How to survive an 8 hour flight: My secret (and weird) travel hacks

I should be flying high above the Atlantic Ocean right about the same time this blog posts. Eeeek! Finally my love + I are off to travel in the States for 2.5 weeks! And, as this post goes live, I’m pretty certain that, even though I am super pumped + excited, I am also struggling to survive a long 8 hour flight.

First things first, though. I looooove flying. So, it’s not that I’m scared. The problem is, I get bored. And, while there is a huge part of me that thinks that flying is super cozy = I have tons of ideas of exactly how I want it to be; once take off is over, I always seem to end up staring at the screen on the back of the seat in front of me. I can’t sleep on a plane. Ever. Even when it’s a red eye/overnight flight. I get fidgety and restless… even though I’m short and have way more room than most people. And I just waste my time instead of doing all of the cozy things that I’d planned on doing to pass the time.

So, this post is, in a sense, my own therapy for myself. A chance to make a plan and, hopefully, stick to it a little better since I’ve put it out there for the whole world to read. Anyway, I thought I’d share with you my tips, my life hacks (first time I’ve ever used that phrase), on how to survive a long flight. And remember, keeping in real, these are things I’ve planned + suggested, but not always followed through with. Some I am a pro at, some are fantastic ideas that never seem to come to fruition.

But that’s gonna change with this list + this trip. Boo-yah.

What I do at home before leaving

Packing: make a big ass list with categories, roll my clothes, update my address tags to my destination (in case of lost luggage), take a photo of my luggage (in case of lost luggage and/or damage to checked bags)

Categories for lists: clothes, sleepware + underware, toiletries, technology (don’t forget the chargers!), documentation + reflection: books/journals/pens, must-haves (passport, money, wallet, tickets)

Instructions for Zola (the cat): Depending on if someone is staying with Zola, or if someone is just checking in, we leave detailed instructions for our little kitty. She’s an indoor cat and looooves people, so it’s hard to leave her. But, we always have some good people looking in and spending some time with her.

Shopping: Exchange moulah at Forex. Buy snacks (because it waaaaay more expensive at the airport). Bring a water bottle.

Cleaning: In our home, we always straighten up, organize, and clean before leaving on a trip. It just feels so good to come home and not have extra dirtiness to have to deal with… because we will dump our bags and everything all over the apartment upon return. So, yep. The apartment is spic-n-span right now!

What’s in my summer travel handbag

Ok. Now that I’ve gathered everything I need with me, it’s time to separate it all into checked luggage and hand luggage. In order to travel a long distance and survive, I have to make sure I have things to help me pass the time while I’m on the plane. Not to mention a few essentials that just make life easier. So, here’s what’s in my travel handbag today:

Technology: Phone, Camera, Computer, Headphones, and all the chargers.

Must-haves: Passport, Tickets, Wallet + money, Driver’s license, (plus ESTA/visa for all non-Americans)

Self-care: Liquids bag (contacts + solution, Kiehls face spray, lipstick), Lush solid perfume

Comfort: Sunglasses, Sweatshirt, Snacks, Bottle of water (bought at the airport after security), Book

Why I love pre-boarding time at the airport

Yep. You heard it. I love that time of waiting before boarding my plane. And here are the reasons why:

Getting a drink: I have no idea why, but getting a big to-go cup of coffee at the airport early in the morning is just fantastic. And, if it’s later in the day that I am flying, getting a drink at a pub and just soaking in the atmosphere is so much fun.

People: Watching everyone pass by is also a favorite pastime. I imagine what their story is, where they are going, and what they are like as they walk by… calm, cashing children, running, confused, whatever. It’s so much fun to see all of the people from all over, all on their way somewhere!

Adventure: When I am at the airport, the thing that is most on my mind is the sense of adventure that’s ahead of me. I mean, I have the amazing luxury of getting to travel somewhere – no matter if it is an ole stomping ground or some place entirely new. I am leaving my regular, daily life behind and setting off into the wild unknown, because who knows what’s going to happen all along the way?! And I love the excietment + uncertainty of the unknown!


What I do (read: plan to do) for entertainment during the flight

Get creative: Write. Read. Edit. Photograph. I always have really good intentions with this. Yes, I do take photos and videos, but I seldom actually write or edit or read. I don’t know why. I’ve got so much time that I could use to create so many freaking blog posts or make creative plans about something. But, I almost never follow through. Everyone else around me seems to be using their time so wisely. I’m gonna do it this trip. I am!

Catch up on movies/tv shows: I suggest using your own headphones for this. I always do. It just makes me more comfortable. Almost always there’s movie that I’ve wanted to see, but haven’t, to choose. And this is when it gets super cozy. I snack on my snacks and just fade off into Hollywood-land.

Wander: That’s right. Not only is it good to get up and move around, I enjoy wandering some. Looking at people. Seeing what’s going on. Basically, I’m just a sneaky, nosey person who loves to people watch.

What I do when I finally arrive at my destination

About an hour out, I start to get antsy. And the plane actually starts to descend a little, meter by meter, foot by foot. At this time, I start my arrival preparations. Woo hoooo!

Bathroom break: I seriously hate using the bathroom on a plane. I get all claustrophobic-y in the little space where I can barely turn around + have no idea what’s really going on on the plane. But, a bathroom break before landing is necessary. I mean, who wants to wait at passport control and have to pee?

Freshen up. Part 1: I pull out my handy dandy liquids bag and start the process of what my love and I like to call “feeling like a human again”. This all begins wit my super awesome face spray.I put my contacts in, or just refreshen my eyes with some eye drops/contact solution. Then, I touch up my mascara, dab on some power, and put on lip gloss. My favorite part is dabbing on a little perfume to give me a nice smell. No more stuffy airplane grossness. Or at least it’s covered up.

Reorganize: Time to get things in order. I like to kinda rearrange everything in my bag (which I always keep under the seat in front of me so I have it close by) so I know where everything is. I’m not really sure how to explain it. Reorganizing feels like the final preparations. Passport – all ready. Everything else all tucked away.

Freshen up. Part 2: Once we’ve landed and deplaned, I head straight for passport control. Like as quickly as possible. I just want that part over. For some reason, it’s the one real stressful thing about the day. It’s not like I’m not gonna get in to whatever country I go to (especially the States), but many times the workers are just not friendly. I mean, why not?! Anyway… back to the freshen up part. After clearing passport control, it’s time for a second bathroom visit. Here I brush my teeth, touch up my make-up a little more, and mess with my hair.

Now, I’m a human again. I survived preparing, packing, the airport, the flight, and the arrival. Now it’s time for the rest of the adventure to begin!


Actually, I think that there’s only one thing we need in order to survive an 8 hour flight (or more). It’s an attitude of adventure. You see, those 24 hours of before, during, and after travel, for me, is not just about travel. It’s not just about the destination. So much can + will happen all along the way. From packing to the airport to the time on the plane to finally getting to where you’re going… it’s all part of the story of the journey.

So, ultimately, the only thing I need is my sense of adventure. Forget the bags, the entertainment, the stress, the decisions. None of that really matters in the end. With a willingness to stay open-minded, acceptance that I can’t control everything, the freedom to feel I can ask for help when I should need it, and a positive attitude, I can survive any journey that I find myself on.

As for right now, let’s hope I’m being creative + enjoying my current flight. I’ll check back in when I’m Stateside!

xoxo. liz.

Share your thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.