11 Tips to Survive — and Thrive — on Long Flights


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Seasoned travelers know there is an art to taking long flights and getting to your destination feeling fresh. Start with these simple tips.

Airplane travel is a fact of modern life. Some flights are less comfortable than others, and long-distance flights can be especially taxing.

If you are among those travelers taking to the skies for a long-distance flight, here are some ideas that can make your experience more pleasant.

1. Dress for the occasion

You’re going to be sitting for hours. If you’re unlucky, you’ll be next to someone who doesn’t quite fit in their seat. You’ll want to give yourself as much comfort as you can.

Wear loose-fitting clothes — this is not the time for skinny jeans. Ideally, you want something you can take a nap in. Dress in layers so you can easily adapt to the plane’s temperature. Wear shoes you can slip off and on easily, for comfort and for ease at security.

2. Hydrate

Being on a plane dries you out. Drink plenty of water on the flight and maybe even the day before. If you want to bring some with you, remember that you need to buy it or fill an empty bottle you brought from home after passing through airport security. Consider bringing eye drops or lip balm. Some people even bring a nasal spray.

3. Bring plenty of entertainment

The night before your flight, charge any devices you’re bringing. Some planes now have USB ports so you can plug in while in flight. Keep power cords and headphones somewhere accessible. Download anything you’re going to want the night before, rather than relying on sometimes dodgy in-flight Wi-Fi.

Some airlines now have apps you need to download before you can access movies or TV shows they offer. However, the apps might not be available for download in-flight, so do this beforehand.

Bring books and magazines. The batteries never run out, and you don’t have to put them away at any point in the flight. Coloring books can be great for the little ones, especially if you’re trying to limit their screen time.

4. Consider an airline based in another country

If you’re traveling internationally, consider using an airline based in the other country, which often offer free perks U.S.-based airlines no longer do. These might include blankets, pillows and moist towels for refreshing your face.

5. Try out sleeping pills in advance

If you plan to use a sleeping aid on the plane, test it out at home first. You don’t want to have a bad reaction to it while you’re in the air.

6. Move around

Sitting in one position for an extended amount of time can be bad for your body. In some cases, it can lead to serious health problems. Get up for a walk along the aisle. If you can’t, just stretch your leg muscles occasionally. This one works well for the kids, too. Even a short jaunt on the plane can help them get some wiggles out.

7. Don’t check the time

You know what happens to watched pots? Same principle applies. The pilot is not going to speed up, and checking your watch will only make the flight feel longer.

8. Bring mints to share

This one involves a bit of subtlety. If your seat-mate has a bit of bad breath, take out your tin of Altoids and pop one in your own mouth. Simple courtesy dictates you offer one to the person next to you. If you’re lucky, they will take it.

9. Pick your seats early

Check in as soon as you’re allowed so you will get a good seat. Some people swear by aisle seats for easy bathroom access. Exit rows give you extra legroom, although some airlines are now placing a price premium on those seats.

10. Upgrade

For really long flights, consider upgrading to a business-class or first-class seat. The extra space, the ability to recline the seat, and better food and service can make the extra cost — or the miles you use — worthwhile.

11. Pack light

It’s tempting to jam everything you can into your carry-on, if only to avoid baggage fees. But that stuff you bring can end up working against you. If you need to keep things under the seat in front of you, you’ll be fighting with your own belongings for legroom.

What travel secrets do you have for comfort on long flights? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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