a guide to having a comfortable flight

I am no stranger to long flights. Nor am I fearful of them. Being stuck in a metal container thousands of feet in the air, surrounded by strangers, with a limited food supply doesn’t scare me. And it shouldn’t scare you either.

Having been passenger on so many long plane rides, I have designed a strategy to maximize my flight. I have finally figured out exactly what to pack and exactly how to pack it so that I have the most comfortable flight possible, as I have yet to grace business class seats with the presence of my bottom.

What to wear

Wearing layers for flights is essential, especially when you’re in for the long haul. Planes can be enigmatically hot or cold, and one time I was stuck on a flight where the fans didn’t work.

I always layer on top and wear my oversized scarf, which routinely does triple duty as scarf, blanket and towel. I also always wear sneakers and socks, as shoes are bulky to pack yet comfortable to wear (and convenient to run across the terminals like a lunatic).

What to pack

I always bring specific items in my carry on. The following are must-have’s and should be kept within easy reach: chapstick (for lips), eye mask (for sleeping), book (for entertainment), scarf (for warmth, or style), flip flops (see below), neck pillow (for comfort), notebook with pens and pencils (for more entertainment), nuts (for eating), plastic shopping bag (for trash), toothbrush and small toothpaste (to freshen up), wipes (washing my hands in the plane bathroom sink, I think not), headphones (for in-flight entertainment).

I think I’m the only person on this planet who doesn’t own an iPod. But I’d probably pack it if I had one.

What to do

Reaching high elevations never fails to turn my toes into mini sausages, begging to be wrapped up in a croissant and baked to pigs-in-a-blanket perfection. Therefore, taking preventative measures from feeling like my feet are fat is essential to my comfort.

I bring flip flops with me on every flight so that I don’t have to squeeze my swollen appendages into my sneaks every time I have to take a leak. Also, going to the bathroom in just your socks is gross. Trust me, I’ve learned that the hard way. After that, I made a vow to those wet sausages to keep them dry in flight from then on.

How to pack

I am an organizational freak. When it comes to functionality and convenience, I never skimp out on myself. Besides, it’s not proper plane etiquette to continuously give surrounding passengers a whiff of your armpits, I don’t care how good your new deodorant smells!

In my carry-on luggage or backpack, I place the items listed above in a separate bag. Once I find my seat for the next dozen hours or so, I can easily locate and remove said bag and place it in the pouch in front of me. Flip flops go on the floor for accessibility when I need to respond to Mother Nature’s call. Next thing I do is pray that no one comes to claim the seat next to me.

And there you have it, a guide to having the most comfortable economy flight possible. It also never hurts to schmooze with the flight attendants. I once had an entire three seat row saved for me simply because I chatted up my stewardess pre-flight. And then I think I consumed enough wine for all three of those seats. But I can’t really remember.

What are some of your strategies to having an enjoyable flight?

7 thoughts on “a guide to having a comfortable flight

  1. Great post! I’m in the process of planning for a 3-day trip to Nashville in a couple weeks and I’ve been thinking a lot about my carryon bags.

    My secrets are:
    – Aisle seating because I have a tiny bladder and don’t want to wake my seat mates
    – Water bottle because flights are dehydrating and the cups they give you en route are tiny (perhaps that’s why I have to use the bathroom every hour?)
    – Layers and a scarf for the same reasons you mentioned
    – Small carryon bags – in fact I only pack carryons, and I try to pack light, so I have room at my feet and I don’t have to haul giant bags from the overhead bins.
    – Kindle fire / mobile phone for reading books and playing games
    – Ipod to drown out the sounds of crying babies or snoring passengers
    – Moisturizer and makeup

    And I agree, organization is KEY. I keep my destination clothes in the overhead bin, and keep all of the little things (electronics, makeup, etc) in the bag by my feet so I can stay entertained or freshen up without opening the overhead bins.

    • Oh wow I’m jealous! Can I come to Nashville? 😉

      I always get an aisle seat myself! I like to walk around a lot on long flights – and the extra leg room doesn’t hurt.

      Last time I tried to take a water bottle they made me empty it 😦

      I also like to try to keep my bags limited to carry-ons, but it was difficult to do that when backpacking for months at a time!

      Thanks for stopping by and happy travels!

      • You should be able to take a water bottle onto the flight without any issue. The only time I’ve had to empty my water bottles was going through security – but then you can just fill it up again at a water fountain in the airport. True, I imagine backpacking would be a challenge with just a carryon. But for our upcoming 2 week mother/daughter trip to Europe, I’ll be packing only carryons! (My mom couldn’t handle it, and will be packing a bag that can be a carryon on the transatlantic flight but is too big to be a carryon in Europe).

      • I know! It was Chinese immigration .__.

        The water bottle was the least of my worries in that fiasco (actually wrote a post about that “hey mom, I’m stuck in China”)

        Enjoy Europe! That’s number three on my list of destinations 🙂

  2. Good list! I actually feel very relaxed when flying. I guess not being able to see what is going on soothes me because I trust the people up front know what they are doing. Being in a car in fast moving and crazy traffic scares me much more. I always pack a scarf and plenty of pens and I always wear glasses instead of contacts and bring eye drops because dry eyes aren’t fun.

  3. Pingback: a guide to having a comfortable flight | alice in switzerland


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