Flight Survival Guide: Tips to Airplane Comfort

How to pack for, endure and even enjoy lengthy air travel.

October 20, 2010, 2:31 PM

Oct. 21, 2010— -- For many travelers, a long flight gone awry can immediately spoil the prospect of a pleasurable vacation or productive business trip. While nothing can guarantee sunny skies (figuratively speaking), here are a few tips on how to make even the longest of plane rides less stressful. From feeling great, to sleeping well, and looking good right off the plane -- we have you covered.

Pack Smart: Preparing for a comfortable plane ride begins at home. Think of the restrictions placed on carry-on liquids as working in your favor, as you can easily stock up on travel-sized versions of many medicines and toiletries at your local drugstore. Don't forget to pack them in clear plastic bags, and make sure to tuck them away in your carry-on luggage (see the Transportation Security Administration's carry-on guidelines here.)

Be sure to bring along any prescription medicines, as it may be hard to secure them at your final destination. Basics such as a hydrating lip balm, dual-use hand and facial moisturizer, travel-sized deodorant, breath mints, saline solution (for contact lens wearers), and medicinal eye drops are all items which can go a long way in making extended plane travel more comfortable.

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Bring the Essentials: Be sure to bring a few medicines to specifically ward off the most common physical concerns which can arise when traveling. The essentials include baby aspirin for the prevention of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) and blood clots caused by physical inactivity; anti-indigestion medication in pill form (no need to elaborate on this point.), Dramamine to ward off nausea and dizziness, and Cyproflaxin, which can treat the onset of any bacterial infections. Bringing these treatments on board with you will insure easy access to them when you may need them most.

What are the Best Airplane Seats?

Reserve the Type of Seat that Works Best for You: Whether you'd like first class, an exit row, or that last aisle window seat, be sure to make the appropriate arrangements when booking your trip. Don't forget to make use of online tools like SeatGuru to guide you in selecting the best seats, and be sure to take advantage of early check-in, when you can inquire about the availability of preferred seats and possibly securing an upgrade.

Eat Up: Let's be honest: most of the food served on flights leaves much to be desired. Treat yourself to a large meal before flying (do your best to stick to healthier, light options) and make sure to pack enough snacks for the ride. Granola bars, roasted nuts, dried fruit and whole-grain crackers are great snacks that won't be confiscated at security. Your tummy (and wallet) will thank you once you've checked out the unhealthy and overpriced snacks being offered on board. An additional tip: take advantage of airport deli kiosks and purchase a large bottle of water in preparation for your flight -- remember, staying hydrated on long flights should be a foremost priority.

Entertain Yourself: Long flights are approached best with variety of entertainments at hand. Board the flight armed with your laptop, mp3 player, the latest bestseller and an array of recently published magazines. Once you've scanned the menu of movie offerings, think about the work you'd like to accomplish, movies you'd like to enjoy, and what you'd like to read while on the flight. Loosely schedule your time in increments to allow yourself the treat of moving onto that long-awaited film or magazine. This approach is particularly valuable in the 14th hour of that overseas flight when you realize you haven't yet picked up the book you had eagerly set aside for the trip.

Sleep is Important: Once you find yourself nodding off, remove your contacts or glasses and consider using earplugs, a travel pillow, and a sleep mask to facilitate sleeping. For some, sleep is harder to come by than for others, but a blanket, noise cancellation headphones, or even an over-the-counter sleeping aid can help you sink into slumber. One insider tip: if you're prone to the shivers while traveling on cold planes, pack a thick pair of wool socks to change into once you've boarded.

Tips to Enjoy Long Flights

Keep it Moving: This is one of the most important tips of all -- keep active during the flight. While the prospect of bumping into your fellow travelers up and down the aisles may not be a pleasant one, make sure to carve out some time every few hours to walk and stretch your arms, legs, and neck. You may look silly doing arm rotations, but arriving at your destination without muscle cramps will be well worth it. Check out a variety of on-flight exercises here.

Arrive Refreshed: Be sure to pack a small travel toothbrush and travel-sized toothpaste so you can brush your teeth upon arrival. Small facial wipes can be used to refresh your face and other areas, while a swipe of deodorant can go a long way! Ladies, bring blotting sheets, lipstick and a powder concealer -- no one will ever know the lengths you've traveled if you spend a few minutes freshening up as needed. Men, feel free to pat on some lotion, as skin can get particularly dry during long flights.

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