Long flights: Do you love them or hate them? They’re a necessity to get to the most far-flung destinations on the planet and some people love them, while others loathe them. But long flights don’t have to be something to be dreaded – they can actually be enjoyed if you plan ahead and arm yourself with things that will help to pass the time and help you sleep.
Here are my top 15 tips for surviving a long flight:
1. Power up
Make sure you have all your chargers with you so that you can keep all your gadgets powered up throughout your flight. Alternatively, bring extra batteries or an external charging device in case your plane doesn’t have electrical outlets. Tip: Keep your chargers organized with a portable carrying case like this one.
2. Load up your devices
Before you board your flight, make sure that your devices (tablet, laptop, smartphone, e-reader) are loaded up with games, movies, television shows, music, books and the airline’s app just in case that’s how they stream their entertainment.
3. Pack a pillow (and a blanket)
There are tons of different pillows on the market. Find out which one works for you and go with it. I like these ones from Passage Pillows. Also, not all airlines provide blankets so you might want to bring your own … or at least a cozy sweater. For the ladies, my wife swears by the blanket scarf.
4. Wear comfortable clothes
The temperature on a plane is rarely comfortable for everyone. You might be freezing, while the person a few rows away finds it too warm. You just never know so it’s best to be prepared. Wear comfortable clothes on a long flight and pack some layers so that you can adjust as the temperature changes on the plane. Pack some cozy socks, too, but don’t go into the bathroom in just your sock feet – put your shoes on!
5. Sleeping pills
The key to surviving a long flight is being able to get some shut-eye. I personally don’t take any kind of pills (including melatonin) since I want to be fully aware in case of an emergency. But I know many people who swear by them. Usually, the drug of choice is Ambien but consult your doctor first before taking anything and test it out before getting on the plane.
6. Don’t forget your eye mask
Eye masks help you create an ideal sleeping environment by blocking out all the light. Instead of using the cheap, scratchy eye masks that the airlines sometimes pass out on long flights, I bring my own fluffy one. I might look silly in it but it feels so good and does the trick. Mine is made by Lewis & Clarke and is $10 on Amazon.com.
7. Bring earplugs
Bringing earplugs is self-explanatory and is essential for a good night’s sleep. If you forget them chances are the flight attendant will have an extra pair.
8. Noise-cancellation headphones and soft music
If there’s a screaming baby near you or people speaking loudly, earplugs aren’t necessarily going to do the trick. In that case, pop on your noise-cancellation headphones or ear buds and play soft music, an audio book or meditation music to drown out the noise and help put you to sleep.
9. Pack anti-bacterial wipes
We all know that planes are dirty and germy so minimize your risk of picking up and spreading germs by using anti-bacterial wipes to wipe down your arm rests, seat belt, seat back tray, etc. A somewhat sanitized area should help you relax and rest a little bit easier, especially on a long flight.
10. Bring games and something to read
If you are old school and traveling with someone, bring a deck of cards or a portable game. My favorite game is Travel Scrabble. But you better bring the Scrabble Dictionary for challenges or use the in-flight WiFi if available to check the Scrabble Dictionary online. If you’re not into tech gadgets, travel armed with magazines, newspapers and books. Everyone needs something good to read to pass the time.
11. Bring snacks/water
On a long flight, you want to be able to eat and drink according to your own schedule, not the flight crew’s so pack some snacks and bring water (purchased or filled-up in the terminal after you’ve gone through security.) At some major U.S. airports (ahem, JFK) taxi time can be up to an hour and once you are in the air, it’s usually 40 minutes before the crew brings out the food and drinks.
12. Choose your seat wisely
If you plan to sleep for most of the flight, the best seat is usually next to a window so you have something to lean against and you don’t have to worry about your seatmates waking you so they can use the loo. But if you think you’ll be awake, then get an aisle seat so you can get up and stretch your legs easily. Consult SeatGuru.com or SeatExpert.com for your best options.
13. Buckle up
If you’re planning to sleep, make sure your fastened seat belt is visible over your clothing or blanket. That way, the flight attendants won’t have to wake you when they do their safety checks if the seat belt sign goes on. If your seat belt is visibly fastened, they won’t disturb you.
14. Bring sleep assistants
Bring a device that works for you like the First Class Sleeper, which provides neck and lumbar support and can help to make a long flight more comfortable. Also try the Travel Rest Pillow, which attaches to the seat back of a plane and provides comfort and support for your head and neck. There are tons of other travel pillows to choose from – here’s the link to some of the travel pillows I’ve written about.
15. Be nice
Last but definitely not least: Be nice. You’re all on this long flight together so be pleasant to everyone, from the gate agents to your fellow passengers. Put on a smile and bring three boxes of chocolates. One for the gate agents, one for the flight attendants and one for yourself! The flight attendants can really make or break your flight and they’ll be sure to appreciate this simple acknowledgment of their hard work.
Did I miss anything? Do you agree or disagree with these 15 tips? What do you do to survive a long flight?
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.