The amount of time spent in the air for somebody traveling from, let’s say Holland to Brazil- is about 13 hours. That’s 13 hours of screaming children. 13 hours of cramped conditions. 13 hours spent listening to the perpetual roar of the airplane’s engines. All, of course, served up with the always delightful inevitability of severe jet lag waiting for you at the end.
The nuisances of long hours flights can range in severity from the mildly inconvenient to the downright dangerous (deep-vein thrombosis: no joke), and a poorly planned journey can be enough not only to ruin your day, but a few more afterwards too. Luckily, there are some easy ways to make a long flight more bearable.
1. Book your tickets early
This should go without saying. The earlier you book, the better your chances of scoring your favorite seat—it’s that simple. You can consult the website “Seat Guru” or “Seat Expert” for your best options.
2. Prepare your entertainment
Charge up all your devices. Download movies or seasons of your favorite shows. Stock up on papers and books on your e-readers. Invest in a quality pair of headphones. Noise-cancelling headphones are your new best friend but if you can’t afford them, some high-quality earplugs will do just fine.
3. Get confortable
Change into a super confortable outfit before you board. I opt for strechy leggings, a cotton tank top and long-sleeved tee, a lightweight blazer or cardigan, and compression socks ♥ Layers, baby! I also carry a pair of cashmere socks if my feet get cold and a big scarf to use as a blanket. Keep it loose and comfortable—you’re not here to impress anyone.
4. Quench your thirst
I always purchase the largest bottle of water available before boarding the flight, and will usually have it refilled by the flight attendants during the flight. Hydration is everything! I try to avoid heavy foods (bread, rice, meat) in flight as well- you’re not burning calories by sitting on your bum for hours on end. Pre-ordering the strict vegetarian/vegan or gluten free option is the key – the food is usually decent (and vegetable-rich) and it’s served before everyone else gets their meals. As for snacks, I’ll bring along vegetable sticks, fresh fruit (do NOT take bananas – the smell is too strong), granola bars and almonds.
5. Stay Healthy
Sitting in a cramped metal tube for the better part of a day (or more) is not good for you. Fight off dehydration and deep-vein thrombosis—your two biggest enemies in the sky—by regularly drinking water, stretching, and walking around the cabin. Plane are incubators for viruses, and I’m all about prevention. We all know that planes are dirty and germy so minimize your risk of picking up and spreading germs by wiping down arm rests, seat belt fasteners, tray table, window pull, and wall next to your seat with sanitizing towels ♥. And ALWAYS use a paper towel to open the bathroom door from the inside as I’m leaving.
6. Stay hygienic
This is for everybody else’s sake as much as your own. Bring toiletries in your carry-on and make sure to brush your teeth, throw on some deodorant, or even change your clothes. Just make sure you do it in the bathroom, please.
7. Practice your death glare
That child across the aisle from you, running havoc at 30,000 feet? Death glare. The guy behind you who’s been kicking your chair for three hours? Death glare. Those four party animals trying to lead the cabin in a drunken party at 4 a.m.? Death glare. It will serve you well.
8. 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. Now a very important tip (speaking from personal experience here)- alcohol will only make your sleep worse on a long haul flight. Do. Not. Drink. Booze. Chamomile tea is actually prived quite helpful in lulling me to sleep, as did the world’s best eyemask and neck pillow. I always use the airline provided pillow as a lower back support, my own neckpillow to cradle my head.
9. Try to relax
Do whatever it takes—meditate, listen to some calming music, do some breathing exercises—not only will it help you sleep more easily, but it’s also pretty good for your psyche in general.
10. Adjust your watch
It’s important to acclimatize yourself to the time zone of wherever you’re going. As soon as you get on the plane, change your watch to the local time of your destination and then alter your routine accordingly.
11. 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? :)