You know that old saying, “life is not about the destination, it’s about the journey”? While that adage applies to most things, it’s completely wrong about long-haul flights.
Most of the time, you just want a long-haul flight to pass as quickly as possible so that you can reach your destination. It's one of the only experiences in life where “sleeping through it” isn’t just acceptable – it’s greatly preferred.
You can’t stop a toddler from kicking your seat or a nearby baby from crying. You can’t stop a cabin crew from serving you lukewarm Salisbury steak. And, unless you’re a world-class pilot, you can’t stop the occasional turbulent patch from shaking the plane. But you are in control of a few things.
Here are four tips for staying comfortable on your next long-haul flight.
Find and Secure the Best Seat for Your Needs
There’s no single answer to the question, “what’s the best seat on an airplane?” Instead, the answer depends on your personal preferences, the specific type of aircraft, and surrounding seats.
If you want to find your perfect seat, start by asking yourself which of the following you value most:
- Bathroom accessibility
- Outside scenery
- Or rest
If it’s primarily legroom you’re after, look for a seat in one of the exit rows. If bathroom accessibility is a high priority, search for seats close to the middle or back of an aircraft. For an outside view, any window seat will do. And if you want to catch some shut-eye, look for a window seat near the wing, where turbulence is less pronounced.
Layer Merino Wool Clothing
One moment you're boiling hot, and the next, you're freezing under the aggressive air conditioning system. The best way to manage the temperature highs and lows is to layer merino wool clothing.
Merino wool is insulating and breathable; it keeps you warm when the climate is cold, and keeps you cool when the climate is warm. As a bonus, merino wool is also magnificently soft, owing to its ultra-fine fibres. Search online to find merino socks, underwear, shirts and men's wool sweaters developed specifically for travelling.
Block Everything Out with the Right Mask and Headphone Combo
Your merino wool travel clothing solves the physical discomfort problem, but what about your other senses?
To block out noise (including screaming infants and talkative seatmates), pack noise-cancelling headphones. This PC Mag roundup of the best noise-cancelling headphones includes several budget-friendly options.
Next, pack an eye mask for sleeping; it can be something as simple as a scarf or tie if you don’t have a dedicated sleep mask for travel.
Stay Extra Hydrated
Finally, here’s a tip that all flight attendants and pilots know: you need to stay hydrated. Airplane cabins are notoriously dry environments. While you’re on the plane, this dryness wreaks havoc on your skin and nasal passages. But the long-term effects of dehydration are even worse: it can exacerbate jet lag and leave you feeling lethargic once you reach your destination.
Pack a high-volume travel water bottle. And don't be shy about asking attendants for frequent water refills. They'll understand!
To recap: get yourself some merino wool to wear, a high-volume water bottle, noise-cancelling headphones, and a sleep mask. Choose your seat according to your preferences. And then sit back, relax, and dream about your destination!