A week ago I was dreading my long-haul flight from New York City to Dubai. But it wasn’t just that flight I was fearing. It was the roughly 24 hours of travel time including a flight to New York City, the long-haul to Dubai, a brief layover and a 6-hour flight from Dubai to Bangkok. So like most tech-savvy travelers, I researched how to occupy my time on a 13-hour flight as well as how to arrive in my destination feeling as little like a zombie as possible.
Some of the tips I found worked and others simply added bulk to my carry-on. These 10 tips are the ones that actually allowed me to step off the plane and say, “That wasn’t so bad!”
You don’t have to wear your embarrassing Snoopy pajamas to the airport, but you can pack them in your carry-on and change into them once you board the plane. Nothing is more important than staying comfortable on a long-haul flight, and your clothing has a lot to do with it. Wear loose, comfortable pants and layer your tops. You may be sweating at one point in the flight and have goosebumps at another, so it’s nice to be able to shed or apply more clothing when needed.
Although many airlines and travel sites make recommendations for exercising in flight (including leg and arm raises and stretching near the bathrooms), you’ll probably feel silly actually doing them. Instead, exercise thoroughly before you head to the airport. A long run, trip to the gym or at-home exercise routine before you board the plane will help you rest more easily during your flight.
Low cabin pressure and a lack of movement can cause swelling in your feet during flight. Ease your foot pain by bringing one or two golf balls in your carry-on luggage. Take off your shoes and roll the golf balls under your feet for a do-it-yourself foot massage. Use the same golf balls for in-seat back and neck massages too.
Chatting with the person next to you can be entertaining for a little while, but when it comes time to sleep, you don’t want to hear another soul. Pack an eye mask, noise-cancelling headphones (or ear plugs) and a neck pillow to help you sleep no matter where your seat is located. Use the blanket provided by the airline, instead of your own, to leave room in your carry-on for in-flight entertainment.
Audio books are one of the best forms of in-flight entertainment I’ve found. They can entertain you in times of boredom or ease you off to sleep when it’s time for a nap. Even better, they fit on your smartphone or tablet, so you don’t have to lug heavy books around in your carry-on.
Make sketching, knitting, scrapbooking or any other crafty activity your in-flight hobby. If it’s not a hobby you do every day, you’ll look forward to long-haul flights as your special time to practice something new. Most crafty hobbies can be done while watching a movie or listening to music, so you can fight boredom from two angles.
Feeling dirty, sweaty or even smelly on an airplane can ruin the comfort of your flight. Bring your toiletry bag, with a toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, make-up, deodorant and any other supplies that will keep you feeling fresh. Baby wipes are a great travel item to use as napkins and cleansers, and they can help you cool down in a hot airplane cabin.
Most long-haul flights come equipped with entertainment systems offering movies, TV shows, music and in-flight games. Choose a show you know you like (or one you’ve never seen if you’re daring) and watch the season from start to finish. Treat your long-haul flight like a night spent at home watching Netflix, and you’ll be amazed at how time flies. Passengers who favor movies over television shows can do the same with Harry Potter and other movie series.