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  • Erica Bradley

How to Prepare to Enjoy Your Long Flight

It is expensive to travel to faraway places (and worth it, trust me!) Compared to shorter distances, or domestic flights, you may already be experiencing some sticker shock.

Many factors like which airline you choose, how long your

connections are, what style aircraft you choose, etc., are all going to affect

your comfort and pleasure on a long-distance flight. Considering you will be

spending hours and hours on that plane, it's worth spending a little extra -

per travel hour - to upgrade for more comfort.

As your travel agent, I will handle all of these details

to get you the easiest, comfiest flight possible. I will recommend

optional upgrades to you to make your journey more comfortable.

For example, when you upgrade the amenities offered on most

airlines give you a set of comfy PJ's and a complete toiletries kit for

business and first-class travelers so you can "go to bed" in your

seat, which depending on the type of aircraft, folds down into a flatbed. (By

the way, the complimentary PJ's on Emirates flights are amazing, so don't think

you're just going to get cheap, disposable type pajamas.)

When you're ready to sleep, your flight attendant will

prepare your bed for you with soft blankets and full-size pillows.

The bathrooms in the business and first-class cabins are

significantly larger (at least three times the size), which makes changing,

brushing your teeth, and washing your face much more manageable.

I'm happy to provide pricing for business and first-class

tickets for you in addition to coach and premium economy tickets. I will

research and find you the best upgrade options so that you can enjoy your time

in transit and arrive at your destination happy, well-rested, and ready to

enjoy your vacation.

Like with anything in life, you are preparing your

attitude ahead of time is key to success. Why not look at the time you will

spend on a long-haul flight as a glorious day of rest, a true holiday. No phone

calls, no text messages, no social media, no responsibilities. You get to sit

and relax - sleep, read that great book you've wanted to read, binge-watch

movies guilt-free. You're going to be on a plane for a long time; you might as

well turn it into something you can enjoy.

So now let's talk about how you can do that!

Prepare to be Comfortable

Wear comfortable clothes. Try to avoid clothes that are

too tight, that bunch or ride up in funny ways, are made of materials that

irritate your skin, or are otherwise bothersome in any other way.

Everyone has different things they find comfortable, but

consider soft, breathable fabrics like cotton or linen and design features like

elastic waistbands.

Wear multiple thin layers so that you can add or remove

clothing to help regulate your temperature in transit.

Comfortable shoes are also a must and vary from person to

person. Don't wear brand new shoes that may still be in that break-in period

and could give you blisters or be uncomfortable if your feet swell. Wear shoes

that you already know you can walk all day in without your feet screaming to be

set free! Slip-on shoes that you can take off easily are a great idea too - for

ease through security as well as comfort once you're on the plane.

Do you have long legs, or just like more legroom?

Consider an aisle seat or exit row for more legroom, or upgrade to business or

first class.

Don't carry on too much stuff. Even though you

technically can stow a bag under your seat, that doesn't mean you want to.

Think about how much legroom that extra-large bag might take up before you

decide to carry it on. On the flip side, if you have short legs go ahead and

stuff your bag under there; it can be a footrest!

Prepare to be Healthy

Pack plenty of food. You know what you like to eat and

how much/often you need to eat. I recommend packing a little more than you

think you will need in case of travel delays.

Nutritionists advise smaller meals with a good balance of

protein, complex carbohydrates, and plant-based foods to stay happy and healthy

on long-haul flights and avoid jet lag.

For business and first-class travelers, most airlines

provide a menu of complimentary gourmet food. In some cases, it's made to order

- different from the food served in economy.

Regardless of what class you booked, you can alert the airline prior to your flight and also your flight attendant of food allergies and sensitivities and they will accommodate you.

When you eat can be just as important or even more important than what you eat. Eating sends important cues to your body to help regulate your body's rhythm. Careful planning of when you eat

before, during, and after a long-haul flight can help you sleep better and avoid jet lag. This article from Travel and Leisure helps to explain how food can help with jet lag, Food As A Jet Lag Cure.

Stay hydrated. Air travel is dehydrating. That coffee you

drink to stay awake is dehydrating. That wine you drink to relax is dehydrating.

Dehydration exacerbates jet lag, so to stay healthy, you need to counteract all

this with plenty of water. Make sure your water bottle never runs dry and sip

on during your entire flight.

Pro Tip: peanuts and peanut butter are a great source of protein

for many people. However, if there is someone on your flight with a peanut

allergy, you may be asked not to bring these out - and why put someone at risk?

I recommend choosing snacks without peanuts in them (don't forget to check your

granola and energy bars too and pick flavors sans peanuts).

Prepare to be Entertained

Pack something to watch. Most flights will have in-flight

movies, but your choices will be limited. You might want to bring your tablet

or laptop loaded with a few movies that you know you will enjoy.

Pack something to read. Here again is where a tablet, or

even your phone or laptop, shines! Make sure you have downloaded some books to

read. I recommend more than one book, just in case you get bored of one or

finish it!

