9 Dumb Mistakes That Will Ruin Your Next Plane Flight

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Unhappy woman on a plane
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Airplane travel is a fact of modern life. Some flights are more uncomfortable than others, and long-distance flights can be especially taxing.

If you are among travelers taking to the skies for the holidays, here are some mistakes to avoid.

1. Failing to dress for the occasion

You’re going to be sitting for hours. 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. Not staying hydrated

Drink plenty of water on the flight — and maybe even the day before. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out:

“Travelers should stay hydrated to help avoid irritation of nasal passages and pharynx and to promote better function of the eustachian tubes.”

If you want to bring water onto the plane, bring an empty bottle from home and fill it at a drinking fountain after passing through airport security. Or, buy water after passing through security.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration will not allow containers with more than 3.4 ounces of liquid to pass through security checkpoints.

Consider bringing eye drops and lip balm. Some people even bring nasal spray.

3. Not preparing to entertain yourself

The night before your flight, charge any devices you’re bringing in case the plane does not have USB ports. Download anything you’re going to want the night before, rather than relying on sometimes dodgy or expensive in-flight Wi-Fi.

Pack power cords and headphones in an easily accessible part of a bag that you will be taking onto the plane.

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. Overlooking your airline choices

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

5. Forgetting to pack sleep aids

If you’re hoping to catch 40 winks on your flight, pack whatever helps you sleep more soundly. For example, consider bringing:

If you plan to use a sleep medication 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. Sitting for too long

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, 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. Not picking your seats early

Check in for your flight as soon as you’re allowed to do so. This helps ensure you get a good seat.

Some people swear by aisle seats for easier bathroom access. Exit rows generally have extra legroom, although some airlines place a price premium on those seats.

8. Refusing to upgrade

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

9. Packing too much

It’s tempting to jam everything you can into your carry-on, if only to avoid baggage fees. But that 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.

For light-packing tips from a seasoned traveler, check out “Ask Stacy: How Can You Go to Europe for 10 Days With Just a Carry-On?

Looking for more products that can make traveling a joy? Check out “18 Travel Products That Save You Time and Money.”

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

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