9 Secrets to Happiness on Your Next Long Flight

Lower the stress and bolster the relaxation ratio with these ideas from frequent long-haul travelers.


Air travel is not for the weak.

By the time you get to the airport, check in, navigate security and find the gate, it’s easy to feel as if you’ve put in a full day’s work.

If you’re flying cross-country or internationally, the flight itself can extend your miserable day — or start you on hours of relaxation.

Consider these ideas from savvy travel expert to make your next long-haul trip the leisurely type:

1. Be polite

Do you want to do a favor for someone who is rude to you or treats you like a servant? Of course you don’t. Neither do reservation clerks, flights crews and others. There’s no guarantee your kindness will get any preferential treatment, but it will make you feel better. And it might actually pay off. I was bumped from coach to first class on one overseas flight by a reservation clerk who told me I was the only person who didn’t yell at them because the flight was delayed.

2. Sit near the back

I usually choose to sit in the back because my chances are better of having an empty seat next to me. The experts at Travel & Leisure have found the same thing.

3. Avoid family routes

It’s a given that flights to Orlando, Florida, and other family friendly locations are filled with kids. If you want to sleep or work on the plane you likely want to avoid that noise and distraction. If you can avoid a connection in Orlando, you should do so, according to Travel & Leisure.

4. Use the opportunity to escape

Sure, you can bring work on your flight, but think about it: It’s rare to be away from your phone and email, so take advantage of it. Independent Traveler has this word of advice:

You want these hours to disappear almost without a trace. Think headphones and Hollywood blockbusters. Getting a lot of work done is fine — rarely do you have 15 consecutive hours without a phone or email, so I encourage bringing some work — but work will fail you when you get to the brutal middle hours of this ordeal. Headphones and Hollywood; don’t stray from this.

5. Pack food, drink water

You may be able to buy some on the plane, but you might not. And you may not like what’s offered. Before you leave for the airport pack almonds, fruit, protein bars, unsalted nuts or other healthy foods. Once you are past the security checkpoint, fill your water bottle or buy some water so you have plenty for the journey. Then you won’t have to wait for refills of your tiny airline cup.

6. Don’t overpack carry-on items

Yes, you can usually take on two carry ons, but do you really want to sit for hours with cramped leg room? The smaller your space, the less relaxation.

7. Relax your feet

Take off your shoes after you get seated. I always bring a pair of socks to wear in case it gets cold en route. Some people go the extra step of bringing compression socks to minimize swelling of feet and ankles while in the air.

8. Secure your valuables

It’s easy to become so relaxed that you treat your space as if it’s private. It’s not. And it’s easy for people to watch you stow your wallet in your seat pocket and swipe it if you fall asleep or use the restroom. Consider keeping your valuables deep inside your bag or in a belt under your clothes.

9. Pack earplugs and a sleep mask

You might not need them. But if someone talks incessantly or your neighbor has a reading light that’s annoying, you’ll be glad you have them. If you want to avoid a chatty neighbor, send a clear, polite signal by saying, “Excuse me, I’m really in need of a nap” and donning your mask and earplugs. If it’s a long flight and you hope to sleep, a neck pillow is a great gift to yourself.

What are your secret ways of enjoying flights? Share in our comments section below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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