10 Ways to Make Your Flight More Comfortable

iStock
iStock

Flying in economy seating can be a drag, especially on tinier airplanes where leg room is at a premium. But just because you're confined to your seat, it doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable. Some basic tricks will help ease you through your trip.

1. DRESS STRATEGICALLY. 

Layers are key to flying comfortably. You never know how hot or cold it’s going to be on the plane, so wear clothing that can easily be removed. Soft, breathable clothing like sweatshirts and cotton t-shirts will help you feel more relaxed and comfortable. Avoid wool, tight fitting clothes, or scratchy tags. There’s nothing worse than feeling itchy while stuck in a small space. 

2. WEAR THE RIGHT SHOES.

Stay away from high heels or clunky boots when flying. You want shoes that are not only comfortable, but can slip on and off easily so you can get through security without a hitch. Once on the plane, take those shoes off. Feet tend to swell on flights, so wear socks or bring a pair of slippers so your feet can breathe.   

3. BRING EARPLUGS.

Tune out crying babies and chatty passengers with a good pair of earplugs.  With your newfound silence, naptime can finally become a reality. 

4. PACK A LIGHT SNACK.

A small healthy snack will make for a good pick-me-up while flying. Consider baby carrots, trail mix, fruit, or something else that can be easily kept in a plastic baggy. Try to avoid anything greasy that could make you lethargic. Also keep any pungent foods at home: Your neighbors will thank you. 

5. CHECK IN EARLY.

Cross one stress off your list by checking in early. By checking in online before you head to the airport, you'll save some time waiting in line and will also be able to pick your seat ahead of time.

6. PICK THE RIGHT SEAT. 

Everyone has their own preference on where to sit, but that doesn’t mean all seats are equal. Taller flyers would be wise to grab an aisle seat, where it's easier to spread out, while nappers might want a window seat, so they're not disturbed by neighbors who need to use the restroom. All passengers, however, should try to grab a seat closer to the front of the plane—the back is plagued by the engine noise and bathroom smell.

7. HYDRATE.

Skip the coffee or soda and go for water. The caffeine and sugar will just lead to a crash leaving you more tired and dried out than before. Additionally, the air inside the cabin is notoriously dry: Humidity levels are typically around 10 to 20 percent, compared to a typical room's 30 to 65 percent. This dries out your eyes and skin, leaving you itchy and uncomfortable. Don't be shy about asking the flight attendants for more water! 

8. EMPTY YOUR POCKETS.

When trying to settle into your seat, the last thing you need is stuff poking you in your side. Unload the contents of your pockets into the seat pocket in front of you for a smoother ride. If you’re worried you’ll forget your possessions, bring a small bag to store them in.

9. LISTEN TO A RELAXING MIX.

Decide on an airplane playlist before boarding and load up your smartphone or mp3 player. Calm music or a sleep-inducing podcast will help you zone out and feel more at home while flying. For shorter flights, it can be fun to create a playlist of pump-up music to get you in the vacation mindset—some people like to choose music that directly relates to the city they’re going to visit. 

10. UTILIZE THE PILLOW AND BLANKET. 

Most airlines will provide you with a pillow and blanket for longer flights, so you might as well use them! But it's smart to bring a neck pillow or sweatshirt you can roll up to rest your head, just in case a pillow isn't available. 

10 Fascinating Facts About Chinese New Year

iStock.com/aluxum
iStock.com/aluxum

Some celebrants call it the Spring Festival, a stretch of time that signals the progression of the lunisolar Chinese calendar; others know it as the Chinese New Year. For a 15-day period beginning January 25 in 2020, China will welcome the Year of the Rat, one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac table.

Sound unfamiliar? No need to worry: Check out 10 facts about how one-sixth of the world's total population rings in the new year.

1. Chinese New Year was originally meant to scare off a monster.

Nian at Chinese New Year
iStock.com/jjMiller11

As legend would have it, many of the trademarks of the Chinese New Year are rooted in an ancient fear of Nian, a ferocious monster who would wait until the first day of the year to terrorize villagers. Acting on the advice of a wise old sage, the townspeople used loud noises from drums, fireworks, and the color red to scare him off—all remain components of the celebration today.

2. A lot of families use Chinese New Year as motivation to clean the house.

woman ready to clean a home
iStock.com/PRImageFactory

While the methods of honoring the Chinese New Year have varied over the years, it originally began as an opportunity for households to cleanse their quarters of "huiqi," or the breaths of those that lingered in the area. Families performed meticulous cleaning rituals to honor deities that they believed would pay them visits. The holiday is still used as a time to get cleaning supplies out, although the work is supposed to be done before it officially begins.

