Life may be all about the journey but when it comes to exotic getaways, you’re probably a lot more interested in the destination than the time it takes to get there. Long flights aren’t exactly the highlight of any vacation, but there are some simple tricks you can do to make them easier and more comfortable. Take heed and even that redeye spent in the middle seat will fly by.
1. DO A LITTLE RESEARCH BEFORE SELECTING YOUR SEAT.
If you’re not an expert traveler, use sites dedicated to reviewing airplane seats before committing to a spot. That way you won't end up in a seat right next to the bathroom or one that doesn't recline.
2. CHECK IN ONLINE.
Don’t wait until you’re at the airport to check in to your flight. Checking in online should give you another shot at snagging a prime seat or, in cases of open seating, a spot in boarding group A. But the biggest reason to check in ahead of time? Airlines often overbook flights and have to switch people to later departures. If you’re the last to check in, you’ll likely be the first to get involuntarily bumped from an overflowing flight. And one thing that’s sure to make a flight feel longer is if you have to wait around the airport for hours before it even takes off.
3. ANGLE FOR AN UPGRADE TO A BETTER SEAT.
Didn’t get the seat you wanted the first or second time? Don’t worry. A sweet smile probably won’t be enough to land you in first class, but if you’re slated for a center seat, ask at the gate what else is available on your flight. Honeymooners or frequent fliers might have been upgraded to the front of the plane already, leaving their aisle or window seats available for you to snag.
4. STASH AN EXTRA BATTERY PACK IN YOUR CARRY-ON...
You should make sure to charge any electronics before boarding, since having access to your own entertainment will certainly make the flight more enjoyable. But if it’s a long trip, you’ll likely run out of juice on your phone or laptop. An extra battery pack that can re-charge your device will help stave off boredom.
5. … AND A UNIVERSAL ADAPTOR.
You might luck out and have an outlet on your plane, which will make those concerns about your computer dying mid-movie moot. But that’s only helpful if you have the right equipment to make use of the outlet. If you’re on an American-based airline it’s a safe bet that your American chargers will work, but for more exotic travel, a universal adapter could come in handy.
6. KEEP YOUR EARS POPPED.
Having that uncomfortable pressure or pain in your ears for more than the first and last few minutes of your flight will really make your trip drag. If you have no trouble sleeping on planes, it might be tempting to snooze from the time you board until the time you’re ready to disembark—but be sure to stay awake through takeoff and landing to swallow away that pressurized feeling. If you’re asleep, it’ll just continue to build and become even more uncomfortable.
7. BALANCE BOOZE AND SODA WITH WATER.
Having a stiff drink to help you fall asleep might seem like the perfect solution to an especially long flight, but be sure you’re balancing any booze or soda with ample water. Planes are incredibly dry places, making you even more susceptible to dehydration than when drinking on land.
8. BRING AN EMPTY WATER BOTTLE.
And fill it up once you get through security. The airplane's dry air will make you extra thirsty mid-trip and having to go hours in between beverage service is sure to make the flight drag.
9. BRING SLEEP ESSENTIALS.
Nothing will make the time in the air fly by as easily as taking a good, solid nap. Set yourself up for some shut-eye by packing your own personal sleep supplies. Pack a pashmina that doubles as a blanket instead of relying on the airline's freebie, use an eye mask to block your neighbor’s reading light, and wear noise-canceling headphones to block the airplane’s ambient sound (even if you're not playing any music).
10. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TIMES WHEN THE SEATBELT SIGN IS OFF.
You’re bound to get a little stir crazy during hours-long flights, so why wait until your muscles are cramping to stretch your legs? Even if you don’t have to use the bathroom, stand up and do a few stretches every hour or so. Even if you think it looks silly, just remember that you’re combating what could be a serious blood clot.
11. TALK TO YOUR SEATMATE.
But only if he or she seems receptive! You don’t want to be responsible for making someone else’s flight feel twice as long because their neighbor won’t stop blabbering on. But breaking up the monotony of a solo flight by introducing yourself to the person sitting one seat over could lead to the kind of conversation that’s perfect for wiling away the hours.