I recently flew back home to Nairobi, Kenya from Atlanta, Georgia. This 20 plus hour flight is a frequent journey for me and over the years I’ve come up with some tricks to make long-haul international travel (in economy) a little less painful!\
Rule 1: Aisle seat!
This is just a personal preference, but I COMPLETELY feel that I have more space in aisle seats! I know that people say this about the window seat, but I’m just a little too claustrophobic for that. Although while occupying the aisle seat you might get knocked in the elbows by bathroom goers (or by the edges of the drinks cart), not having to crawl over people to take a bathroom break is a definite bonus. Plus, when there is a lull in aisle traffic you can stretch your legs out just a bit! It also puts me at ease knowing I have easy access to my hand luggage in the overhead compartment.
Rule 2: Dual purpose your pillow!
It is rare to see someone in your long haul flight without a neck support pillow. If you’re one of those rare people, stop torturing yourself and go get one! These pillows make all the difference when it comes to being able to nap somewhat comfortably. I prefer the pillows to be more on the firm side, as it adds support and allows you to relax your neck muscles without your head flopping all over the place! The neck pillow is also DUAL PURPOSED! Towards the end of long flights, I will take the pillow and sit on it. Yes, you read that right…SIT ON THE NECK PILLOW! Its shape will take the pressure off of your tailbone. You can even do this during meals (since you probably wont be eating with it on) just to give your lower back a much-needed break!
Rule 3: Netflix and chill!
Being able to download some of your favorite shows from Netflix on your device is such a game changer. I downloaded an entire season of the office and watched it when I had reached my gates and was waiting to board the plane. I also watched them after I boarded the plane and was waiting for everyone else around me to get settled. If taking off makes you a little anxious, this is a great way to keep your mind occupied! While on the point of travel anxiety – lets talk about meditation apps! I have been listening to the app “Anxiety Relief” for YEARS and find it especially helpful for travel. Putting it on with some headphones can help you totally zone out from your stressful surroundings and occasionally even puts me to sleep!
Rule 4: Seat pocket pouchTHIS IS IMPORTANT! Once I get all of my toiletries/cosmetics together for the flight, I think of what I might like to have in the seat pocket in front of me during my trip. This pouch is separate from the main toiletries pack that I keep in my purse. I like to store my purse (aka briefcase that weights 30 lbs) in the overhead compartment so that I have more space at my feet! This seat pocket pouch makes my trip stress free since I don't have to get out of my seat and into the overhead compartment every time I need something. This isn't because I don't like getting up during the flight, it's more so I don't have to tower over a stranger mid-flight with my belly button in their face while I stand on my tippy-toes reaching for my 30lb purse with a million straps. :)
Here are some “seat pocket pouch” recommendations:
Sanitizing wipes: To wipe down EVERYTHING I’m going to be touching at my seat. This includes the armrests, tray table, air-conditioning valve, remote (if applicable) and screen.
Earplugs: When I want to sleep and don’t want to wear earphones, I put in my trusty earplugs. Make sure you test them out for the night before you travel so you can make sure they fit and wont fall out in your sleep!
Eye drops: These make a huge difference for long haul flights! When I get tired my eyes get red and dry. No amount of makeup can make your red eyeballs look pretty! Visine eye drops will do the trick and make your eyes look much brighter and healthier. Use them as directed and you will not be disappointed! Plus, your eyes wont feel like sandpaper.
Earphones: Comfortable ones; also don’t wear uncomfortable earrings!
Carmex: Dried out, cracked lips are not a good look on anyone! Applying this heavy-duty chap stick will combat that pressurized cabin air to make sure you arrive at your destination moisturized instead of dehydrated!
Sleep mask: THIS IS A MUST. Getting any amount of sleep on the airplane is like finding an oasis in the middle of the desert. Don’t gamble such a precious thing away on your fellow travelers being a little less than sensitive to your sleep schedule. Even though your seat mate may seem super cool, they might want to turn on their overhead light in the middle of the night to read. Or opening their window to let that bright sunlight stream through…or turn their TV monitor up incredibly bright…the list goes on… Just do yourself a favor and get a sleep mask!
Okay we are done with the life-changing seat pocket pouch! Let's move on, shall we?
Rule 5: Clear toiletries/makeup bag!
This I keep in my purse. I don’t ever wear makeup on long trips because I feel like my skin gets so dry that the makeup ends of either cracking off or looking stale. Instead, I travel with my makeup essentials in my purse. My makeup bag is see-through so that I can quickly pull it out for security (if need be). Once I am about an hour away from my final destination I will take my makeup bag to the bathroom and do my makeup before we land! This way I arrive looking freshly done up but don’t have to worry about any makeup related issues along the way!
Rule 6: Choose the right shoes!
Footwear – A Slippery Slope: My favorite shoes to travel in are literally adult slippers that you can wear outside. I have convinced myself that they are chic and socially acceptable. They were so easy to slip on and off at security and were incredibly comfy on the plane! I still brought a pair of socks in my bag so that I could wear them during the flight since my feet usually to get extra cold. I also packed a pair of sneakers in my carryon just in case I needed added support if it came down to sprinting across the airport! Always. Be. Prepared.
Rule 7: GO VEG!
This is an opinion formed after YEARS of airplane food! Whenever I order a meat dish, I end up carefully inspecting it (like for a few minutes) only to then taste it and come to the conclusion that it does in fact have the consistency of rubber. Not that vegetarian airplane food is something to brag about, but it certainly beats eating mystery meat!
Rule 8: The Line to the Left! I read this “trick” last year and since then I’ve been deliberately testing it out when I travel. I can definitely say that I think that left lane lines move more quickly!! This most recent journey it worked not only when in the security lines, but also in the immigration lines as well. I think it has something to do with people being right handed and being drawn to the right. Regardless of the social science, my recommendation is to always try and get in the line to the left!!
Rule 9: Don’t be a Jerk!
Start by complimenting airport/airline staff and see how your travel experience changes! This makes the biggest difference of all and is seriously the greatest travel game changer! It doesn’t matter how comfortable you try and make your trip – if the journey is over 8 hours it is going to be uncomfortable regardless! However, being kind to those who are doing their job around you can make a huge difference in the energy of your trip. Having a positive and warm attitude will change every encounter you have while traveling. Assuring each airport/airline attendant of your gratitude for his or her hard work puts positivism out into the universe, which WILL come back to you. Also, being calm and collected instead of combative will help improve not only your experience, but also the experiences of those around you! No one likes being stuck in transit with that guy.
LEARN YOUR RULES!
Follow these 9 "rules" for a more pleasant travel experience!