11 Tips to Help You Survive — and Thrive — on Long Flights

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

11 Tips to Help You Survive — and Thrive — on Long Flights Photo by l i g h t p o e t / Shutterstock.com

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 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. 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. Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water on the flight and maybe even the day before.

As we explain in “3 Simple Rules to Avoid Getting Sick While Traveling“:

“Staying hydrated while flying helps prevent irritation of the nasal passages and the pharynx, where your nasal passages meet the back of your mouth and your throat, according to the CDC. It will also help the eustachian tubes in your ears to function better during the pressure changes that are part of flying.”

If you want to bring water onto the plane, bring an empty bottle from home and fill it 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. Bring plenty of entertainment

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.

To help keep your travel entertainment costs down, check out:

4. Consider an airline based in another country

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. Bring sleep aids

If you’re hoping to catch some shuteye 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. 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, 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

Do you know what happens to watched pots? The same principle applies to flights. Checking your watch will only make the flight feel longer.

8. Bring mints to share

This involves a bit of subtlety. If your seat-mate has 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 for your flight as soon as you’re allowed to help ensure you can get a good seat.

Some people swear by aisle seats for easy bathroom access. Exit rows generally have extra legroom, although some airlines place 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 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 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?

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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