If short flights can be annoying and boring, long flights can be uncomfortable and absolutely mind-numbing. Travel doesn’t have to be torturous; here are our top 5 hacks to make your next long flight bearable.
1. Pack a Snack
Yep; it sounds very grade school. However, when you’re facing down an hours-long flight with nothing except a tiny, tasteless grilled chicken sandwich—or even worse—a minuscule bag of pretzels, you’ll sorely wish you’d planned ahead. Pack items that travel well and don’t need to be refrigerated: an apple, nuts, or protein bars are perfect. Carry an empty water bottle through security and fill it at a water fountain and you’ll always have a drink handy.
2. Keep the Necessities Close
Whether you check your rolling bag or stash it in the overhead compartment, always carry a backpack or tote bag to keep under your seat on the plane. Keep your in-flight essentials in this bag: your snack, phone, tablet, headphones, wallet, and a book or magazine.
3. Bring a Jacket or a Travel Blanket
Even if it’s going to be boiling hot where you’re going, bring a jacket or lightweight blanket on the plane. You never know how cold it’s going to be once they turn the air-conditioning on and there’s nothing more miserable than spending several teeth-chattering hours trying to stay warm. Plus, even if you don’t need it to stay warm, you can roll it up and use it as a pillow to catch some Z’s.
4. Splurge on Noise-Cancelling Headphones
I used to think it was absurd to spend extra money on noise-cancelling functionality for headphones. I mean, turn your cheap headphones up loud enough and you’ll drown out any outside noise with your music, right? This was before I flew internationally. On my first flight from Houston to Paris, I was seated behind a man who was a snorer. A Very Loud One. So loud that I didn’t understand how he could sleep through his own snoring. So loud that I wanted to open the emergency exit and fling myself out. Between his snoring and 9 hours of the plane roaring, I arrived irritated and absolutely exhausted, having gotten no rest. Noise-cancelling headphones not only help you hear your music/movie/show better; they can also provide you with blessed silence in the midst of annoying sounds (that kid just behind you who has been whining for the past hour) or ongoing sounds like airplane noise. Trust me; if you’re planning to travel often, they’re worth the investment.
5. Jet Lag Will Happen
You can help mitigate jet lag a bit by trying to adjust your sleep schedule during the week before you leave so that you’ll be more used to the schedule you’ll be on at your destination. If this isn’t possible, once you get to where you’re going, do your best to function according to that time zone right away. If it’s noon when your plane touches down, don’t go to the hotel and take a nap. Check in and then go out and see the sights. Try to go to bed at a normal bedtime; this will get you into a normal routine much faster.