Pack something to listen to. If popping in your

noise-canceling headphones and zoning out to your favorite music is your thing,

make sure you have all your favorite tunes loaded on your device. Maybe even

some new songs to keep things interesting.

Podcasts are another great option for audio

entertainment. There is a podcast for every single interest out there. You can

be entertained, or educated, or both. And bonus - podcasts take up less space

and use less battery than movies - so load them up!

Pro Tip: Your device can also help relieve anxiety and help

you get to sleep. Try downloading a meditation app (like Headspace or Calm).

more info on the benefits of meditating while traveling and some how-to tips.

Prepare to be Rested

To rest, most people need to be able to block out light

and noise. A good eye mask and a pair of noise-canceling headphones or simple

earplugs are a must. Most airlines provide these sorts of amenities on

overnight and long flights, but why chance it. Especially if you are picky

about the style, I recommend packing your own.

You also might want to bring your travel pillow. Travel

pillows have come a long way since the only option U-shaped inflatable neck

pillow. From luxury down jackets that convert to neck pillows to scarves that

hold your head up while you sleep, there is an option for everyone. Here's a great link to travel pillows.

Prepare to Have Happy Kids

Traveling with young children adds an entire additional

layer of complication to your travel plans. But, with a bit of extra

preparation, the entire family can still enjoy the journey of getting there.

You might want to consider breaking up a long-haul

flight with a 2-3 day rest and recover by planning a stopover somewhere.

Shorter travel days mean kids (and parents) aren't likely to get as exhausted,

making everyone more susceptible to melt-downs and even sickness.

Also, adding another destination adds more excitement and

adventure to your trip.

Consider kid-friendly versions of all the preparations we

have already covered, in addition to a few extra tips and tricks for keeping

them healthy and happy.

In addition to bringing a few of their favorite things

that you are sure they find entertaining, it's always a good idea to bring a

few new surprises to entertain the kids on a plane. Even the act of opening new

gifts itself is entertainment! Think engaging toys - such as new coloring books

and art supplies, new games, new books, etc. You can enjoy a mix of things with

them, and that they can do alone for when you need a break.

Checklist for happy kids (and parents):

  • Check your stroller at the gate. If your flight happens to get delayed, your child(ren) will have a comfortable (and confined) place to rest.

  • Pack plenty of your child's favorite (healthy) foods. There are few things worse than a hungry child, besides being excited about sugar or coming down from a sugar high.

  • Think protein and complex carbohydrates to keep their bellies full and their mood calm.

  • Help them to get wiggles out before they get on the plane. Take advantage of all the space in the airport and run around. Kids need to move their bodies to burn off energy, and hopefully, they will be ready to sleep when you get in the air.

  • Be prepared to combat the change in air pressure on takeoff and landing with a bottle (or breast) for babies and chewing gum or hard candy for those old enough for it.

  • Experts tell us to avoid too much screen time for our children, but having a few movies or electronic games available on your tablet can mean the difference between misery and joy on a long-haul flight. Go ahead and make an exception here and indulge in some electronic babysitting for a few hours.

  • Pack a clean outfit (or two) in your carry-on, as well as plenty of wipes to clean up all the

  • messes kids (and adults) often make.

  • Consider bringing their car seat on the plane. Kids are used to sitting still in them; it will help rein them in and may provide some comfort since it's something familiar.

  • And lastly, remember: this too shall pass. An unpleasant, uncomfortable long-haul flight. It might seem like a never-ending nightmare, but it will be over at some point, and the rewards of a fantastic trip with be well-worth the relatively short time spent on the plane to get there.

Ultimate Long-Haul Flight Packing List

Food (I covered this in detail already)

Teabags if you have a favorite tea or another drink mix

Refillable water bottle

Small toiletry kit with travel versions of everything, you need to feel (and smell) fresh

Facial wipes or cleanser

Hand wipes

Body wipes

Toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss

Facial moisturizing

Hand and body lotion (you can save space by choosing something that works on your face too)

Lip balm

Eye drops (if you're prone to dry eyes)

Hand sanitizer


Small comb or brush


Tablet or e-reader

Book or magazine if you prefer a physical version

Cards or other small games

Small notepad or pen

Battery charger and cords - for your phones, tablets, and even laptop


Eye mask

Earplugs or noise-canceling headphones

Neck pillow


Extra sweater

Socks (compression if you're prone to feet/ankle swelling)

Slip-on shoes (or wear these the whole time)


Motion sickness remedies

Baby aspirin, if recommended by your doctor

OTC pain medication in case your back hurts from hauling heavy luggage or your neck

hurts from the awkward sleeping position

Any prescription medication you need - please make sure any medications you rely on

are in your carry-on luggage and NOT your checked bag


An extra change of clothes (in case of spills or lost checked luggage)

Pajamas or just super-comfy clothes if you need to change to sleep

With a bit of planning and preparation, your next long-haul flight can be comfortable and even enjoyable!

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