It’s no secret I travel long haul flights often. I may even be taking off again soon — ooh la la! And because I travel on miles or on the cheapest ticket I can find, I am relegated to the back of the plane without the creature comforts of upper classes. So how do I make myself comfortable? Here are some of my tricks and trips for airplane survival:
- Choose a seat as close to the front of the aircraft as possible — your flight will be smoother and quieter. Plus, you’ll de-plane sooner. I often fly the A380 double-decker down under and can’t believe how shaky the back of that plane is — WHOA trust me on this. Even if you have to pay a bit to ensure a premium location, do it.
- Sit on the aisle. It’s important to get up and walk often. Unless I’m sleeping, I’m up every hour circling the full plane with no need to bother a seatmate.
- Drink lots of water! I always bring a large bottle of water on board with me. It’s worth it even at airport prices. Plus I take advantage of the hourly rounds flight attendants make with cups & water. Another good reason to be on the aisle — when you drink a lot, you pee a lot.
- Long haul flights from the US tend to leave late at night. Eat a satisfying dinner before getting on the plane. I usually meet friends for a nice night out before heading to LAX to board my flights for down under. A little celebratory send off and great meal all in one. With my stomach full and the late hour, I don’t indulge in airplane food until breakfast is served the next morning. If you can hold out, avoid it altogether and wait til you get to your destination for a local breakfast — chances are you won’t be able to check into your hotel so early anyway, and it’s a nice way to acclimate to the neighborhood.
- Join Global Entry. $100 for 5 years, a quick interview, and a full background check gets you speedy, no hassle, form free, kiosk re-entry through customs and the ability to use the Pre-Check security lines on most domestic flights meaning shorter waits, no removing of shoes, or emptying of bags. Some countries (Australia being one) also recognize Global Entry members so you can avoid long customs lines on either end.
Make sure your carry on is packed with a fresh change of clothes just in case (luggage does get lost sometimes) and all your airplane essentials. Here is what I carry on:
- Long ago I bought a good cashmere shawl and it has proven to be the best investment piece of clothing I have ever purchased. It acts as the perfect blanket on any flight and also serves as a sophisticated lightweight jacket upon arrival. This grey beauty by Michael Kors for Goop is the closest I have ever seen to mine that hailed from Saks Fifth Avenue’s signature line.
- When one travels there are lots of cords, earphones, chargers and such involved. I recently found this stylish gold leather pouch, perfect to keep them together in one place.
- I’m new to the eye mask idea. And even though I am a good sleeper on planes, I find i get easily distracted by other passengers entertainment screens and have been known to watch a movie across the aisle even without sound. Using a mask avoids temptation to peek at my neighbors entertainment choices. This handy mask allows for eye movement, assuring real and satisfying sleep. I’m hooked.
- I hate using airplane pillows and hate those bulky ugly neck pillows even more. This new entry on the market caught my eye recently. Somehow a cross between a scarf and a pillow, it packs up small, is super cozy, and comes in 6 fashion colors.
- The Paperwhite Kindle. The perfect travel companion. Small enough to tuck into your purse or back pocket even, it holds hundreds of books and I even upload PDFs with addresses and itineraries so I always have my info with me. The battery life is long so you won’t need to recharge for weeks. And now you can even read during take off thanks to easing of electronics regulations. Perfect I say.
- These facial treatment masks from SKII are the best solution I’ve come across to combat airplane dryness. You may scare your neighbors but 15 minutes with one of these babies and your skin is perfectly hydrated after 13+ hours in the air. Worth the crazy expensive price and strange looks, I promise.
Last but not least, I always carry a large cross body purse. Keeps my hands free at the airport to carry luggage and is great for cities, again for the hands free option and a bit of added safety against theft. You’d be surprised how much you can carry around all day without it feeling heavy when your body is taking the brunt of the added weight — water bottle, phone, camera, wallet, sunglasses, small purchases, papers, Kindle, umbrella, a light sweater, and more. People made fun of me when I bought this sleek man’s leather messenger bag by Coach. But it has proven to be a godsend for travel and is simple and clean looking. I constantly get compliments on it too. Sometimes it pays to think a bit outside of the box.
Enjoy your next trip. I know I will.