Unless you’re regularly flying business or first-class, the idea of being comfortable on a long-haul flight may seem ridiculous. And sure, you may not exactly feel like you’re lying on the beach with a margarita in your hand, but that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily be suffering.
Even if you’re resigned to suffering when flying long-haul (as I am), these tips will help make the experience ever so slightly better:
Choose the right seat
Seat choice is everything, and airlines know this. That’s why many of them (even full-cost airlines) are now charging for people who want to choose their seats in advance. It can be well worth it though, and you’ll be thanking your lucky stars once you board your flight.
Window seats are great if you’re anticipating spending the majority of the flight sleeping. You can use the wall to lean against, and you also have control over the shade. Unfortunately, if you have a tendency to drink plenty of water, you’ll be annoying your seat mates as you clamber over them or ask them to get up when they’re resting. Don’t’ sit near the galley, since flight attendants will be walking back and forth, banging around, and talking. And whatever you do, avoid sitting by the toilets.
A large part of not feeling terrible while flying is dependent on how you prepare and dress for your flight. I always bring sweatpants and a sweater, along with warm socks to keep my feet warm. This means I can deal with freezing air conditioning and pretend I’m at home watching Netflix in my sweats.
Break it up
If I’m planning to travel through a bunch of different time zones, I always break up my trip with cheap travel packages. These have included stopovers in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Hong Kong, and they’re a great way to stay in a nice hotel, rest after a flight, and see a little of my stopover city at the same time. It’s much easier to get on a flight while knowing you have a nice hotel waiting for you.
Escape the noise
Planning to sleep? You better hope you don’t have any babies or toddlers on your flight. For long-haul flights, you’ll want to bring some decent earplugs or noise-canceling headphones. This will mean you can drown out some of the noise from the people around you and maybe even pass a large portion of the flight by sleeping.
It can be tempting to have a few wines or beers with dinner, but you’ll be setting yourself up for a splitting headache at 35,000 feet. Instead, steer clear of alcohol or stick to just one drink with dinner. Aim to drink at least one glass of water for every hour you’re on the plane (more if you can). This will not only keep you hydrated, but it’ll ensure you’re regularly getting up and moving as you travel back and forward to the bathroom.
Your seatmates are just as miserable as you are. But there’s no reason why you can’t introduce yourself, have a chat, or at least be pleasant throughout the flight. Bringing some great snacks? Offer a cookie or a few chips to your next-door seat neighbor and this may be the start of a beautiful friendship.
Take travel insurance
Think your flight is going to be terrible? Just wait and see what happens once you’ve misplaced your passport, missed your flight, or had your handbag stolen. One of the best ways to take the stress out of travelling long-haul? Simply grab some cheap travel insurance before you fly so you’ll have peace of mind.