As any traveler knows, sitting through a long flight isn’t the most comfortable experience. However, there are plenty of ways to make it a bit better. Most travelers already know that bringing objects like neck pillows and earplugs can help–but here we’ve compiled some unique, maybe even “weird” ways that you can eliminate discomfort while flying.
1. Wear a hoodie
Hoodies aren’t just for teens! They’re actually one of the most comfortable things you can wear on a flight. That’s because all you need to do is pull up your hood, and voila– you’ve blocked out light and shielded your face from the gaze of the guy next to you. Combined with a good pair of earplugs or headphones, your hoodie will help you zone out and essentially “miss” most of your flight.
In addition, a sweatshirt will keep you warm in the chilly airplane cabin. If things end up getting a bit stuffy, you can always take it off and use it as a pillow.
2. Choose the vegetarian option
You’re on an extra-long flight, and the attendants have begun to roll out the carts with pre-packed boxes or plates of food. More often than not, this food isn’t great, by any stretch of the imagination. However, insiders say that the vegetarian option is almost always the best, thanks to the fact that it’s not made in large quantities. So choose the meatless option, and you’ll avoid any greasy or poor-quality meats that could upset your stomach.
3. Pack some gum
Ever felt like your ears were going to explode while ascending or descending? This uncomfortable condition happens when air pressure inside the inner ear quickly surpasses that of the pressure outside, or vice versa, and the eardrum swells or flattens.
Chewing gum or sucking on candy can help alleviate the pain you feel, because it will stimulate you to swallow more. Other things that can help are yawning, drinking lots of fluids, and using special earplugs that automatically equalize pressure (yes, they do exist!)
4. Jiggle around
This may sound silly, but jiggling your body a bit when turbulence happens can actually help you stay calm and not get sick! You won’t feel the airplane’s movements as much, and doing something silly may even take your mind off of that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. Don’t worry, everyone’s being jostled around, so they won’t notice your random dance moves.
5. Wear closed-toed shoes
Experts advise against wearing flip-flops, sandals and high heels on planes for a variety of reasons. The main one is safety– it’s difficult to evacuate the aircraft quickly in these types of shoes during an emergency situation. But hygiene is another equally compelling region. You don’t know what could be lurking on the lavatory floor, or beneath your seat!
Finally, cold air in the cabin is another reason why you should travel in closed-toed shoes. Science has proven that feet play a large part in stabilizing body temperature. So, keep yourself warm by keeping your feet toasty!
6. Pre-load your entertainment
Don’t count on the in-flight entertainment actually working. More often than not, there isn’t any at all (especially on short flights). You won’t be allowed to connect to the internet during your flight (unless you want to pay top dollar for it) so preload some books, movies and music onto your phone, tablet, or laptop before you fly. That way, you can pass the time while on the plane, or even in the airport, without spending money or being limited to the airline’s tiny selection of movies and TV shows.
7. Jet lag? They’ve got pills and apps for that
Jet lag is one of the worst problems associated with traveling. Changing time zones makes it hard to get enough sleep and feel rested. You may even end up canceling your plans for the first few days once you reach your destination. Chances are, even if you follow expert tips and avoid caffeine and alcohol and drink lots of water, you’ll still end up feeling lousy.
Try jet lag pills like No Jet Lag to lessen your symptoms and get acclimated faster. They contain homeopathic, non habit-forming ingredients like arnica and chamomile, so you won’t experience any side effects. They also counter the effects of pressure changes while flying.
In addition, you can try an app like Entrain or Timeshifter to combat jet lag from your phone! These apps work by helping you gradually changing your schedule to fit your destination time zone before you fly. That way you won’t feel much of a difference once you land.
8. Pack some hand cream
Ok, maybe this one isn’t for everyone. But if you’re prone to dry skin, it’s an absolute must. Airplane cabins are known for being super dry, and the skin on your hands can crack and get irritated. Here’s the reason for that–cabin humidity levels rarely top 8-10% on conventional aircraft. So do yourself a favor, and pack a tiny tube of hand lotion (it must be 3 oz. or less in order to bring it on the plane).
9. Pick the back instead of the front
A flight attendant once told us that while most people would choose to sit at the front of the airplane, you’ll get better service at the back. This is because attendants often avoid bringing items like extra snacks, vodka, pillows, earplugs, and toothbrushes to people at the front, because everyone else will see them on the way there. That can be problematic, because there usually won’t be enough extras for everyone. However, if you sit at the back, it’s a lot easier to slip you what you’ve requested without half the plane realizing it.
10. Slip your flight attendant a chocolate or two
Flight attendants have to deal with all sorts of terrible human behavior. So, it really makes their day when passengers randomly hand them a small gift, like a piece of candy. You don’t have to be overly generous, but at the very least, treat your attendant with kindness and common courtesy, and you’ll get the same back (and maybe even some free goodies during your flight)!
And yes, flight attendants are allowed to accept small gifts from passengers–they just can’t take cash bribes for a better seat. Here’s how to do gift-giving right.
Main image: MATEJ KASTELIC/SHUTTERSTOCK