How to survive a long flight, stay healthy and avoid getting sick

Learn how to stay healthy and avoid getting sick on planes plus three words that will change the way you fly forever! These are the top 10 tips from inside the travel industry including; what to wear on a flight, what to pack in hand luggage on an overnight flight and the best things to take on a long haul flight. With these travel hacks you will be able to stay healthy on flights and learn how to not get sick on a plane.

How to survive a long haul flight

Turn the air on

It’s a little known fact that the air vents actually create a kind of germ-bubble around. “It’s a myth that the recycled air on planes causes illness” CNET. But there may be airborne pathogens floating around still, by turning on your air vent, and positioning it towards your feet, you can circulate the air away from your face. If the cold air drys out your nose wear a scarf or face mask to keep in the moisture and keep out the germs.

Skip fizzy drinks and hold the ice

Carbonated drinks add to the air in your stomach and digestive system. The cabin pressure can cause problems and discomfort. Free drinks are lovely and all but not only do you usually end up with some single use plastic, you might just be getting a free bug with your meal. Like coffee vending machines (don’t do it!) ice machines in planes rarely see a good clean and can harbour all sorts of nasty bugs. Fill up your reusable filter water bottle (like the one below) as soon as you get air-side and avoid any uncertainty.

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Where is the best place to sit on a plane?

Seat logistics are a hotly disputed topic among frequent flyers. If you’re asking “Where should I sit for the least turbulence?” choose seats over the wing (it’s also the best position to sit in for emergency exits). Seats at the front have cooler, cleaner air or sit at the back for warmth. NEVER sit anywhere near the toilet as you will spend the entire flight smelling it (yuck!), and will more than likely have people in the queue leaning on your seat. Is an aisle or window seat better? Do you often need the bathroom? Do you like a wall to lean against? Do you like a view on the flight? It’s often down to personal preference, but everyone knows the middle is the worst seat on a plane.

Top tip- If travelling as a couple you can try booking the window and the aisle seats. The middle seat is unlikely to sell so you’ll have extra room, if it does you can always just ask to swap. Who would say no?!

Don’t assume things are clean

Having worked as a cleaner for airlines in the past, I can tell you they are not the cleanest places. Wipe down tray tables, seat buckles and any remotes with disinfectant wipes. Don’t use that seemingly ‘new’, sealed blanket and pillow it has probably seen a few previous users and missed a wash or two.

Drink more

OK so that airport bar is very tempting with time to kill and thoughts of a good nights sleep on a plane but alcohol dehydrates you. Nobody is saying don’t drink (lets not be too rash here) but make sure you have plenty of water. You never get given enough water in-flight, and if we’re honest everyone is going for the free wine or coffee option anyway! Carry a filtered water bottle and fill it up in a restaurant air-side to stay hydrated.

What should I take on a long haul flight?

Travel for free

Carry a portable charger and make use of WiFi

There are usually plug sockets dotted around the airport and USB chargers in most of the planes, particularly long haul. But there’s always that inevitable delay, draining your battery, and that’s when there’s not a plug socket in sight! Carry a portable charger like the one below and problem solved!

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There’s usually free WiFi in major airports and on many long haul flights, check what’s available using an app like ‘Free WiFi App’ to find hot-spots and get passwords for locked networks.

Layers are life

Planes aren’t that comfortable in general but you can maximise your experience by planning ahead. Wear layers to keep warm when sleeping, as well as breathable, loose fitting clothing (think sleepwear). Never wear jeans or anything too heavy as you will undoubtedly feel gross the next day. Always pack a spare pair of underwear and socks as well as essential toiletries in your hand luggage to freshen up at the other end. Extremely useful if you can’t check in to the hotel for a while or if the airline misplaces your luggage!

Top tip – If you want a free upgrade on a flight dress nicely when flying. Airlines are way more likely to upgrade you to business if you look the part. Plus your nice clothes won’t get all crinkled in your bag.

Three words that will change the way you fly forever

Noise cancelling headphones. They are a game changer. No more background engine noise. No more screaming toddlers. No more being woken up for a random in-flight meal at 2am. If you haven’t got them yet, buy them. The best part is you can use them to watch films rather than the single use ones you are given (you know the ones where you can’t actually hear the film). They don’t have to be expensive either, check out this pair on Amazon for under £50.

Preparation is key

The best way to stay healthy on a long flight is not to touch anything! It’s the sheer number of people that make planes a nightmare for bugs. Washing your hands regularly can prevent ‘up to 21% of respiratory infections’ according to the CDC. Of course this isn’t always possible but you can avoid that scraggy old in-flight magazine and the remote-of-horrors by bringing your own entertainment. Download games, TV shows, movies and even books straight to your phone. With Amazon unlimited eBooks you are never going to get bored on a long haul flight ever again.


Dubbed “Economy Class Syndrome”, it has been claimed lack of legroom and dehydration has led to increased DVT cases. This is widely disputed though, with many other factors being to blame for the 1 in 1000 cases of Deep Vein Thrombosis in the UK each year. Alcohol is thought to not be a concern as long as you hydrate well. You are more at risk of DVT if you are a smoker, pregnant, or have pre-existing medical conditions. But the clearest risk factor is inactivity. Make sure to get up or stretch every 30 minutes and wear compression socks if you are at risk. Taking Aspirin to thin the blood is not advised unless prescribed by a doctor.

How to survive a long haul flight

That’s it. The top ten ways to survive a long flight. Don’t forget to wipe your cookies or go incognito when you purchase your flight to save a load of money. If you want more money saving tips and ways to save on flights click here. Otherwise name tag your luggage, don’t forget your stretches and remember those three words that will change the way you fly forever!

Want to know all of the best eats and secret spots? Have a peak and follow Lost Wanders on Google maps here. Just click the link and pick a country to start exploring.

How to travel better for less

These are the companies I use to travel the world for less. The reason long term travel is cheaper than you think is often down to shopping around for a great deal, here I’ve done the hard work for you!

Skyscanner – For flights at the best prices this is my go to site. I have also started using them for car hire and they can’t be beat! – I always book with this site if looking for cheap accommodation as the filters are so easy to use. Become a genius member after five bookings and get great discounts too!

Air BnB – Sometimes you can find great local places to stay on Air BnB. In some countries, like Cuba, it’s the only way to book!

Transferwise – A debit card you can use all over the world and get great exchange rates with no hidden fees. This bank has saved me £100’s in bank fees!

Monzo – A similar travel card to the above with additional features like joint accounts and bill splitting.

World NomadsTravel insurance is one of the most important things you can have while travelling. Don’t leave home without it! World Nomads provide the very best cover.

What to pack – Here is my ultimate list of what to pack for every trip, available on Amazon. Plus eco friendly alternatives to your toiletries.

Omio – The place to go for all of your public transport needs in Europe. Save a bundle!

G Adventures – A sustainable, fun, responsible travel company. I’ve travelled with them many times and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend any of their amazing trips of a lifetime.

Some links in this post are to affiliate sites. If you purchase something through them, I may earn a small commission at no cost to you. I am very grateful when you use my links to make a purchase as it helps keep the blog running. Thanks for reading.

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Jo Williams

A Brit that got fed up of the 9 to 5 corporate life, I sold everything to become a full time wanderer. Having travelled to over 70 countries so far, I share my money-saving tips and secrets from inside the travel industry. Hoping to inspire you to work less and travel more.

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