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While we love traveling, we are not fans of long flights (or any flights for that matter!). You are crammed in a tin can with hundreds of other people in seats that are too small with no leg room and a lot of noise. Who would want to sit like that for 10+ hours? No one, that’s who. But there are a few things to keep in mind to be better prepared for your next long flight.
1. Get Comfortable
Comfort is probably one of the most important things you need to consider for a long flight, especially if you are traveling in economy, which I’m sure most of us are. No matter what you will be in some sort of discomfort during your flight in economy class, but you can at least try to minimize it.
First things first, before you even book your flight, make sure you check out the seating configuration and pick out a good seat on SeatGuru.
The first thing you should consider is your travel outfit. This can be different for everyone because everyone has a different idea of what is comfortable to wear yet still appropriate to wear out in public. For me, I tend to wear what I call “legging pants” which are stretchy like leggings but still have the structure of regular pants, like pockets, zipper, belt loops, etc. I also wear either a t-shirt or tank top with a long flowy cardigan over it that acts as a sweater and a lap blanket, because it can get super cold on airplanes, especially by the window where I tend to sit. I also usually wear a scarf which can also double as a blanket if needed.
A somewhat new addition to my travel outfit which I have heard a lot about yet never invested in until now is a pair of compression socks. These help keep your legs and feet from swelling during the flight and help prevent the dreaded deep vein thrombosis. I wear these socks, which are made in Denmark and use organic cotton! As far as shoes, this is the one time I will wear my UGG boots in public since they are essentially like slippers and will keep my feet warm, but I do keep a pair of “real” shoes in my carry-on to change into once we get where we are going.
Another thing to consider in regards to comfort is a pillow and/or blanket. I already discussed clothing that doubles as a blanket, but I know at least for me, that is never enough since it can get frigid on airplanes, especially on overnight flights. On a lot of long-haul flights, the airline will supply everyone with a basic blanket and pillow, however, these are pretty thin and not very useful if they provide them at all (always check before you leave!). The key is for these things to be as portable as possible since you will have to lug them around in your carry-on. This blanket rolls up into a nice tidy pouch and actually keeps you warm! As for a travel pillow, there are millions of them on the market, a lot of which look ridiculous, so I think this is a more personal preference type of thing.
2. Stay Healthy
Airplanes are probably the worst offenders when it comes to catching viruses, so if you are like me and are a little bit of a germaphobe, there are several things I recommend you take on your flight. First and foremost, you need to bring both wet wipes and hand sanitizer. As soon as I get to my seat, I wipe down every possible surface near me that I may touch. This means the armrests, the seat belt, the window, the wall, the headrest, the back of the seat in front of me, the tray table, the screen and buttons of the entertainment system, everything! Keeping hand sanitizer on hand is also a good idea for before/after you eat and after you use the restroom. I like to keep everything as natural as possible, so currently, I use EO hand sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizing spray.
But of course, germs aren’t only on surfaces. Unfortunately, they are in the air as well, so it is a good idea to do everything possible to keep your immune system in tip-top shape. Depending on your individual needs, this may vary for you, but this may mean taking vitamin supplements and using a nasal spray. These supplements by Integrative Therapeutics have always worked wonders for me and are full of immune-supporting vitamins and herbs. I also recently started using this nasal spray which specifically made for airplane travel, is made in Hawaii and is completely natural. Keeping your nostrils and sinuses moisturized keeps the airborne germs from getting in.
Another super-important thing to remember is to stay hydrated! This will help reduce jet-lag, help keep your immune system up and running. A good tip to remember is to bring an empty water bottle with you and fill it up after security. I actually bring an insulated water bottle that can keep a beverage hot or cold for a long time. After security, I head to a coffee shop in the terminal and have them fill it with hot water (remember when I said I’m always cold?). I then have a thermos full of hot herbal tea to sip on throughout the flight. I recommend this one by Hydro Flask.
On most airlines, they may still feed you on long flights (check first!), but airline food is always lacking in flavor and nutrition. I always bring my own healthy snacks on long flights. Good things to bring are several kinds of protein bars or granola bars, dried fruit, and something not so sweet, like crackers or nuts.
One more important thing to note - make sure to move! Do some leg lifts, rotate your ankles, get up and walk around, whatever you need to do. Deep vein thrombosis is real, and movement is the best defense!
3. Be Entertained
Now that you are (relatively) comfortable and geared up to stay healthy, how are you going to spend that 9+ hour flight? Of course, I would recommend sleeping, but if you are like me and absolutely cannot fall asleep on a plane, you need something to keep you entertained!
A lot of flights these days have in-seat entertainment systems loaded with movies and TV shows, which is great, but they aren’t on all planes, and some airlines might charge you to use it. Once again, always check ahead of time to see if your flight will have this available. Either way, I would recommend having something else to entertain you. I like to have several movies and TV shows downloaded onto my iPad in case there is something wrong with the airline’s system (if they have it at all) or in case their offerings aren’t interesting to me.
Reading is also a good idea. I also like to take my Kindle with me and have several new books downloaded and ready. It is nice to switch between movies and books to help pass the time and give your eyes a break from the TV screen.
4. Stay Sane
So far I’ve given a lot of tips on how to keep yourself comfortable, healthy, and entertained on the flight, but in case you’ve forgotten, you are not the only one on the plane! These days airlines like to cram more and more people onto their flights, so chances are, there will be a lot of other people around you.
And what do people do? They make noise. A lot of it. Whether the travelers in the seat in front of you are super chatty, or you have a baby screaming throughout the flight, there will be a lot of noises. Don’t forget the drone of the engines, which can be pretty deafening as well. So especially if you are going to try to sleep or even just make it through the flight without a major freakout, you’ll want to invest in some earplugs or some noise-canceling headphones.
5. Freshen Up
Now the flight is almost over and you are starting your descent to your destination to start your super fun vacation! But you’ve been on a grimy airplane for the last 10 hours, so you probably don’t feel so fresh and ready to have fun. It is time to freshen up and get ready to face the world! Some things I always keep in my carry-on are:
Lip balm - because the air on planes is always dry
Face wipes - to clean all that airplane grime off your face. I always have these wipes by Alba Botanica handy because they have a cleansing/toning side and an exfoliating side.
Makeup - If you are someone that uses makeup, keep some of the basics like concealer and mascara with you so you are ready to face the world when you get off the plane.
Toothbrush/toothpaste - Super important unless you want to kill the locals with your morning breath. You can either do this in the tiny bathroom on the plane or duck into the airport restroom once you deplane.
Deodorant - this one is pretty self-explanatory, but I really recommend keeping it natural and aluminum free and I love Schmidt’s deodorant.
So that is how I survive long flights, and I hope you found it helpful.
Did I miss anything? Have any extra tips to share? Let us know in the comments!
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