Last Updated on June 15, 2019 by

Do you love traveling but hate flying? Here are some smart ways to make a long flight better.

10 Ways to Make a Long Flight Better

You know what my least favorite part of traveling is? Flying.

It’s no secret that I hate flying.

These days, flying has has become more of a nuisance than a luxury. As airlines continue to cut cost, the quality of in-flight service and comfort level are deteriorating. While it’s easy to find cheap flights these days, it’s harder than ever to find comfortable and pain-free flights.

But if you love traveling as much as I do, you’ll have to face the fact that flying is an inevitable part of the journey.

As a frequent flyer, I’ve managed to pick up a trick or two when it comes to making my flight more tolerable.

So if you’re up for some airplane talk, relax and take a seat — it’s time for take-off.

1. Spend Time Picking the Right Seat

We all know how much legroom can affect our flight happiness. SeatGuru’s “Guru Factor” comfort rating system can let you find the flights that will offer you the best room for your buck, and the website will show you details on any seat on any flight you’ve got coming up.

Seat Guru also points out the best seats on a plane. When choosing your seats, I recommend opting for seats near the plane’s wings and nearest to the aircraft’s center of gravity as those locations experience the minimum effects of turbulence. On the other hand, passengers seated close to the tail of the plane will be subjected to the bumpiest ride.

Window seats are usually more popular for the right reason. Catching an amazing view as your aircraft comes in to land can transform an average flight experience to an incredible one.

how to make a long flight better

2. Eat Carefully Prior to the Flight

If you often experience gastro intestinal problems when flying (the effect of air pressure), there are some changes you can make to your diet preflight to make you feel better.

For instance, avoid foods that produce gases, such as beans, cabbage, broccoli, apples, apricots. During the flight, you can munch on high fiber snacks such as dried fruit, nuts and whole grain granola bars.

Plan ahead and follow a pre-flight diet that alternates high-protein meals with high-carb foods, you can significantly reduce gastro problems during flight.

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how to make air travel better

3. Prevent Jet Lag

Jet lag, caused by the disruption of the body’s circadian rhythms when we travel, can disrupt our travel plans and wreak havoc in our bodies.

To sidestep jet lag, the best thing to do is adjust your internal clock a few days before departure by gradually shifting your sleeping and eating times to coincide with those at your destination. Once you arrive, adopt the local time for your daily routine.

There are also a few specialized products you can take to avoid jet lag:

    • JetLagFX is a supplement that helps reduce the mental and physical stress of long journeys. Its two main ingredients, GABA and DMAE Bitartrate have both been used in the medical field for years to naturally reduce stress and improve your mood.
    • No-Jet-Lag is a unique homeopathic remedy that helps travelers more easily adjust to changes in sleep schedules in order to get a good night’s rest. There are no side effects and can be used by all travelers.
    • Entrain is a jet lag app developed by mathematicians at the University of Michigan. It allows you to submit your sleep data, graph that data, and keep a jet lag diary. It then crafts a schedule for you to expose your body to both light and dark based upon your travel itinerary. Unlike many jet lag apps in the market, this one uses scientific data regarding sleep patterns to help you fight jet lag.

ways to make a long flight better

4. Avoid the Plane Cold Using Remedies

Put a hundred or so people in a cramped space, coupled with recirculated air and exposure to new germs, you’ll get a recipe of disaster for those with weakened immune systems.

If you often get sick after flying, consider using these products to prevent cold:

  • Flight Spray is the first nasal hydration spray designed for airline travelers. it helps to moisten the nasal passages, alleviate nasal dryness and prevent colds, flu and sore throats due to recycled airplane air. In general, this spray enhances the body’s ability to fight against infection and clears the sinuses during long flights.
  • Trip Ease is a remedy for motion sickness. Because it’s a homeopathic preparation using low dosages of six active ingredients, it does not cause drowsiness and has no side effects. You can take it along with your other meds.

how to make a long flight better

5. Prepare for Better Sleep on Planes

I’m lucky to be the type of people who can sleep literally anywhere I want to,  but not many people have this fortune.

If you’re like Alberto and have difficulty sleeping on a plane, pack some items to help you sleep like a baby. Some airlines also supply these items in their welcome kit. Here are some items that can help you sleep better on planes:

  • A good eye mask will make a world of difference. Get a mask with eye cavities built into it — it’ll not only block out the ambient light, but also allow you to sleep more deeply as your eyes won’t be unobstructed during REM cycle of sleep.
  • A set of pressure reducing ear plugs can help to drown out noises and avoid tinnitus, the ear ringing that we experience following hours of roaring engine sounds.
  • NapAnywhere is a great device that can help support your neck, avoiding “bobbing head syndrome” and ensuring better sleep. We’ve tested out many pillows, and based on our experience, the NapAnywhere is the best travel pillow for airplanes. The device folds up small enough to easily fit into your carry on and is customizable to fit your particular preferences.

