’s the only option.

So when this happy opportunity presents itself, you realistically have two choices:

  • put a smile on your face and make the best of it
  • or ‘put your head in the sand’ and hope that it goes quickly.

Personally, I quite enjoy these long-haul situations, as it gives me a great excuse to sit back, relax, and not feel guilty about ‘doing nothing’ for 10+ hours.

But regardless of your outlook, there are certainly little things you can do to make the experience comfortable and pleasant, if not enjoyable.

At the very least, my 6 tips for surviving long haul travel will ensure that your trip is tolerable.

Long Haul Travel

Surviving long haul travel

1. Set your watch

If you’re travelling to a different time-zone, the first thing you should do is to set your watch to match the time of your destination.

Regardless of what time it was when you departed, it is important to get your body clock set up for your destination zone, in order to reduce the effects of jetlag.

Try to sleep when you know it is night-time there, and stay awake during the ‘daytime’ hours, if you can.

2. Bring the essentials

Whether you’re on a plane, train, or automobile, having these essential items close at hand will ensure you are warm and comfortable.

  • A blanket, jacket, or scarf: either lay over your legs, wrap around your shoulders, or roll into a ball for a makeshift pillow.
  • Water: it is so important to keep hydrated!
  • Chewing gum, mints, or a toothbrush and toothpaste: having fresh breath is a sure-fire way to make you feel instantly refreshed and clean.
  • An eye mask: providing instant darkness, eye masks are the perfect accessory for ensuring you get some shut-eye and aren’t disturbed by passengers or staff.

Pro tip: Take a facial mist with you, too. Just before you reach your destination, spritz your entire face for an instant pick-me-up.

Long Haul Travel

3. Entertain yo’self

Keeping yourself entertained during long haul travel is a great way to make the time go faster, and prevent you from feeling so bored you want to call the attendants or annoy your neighbours for fun.

Ensure your phone/tablet/laptop is equipped with your favourite music, games, or movies; check out the in-flight entertainment (long-haul flights are the perfect opportunity to watch those movies you wanted to see, but didn’t want to pay for!); or finally read that magazine you bought months ago but only ever had time to flick through.

4. Read a book (or two)

You’re sitting still for hours on end; what better time to get stuck into a book or two? While print books will always have their place, an ereader is your ideal travel companion. Load it up with your favourite series, or the great list of titles on your ‘to-read’ shelf.

Alternatively, audiobooks are totally your friend if you’d rather zone out and let the words take you to another world.

Long Haul Travel

5. Don’t:

  • Keep your seat reclined the entire trip: when it’s time to eat, be a gem and ensure your seat is upright so the person behind you can enjoy their meal too.
  • Let your children kick the back of the seat in front of them: it’s uncomfortable, it’s annoying, and it’s downright rude.
  • Drink alcohol: being stuck in a metal tube for hours on end is dehydrating as it is without bringing alcohol into the mix. Also, you don’t want to re-enact that scene from Bridesmaids, do you?

6. Do:

  • Be pleasant to the flight staff/your driver: yes it’s their job to make sure you are fed, watered, and comfortable during your trip; but they’re likely on little sleep, in a foreign country, and doing the best that they can, so cut them some slack!
  • Look out the window: there’s a whole world out there you’re missing out on; watch the scenery change as you travel from day-to-night or across countries.
  • Stretch regularly: get up, move your legs, and stretch your body as often as you can without disturbing others.

Long Haul Travel

If all else fails…

pop a sleeping pill and cross fingers you don’t wake up until you reach your destination!

But seriously, travel really is what you make it. If you go into your next long haul travel experience with a positive mindset and a grateful heart, your time will be much more pleasant. Trust me.

Have I missed anything?

I’m always on the lookout for tips and tricks, so if there’s something else that works for you, let us know in the comments below so we can all benefit from your experience.

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Surviving Long Haul Travel


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Author: Michelle

Michelle Harvey is a kiwi traveller, writer, photographer, list-maker, coffee drinker, and wanderer. Winter holidays are her favourite kind.

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