Traveling around the globe requires some long flights. I’ve come to terms with the fact that most places I visit will put me on a plane for a long haul. Even going to see our daughter and her family can mean 3 hours on the road to get to the airport and then a 4-hour flight after that. All those flights in economy is what has led me to write this blog article. Hopefully you’ll be able to find some tips that will make your next long haul more bearable.
Select your seat – I choose a window seat on the overnight flights so that I have a place to lean my head. I am a side sleeper, and this really helps me relax and get a few winks of shut eye. On the long daylight flights, I chose an aisle seat so that I can get up and stretch my legs as much as I want and use the toilet as needed. And although it cost more, I sometimes even bite the bullet and enjoy the comfort of upgrading to economy plus to give me those extra 4 inches of legroom!
Check your seats before you fly – I use www.seatguru.com all the time to make sure the seat I’ve chosen won’t have any flaws such as a box taking up the space where my feet should go, the seat not reclining because it’s in front of the exit row, etc. This web site has reviews on the actual model of plane you will be flying on, so you’ll be able to see seat configurations, placement to bathrooms and the kitchen.
Book a special meal if needed - Most airlines offer complimentary alternate choices to their regular meals including gluten free, vegetarian and vegan, but keep in mind that you do need to pre-book the meal with the airline in advance which you can easily do online. Plus, you’ll be served first which is always a bonus!
Be respectful to your neighbors - Being so close to a stranger for hours on a plane can be uncomfortable. For both of your sakes, remain respectful of privacy and personal space. Mutual respect, being helpful and simply being nice to each other will help take the edge off the long journey.
Stretch before and during the flight - Before the flight, take a few minutes to stretch out those arms, neck, back and legs. While on the plane, make sure to take a few breaks from sitting and walk around the plane to keep the circulation going in your legs and help prevent stiffness.
Stay hydrated - Being hydrated will help with the condition of your skin, reduce stress and ease muscle discomfort during the flight. It's also one of the best ways to not encounter jet lag. Start drinking water while you’re waiting in the airport. I take an empty water bottle with me through security and then fill it at a water fountain and always have it full when I get on the plane. If drinking water just isn’t your thing, bring some electrolyte powder/tablets to put in it or buy some fruit juice. While I know this is a tough one, especially when the over the ocean flights offer you free beer and wine, staying away from alcohol (which dehydrates you) while flying will also help.
Pack a change of clothes in your carry on - Choose a few extra loose, warm and comfortable items to pack in your carry-on to stay comfortable during your journey. And nothing’s better than being able to change clothes if the kid next to you spill’s their drink all over your lap. Yup, been there, done that!
Be nice to the flight attendants - They have a hard job serving a hundred or more people at once. So being considerate and understanding will be a huge help to them. And the flight attendants will be your source of food and drink for the duration of the flight, so don’t bite the hand that feeds you!
Use anti-bacterial wipes - As you’re going to be spending hours in one seat that lots of other people just spent hours sitting in, give the arm rests, tray table & anything else you will be touching a little wipe down. I’m not a germaphobe, but sometimes it just makes you feel a little better knowing your space has had a wipe down.
Take an Inflatable pillow – These don't take up a lot of space when deflated, as opposed to the beanbag ones, and they allow you to adjust/inflate the pillow to "your" size. They’re easy to blow up, deflate and to store. For those with back pain, you can use the airline pillow to place behind your back to relieve some of the pressure on your lower back.
Make sure you have a warm jacket - Planes can get cold, especially on the long flights, so take a cozy jacket and use the airplane blanket on your legs. Being warm calms your body and relaxes your muscles which makes it easier to sleep. I also take an extra pair of socks in my carry on. It’s much easier to fall asleep with warm feet!
Wear earplugs – soft silicone earplugs will offer some peace and quiet when you’re sleeping. You can mold them to your ears to block out nearly all the noise. Headphones are also good plus you can plug them in to the plane’s entertainment offering and listen to calm, relaxing music to help block out the noise.
Bring your own snacks - It’s a long flight and you can’t be sure that you’ll enjoy the meal they give you so taking a granola bar, nuts, chocolate or something that you really enjoy can help keep your energy up.
Take along something to entertain you – Have a good book available to read, movies on your laptop, some of your favorite music on your phone, a magazine, a coloring book for kids, etc. Plus bring your chargers/ USB cables to charge electronics on the plane (most seats now have at least a USB charger).
I know that flying is the only way I can explore the world, so I try to make the best of it. I hope these few tips I’ve learned through my own travel experiences will help you enjoy that next long-haul flight. Happy travels!