Unless you fly first class, long flights can be unpleasant. After all, sitting in a cramped space for many hours breathing dry air can lead to poor blood circulation, headaches, and many other harmful effects on the body. But since riding a plane is usually the best way to travel to different states, countries, or even continents, the least you can do is to find ways to make the experience more bearable—enjoyable, even. To help you out, here are eight tried and tested ways to stay comfortable when you need to fly long-distance:
Bring Extra Pairs of Socks
The temperature inside of most planes is usually quite cold, so you may need to wear two pairs of socks to keep your feet warm and cozy. Try wearing compression socks for men to avoid various health issues caused by inactivity and seating for long hours, such as swollen feet and ankles, leg pain, and even deep vein thrombosis (DVT). When choosing a second pair to bring, opt for socks that are slightly larger so you can comfortably pull them onto your feet, on top of your compression socks. This will provide you with extra warmth, especially if you intend to take your shoes off during the flight.
Wear Comfortable Clothes
You may not realize it, but your body naturally swells whenever you’re in the air. That’s why, when riding a plane, you should avoid wearing any clothing that’s too tight or constricting. Instead, wear breathable and stretchy clothes to ensure healthy blood circulation and freedom of movement. Any garment with an elastic waistband is ideal. If jeans are your go-to pants, be sure to wear a pair that fits you well at the waist. Better yet, wear travel jeans, as they’re ultra-comfortable and perfect for long flights.
Dress in Layers
During a long flight, you’ll most likely experience fluctuating temperatures inside of the plane. It may be freezing at night and then warm when the sun is out. To readily adapt to such changes, it’s best to wear several layers of clothing. That way, you can readily remove or put on garments depending on the temperature. For example, you can wear a sweatshirt or sports jacket over a T-shirt when it’s cold. When it gets warmer, just pull off your jacket or sweatshirt, and you’ll instantly feel much cooler in no time.
Keep Your Carry-on Baggage in the Overhead Bin
Give your legs as much space as possible by keeping your carry-on luggage in the overhead bin. By doing so, you have enough room in the footwell to relax and move your legs and feet more freely. While flexing, spreading out your toes, and similar simple stretches may not seem like much, these movements can aid in promoting better blood circulation to prevent lower body pain. You can also rest and sleep better if you have room to fully extend your legs rather than having to curl up uncomfortably in your seat.
Invest in a Travel Pillow
A travel pillow is a must-have item to stay comfortable during long flights. You can use it to support your head to prevent neck and shoulder pain, keeping you comfortable and relaxed while sleeping in a sitting position. You can also place the pillow on your lower back to release some of the pressure on your body and ease muscle soreness caused by sitting for several hours in an uncomfortable seat.
Pack Your Eye Mask and Earplugs
Having the chance to catch up on much-needed sleep is one of the few perks of long flights. However, getting quality sleep is not easy if you’re in an environment that’s not conducive to it. That said, be sure to bring your own eye mask to block out any lights on the plane. That way, you can fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply. This is because darkness promotes the release of the sleep hormone melatonin, while bright lights inhibit it.
Since noise also impacts sleep, wearing earplugs or noise-canceling headphones is also a must. The last thing you want is to not sleep a wink because of crying babies, people talking loudly, or someone playing music or videos on their device of choice.
Drink Plenty of Water
The low humidity inside a plane cabin can lead to discomforts, like dry skin and eye irritation, especially for individuals who are particularly sensitive to changes in their environment. To avoid these issues, you need to stay hydrated.
The Aerospace Medical Association (ASMA) suggests drinking about eight ounces of water every hour. They also warn against overconsumption of alcohol and caffeinated drinks, since doing so can dehydrate your body even more. Another benefit of drinking plenty of water is that it forces you to go to the bathroom more frequently. That means that you get more opportunities to move around and promote better blood circulation in your legs, preventing severe health issues like blood clots or DVT.
Remember to Bring Your Own Entertainment
One of the tricks to enjoy long travels is to keep yourself busy and entertained. Perhaps you can download exciting movies or gaming apps onto your mobile device. Maybe you can bring an e-book or your favorite portable gaming console so you can play to your heart’s content. Whatever you choose to take with you, be sure all your gadgets have fully charged batteries for uninterrupted fun. Better yet, bring an extra power pack to avoid frustration.
Given uncomfortable seats, limited legroom, and many other factors, it’s not surprising why many travelers dislike long flights. That said, these sorts of plane rides don’t have to be entirely unpleasant. With the right mindset, proper preparation, and clever strategies, you can make your long-haul experience much less of a hassle. If you know what you’re doing, you may even get enough rest so that you’re ready to go by the time you arrive at your destination.