For many travelers, a long-haul flight means arriving at a destination exhausted no matter what time of day the plane touches down. With these long-haul flight hacks, you’ll arrive relaxed and ready to explore.
1. Snooze as much as possible
Sleeping on a flight is the best way to arrive as refreshed as possible. While it might be tempting to take advantage of the plane’s movie-marathon-worthy entertainment system, your hours are best spent getting some shut-eye. If an eye mask, travel pillow, and pair of noise-canceling headphones make it easier for you to sleep, they’re worth packing in your carry-on bag.
2. Exercise and shower right before your flight
Exercising and showering before boarding will make it easier to relax on the plane. Excess energy can make time spent cooped up on a plane seat uncomfortable. According to sleep scientist Dr. Matthew Walker, author of Why We Sleep, exercise and a hot shower are key to a high-quality snooze.
3. Dress comfortably
Wear or pack along an outfit to stay warm and comfortable during the flight. Finding a comfortable sitting position can be challenging enough as it is, but it’s even harder when you have to adjust an ill-placed button, seam, zipper or bundle of bunched-up fabric. Even if you’re coming from a warm-weather destination, it can often be cool on the plane.
A shirt, sweater, leggings or loose pants, compression socks, and closed-toe shoes work great as both on-plane and off-plane attire. Spare masks, socks and underwear will also help you arrive feeling fresh and prepared if there’s an unexpected delay.
4. Bring travel-friendly snacks
In this new travel era, food options on long-haul flights can be unpredictable. Some airlines have scaled back their inflight meal services and many airports have shuttered their food courts. Bringing your own snacks like vegetable sticks, grapes, crackers or pretzels means you won’t have to battle a grumbling stomach no matter the situation. Avoid packing foods that need silverware, spill easily or have a strong smell.
5. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Staying hydrated on a flight is essential to arrive feeling refreshed. While some travelers might want to avoid drinking during a flight to keep the in-flight bathroom stops at bay, the Aerospace Medical Association recommends you aim for about eight ounces of water each hour you’re flying.
Hydration extends to your skin and eyes as well. Cabin humidity is low, typically around 20%, which can dry out the skin and cause eye irritation. If you wear contact lenses, swap them for your glasses during the flight, and pack a small bottle of lotion to keep skin supple.
6. Splurge on seat selection
Whether you prefer window or aisle seats (we know nobody wants the middle), it’s worth paying a little more if it means you’ll be able to rest. There are pros and cons to choosing between a window or an aisle seat. In a window seat, you won’t have to worry about anyone bumping into you or asking you to get up so they can leave. You also have a little more real estate to lean against when you sleep. In an aisle seat, you can get up whenever you want to stretch or take a bathroom break.
Avoid choosing a seat near the bathrooms or family sections of a plane if you can. Extra legroom might be worth the splurge if it means a more comfortable flight. Once you are seated, avoid placing anything under the seat in front of you for full use of leg space.
7. Stretch it out
Sitting for long periods of time can slow down blood flow, leading to swelling and muscle stiffness. From your seat, stretch and roll your neck, shoulders, wrists and ankles to prevent soreness. You can also give yourself a small massage by rubbing your shoulders, neck, and temples to stimulate blood flow. Since meal and drink carts often wake up travelers anyways, they’re a great cue for an in-seat stretch routine. If you need to use the restroom, add a lap down the aisle for extra movement.
8. Pack a miniature sanitation kit
The past few years have changed the way we travel. While most major airlines and airports have added extra health, sanitation, and cleaning measures, it doesn’t hurt to double up. Pack spare masks, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes into your carry-on before boarding your flight.
When you get to your seat, wipe down high-touch points like the armrests, tray table, entertainment system, window area and above-head buttons.
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