How to Prepare for a Long Flight
Backpacking Europe » Flying Tips
Flight is definitely the quickest, and often necessary, mode of transportation, but for most of us (i.e. backpackers over five feet tall that can only afford economy class), they can also be stressful and miserable. No personal space, uncomfortable positioning, and for germaphobes and aviophobes, an utter nightmare. Long haul flights only compound the experience, but with a little preparation you can make your soaring through the skies much more bearable and dare I say even enjoyable.
Get some offline entertainment
Depending on the airline and ticket type, your flight may have entertainment included so you may be tempted to save space and forgo this step. But keep in mind, not all flights provide entertainment, especially if flying with a budget airline. Besides, it’s always a good idea to have your own source of entertainment as it’ll also come in handy during any bus/train rides or in the event you encounter any flight delays or any other time you find yourself with a sudden lull in lively happenings. Suggestions include books, music, movies, games, and if you’ve got a smartphone or tablet, you can save lots of space by downloading everything onto a single device. A slightly more bulky, but still useful alternative would be to download it all onto an external hard drive and use a laptop to access. Side note: an external hard drive is also great for storing those thousands of photos you’re going to be taking.
Charge up all electronics
This one’s very important. Imagine having all those movies downloaded and ready to watch and then discovering you’ve got a dead tablet so now you have to stare at the back of balding Rick’s head for thirteen hours instead. So make sure you fully charge your phone, laptop, tablet/ereader, camera(s), or whatever else you’re going to need to sustain you on your trip. It’s also wise to bring some spare batteries or a portable power bank if you can.
Prepare your traveling outfit
If there’s anything that makes an uncomfortable situation worse, it’s stiff, restricting clothing! You’ll want to have this figured out early on, especially before you start packing. Choose loose, lightweight clothing for maximum comfort. Cotton is ideal. Avoid denim at all costs. Layers are also a good idea as temperatures vary, not only between destinations but also throughout the flight. Wear shoes that are easy to take on and off while going through security but still comfy. Slip-on shoes are ideal. And if you’ve got room for a blanket and pillow, that will up the comfort factor heaps. Additional comfort accessories to consider: eye mask, earplugs or noise cancelling headphones, and chewing gum (to help with ears popping during takeoff and landing). Once you’ve assembled the perfect flight attire, place it all on top of your luggage for easy access and peace of mind until your big day arrives.
Snacks & Water
This one’s particularly crucial if you’re flying with a budget airline, though snacks and water are certainly advisable for everyone embarking on a long haul flight. I don’t know about you, but snacks always make me happy, and healthy ones make my body happy too. It’s important to stay hydrated before and during your flight as well, for your skin and health’s sake. Bring a reusable water bottle, but make sure it’s empty when you’re going through security. Some good wholesome snacks to bring could be almonds, trail mix, granola bars, bananas, apples, dried fruit. Get those snackies ready and be a happy flier!
Be aware of baggage restrictions
All airlines have size and weight limitations, though typically only the restrictions imposed by budget airlines are ones that cause concern. Chances are you’re going to need to pay for luggage if you’re flying with a budget airline so get it taken care of early on as it’s always more expensive if you have to purchase it at the airport. Also be aware of how many bags you’re allowed to carry on and/or check and their sizes and weight limitations. The more prepared you are, the less stressed out you’ll be.
Choose your seat in advance
This one may not always be worth it, if the cost to choose your seat ahead of time is high, but if it’s reasonable (or free) making sure you don’t get stuck in a middle seat can make all the difference on a long flight. We prefer the window seat, not just for the view, the wall makes a decent head rest. Though the accessibility of the aisle seat is not something to be dismissed.
Get a good night’s sleep
Especially if you have an early flight. You’ll feel better if you’re well rested, and less likely to sleep through your alarm and miss your flight.
Double and triple check that you’ve got your passport
Making sure you have your passport is obviously the most important part of your trip preparation. Not only do you want to make sure you have your passport on you before you head for the airport, it’s imperative that you have your passport on your handbag or carry-on or pocket, and not in the bag that you plan on checking.
Find your happy place
Whether it’s meditation, yoga, or zoning out to your fave tunes, getting into the right headspace before your flight can really make a positive impact on your comfort level. Whatever it is that gets your mind right, do that in preparation of your big flight and you’ll be smooth sailing.
“I always travel with my compression socks, it helps with the blood circulation in your legs, which is so important when seated for extended periods of time, especially on flights. Have you ever heard of deep vein thrombosis? Google it. You’re welcome.” Casey, 24, Customer Service