I hate flying. I usually book economy, because I am cheap, and the seating is very similar to a can of sardines (including the fish smell). When I sit for an extended period of time I can feel the hairs on my leg grow and it makes me itch. I fidget, adjust, and sigh for the duration of the entire flight. And I don’t sleep.
Two years ago I made my second trip to Asia though I had previously vowed to never return again. Not that I didn’t enjoy my vacation in Thailand but a roundtrip course from Pittsburgh to LA to Bangkok (not including layovers) will make you reconsider leaving the continent. Fourteen hours doing any activity is a long time. Even though I lived for the Law & Order: SVU Sunday marathons in college, binge watching your favorite tv show for 14 hours can even be a bit much too. When I found a cheap fare to Tokyo, it was difficult to pass on the opportunity. What I failed to do during my first long haul flight was to properly prepare for my travel.
Here are a few tips to help make your next long flight more bearable:
Pick a good seat. I prefer the aisle seat when traveling domestically especially if I have a connecting flight. When I fly internationally I prefer a window seat in order to relax and not be disturbed by others needing to use the restroom or passing trays of food. If you need help choosing a seat, check out Seat Guru for plane seat maps and seat advice.
Buy travel accessories. Though it may seem like frivolous purchases, investing in a quality neck pillow and sleep mask can make a difference in your flight experience. I also wear compression socks which increase circulation and help reduce swelling from lack of movement. Earplugs or noise reduction earbuds will drown out snoring neighbors, crying babies, and noise from the plane.
Entertainment. There’s nothing more disappointing than a low battery warning when you want to read a book or watch a downloaded episode from your favorite tv show. I charge my phone, tablet, and portable charger the night before I depart for my trip. I check the battery life of my devices and charge them again at the gate if needed. I also download books, podcasts, and movies/tv shows while I am at home and connected to the wifi. Make time to delete unwanted apps, photos, videos, etc to ensure you have enough space.
Bring snacks. Unless you are flying business class, the inflight meal is probably garbage. The food is usually bland and full of sodium. Bring protein-rich snacks that will keep you feeling full for longer. If you have to eat the airline food, avoid carbs which will make you bloated and eat warm foods which will digest faster.
Drink plenty of water. If you’ve ever been on a plane, you know how dry the air is. Now imagine that same dry, recycled air for 14 hours. Water can prevent your muscles from becoming stiff. Though free booze is appealing, drinking can cause dehydration and/or grogginess.
Wear comfortable clothing. What you wear can contribute to or hinder your comfort during a long flight. I recommend clothing that is breathable and will allow you to move but is presentable to wear sightseeing once you reach your destination. For my trip I wore Zella ‘Live In’ Slim Fit Leggings and a tunic dress with a infinite scarf. Don’t wear any makeup, contacts, or jewelry. As you try to sleep (or just exist in a tiny space) these things will smear, cause irritation and snag.
Pack a toiletries kit. I bring a toiletries bag with wet wipes, a toothbrush and toothpaste, contact lens, lotion, and chapstick. You can also pack makeup to use once you land (or pray there is no turbulence on the plane).
Have a positive attitude. This is more for me but if you find yourself complaining about the duration of your flight, you might want to follow this tip too. No matter how much you pout, your 14 hour flight will still be 14 hours. Try to make the most of it by reading that book your keep putting off, journaling, or practicing meditation.
Share your long flight tips in the comments.