3. Chinese New Year will prompt billions of trips.

Man waiting for a train.
iStock.com/MongkolChuewong

Because the Chinese New Year places emphasis on family ties, hundreds of millions of people will use the Lunar period to make the trip home. Accounting for cars, trains, planes, and other methods of transport, the holiday is estimated to prompt nearly three billion trips over the 15-day timeframe.

4. Chinese New Year involves a lot of superstitions.

Colorful pills and medications
iStock.com/FotografiaBasica

While not all revelers subscribe to embedded beliefs about what not to do during the Chinese New Year, others try their best to observe some very particular prohibitions. Visiting a hospital or taking medicine is believed to invite ill health; lending or borrowing money will promote debt; crying children can bring about bad luck.

5. Some people rent boyfriends or girlfriends for Chinese New Year to soothe their parents.

Young Asian couple smiling
iStock.com/RichVintage

In China, it's sometimes frowned upon to remain single as you enter your thirties. When singles return home to visit their parents, some will opt to hire a person to pose as their significant other in order to make it appear like they're in a relationship and avoid parental scolding. Rent-a-boyfriends or girlfriends can get an average of $145 a day.

6. Red envelopes are everywhere during Chinese New Year.

a person accepting a red envelope
iStock.com/Creative-Family

An often-observed tradition during Spring Festival is to give gifts of red envelopes containing money. (The color red symbolizes energy and fortune.) New bills are expected; old, wrinkled cash is a sign of laziness. People sometimes walk around with cash-stuffed envelopes in case they run into someone they need to give a gift to. If someone offers you an envelope, it's best to accept it with both hands and open it in private.

7. Chinese New Year can create record levels of smog.

fireworks over Beijing's Forbidden City
iStock.com/lusea

Fireworks are a staple of Spring Festival in China, but there's more danger associated with the tradition than explosive mishaps. Cities like Beijing can experience a 15-fold increase in particulate pollution. In 2016, Shanghai banned the lighting of fireworks within the metropolitan area.

8. Black clothes are a bad omen during Chinese New Year.

toddler dressed up for Chinese New Year
iStock.com/lusea

So are white clothes. In China, both black and white apparel is traditionally associated with mourning and are to be avoided during the Lunar month. The red, colorful clothes favored for the holiday symbolize good fortune.

9. Chinese New Year leads to planes being stuffed full of cherries.

Bowl of cherries
iStock.com/CatLane

Cherries are such a popular food during the Festival that suppliers need to go to extremes in order to meet demand. In 2017, Singapore Airlines flew four chartered jets to Southeast and North Asian areas. More than 300 tons were being delivered in time for the festivities.

10. Panda Express is hoping Chinese New Year will catch on in America.

Box of takeout Chinese food from Panda Express
domandtrey, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Although their Chinese food menu runs more along the lines of Americanized fare, the franchise Panda Express is still hoping the U.S. will get more involved in the festival. The chain is promoting the holiday in its locations by running ad spots and giving away a red envelope containing a gift: a coupon for free food. Aside from a boost in business, Panda Express hopes to raise awareness about the popular holiday in North America.

Write a Letter to Shakespeare’s Juliet for a Chance to Spend Valentine’s Day in Her Romantic Verona Home

Airbnb
Airbnb

Shakespeare didn’t specify which luxurious Italian estate was home to Juliet and her family in Romeo and Juliet, but hopeless romantics have linked a certain 13th-century house in Verona to the Capulets for many years. A balcony was even added during the 20th century to mirror the famous scene from Shakespeare’s play.

Now, Airbnb is offering one pair of star-crossed lovers the opportunity to stay in the house for Valentine’s Day. To apply, you have to write a letter to Juliet explaining why you and your sweetheart would be the ideal guests for the one-night getaway. The winner will be chosen by the Juliet Club, an organization responsible for answering the 50,000 letters addressed to Juliet each year.

juliet's house in verona, italy
Airbnb

If you’re chosen, you won’t just get to spend the evening reenacting the few happy parts of Romeo and Juliet—you’ll also be treated to a candlelight dinner with a cooking demonstration by Michelin-starred Italian chef Giancarlo Perbellini, access to a personal butler for the duration of your stay, tours of both the house and the city of Verona, and the chance to read and answer some letters sent to Juliet. Even the bed you’ll sleep in is especially romantic—it’s the one used in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet.

juliet's house in verona, italy
Airbnb

juliet's house in verona, italy
Airbnb

And, of course, you’ll be giving yourself the ultimate Valentine’s Day gift: Freedom from the pressure to plan a perfect Valentine’s Day. The contest is open now through February 2, 2020, and you can apply here.

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