Long haul flights (anything over 6 hours, and up to nearly 19 hours!) can be brutal. You’re squashed in a small seat for hours on end, with no escape. There are things you can do, however, to help you not only survive the flight on your Gate 1 Travel trip, but make it enjoyable as well. Read on to find out how.
Plan Your Entertainment
Check ahead for the entertainment options on your flight, then load up a device with your favorite movies and shows as a backup, and bring a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones. Readers can get lost in multiple books on their Kindle while gamers and creative types can spend hours honing their craft. Podcasts and audiobooks are also good options. Be sure to charge everything ahead of time and bring extra battery packs in case there are no power outlets.
Keep Your Essentials Within Easy Reach
Keep everything you need for the flight within easy reach in the seat pocket in front of you, or in a small bag under the seat. The last thing you want to do is to have to keep reaching for the overhead compartment to grab essential items. Keep the bag small though, as it’s competing for space with your feet. A soft bag that can be squashed down is ideal—travelers on the short side can even rest their feet on their bag for extra comfort.
Wear Comfortable Clothes and Shoes
Wear loose comfortable clothes on the flight. You can always pack another outfit to change into just before landing. Layers are a good idea since the temperature can vary significantly during a flight. Avoid wearing tight fitting shoes since your feet will likely swell. Definitely don’t wear anything with heels. Comfortable shoes that you can easily slip on and off are your best bet on the plane. Compression socks are also a good idea to ward off deep vein thrombosis.
Invest in Good Eyemask, Earplugs, and Pillow
Don’t count on the airplane amenity kit (if there even is one) to provide you with several key essentials for trying to get some sleep on a plane full of loud people and light. Remove any doubts by investing in a good set of eye mask, earplugs, and pillow to bring along with you. If you normally wear contacts, consider wearing your glasses for the whole journey, or at least while you are sleeping.
Be Picky About Your Food
You might have a few options for meals on a long flight. It’s best if you can avoid heavy meals, as they take more effort to digest, and could impact your ability to sleep. If your flight allows you to pre-select your meal, do so, so you’re not stuck with what no one else wanted. Also carry some healthy snacks to tide you over when the hunger pangs hit and there’s no food service to be had.
Don’t Drink Too Much and Stay Hydrated
While it may be tempting to have a few glasses of wine to help you sleep, you don’t want to overdo it (and the effects of alcohol are more pronounced when flying). Alcohol will dehydrate you and may affect your ability to sleep, plus you might have frequent trips to the restroom. The air on the plane is dry enough. Make sure you drink plenty of water, especially if you’re also indulging in alcohol. Bring an empty water bottle to refill at the airport. Drink it all, then ask for more water on the flight.
The dry cabin air is also terrible for your skin. Avoid makeup and apply a rich moisturizer instead. Pro tip—bring a small spray bottle and fill it with water to spritz your face periodically for a divinely fresh feeling. This is also a good time to use some pampering masks for your face. Just be kind to your neighbors and avoid anything with a strong scent.
Choose Your Seat Carefully
You’ll be spending a lot of time in your seat, so make sure it’s a good one. Window seats may be more comfortable for resting, but aisle seats make it easier to get up to stretch and walk around the cabin (which you should do periodically on a long flight anyway) or go to the restroom. You definitely don’t want the dreaded middle seat. The best way to avoid that, and other bad seats on your flight, is to check a site like SeatGuru, and to book your flight early, so you can choose your seat early.
Upgrade Your Flight
If you have the miles, upgrading to business class, or even premium economy, is the best way to a better flight. No miles? See if you can transfer your credit card or other points. Some airlines also let you bid for upgrades. Or try asking for a free upgrade at the airport—arrive early, dress nicely, and ask politely, with your best smile. Also keep an eye out for empty seats on your flight, especially an entire row. Check with a flight attendant about moving when it’s safe, then enjoy the comfort of extra space. With a little planning and discipline, you will not only survive your next long haul flight, but might actually enjoy it as well. Happy traveling!