Does the fear of being on a long flight hold you back from booking the trip of your dreams? They shouldn’t. I actually prefer longer flights to cross-country since you actually have time to rest and reset your internal clock to a new time zone. But if you’re not traveling first class, there are still a few discomforts to work around. Here are my tips to make a long flight more enjoyable.
Tips For A Long Flight
1 – Pack An “Essential Comforts” kit.
I have a kit that I bring with me everywhere I go, whether it’s flying to a new destination or just in my purse for everyday needs. Pictured above is my actual plane kit with essentials I take with me everywhere. Get a vinyl easy-to-wipe-clean toiletries bag and fill it up with the following:
- hand lotion
- lip gloss and lip balm
- mini perfume sample
- facial hydration spray (this feels awesome in a dry air cabin)
- ear plugs and eye mask
- Aveda Blue Oil Roll-on (Good for headaches. You can also just bring peppermint oil)
- a nail file
- tooth brush and tooth paste
- hand sanitizer
- Giovanni cleansing wipes
- eye drops
- face moisturizer
- your favorite tea
- ibuprofen and allergy meds (if you travel internationally, pack these in their original labeled container)
It’s everything I need to sleep, stay healthy, and get refreshed upon arrival at my new destination. If it’s a really long flight, I will sometimes throw in a few make-up items too such as mascara and face powder (I have a small homemade travel make-up kit too). I also throw in my earbuds into this pack for watching movies or listening to music.
TIP: Next time you shop at a department store, don’t ask if they have any “travel sized” items available (because they’ll sell them to you). Instead, just ask for a few free samples of your favorite perfume, cologne, lotion, or face creams. These little things are perfect for travel and will make you feel pampered, even in tight spaces such as planes.
2 – Wear the right clothes and bring a pillow.
Lets Talk Travel Pillows: In addition to the eye mask and earplugs above, bringing along a pillow and warm fuzzy socks will get you into your comfort zone for snoozing. I know, neck pillows seem like a bulky extra to pack along. But being well rested when you arrive makes it worth the hassle. Plus, they’re making them smarter now. The newest versions are made of a squishy memory foam so that you can conveniently stuff it into a small travel bag that will make it more compact and keep it clean. Or you can bring an inflatable pillow if you really want to save packing space. I picked one up at the airport on my way to Hong Kong, but you can probably find them cheaper online if you search ahead of time.
TIP: Soft cozy socks keep your feet warm when the cabin gets chilly. But please, put on shoes to go to the loo. Wet bathroom floors and bare socks are gross.
Compression Socks: In addition to fuzzy slipper-like socks, I’ve also gotten into the habit of wearing compression socks or tights for long flights. As a runner, I’ve got several pairs of compression socks in fun colors as well as a variety of compression leggings. Since leggings are in style right now, it’s easy to pair these up with a loose fitting shirt or sweater. You’ll feel like you’re going to yoga, have the stretchy comfort of being able to cross your legs in your seat, and look fashionable to boot. Compression socks or leggings are also really important as an aid to prevent deep vain thrombosis or blood clots from sitting too long.
How To Make It Extra Cozy: If you’re flying in economy or coach, I’d get a little packable “foot swing” too. You can slip these easily over your seat tray and adjust the hight to where you need it. It’s a perfect packable footrest and definitely helps make a coach seat more comfortable.
3- Pick an aisle seat or emergency row for more wiggle room.
My first really long flight was 16 hours from New York to South Africa (JFK-JNB-CPT), and I learned some valuable tips from David with the Visit South Africa tourism board. Since he flies this route frequently, his first tip was to stay awake as long as you can, then sleep the last 6 to 7 hours of the flight. That way you arrive rested and with your internal clock set on local time. Plus, staying awake until the wee hours of the morning leaves you tired enough to fall into a deep sleep on a plane.
My second big tip from David was about choosing seats. I had noticed that all the journalists on the trip were in an aisle seat in the middle of the plane. Thankfully, no one booked the center seats (who would?) so we all had some extra room to spread out and get comfy. It also helps to be able to get up to stretch or walk without having to squeeze your way over the lap of another sleeping passenger. And if you follow my final extra tip, you’ll be getting up a lot.
TIP: Drink more water than you think your bladder can handle. Keeping yourself well hydrated will help with the dryness of recycled cabin air as well as combat jet lag and fatigue.
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