I wouldn’t advise using sleeping pills as they can have side effects. Many physicians discourage sleeping pills altogether as the deep sleep and resulting inactivity can contribute to blood clot formation, a much more serious problem than sleep deprivation.

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how to make a long flight better - sleep

6. Dress Comfortably for the Flight

Deep venous thrombosis (DVT) is a risk on flights, where travelers stuck in cramped seats for long periods of time are at greater risk for developing blood clots. To reduce the risk of getting DVT, I’d recommend wearing loose fitting clothes that are breathable (allow air and moisture to pass through). Blouses and loose shirts made of cotton, silk, or linen are ideal.

Air travel often involves fluctuating temperatures, as it can get really hot on the tarmac and very cold in the plane. The solution: layers, layers and more layers. I usually wear a quick dry t-shirt with a light jacket on the outside and an infinity scarf with hidden pocket in my carry-on that doubles as an extra layer. Besides, the more layers you pile on your body, the less you need to pack in your luggage.

To minimize the things you’re carrying, I suggest trying the SCOTTeVEST Travel Vest, which has lots of pockets to fit all your gadgets and essential items. It’s not only comfortable, but also helps you speed through airport security.

Wearing compression socks is another way to avoid DVT, especially for travelers who flies often. The socks or stockings work by putting pressure on leg muscles and increasing blood flow. I haven’t tried that before, but I have friends who swear by them.

As for footwear, always opt for flat, comfortable and lightweight shoes that are easy to slip on and off. I used to fly with my hiking boots (to reduce my baggage weight) but they’re bulky and a pain to take on and off at security. I’ve now switched to wearing KEEN Clearwater Sandals that cover my feet but also let them breathe, plus they’re great for hiking and water sports!

make long flight better - comfortable shoes

7. Relax and Avoid Working During Flight

I’m guilty of this: working on a plane and ending up with a severe headache and jet lag after the flight.

If you want to have a comfortable flight, the last thing you should do is pull out your laptop and catch up on work.

Most people would agree that proper entertainment is essential for flight happiness. Catch up with some of your favorite drama series or watch the latest blockbuster (after you’ve had enough sleep) — and you’ll arrive at your destination refreshed and in a better mood.

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In case you’re flying on a plane without in-flight system (oh don’t be surprised when you fly with a budget airline or on an old United Airways or Iberia planes), be sure to bring your own Apple iPad with a portable charge to keep it running throughout the flight.

ways to make a long flight better

8. Keep Yourself Hydrated

It’s a universal fact that air planes have a particularly dry environment that gets you dehydrated faster than in normal circumstances.

Hydration is the key to your physical health, so always make sure you are constantly getting fluids in your body.

According to health advisories, people should be drinking around 1.2 liters (or about eight 5-ounce glasses) of fluid per day. Your intake should increase when you’re in the air.

Water or juices are fine — avoid alcohol as altitude changes can speed up the effects of alcohol (the rule of thumb: one drink in the air is equivalent to two or three on the ground). A cocktail may relax you, but it’ll also dry you out, and even worsen symptoms of jet lag.

how to make a long flight better

9. Move Around the Plane

In between your naps on the plane, try to move around as much as possible. Do stretches or just walk up and down the aisle, even flexing your toes and fingers and pointing them forward can increase circulation. These simple movements will help you avoid the risk of getting deep venous thrombosis (DVT).

DVT is caused by several factors: prolonged periods of inactivity will slow circulation and produce edema (leg swelling). In addition, bent knees compress the popliteal vein (the deep vein behind the knee), creating a potential site for clot formation over time. Low oxygen, low humidity and low cabin pressure at high elevations have a dehydrating effect that concentrate the blood as well.

Previous research has shown that taking five flights within a three month period increases your chances of forming a blood clot by a factor of three (when compared to only taking one or two flights in three months), and people on flights over 12 hours are 70 times more likely to produce a blood clot than flights lasting less than four hours.

how to make a long flight better - move around

10. Skip the caffeine

It’s common sense to avoid caffeine when you want to catch up on sleep, but some people can’t seem to get over their addiction.

Coffee and other caffeine-based drinks will only keep you awake and more irritable. Resting is the most important way to ensure a comfortable flight.

Worse of all, the effects of caffeine may last between four and six hours total, and this can worsen jet lag. These effects include jitteriness, skittishness, restlessness, excitability and anxiousness, to name a few.

ways to make a long flight better

Have you got any secret recipe or trick? Share it in the comments.