• Jen Knight

The Expat Guide to Long-Haul Flights

The trade-off for living in an exciting new country and culture: getting back home can be time-consuming and exhausting.

Over the past six years living abroad I have been on countless long-haul flights, so I have my routine down to a science.

My top tips for flying:

Make preparations

Choose a seat

First, I try to find airlines and flights that offer something similar to economy plus - slightly more expensive than coach, but nowhere near as expensive as business. In my experience most people won't want to pay for that small upgrade, so I usually have 2 or more seats to myself.

If I can't get economy plus, I always use the seatguru app to try and choose the best seat possible in coach. I know everyone has a preference for window vs aisle, and I am an aisle girl for life. So at the very least I will grab an aisle seat closer to the back if possible, so if the plane isn't full I can snag an empty row.

Pack your carry-on

I pack my carry-on VERY strategically so that what I need most during the flight is easily accessible. I use smaller bags within my big bag to organize everything, so I can quickly grab my toiletries bag, electronics bag, or reading material as needed.

Don't forget to leave room in your carry-on if possible! I usually pack mine half full (checked luggage is free on international flights so I take advantage of that) so I can stash duty free purchases, water, and food inside. Nothing is more annoying than trying to juggle a bunch of stuff through a crowded airport.

In the airport

I am always early to check-in so I have time to wander around the airport. I get in a few thousand steps by walking the length of the terminal(s), stock up on a TON of water (minimum 3 liters), get some food, get all my devices fully charged while I wait, and do a little shopping.

I usually make sure I download lots of fun shows, podcasts, and music before I leave home, but the airport is also a good time to do that if the wifi is strong. I like to have ~5 episodes of a favorite show that I am dying to watch ready, so I have something to look forward to.

In-flight routines


I never fly these days without prepping to do my full Korean skincare routine on the plane, including a sheet mask. It feels good to pamper yourself and it keeps your skin from drying out. If you've never heard of the Korean skincare routine you can learn more here - I SWEAR by it!!!

In addition to all the travel-sized skincare items I need for my routine, I also pack a a dental kit, makeup, dry shampoo, face spray, deodorant, and hand and body lotion. Planes make everyone look and feel haggard, so I do what I can to counteract it. Self-care also kills time!


Socks and slippers. I have a cozy pair of socks and a fuzzy pair of slippers just for flying. They are cute and comfortable, so I actually look forward to bringing them on the plane.

Neck pillow, eye mask, and earplugs. These are the essentials. I did a bunch of research on all of them and picked out my favorites on amazon.

Leg hammock. THIS IS A GAME CHANGER!!!!!!! If you don't have one you need one. I got this one for cheap on Amazon and I love it.

Layers. I generally wear leggings, a comfy tank, and a kimono on the plane. I bring along a scarf, hoodie, and light long-sleeve shirt to add layers, so no matter what the temp is I'm good.

Noise-cancelling headphones. Once I bought a pair of these back in 2014, there was no going back. I wouldn't even consider flying without them.

Working with me can help

To learn more about how you can get the results you want in your life (without getting on a plane 😉), book a free discovery session with me. We will work together to get clear about what you really want, determine what is holding you back, and identify powerful actions you can take to create your best life abroad. Book here: https://calendly.com/jenknight/free-session

About me

Hi, I'm Jen! I am a US expat currently living in Thailand with my wonderful husband.

I always strive to learn, grow, and be the best version of myself, and I'm so grateful I get to spend my days working with amazing expat women like you:

Women who are smart and want to reach their goals, but need help overcoming obstacles so they can create their best lives abroad.

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©2020 by Jen Knight