With the holidays just around the corner, you likely have a flight or two in your future. If so, you’re probably just as excited for those as you are for the inevitable sweater you’ll unwrap from your great aunt Paige.
No bones about it, flying is a pain, especially during the hectic winter travel season. After battles with traffic and the security line, you can at least take your seat and relax, right? Wrong!
Between bad food, cramped quarters, crying babies, turbulence, and the increased chance to catch a cold, most coach cabins could serve to replace one of Dante’s circles of Hell.
And yet, it doesn’t have to be this way. Believe it or not, with proper planning and supplies, you can not only counteract the worst aspects of air travel but make the experience downright enjoyable.
Your basic strategy is to counteract the negative factors of the experience.
If you use the flight tips outlined below, you’ll arrive at your destination fresh, rested, and more equipped to feign happiness about Great Aunt Paige’s gift.
Flight Tips for Strategic Booking
The battle to enjoy a flight begins long before you step onto the plane. First, you will need to book your ticket with comfort in mind. Many people book early flights so they can have more of the day available at their destination.
However, keep in mind the hour at which you’ll need to wake to catch your flight. If little sleep prior to a flight leaves you irritable and tired, you’ve already stacked the deck against yourself.
Similar logic applies to evening flights. Some people struggle to rest on planes. If you fall into this category, try to secure an earlier flight. A restless night on a plane is a special kind of torture, and will leave you wrecked for the next day.
One final factor to consider is the number of layovers.
Simply put, you want zero.
You should always shoot for a nonstop flight, as layovers simply extend your trip and generate unnecessary stress.
You should also try and book your ticket early. This will provide not only more options of departure times but a wider array of seat choices.
Choosing the type of seat that satisfies your preference is an indispensable component of a comfortable flight. Do you plan to sleep? If so, choose a window seat, as you’ll be able to rest your head against the wall. Do you want more legroom or the freedom to move around the cabin? If so, choose an aisle seat.
As for your choice of airline, try your best to consistently use the same one. As you fly more often on the same carrier, you will accumulate points for preferential treatment. Eventually, you’ll become a VIP with access to early boarding and seat upgrades.
After you’ve taken care of your booking, you can turn your attention to the second stage of preparation: your body and mind. Approaching a flight with dread will almost certainly guarantee an awful experience.
If you lay a foundation for comfort, however, you will almost certainly board the flight in a positive state of mind.
First, you’ll want to make sure that you are properly hydrated. Thanks to recycled air, plane cabins are notoriously dry environments. If you allow yourself to become dehydrated, you’ll feel absolutely miserable.
To avoid this, drink lots of water in the days before your flight. For the trip itself, make sure to bring a water bottle that you can fill after you pass through security.
Having enough water for your flight is crucial, and the tiny cups you receive from the flight attendants are not enough.
Studies have shown that time spent in an aircraft will greatly increase your likelihood of illness.
However, for basic protection, you can take a pre-flight supplement like Emergen-C or Airborne. Many people find these highly beneficial in the avoidance of a cold, and taking them requires little effort.
Lastly, you’ll want to approach your flight as you would a sleepover. In other words, bring snacks and toys. Snacks help pass the time, and can counteract irritability from low blood sugar.
If you want to avoid aircraft food altogether, you can even pack a sandwich. As for toys, indulge yourself while you fly.
Want to binge-watch a trashy TV show? Go for it. Sink some serious time into a video game? No one’s stopping you. These types of distractions are perfectly acceptable while in the air, and may even contribute to genuine excitement for your next flight.
Airline cabins are not fashion runways.
Trust that your fellow passengers are fully engaged with their own distractions, and care absolutely nothing about how you look.
In light of this, wear comfy clothing for your flight. Tight jeans and tucked-in shirts, or fitted dresses and heels, have no place in an aircraft. Instead, opt for athleisure wear attire.
If you tend to get cold on flights, bring a sweatshirt and blanket.
As for other accessories, you should also consider an eye mask if you plan to sleep, along with a neck pillow. Noise-canceling headphones can also be a lifesaver, especially if you find yourself on a plane with a noisy child or chatty group of travelers.
You also need to consider the reality of airline seats. These monstrosities are singlehandedly responsible for much of the discomfort you’ll experience on a flight. Small and cramped, they can aggravate existing back and neck conditions, and contribute to cramps, muscle tightness, and general malaise. Believe it or not, however, some airlines have better seats than others. If your destination is serviced by Southwest, for example, you can trust in improved seats compared to other major carriers.
Finally, it’s highly important that you engage in some kind of physical activity while on a plane, especially on longer flights. For example, you can always walk up and down the aisle every couple of hours. There are also a variety of stretches you can perform in even the most cramped quarters.
Transform Your Experience
When you approach a flight with a positive attitude and proper preparation, you can turn a huge annoyance into a genuinely enjoyable experience.
The flight tips we’ve emphasized above are not difficult and can prove transformative.
Instead of agonizing through your next experience with an aircraft, approach it with comfort in mind.
Book strategically, plan some activities and bust out the stylish sweatpants. Do these things, and you just might find yourself looking forward to your next journey through the sky.