January has been the month for cheap flights, tempting us all to get out of the office and onto a plane. Yet, despite the excitement of knowing that you’re off on a fun adventure, getting on a long flight can be daunting. The small space, the uncomfortable seats, the potential to be cramped against a sweaty stranger – it’s a lot to handle. There are plenty of reasons to dread a long haul flight, but you have to remember that the journey is part of the fun. To make sure that’s true for you, here are some of the best ways to make the best of a long flight bearable, if not fun.
Choose your seat carefully
It goes without saying that a good seat selection is your best friend on a long haul flight. A window seat is the best selection, because you can rest your head on the solid wall instead of a stranger’s shoulder. It also means you won’t be disturbed by passing flight attendants or by fellow passengers needing to use the facilities. Experts claim that selecting a seat near the wings of the plane means that you experience less turbulence. You should avoid seats in the bulkhead because there’s no room to store your luggage, and in front of or behind exit rows, because the seats won’t recline.
Wear comfortable clothing
It’s a great idea to be comfortable for a long flight, especially when your leg room is quite cramped. Choosing comfortable loose clothing will allow you to move about easily and fluidly. It’s best to wear layers because, as every traveller knows, a plane can go from freezing to boiling quite quickly. A good traveller will always have a scarf on hand, because it’s one of the most multifaceted travel tools a person can have (other than this jacket). A scarf can be a pillow, a headrest, extra insulation or even an eye mask.
Bring a neck pillow
While not being the best-looking travel accessory, a neck pillow will allow you sleep almost anywhere, and will provide more comfort in cramped conditions. Having a neck pillow greatly increases your chances of sleeping, which is integral to lessening jet lag and increasing happiness.
Bring earplugs or headphones
The noise of the aeroplane engine reportedly causes stress among travellers, so bring earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones to rid yourself of additional discomfort. Earplugs or headphones will also cancel out those other annoying plane sounds, like babies crying or people sneezing, so that you can focus on your movie, book, or getting some shut-eye.
Wear an eye mask
Wearing an eye mask will allow you to sleep, thereby readjusting your body clock to be more in tune with your destination. Blocking out the light on the plane will help with jet lag and mentally prepares you for sleep, even if everyone else is being active. Additionally, you’ll be much happier after a nap, which will improve your outlook on the journey.
One of my favourite parts of flying is enjoying the uninterrupted hours of movie-watching, but sometimes the selection is terrible and sometimes it’s non-existent. You can check on the state of the entertainment when you book your flight, but it’s a smart idea to bring your own entertainment, just in case. A good book or a magazine are great travel entertainment, or you can go the more technological route and bring your tablet if it’s loaded with pre-downloaded movies and TV shows. Make sure you bring chargers or a power pack for your electronics though!
Choose your food carefully
While some people shy away from plane food, eating can help your body adjust to the time difference. Not to mention, carb-rich foods, like pasta and wholegrain bread, can help minimise (or eliminate) jet lag. However, you have to be careful of your intake, because it’s harder to digest in the air. Select warm foods if you’re concerned, as they are easier to digest. If you want to be served your meal first (and thereby go to sleep earlier), order a special meal, like a vegetarian or vegan option. It’s also a good idea to bring snacks, just in case you don’t like the plane food, or so you don’t have to pay for snacks on those budget airlines. Protein snacks will keep you feeling fuller for longer, so they are a good choice.
Air travel is very dehydrating, so be sure to drink a lot of water on your flight. Experts recommend that you drink more water than you usually would, so keep asking for refills of your water cup (or ask for a bottle to make the process easier). Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Drinking more water will also decrease the swelling in your joints.
Drink minimal alcohol
Try not to drink too much alcohol on your flight, as alcohol acts as a stimulant after you drink it, so you will be kept awake if you drink. Excessive drinking can also lead to grogginess and dehydration, which will increase the feeling of jet lag once you land. It’s also a good idea to avoid caffeine, since it also keeps you awake and dehydrates you. Stick to green tea if you need a hot beverage.
Do some exercises
Getting up to have the occasional stroll around the plane cabin will increase your blood circulation and cure your restlessness. Experts also recommend that you do in-seat exercises, like those recommended on the safety sheets. These will help you avoid the health issues that can come with long haul flights, such as deep vein thrombosis.
Now that you’ve got the expert tips, enjoy your journey to adventure!