As much as we all love to travel, most of us aren’t all too keen on the part where we have to sit in a plane for 12 hours on end. No one does.
If you’ve booked your tickets to that next delightful but distant getaway and you’re already dreading how to get through your long-haul flight, here are ten tips to help make your journey go by as fast and comfortably as possible, from booking to landing.
Sign Up for Global Entry
This should ideally be done weeks before your flight, but if you haven’t signed up for Global Entry yet, get it now. Skip lengthy security lines and forget about having to unpack your electronics and remove items of clothing to get through the detector!
Book the Right Seat
Many people book a window seat to get a view. This works if great scenery is your top priority, and if you’re confident you can sleep in a cramped airplane seat (pro top: leaning against the window helps get you into a sleep position).
However, if you’re going to be awake for most of your flight, get an aisle seat. You will be thankful when you don’t have to wake up and climb over two people any time you want to go to the bathroom or stretch your legs.
Check for Upgrades
A lot of people think upgrades to first class are incredibly expensive, but this isn’t necessarily true if you’ve racked up some miles on the right credit cards. Check to see how many miles (or miles and dollars combined) you need to get in a first class seat and improve your flight experience tenfold.
Check Weight Restrictions
Airlines are getting very strict about weight restrictions, so check your airline’s guidelines carefully and make sure your suitcase doesn’t exceed the limit. Otherwise, you will be forced to unpack, repack, shift things around, and spend much lot longer in the check-in line.
Bring Only One Small Carry-On Case On Board
I’ve seen travellers bring shopping bags, handbags and a carry-on when boarding. Don’t do this. With flights getting more and more full, chances are you’ll probably have to check some of those in, or just fit them in the limited footspace you have available, making your flight cramped and uncomfortable. Put purses, camera cases, and anything else you may carry in the carry-on suitcase, so you only have to carry one bag.
Take Melatonin With You
If you’re like me and have trouble sleeping on board, a good melatonin supplement is a natural way to help you relax and sleep like a baby, even in an airline seat.
Bring a Guidebook & Phrasebook Onboard
Why not put your flight hours to good use and start planning out an itinerary for when you land? Take a guidebook on board and start checking out attractions, museums, restaurants and bars you’d like to visit. Have fun learning about your destination before you land, then dive into a handy phrasebook; try to master a few conversational phrases to try out once you arrive.
Pack a Scarf and Comfortable Jacket
I always see people on flights forgetting about these basic necessities and shivering through a 12-hour flight. Don’t rely just on the airline blankets for warmth; having a scarf will also help cover up your sensitive neck and chest areas against the cold, dry air in the plane.
Hydrate Very Regularly
Dehydration makes that classic post-plane bloating feeling ten times worse, and is also terrible for jet lag. Keep asking the flight attendant for those little water bottles, so you’ll be in tip-top shape when you get off the plane.
Arrange/Check Transportation Options the Second You Land
If you’ve pre-arranged transportation, call right after the plane lands to check its status. If you’re looking to get transportation from the airport, or rent a car, check your available options or send someone ahead to the rental office while waiting for luggage. Even though a few minutes may not seem like a big deal, when you’ve been in a plane for hours and have already grabbed your suitcases, all you want to do is get out and get to your accommodation.
Leaving transportation arrangements for after you’ve picked up your bags will delay your departure from the airport by up to half an hour or more. However, do it first, and you’ll be free to go explore instead!