Cramped seats, nowhere near enough legroom, and aisles so narrow that the trolley slams into your elbow on the way past — you might love going on vacation, but very few people would say they love air travel. In fact, unless you’re in first class and can recline in comfort while enjoying champagne on tap, flying can be downright painful, both physically and emotionally.
Time spent on a plan may never feel like time spent in a luxury spa, but you can definitely make your airplane experience more comfortable. Here are some tips to make air travel more enjoyable (without pricey upgrades).
Another thing that can help make a flight more enjoyable? The right mindset! It might sound hokey, but if you focus on the positives (or at least accept that flights aren't fun, remembering it's only for a few hours and then you'll either be on vacation or back home), you'll find you have a better flight than if you spend weeks dreading it. Relax, bring plenty of entertainment, and your flight needn't be all bad.
Long-haul flights are essentially an excuse to catch up on all the movies you've missed over the last year or so. Although most airlines provide headphones (or have them available for a small fee), they tend to have poor sound quality and feel uncomfortable in your ears for long periods of time. Instead, bring your own headphones (preferably noise-canceling ones) and settle in for a movie marathon.
While it's impossible to be truly comfortable when crammed into a tube flying at 40,000 feet, bringing some creature comforts can help you out. First, think about your traveling outfit. You might want to look like a glamorous jet-setter, but frankly, you'll be more more comfortable traveling in sweatpants or leggings and a loose T-shirt. In addition, we recommend bringing a quality travel pillow, blanket, eye mask, and earplugs, especially if you're taking a red-eye flight.
A completely absorbing page-turner can make a ten-hour flight fly by! If you usually read dense works of nonfiction, try something a bit lighter to take your mind off the fact you're stuck in the air. If you're a quick reader, consider bringing a Kindle or other e-reader rather than having several books taking up room in your carry on.
With your smartphone by your side, you never need to be bored on a long flight again. Download some addictive game apps and you'll be tapping your way to your destination. Just make sure that any games you download don't require WiFi to work.
Make sure to walk around regularly during your flight. Not only does it give you something to do but it also lessens the risk of deep vein thrombosis.
People make jokes about airplane food for a reason — it just isn’t very good. Instead, bring your own snacks and have a tray-table picnic. Many people also order vegetarian or vegan options on flights even if they usually eat meat. The general consensus is that veggie dishes are of a slightly higher quality on airlines than meals containing "mystery meat."
If you're a naturally social person, you might find you can make a dull flight much more enjoyable by chatting with other people. You never know — you might end up speaking to someone with an interesting story or even making a friend for life. Of course, be sure to read the social cues. The person sitting next to you may well prefer a quiet flight.
You can find a wide range of free language-learning apps that you could use on your flight, as well as books and other resources. This is an especially good idea if you're taking a flight to a non-English-speaking country. After all, you'll want to at least be able to order a beverage and ask where the bathrooms are! If you do choose to download a language app, make sure you have the option to access modules offline.
Journaling is one of those things that many people would love to do but few people find the time to do. Don't let those awesome experiences you have on your travels slip away into the dusty recesses of your memory. On the way to your destination, write about what you hope to do and see. On the way home, write about what you did and any fun stories or unusual experiences. It's easy to forget things over the years, so a written record is an excellent thing to have.