I have mixed feelings about flying. On the one hand, it’s always fun heading to a new destination and whatever adventure waits there. On the other, flights are long and boring and crowded (at least for those of us in Economy).
I don’t know if I’d label myself as a “frequent flyer,” but I have flown enough in the past few years to pick up plenty of tips and tricks to make the experience more enjoyable. Here are some of my favorite ways to prepare for and survive a long flight.
When booking your flight:
1. Compare more than price.
Let me just say straight up that I know the cost of a flight is usually the last thing you can compromise on. I’ve had plenty of 3 am wake-up calls to catch a ridiculously early flight because it was the cheapest way to get from Point A to Point B.
But if it’s in your budget, I would definitely recommend comparing layovers and flight time before simply choosing the cheapest option. It’s worth spending an extra $100 to spend 15 less hours in the airport. Think about it—every hour on a plane or in an airport is an hour taken away from your vacation. And you want every second of your vacation to count—especially when you’re on a budget!
Ultimately it’s up to you, but always compare flights before you book.
2. Get an aisle seat.
When it comes to flights under three hours, I’m a window seat girl all the way. But I swear by the aisle seat for long flights, especially if I’m flying alone. Ever been on a 15-hour flight by the window when your two row-mates slept the entire time and you were too shy to wake them up so you could go pee? Safe to say I learned my lesson, and I stick to the aisle now.
It’s also nice to get up and walk around whenever you feel like it, without worrying about bugging your neighbors.
3. Order a special meal.
This is a fun trick I learned about a year ago. Airlines offer a variety of “special meals” for those with dietary restrictions, including vegetarian, vegan, halal, and others depending on your airline. Even if you don’t have any dietary restrictions, ordering a special meal has it perks: You’ll get your food before everyone else, the quality is better, and the food always tastes fresher. I usually order vegan or vegetarian, but on my last flight I saw a pretty sweet halal meal, so I might look into other options in the future. :)
Packing your carry-on:
4. Always have at least one extra jacket/sweater handy.
I ALWAYS get cold on planes. And those flimsy blankets they supply are never enough to keep me warm, so I always find myself wishing I had another layer on. I’ve started wearing as many layers as I can onto the plane (but not so many that I’ll hold up security trying peel them off).
Plus, it can function as a pillow when you need a nap!
Flights are boring. Even with a plethora of free entertainment they’re boring. And I don’t know about you, but nothing keeps me from going stir-crazy like a bag of candy and a few Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
If you’re trying to be healthier when you travel (seriously, props to you), things like veggies, protein bars, and fruit are great options as well. Generally you shouldn’t find any problem taking solid foods through security.
6. Prep your electronics.
I like to have plenty of off-line entertainment ready before I leave for the airport. It’s easy to plan for long flights and their endless movie options, but I used to always forget about airport wait times and short flights that don’t have any entertainment available. Airport Wi-Fi is so hit-and-miss that I would definitely not recommend risking your sanity—prep ahead of time.
My favorite off-line entertainment is downloading Netflix movies and shows straight onto my phone. Before Netflix offered that feature and I had a trip coming up, I signed up for a one-month trial of YouTube Red, which offered off-line downloads.
Also remember to pack an external battery and your phone charger.
Tip: When you’re playing your downloaded shows, keep your phone in Airplane mode to save your battery!
On the plane:
7. Wear good-quality headphones.
You never understand how noisy a plane is until you put on some noise-cancelling headphones. Wireless are great if you’ll be sticking to your phone/computer, but pack a pair with an aux cord if you plan on using the in-flight entertainment.
Entertainment aside, headphones are marvelous for blocking out noise when you want to sleep.
8. Think about a sleep-aid.
I’m sure there are a few people out there who have no trouble sleeping on planes (I’d love to meet them and learn their secret) but I think most of us really struggle with this. When you’re tired or in desperate need of sleep so you can beat jet-lag, it can be miserable shifting around in your seat for hours to no avail.
Taking a sleep aid is an easy way to help you get some Zzzs. I like to take melatonin since it’s a little more natural, but if you’re not using it very often just take whatever works for you. Melatonin isn’t strong enough for my brother so he takes something with some more power.
Make sure you test your sleep aid at home before you fly though! You don’t want to start off your vacation with a bunch of negative side effects.
9. Plan your sleep schedule.
Most international flights are going to give you serious jet-lag if you don’t plan ahead of time. There are lots of websites out there to help you figure out when to try to fall asleep (I’m very fond of this one: https://www.jetlagrooster.com/) but an easy way to get an idea is to have the local time of wherever you’re going available on your phone, and to switch to that time as soon as you get on the plane.
No matter what time it is when you get on the plane, if it’s 10 pm in London, you take your melatonin and you go to bed!
10. Drinks lots of water.
I used to be super against this tip because I hated getting up to go to the bathroom constantly, but once I learned to switch to an aisle seat and realized how nice it is to have an excuse to stand up every couple of hours, I became a believer. The other benefits of staying hydrated on long flight include your skin not getting parched, reduced jet-lag, and some actual energy when you land. So yeah, drink your water.
There yah go, 10 tips for surviving your next long flight! I thought of a bunch more while I was writing this, but I wanted to keep it short and readable for you. Keep an eye out for more flight tips in the future!
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