I frequently go on long trips across continents, flights totaling 10-11 hours at a time. It’s always exhausting, but I’ve gotten used to them. Here are some tips I’ve learned:
1. Sit in the aisle seat. The window seat is endearing for the view, but it’s not practical as far as room to move and potential trips to the bathroom. If I have the choice, I always sit in the aisle.
2. Wear thick socks. The outdoors all-seasons kind. And don’t be shy to take your shoes off if you have to.
3. Get a neck pillow. But don’t get an inflatable pillow, you don’t really want to be huffing into it and feeling lightheaded when you’re already high up in the air. The fleece ones are much more comfortable anyway, and very practical if they come with a hook for your backpack.
4. Sit back. This is one thing I always used to hesitate on because I didn’t want to inconvenience the people behind me. Everyone does it and there’s no problem because they can always lean back too.
5. Get up and stretch often. At least every 2 hours. Go to the bathroom when you have to as well.
6. Drink plenty of water. Buy a bottle from the airport after security and take the flight attendants on their offer of water everytime. Not only will you feel better for being hydrated, but after a sleep I always need to rinse my mouth out and it’s good to have a bottle handy.
7. Stock up on hard-boiled candy and gum. Sucking on candy helps with popping ears and gum helps with the taste in your mouth after a nap.
8. Empty your pockets. It creates unnecessary bulges in your pants that limit movement. Ideally bring a hoody with a front pouch to put things for easy access.
9. Wear sweatpants underneath your regular pants. I always underestimate how cold a plane gets mid-flight. Even if the trip to the airport is really hot and bothering, you’ll thank yourself later. There’s no need to buy a travel blanket because the plane provides a decent one. Your own could just be more of a nuisance than a luxury.
10. Bring some magazines. I tell myself that I’ll read a book but it’s difficult to get focused. A magazine is ideal when you’re at the gate and getting ready to takeoff because it’s an easy distraction but one you can break away from very easily, as music or a book would distract you too much.
11. Bring your own pair of headphones. Earphones can’t quite compete with the noise of a plane engine and the headphones they provide can be quite uncomfortable.
12. Make a playlist for flying. Since I travel alone during these flights, music is my best companion until the in-flight movies open up. Before every trip I make a big playlist of the most catchy and relaxing songs so I can shuffle them and be pleasantly surprised at what comes up but also very familiar with them, rather than a boring predictable playlist.
13. Stock up on your favorite TV shows on your iPod/iPad. I’ve been on a few flights where the entertainment has been really bad. Even one which malfunctioned completely and the only choices were horrible movies in bad quality. TV shows you’re familiar with are good to have because they’re so bite-sized. Saves on battery too if you only watch 3 episodes instead of a full movie. Make sure you keep your brightness down to preserve battery too.
14. Now here’s something most websites won’t tell you. It’s okay to relieve yourself. Gas pains are the worst on a flight. However, everyone gets them because the air pressure effects the stomach. Don’t be shy to relieve yourself of gas pains because it’s just pockets of air that don’t smell. Nobody can hear you anyway.