Getting Comfortable on a Plane – Some Handy Tips
When you’re traveling around the world, living and working from anywhere, you’ll likely find yourself on a plane once or twice, if not hundreds of times. And while it’s great to be able to use this mode of transportation to get wherever it is you want to go, flying isn’t always the most comfortable way to move about – especially on long flights.
Fortunately, there are a few different things you can do to make your air-based travels less daunting and more enjoyable. This starts with learning how to pack, where to sit, and other valuable tips that will make it easier (and more fun) to get from where you are now to wherever it is you want to be.
Getting comfortable on a plane starts with packing first…
How to Pack
Your primary goal should be to not bring too much with you on the plane. The easier you can slip in and out of your seat without worrying about grabbing or tripping over all of your things, the more efficient and less stressful both your trip and your neighbor’s will be.
Focus on Necessities
So, what should you pack in your carry-on so you can travel comfortably without taking a bunch of things you don’t necessarily need?
For starters, you want to make sure you have your airline ticket, passport or visa (if applicable), driver’s license, money, medical card, and any other documentation you need on hand for your travels.
You also want to make sure you have any medications you’ll need with you, including anything you take over the counter.
Carry enough money to get you to and from the airport and to buy some food. Always make sure to have at least one credit/debit card (2 or more is better in case one is lost/stolen/not working).
Eye masks are great if you plan on sleeping during the flight, along with earplugs or noise-canceling headphones. A travel pillow can provide your neck some much needed support (Alaska Airlines and some other flights will have adjustable headrests, so you might want to check before taking your own pillow), and you might want to consider an inflatable footrest to enhance the comfort of your legs (or rest them on top of your carry on).
As far as clothing is concerned, take an extra pair of socks in case it gets cold on the plane.
You also want to have a sweatshirt or light jacket in case it gets cold. Plus, it doubles as an extra blanket and/or pillow that doesn’t take up any additional room.
Throw in an extra pair of underwear and a clean shirt as well in your carry on. If your luggage is somehow misplaced, it will at least make you feel a little better to put on some fresh clothes after a long day of travel.
You also want to have a few things with you to occupy your flight time. This could include work, some downloaded movies or podcasts on your smartphone or tablet, or even your favorite game apps. Some airlines do offer in-flight TV and Internet services, but not all of the planes are equipped with them, so you want to have your own activities available in case you find that you are traveling on one of them.
Food & Beverage
Some healthy snacks are great to throw in your carry-on in the event that you get hungry and your flight doesn’t include meals or you didn’t have time to grab something in between flights. A few to consider include trail mix, fruit, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or cheese and crackers.
You can’t bring beverages from home due to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations, but you can always pack an empty water bottle in your carry-on and just fill it at an airport drinking fountain after you get through security. This one simple move can save you some cash and is good for the environment.
A Few Bonus Items – Staying Fresh
Anti-bacterial hand gel is nice to have on hand as germs can spread quite easily in both airport and plane settings. You might also want to pack some lip balm and hand lotion as the air in planes can be very dry, especially on long flights.
Speaking of long flights, taking toothpaste and a toothbrush will allow you to freshen your mouth before you land… which allows you to feel fresh all around. Deodorant is a must and so are wet towelettes which can go a long way in lieu of a shower.
Now that you’ve got everything you need, let’s talk about where to sit…
Where to Sit
Most airlines allow you to pick your seats when you purchase your tickets. If you’re flying on one of them and you can, try to find a seat that has no passenger next to you so you have more room (although, this can change if the flight fills up).
However, if you’re on an airline that doesn’t allow you to preselect your seat, then at least check in online as early as you can (usually 24 hours before the flight is scheduled to depart) so you can choose your seat then.
The seat that is best for you depends on a number of different factors, such as where you’re going, how long of a flight, and also your body type. I almost always pick a window seat toward the front of the aircraft. That way, if the flight is crowded, especially on shorter-duration flights, I can get off quicker once we land.
But if the flight is 10 hours or more, then it really doesn’t matter how quickly you plan to exit the plane, so where you sit matters a little less. Ideally, you probably want to choose one closer to the bathroom, but you don’t want to be so close to it that people are constantly moving around you, opening and closing the lavatory door (with sometimes unpleasant odors).
The aisle seat is great for a short flight but, if you have any part of you sticking out into the aisle, you will get bumped. This is true whether it is by one of the restless passengers that is going for a mid-flight walk or the infamous drink and food cart that has been known to strike more than a few funny bones and knees.
If you plan to sleep on your flight, the window seat is your best option as, in addition to not getting bumped, you also have a place to lay your head (If you’re a sleeper who drools, your seatmate will appreciate this tremendously!).
Some people prefer exit row seats thanks to the extra leg room, which is nice, especially if you are tall. I find that flying standby on a buddy pass will sometimes land you in one of these seats at no extra cost.
And even with short legs, this row of seats can often make for a nicer flight. But be aware that the seats in these rows don’t recline, so if that feature is important to you, then you might want to stick with a regular seat option.
Wherever you are sitting, if the flight is not full and you want a different seat, just ask the flight attendant if you can move once everyone has boarded. Or, if you have a few extra dollars and want to upgrade, you can always go for economy comfort or first class and enjoy the perks that those particular sections of the plane have to offer.
What else should you know when traveling comfortably, whether you’re flying internationally or domestic?
Additional Flying Tips for Increased Comfort on Your Plane Ride
Some other tips to consider when flying on an airplane include:
- Start your travels well-rested. Although it may sound like spending your in-air time sleeping is a great idea, it doesn’t always work that way. So, the more sleep you have beforehand, the easier it will be for you to handle the stresses related to both short and long-term travel.
- Start hydrating before you go. Begin drinking extra fluids a couple of days before you go as travel can be very dehydrating. Water is the best choice (don’t forget to bring a bottle with you and fill up after passing through security)
- Wear loose clothing. Remember: the longer the flight, the more comfortable you want your clothing to be.
- To avoid the ugly arm rest fight, place your sweatshirt or jacket inside your seat and rest part of it on the armrest between you and the passenger next to you. That way you’re not spending your entire flight fighting for elbow space.
- Get up and walk around a bit. Ideally, you want to do this every hour or so (particularly when on long flights) to keep your circulation flowing.
Finally, if you travel a lot, it may be worth it to stick to just one airline so you can earn their specific perks, such as free upgrades and early boarding.
If you have a lot of experience traveling on a plane, what are some tricks that you’ve learned to make your flights more comfortable? Please share in the comments below!