How To Make Long Flights Easier

Even though we've officially made it to Paris, we still have so many photos from our time in Sri Lanka to share, and a couple of blog topics to go along with them! I'm going to do my best to get these up in the coming days so we can stay current with our posts...

These photos are from our time spent at The Owl and The Pussycat Hotel in Galle, Sri Lanka, which is a hotspot for travelers, as it's really close to Colombo and has tons of beautiful beaches. We absolutely LOVED this hotel and its whimsical storybook theme. Each room is named after a different line of the storybook (ours was called "The Honey Pot") and the decor reminded me a little bit of Palm Beach and just felt so warm and refreshingly colorful that Porter and I spent some of our very happiest days in Sri Lanka here. They serve coconut water straight from the coconut and have beach access, so you can walk for miles along the coast in the morning and watch as the local fishermen take position on the stilts they fish from to bring in the day's catch. Also, the food here was worth-noting-incredible. There were lots of sharing dishes which Porter usually shies away from (he always says he doesn't like tapas) but actually has done a 180 on recently and is now super into. The vibrance of this hotel, too, just made it feel like you were staying at a friend's family's beach house and that kind of "homeyness" is always appreciated on our end (there's nothing worse than staying somewhere that feels cold!).

Today's subject is one Porter and I have been talking about a whole lot lately, and one I know we have enough personal experience to comment on: making long flights easier. This is most likely at the forefront of both our minds because just this week we completed the longest travel day either of us have yet to endure: a six and a half hour flight followed by a layover followed by a seven and half hour flight. We were flying from Colombo to Paris with a quick stop in Doha, and even though I know there are way longer flights out there, this was kind of a doozy for us and more than a little bit intimidating.

Once we reached Paris though, we got to talking, and even though we were exhausted when we landed here and basically dragged ourselves out the door to the closest veggie burger place we could find then fell asleep mere milliseconds after turning off the lights, we felt like the tips and tricks we'd been pocketing had made the day a little bit more bearable. Then, I got the idea to share those tips and tricks here. And now, you're about to read them.

Foreward: these are not revelatory, but surprisingly I feel like the lists you find on the internet for surviving long fly days kind of don't really mention them. I'm skipping things like "stretch your legs" or "avoid eating a heavy meal prior to boarding" and am going to give less obvious suggestions because a leg stretch occupies about 3 minutes of a twelve hour flight (if that) and boarding less-than-stuffed is just avoiding discomfort, not actively making you more comfortable (does that make sense?).

Here we go:

#1) Take your shoes off immediately. 

This is my rule for any flight that is longer than three hours, and I swear by it. You know how when you're at home and about to sit on your couch for a very long time, you take your shoes off? Consider seat 31A your new couch. At altitude, your feet swell, so tucking your shoes under the seat in front of you instantaneously improves your footed comfort (I looked it up and that's apparently the adjective version of foot). Also, this makes adjusting your seating position infinitely easier. If you want to pull your knees up (something guys seem unable to do, I've realized, like Porter winces attempting this), or put one knee up or sit cross-legged for a bit, no shoes is a must. Also: wear socks for the sake of those in your row if you suffer from bromodosis (the medical term for stinky feet).

#2) Don't fear the fan. 

Growing up, the first thing my mum did when we got on an airplane was reach up and turn off the fans above our seats. She explained that it was recycled air and that planes were full of germs and sick people and had our best interest at heart, but making sure you're a little bit cold on an airplane is actually really important if you're going to attempt to fall asleep. The human body falls asleep faster when it's tipping toward the cooler side than the warmer. Have you ever noticed how it needs to be significantly cold to wake you up in the middle of the night but only just a tad too warm? This is science, people. Don't ice age yourself, but go for brisk. You'll fall asleep more easily.

#3) Also, don't fear the call button. 

My whole life I've avoided hitting that button that calls the flight attendant to your seat. It just seems so needy. Also, I feel like people like to treat flying as this endurance challenge, and to call and ask for something as menial as a glass of water feels like stopping in the middle of a marathon to use the restroom. You ran it, but you also stopped. I've actively worked on suppressing this mentality when I fly. If your thirsty for a glass of water at any point other than take off and landing (or during turbulence) call for a glass of water, or get up and go to the galley area and politely ask for one. Don't treat it like a feeding trough, but getting a glass of water every time the trolley comes through and a couple of extra times throughout the flight will make you feel noticeably different when you land. Also, I find that with bottled water I'm not as proactive about finishing it, but because flight attendants serve the water in cups that you need to finish in order to tuck in the netting on the seat back in front of you, you'll finish it every time. Again, this is science.

#4) Overhead Bin. I repeat, overhead bin. 

Always aim to have as little under the seat in front of you as humanly possible. We usually board with a backpack each, but even still I have a smaller cloth toiletries style bag with ginger gum, chapstick, extra earbuds, lavender, and a sleep mask. I grab my iPad and headphones and the backpack goes in the overhead bin. This gives you about 50% more leg room in economy and lets you stretch out your legs to an extent you never could with a backpack you're never going to reach into blocking all the floor real estate. Thank me later.

#5) Ginger Gum. 

I wasn't allowed to chew gum as a kid, really, unless we were going on an airplane. So naturally, whenever we did, I would buy two packs of Bubbilicious Watermelon and proceed to chew each one for all of ten minutes before moving onto the next piece so that I could make my way through the full pack (let's be honest though, the flavor only lasted for 5). It might have been fun as a kid, but nowadays chewing gum for longer flights is just a recipe for not feeling so great. Gum puts tons of air in your stomach, which on a plane kind of just sits there and makes you feel bloated and "yuck". I always carry a pack of the ginger gum CVS sells in the nausea area of the medicine aisle and I swear by it. The ginger counteracts the negatives of gum and kind of kicks your senses into feeling cleansed. If there's turbulence, it'll help you if you get motion sickness, too. Try not to chew any gum but this one.

#6) Podcasts people. 

Remember in school when anytime you were a little bit tired and the teacher decided to play something on TV or on tape that was a little bit educational you would suddenly be a lot of bit tired? There's something melodic about the sound of a voice attempting to impart knowledge that TV shows you enjoy and songs can't quite achieve. I'm a huge podcast listener, and actually enjoy them a whole lot, but I also know that unless I'm fully awake and very interested in the topic being discussed, my mind will tend to wander after about twenty minutes and then ba-da-boom, I wake up to Porter attempting to steal the last half of my salt and vinegar potato chips while not moving the shoulder my head has slumped onto. I love "How I Built This" as well as "TED Radio Hour" (which are free on iTunes!) and the guy, Guy, who runs them has the kind of controlled pitch that won't startle you out of sleep. (But listen to some when you aren't sleepy, too, because they really are incredible and prompt so many interesting dinner discussions!).

#7) Avoid the plane meal. 

A little while back, Porter's mum sent us an article about why you should avoid eating the meal served on airplanes, and why eating a lot on planes overall is a recipe for not feeling great. Essentially the gist is that your digestion slows down at the elevation your cabin is pressurized to, and, if you eat a lot of rich heavy food, this can make you feel pretty sick and groggy once you land and your metabolism returns to its normal speed. We keep it light. Chips, water, cliff bars. Anything easy to digest (avoid meat, dairy, and complex carbs) is usually a safe bet.

So there it is, our knowledge drop on making long flights less taxing. If I think of any more, I'll add a little asterisk below and keep this list going, or if I get any DMs or comments on here that offer more great tips, I'll add those too!


Anna Lisa & Porter

©2023 by Charlotte McCoy. Proudly created with