You’re about to depart for your latest travels. But there’s just one thing standing between you and your adventure: The long airplane ride.
Put these 16 tips into practice for your next big trip. They’ll help you not only survive but also thrive on long flights.
Prepare before the flight
Upgrade – or choose seats wisely
Flying first or business class will make the journey most comfortable. There’s nothing like a lie-flat bed to help you sleep in flight.
If that expense isn’t in the cards, small upgrades should make the trip more enjoyable. Many airlines now offer premium seating for a relatively minor extra charge. This may include more leg room, larger seats, seats that recline more, complimentary alcohol and early boarding.
To get more leg room with little or no additional expense, try to secure a bulkhead seat or exit row.
To thrive on long flights, wear loose clothing that doesn’t wrinkle. Fabrics should stretch along with you as you move around in your seat.
You’ll likely be too chilly at some point during the flight. Wear layers to deal with the ever-changing temperatures. Also recommended: socks to keep your feet cozy. Compression socks can do double duty, warming your feet as well as protecting against circulation problems.
Prepare for different needs
Pack what you’ll need to stay healthy, comfortable and refreshed in the air. A few essentials: a sleep mask, ear plugs, pillow, noise-canceling headphones, snacks, hand sanitizer and medications.
This list of the best items to carry on a plane will serve as a great packing guide.
Rest up before the trip
Many people have trouble sleeping on planes. Better to get as much slumber in as possible before you board. A plane is not the ideal place to catch up on your Zs.
Keep comfortable during the flight
Move when you can
Make a point of standing up at regular intervals to thrive on long flights. Walk up and down the aisle. Stretch.
Even at your seat, keep your blood circulating:
- Lift your feet a few inches off the floor, then rotate them in circles. Then point your toes up and down.
- Roll your shoulders forward and backwards. Then raise them up and down.
- Roll your neck and head forward and backward
- Twist your torso, looking behind each shoulder
- Raise your arms and rotate your hands
Flying is extremely dehydrating. The air in the cabin is very dry, the food often has a high sodium content and travelers tend to indulge in alcohol. To thrive on long flights, drink more water than you normally would.
Bring your own water bottle on board, and keep refilling it. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to have a sip. Snag water from the flight attendant every time it’s offered if you’re getting low. You can also bring an electrolyte-replacement drink as a water substitute.
Bring toiletries like towelettes, a toothbrush and toothpaste with you. Spritz your face with hydrating mist for a quick pick-me-up. The rest of your skin will need moisture, too, so bring a travel-size lotion.
Sleep as much as you can
It’s not easy to sleep on planes, but it’s great if you can. Sleep will help you arrive refreshed at your destination and reduce jet lag.
Some travelers like extra help to doze off in flight. Those range from herbal supplements like melatonin to over-the-counter or prescription sleeping pills. Whatever you use, try it out before the flight. You don’t want any negative reactions to surprise you in the air.
Plan your stay
You’ll have limited time at your destination. Advance planning will help you make the most of your stay. Map out details: which sites to visit, which restaurants and bars to try, which stores look promising.
Learn a language
Teach yourself the basics of the language spoken in your destination. Even a few phrases like ‘hello,’ ‘thank you’ and ‘a glass of red wine, please’ will be extremely useful.
A variety of apps help you learn in an easy, fun environment. Some airlines even offer language lessons through the in-flight entertainment system.
Listen to podcasts
Podcasts are having a moment. Thanks to the hit series Serial, people are buzzing about them again. New podcasts are always emerging.
They’re free and easy to download. Once you’ve done so, you can listen to them offline anytime.
Also having a moment: Adult coloring books. You’ll tap into your creativity. And you’ll apparently even relieve stress and anxiety. What better to help you thrive on long flights?
Take your pick: carry on a book and crayons or colored pencils. Or download coloring books on your tablet.
Listen to music
Don’t count on the airline’s entertainment system to keep you occupied. Craft your own playlist of songs about travel, or ones that relate to your destination. A little research can help you discover artists that may not be known at home but are popular in the place you’re visiting. It’s a fun way to build excitement for your stay.
You may also want to download meditation music or white noise. Those can help block ambient sounds and aid your in-flight sleep.
Watch movies and TV shows
This is a golden opportunity to binge watch that show you’ve meant to catch up on. Or check out a cult classic that comes highly recommended. Or watch a longtime favorite and discover it all over again.
Why not program your own mini film festival? You could pick a style of movie to focus on, like romantic comedy, suspense or documentary. Perhaps watch classics you’ve never gotten around to seeing. Or maybe a roundup of recent Oscar best picture winners?
Find apps that don’t require internet access and load up on them. This is the perfect time to discover why everyone is into Angry Birds and Candy Crush. Maybe action-adventure games are more your style. Or word games. Or games that remind you of your childhood. You can also stay busy with jigsaw puzzles, card games, crosswords and Sudoku on your tablet or phone.
Read e-books – or go retro with a real book
Whether you prefer electronic, audio or paper, bring along some absorbing reading material. Get into the latest novel from your favorite author. Pick a thriller to make the time speed by. Revisit an old friend you haven’t read in years. Find a book with a connection to your destination – either set there or created by a local writer. Or select a book of travel essays to also get you in the mood.
Helping you thrive on long flights
Your travel advisor can be an enormous help in your quest to thrive on long flights. They can recommend and book the best seat for you. And they can share their personal strategies honed over countless long-haul journeys. With one click, you can start the conversation with a Virtuoso air travel specialist.