One day we’ll teleport around the world, traversing continents and vast oceans in a matter of seconds. Until then, we’re tethered to the speed of an airplane. And while the ends justify the means, our bodies aren’t designed to sit for the length of time long-haul journeys take. In an effort to not only bear your plane journeys, but dare I say enjoy them, here are four tips to make a long flight comfortable.
Give yourself the gift of leg room
Bigger seats equal more comfort. Obvious? Sure, but not everyone can splurge for a business class or premium economy seat. If you’re relegated to economy, I suggest choosing an exit row seat. If you meet all the necessary requirements for and agree to the responsibilities of sitting in the exit row, your legs will thank you for the extra space. Depending on the airline and when you select your seat, choosing the exit row may cost you a bit more, but it’s still the most affordable seating option for extra leg room on a long-haul flight.
Tip: With TripIt Pro, you can use the Seat Tracker feature to set and receive an alert when your preferred seat becomes available.
Pack a scarf
Arguably the most versatile travel accessory, a scarf should always make it into your carry-on regardless of the outside temperature. A scarf can act as a blanket when you’re cold, roll into a neck pillow if you’re hoping to catch some sleep, tuck behind your back for lumbar support, or wrap around your neck to cut the chill from your neighbor’s air vent. Booked a basic economy fare and didn’t opt for overhead bin space? Wear the scarf on and off the plane—you’ll still have allowance for one personal item.
Take hydration to the skies
Dry skin, parched lips, red eyes—we’ve all experienced the effects of dehydration that lengthy flights can cause. Drinking lots of water and—as much as it pains me to say it—avoiding in-flight cocktails will go a long way in helping you feel your best in the air. So you’re not pinging the flight attendant every time you need a refill, pack an empty, refillable water bottle in your carry-on. Once you’re through security, fill your bottle at a water fountain.
Now that you’re well-prepared to hydrate from the inside out during your flight, pack supplies to keep your face, eyes, and hands hydrated, as well. For starters, bring a travel size hydrating mist to spritz on your face when your skin starts to feel dry from the recirculated air. Lip balm or Vaseline will help protect your lips, while a soothing eye mask can help rehydrate sensitive eye areas, along with eye drops for refreshing red eyes. Finally, remember a travel size hand lotion to keep your skin and cuticles moisturized.
Stretch your legs
Sitting for extended periods of time has negative effects on our health—which presents some unique challenges for frequent business travelers. Thankfully, proper lumbar positioning, standing up, and stretching can all help relieve the stress sitting on long flights causes your body.
Throughout the flight, perform a circuit of stretches once per hour. Stretches like ankle and wrist rolls, a hands-over-head stretch, head rolls, and shoulder rolls can all be performed within limited space and without getting up out of your seat. If the seatbelt sign is off and you can find a bit more space, perform a quick round of squats and calf raises to get the blood pumping back into the lower half of your body.
Finally, when possible, try to exercise on the day of your scheduled flight. Vigorous exercise, like a HIIT workout, sends more oxygen into your brain and releases endorphins, which will help you feel the best you can when sitting for long stretches of time on a plane.