It’s time to head into the skies, traveling to an exciting (or not-so-exciting) new destination in the space of just a few hours. Unfortunately, if you’re traveling a long distance, even in an airplane, you’re in for a long ride. Want to make your flight more comfortable, both for you and your seatmates? Try some of these key strategies to settle in and enjoy your ride.
1. Pack Some Help in Your Bag
Tuck a tennis ball or massager–avoid the vibrating ones unless you want to risk setting it off as you move through security–into your bag. When you sit down, place it at the small of your back. This will provide a little extra support that will help you stay more comfortable and avoid lower back pain throughout the flight. Not only that, by rolling it a little, you can give yourself a DIY massage, turning your endless flight into a more comfortable and enjoyable time.
2. Visit the Restroom at the Right Time
No one wants to get stuck waiting endlessly for the bathroom in the plane, nor do you want to know that there’s someone standing out the door, dancing in place while you try to take care of business. Choose your timing wisely! Just after the flight attendants have delivered meals and moved out of the aisle, go ahead and slip off to the restroom. Most of the time, the other passengers are too busy with their food to visit the restroom.
3. Add Some Snacks
Having snacks isn’t just a great distraction for kids. Munching a little during your trip can help keep your energy levels up, prevent that dreaded crash before you reach your destination, and even help calm your anxiety, if you’re an anxious flyer. Tuck in snacks that are high in protein or add some complex carbs to your carry-on bag.
4. Bring Along Toiletries
On a particularly long flight or if you’re traveling overnight, don’t ignore your usual hygiene routine! Pack your bag with the intent to brush your teeth, wash your face, and keep your hands clean. Add toothpaste and a toothbrush, hand sanitizer, face wipes, deodorant, and sanitary wipes to your bag, and make sure you schedule in a little time for hygiene before you settle in to go to sleep on your flight. Not only will this make you more comfortable as you fall asleep, when you wake, you’ll be better prepared for whatever else your day might bring.
5. Keep Drinking
It’s tempting to avoid water on the plane so that you don’t have to take the dreaded walk to the bathroom. Unfortunately, that can lead to dehydration–even more likely because of the dry air on planes. Instead, go ahead and keep drinking at least one cup of water per hour. You’ll be more comfortable, and since you already know when to schedule your restroom breaks, you’ll be able to handle your trips with ease.
6. Move Around
Sitting motionless in your seat for hours can lead to stiffness and discomfort when you arrive at your destination. Instead, try some of these exercises recommended by Richard Carmona, MD: stretch your arms and fingers (carefully, to avoid hitting your neighbor!), pumping your feet up and down, lifting yourself in your chair, and tightening and releasing your muscles all the way up your calves and quads to help keep blood flowing.
7. Avoid Cramming Your Space Full
Many people, to avoid having to check luggage, will take advantage of everything an airline will allow them to carry on. If you pack your bag to the limits, carry on a heavy coat, and have an extra bag or purse with you, however, you may end up sacrificing leg room–and on a long flight, that means sacrificing comfort. Instead, go ahead and check your luggage if needed, including placing it in the hold instead of at your feet once you’re on the plane.
8. Bring Your Own Pillow and/or Blanket
Trying to curl up and sleep in a plane seat without head and neck support is a surefire way to end up with a stiff neck and a long flight. Airline pillows, on the other hand, are often flat and uncomfortable–not to mention, all too often, not washed between flights. Tuck your own travel pillow and blanket into your bag. You’ll find that it’s much more comfortable when you know exactly where your pillow has been and you’ve chosen one that will help you get comfortable, rather than something that has been used by dozens of others and might not meet your needs.
9. Dress for Comfort
You might want to look nice when you travel, but you also want to avoid being uncomfortable throughout your flight. Skip the belts, big buckles and buttons, and constricting waistbands. Instead, choose clothing that you know will be comfortable after wearing for several hours. Try elastic waistbands, loose-fitted clothing, and comfortable, slip-on shoes to make it easier to make it through security.
10. Clean Out Your Pockets
You carry many items in your pockets every day–and before a long flight, you may choose to carry even more because you want to streamline your day or make sure that you have everything you’ll need. Unfortunately, during your flight, those items can poke, prod, and make it difficult to settle down and get comfortable. Even your wallet in your back pocket can make it harder to get comfortable in your seat. Instead, empty your pockets before you settle in for the flight. Try tucking the contents into a pocket of your bag or bringing along a small bag just for those items to help keep you from forgetting them when you get off the plane.
Are you ready for your next flight? Dreading a long trip in the cabin of a plane with dozens of strangers? While you can’t make the trip any faster, you can make it more comfortable–and increase the odds that you’ll be able to rest and relax while you wait to get to your destination. Try these key strategies to make yourself more comfortable in the plane.