Long Flights Suck
Everyone who has been anywhere outside of their home country quickly falls in love with travelling. Meeting new people, learning about new cultures and lifestyles, exotic flavours from abroad to tickle the tastebuds, all of it is great, it is just the “physically getting there” part that can sometimes be uncomfortable.
Let’s face it, air travel hasn’t exactly gotten more comfortable throughout the years as many people originally believed it would. Flights used to be about making the customers feel comfortable more-so than checking off a safety list.
Passengers had plenty of space to move around in the old days and many aeroplanes had bars and lounges. Everyone who was able to fly was treated to the same luxurious treatment as the next person. There was no economy class.
That being said, it is important to have some little tricks up your sleeve to get through your dreaded long-haul flights. As someone who has suffered through almost as many hours off of the ground as I have on, here are some of the things I feel it is important to know:
Even If You Feel Warm, Bring An Extra Layer
When you are travelling around the world you are going to be passing through hundreds of tiny micro-climates, each one a different temperature than the last. It is always better to have an extra layer and not need it than to need it and not have it.
If the extra layer is not needed, it can also double as the best pillow you ever had in a time of crisis. Being stuck with no instrument of comfort on some of these flights, even if it serves only as a barrier between you and the sleepy gentleman next to you who keeps hogging the armrest.
Wear Comfortable Clothes
While flying used to be only for the bourgeoise who only travelled in their finest suits and gowns (and some people still do), it is no longer a socially mandatory thing. I may look like a bum for 23-25 hours of travel, but I will be a comfortable bum nonetheless.
Sweat pants, lounge pants, yoga pants (LADIES!) and even pyjama pants are all perfectly acceptable outfits for long flights, chances are you will be sleeping for part of it anyways. It’s always humorous to me to watch the guys in suits strip half of it off for their flight. I say, keep the suit on the hanger for when you get there.
On extremely long flights, as corny as they may look, I recommend pressure or compression socks, especially if you are getting on in age. Compression socks are also recommended for pregnant women who happen to be travelling.
These fantastic socks help the blood flow more freely to your legs, thus, reducing swelling and preventing against conditions like deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and should be in your carry on bag if you have long flights. Nobody wants to die of a blood clot as they reach paradise.
Bring Your Own Entertainment
Though most long flights offer some sort of in-flight entertainment, it is always better to bring something that you like to do to pass the time as well. Often the movies offered in-flight are new releases that you have already seen before and unless we’re talking the entire Star Wars line-up, not many movies are worth watching twice.
I travel with my Kindle e-book, a real book (in case the e-book breaks down), some sort of notepad and paper for doodling and writing my thoughts, my tablet because it holds a charge 100x better than my laptop and has various games I enjoy.
It is also a very wise move to bring your own entertainment because sometimes the on-board entertainment system is malfunctioning in certain seats. Nobody wants to get screwed with nothing to do for the entire flight.
Noise Cancelling Headphones Required
There is no telling who you will end up with as a seat-mate on the plane. It could be a tiny little quiet grandma, a man who is a little into his fast food, or even someone with a noisy little crotch goblin.
To avoid any unpleasant noises it is suggested that you acquire a pair of noise-cancelling headphones for your travels. Keep in mind, the headphones take batteries. You will either want to take an extra set of them or to have a backup pair of good old-fashioned earplugs.
The Window Seat Is Your Friend
I know that there are a lot of aisle seat type people out there and I understand the reasoning behind it. Nobody wants to have to ask the other two people to move so that they can get out and use the restroom mid-flight.
Frankly, I care more about my comfort when spending that much time in the air. The aisle seat is nice just for the fact that you can get up whenever you wish to move about freely. That is literally the only good thing about sitting on the aisle seat.
When you sit in the window, nobody will bother you to get up to use the restroom, no carts will be constantly smashing into your elbows and you have a wall that you can lean against to give yourself the maximum amount of space possible from your neighbour.
Emergency row seating is sometimes beneficial for legroom but if you should select it on the wrong type of plane, you could be stuck without an in-flight entertainment television.
As soon as you arrive at the airport and check your bags, ask the attendant to get moved into a window seat for your comfort.
The plane is going to be your new home for the next however many umpteen hours you have to be in the sky. Chances are high that you will find yourself wanting to sleep at some point during the trip.
While airlines typically still give out pillows and blankets for international travel, I have found it is always better to bring my own. Typically the airline issued pillows are small and very lightweight and they tend to flatten out easily.
The blankets are often only slightly bigger than a beach towel and always leave some part of your body exposed to the air jets of your neighbours. Go buy a decent pillow and blanket set that you find comfortable.
Bring Plenty Of Snacks
Yes, planes offer snacks for your comfort and international flights offer full-blown meals, typically you always end up longing for some kind of snack (generally sweet and salty) between services.
The best thing to do is to stock up on your favourite fat kid snacks before you get to the plane. You never know exactly what they will be offering for snacks and food until you get on the plane. Sometimes selections are decent and other times they leave you wanting, so it is always better to have comfort food on hand.
Move Around And Stretch
Sitting in your chair the entire flight, unless you are sleeping, can really play hell on your leg’s ability to circulate blood flow. It is important to get up every couple of hours to stretch and have a quick walk around.
If there is too much going on around you to get up, you can also do a variety of leg stretches and flexing exercises right from your chair to stimulate blood back to your sticks. Stretching is important for everyone, even people with compression socks.
Drink Plenty Of Fluids
The climate on the aeroplane may feel comfortable but is in fact extremely dry. Passengers need to make sure they are staying hydrated to combat the dehydrating effects of the plane’s climate control system.
I like to travel with a tiny bottle of saline nasal spray for when the environment starts drying out my sinuses on long flights. It is also recommended to travel with some kind of lozenge type candy or cough drops should you need them for when your throat gets dry.
Choose Your Shoes Wisely
Everyone who has been anywhere these days via any type of aircraft knows that you are going to have to remove your shoes at some point during your security check. If you happen to be travelling in some thigh-high, 1000-lace boots, you are going to end up being fashionably late for your flight.
It is far better to travel in a pair of slip-on and off type shoes when you are travelling. I personally prefer flip-flops because they allow my feet to stay aired out and not sweaty. Nobody wants someone sitting next to them with damn mildew feet. Be courteous to your neighbours and travel comfortably.
Eye Masks May Look Dumb, But They Work
Do you know those old “blackout” style masks that you see people putting on before they go to bed in classic movies? Those things are awesome! Say what you will about the way they look, I don’t travel without mine.
Nothing makes it easier for someone to fall asleep than a dark environment. Scientists believe that a dark environment boosts your melatonin levels which allows you to zonk out quicker.
Proper sleep planning during flights is also a great way to avoid jet lag on the other side of your trip. Try getting your body comfortable and to sleep at the hours that you know your destination will be sleeping.
Everyone that you ask will tell you something different that is important for travelling comfortably. Some people use sleep aids, some people use the drinks on the plane as sleep aids, other people just tough it the whole way through the flight.
If you are on your way to a holiday in Thailand, there is no reason you can’t be comfortable doing it. Use these tips and research others. There is always a more seasoned traveller out there than the last with wisdom that could make your life a little easier.