Traveling overseas is an exciting event, especially if it’s your first international trip. Spending half your day confined to a small cabin with hundreds of strangers, however, not so exciting. As airlines pack more people into tight confines (and Knee Defenders cause a ruckus) what can you do to combat long flight struggles? Do what the pro travelers do:
1) Wear comfortable clothes. In the early days of travel, flying was seen as a glamorous event. Travelers often looked as if they’d stepped off of a red carpet, not a confined cross-country flight. As TSA enforcement has tightened and flight lengths have extended, most people don’t don their gowns and tuxedos to fly, so get comfortable! Traveling for an extended period of time in a coach seat, the right clothes can make or break your travel comfort. We recommend comfortable, lycra jeans or pants, a breathable cotton t-shirt, and a sweater. No need to channel Don Draper in your outfit style, but don’t show up in old pajamas either.
2) Have toiletries on hand. Pack your carry-on with travel sized versions of things that make you smell pleasant to sit inches away from: toothbrush, tooth paste, travel sized face wash, travel sized deodorant, eye drops, etc…
3) Sleep aids — they’re not for everyone, but over the counter sleep aids can help bring on the Zzzs during a long, overnight flight. Read the labels carefully and consider if it’s the right option for you.
4) BYO ear plugs, eye masks and neck pillows. I used to judge those little U-shaped pillows travelers would carry around the airport…then I took my first redeye without any place to rest my head. TORTURE. Pillows are now a staple in my carry-on. I’m a big believer in BYOP — bring your own pillow, headphones and eye mask. Is that BYOPHEM? Some of these are provided on long flights, but I prefer to have my own and know they work for me. An expensive pro tip I’ve heard as a way to keep things quiet: noise canceling headphones.
5) Hydrate well before your trip, as well as your departure day. While many people think over-hydrating will lead you to frequent the dreaded airplane restroom, if you start hydrating a few days before your trip, your body won’t be dehydrated before your flight, and thus better suited for the extra intake of water.
6) While the FAA may allow the Knee Defender, most airlines don’t.Familiarize yourself with acceptable carry-on rules and regulations as deemed by your airline. Certain airlines are strict about carry-ons, others are more lax. Know before you go!
7) Don’t hog the arm rest. Just don’t. The best way to be a pro traveler is to be aware of others, your own surroundings, and be courteous whenever possible.
8) Be prepared to entertain yourself. Keep in mind, you won’t magically fall asleep peacefully on the flight. Have headphones, iPod, Kindle, books or whatever else you may need to pass the time when you’re not comfortably slumbering in an upright position.
9) Socks. Seems simple right? Well, a lot of people wear flip flops or sandals through security to make the process a breeze, but once you’re on the flight things often get chilly. Socks will keep your toes warm but not restrict you like sneakers. Plus, you can still walk around the flight, without being the weirdo who has bare feet in line for the restroom. Ew.
10) When possible – walk around. Be conscientious of the other passengers who are sleeping and what instructions the pilot has given about “walking around the cabin,” but do get up every so often to avoid being sore once you’ve landed. Moving around means no leg cramps!
Things happen on flights: babies cry (scream), people snore, turbulence suddenly appears, and the snack cart isn’t always satisfying. Try your best to be patient and courteous, especially with the flight crew. Pro travelers are always kind to the crew! Your fellow travelers are in this with you, and it will all be worth it once you arrive safe and sound for the trip of a lifetime.
Do you have other mid-flight tips that work for you? Tell us in the comments! If you’re traveling 20 hours or more (yikes!), we have even more tips for your pro-travel needs.