Make your long flight more comfortable

Apr 4, 2000 (Updated Apr 10, 2000)

When I fly, I normally fly overseas on flights of 10 hours or more. So I've picked up a few tips here and there, either from watching and talking to other travelers, or just on my own. My favorite airline is Singapore Airlines (SIA). Yes, they do cost a bit more than some of the international airlines, but I think the price is well worth the service they provide.

First of all, make sure you are wearing comfortable clothing and shoes. If you are flying from a cold area to a warm area, layer your clothing. Same goes for warm to cold areas. Wear cotton if possible. Polyester clothing is uncomfortable after a while. I tend to wear jeans with a Tshirt, and then a long sleeve shirt over it. That way, I have the option of taking the long sleeve shirt off if I feel too warm. While sneakers are comfortable for trips, I never wear them on a plane. I wear slip-on shoes that I can easily remove. Keep in mind that your feet swell slightly on flights due to the air pressure and altitude, so make sure you are wearing shoes that aren't tight in the first place. SIA provides these wonderful little booties that you can put on over your socks so that you can wander the plane without your shoes. They may look funny at first, but you'll soon realize that there are 200 other travelers on the plane that look just as funny as you do.

Another thing you can do to make yourself more comfortable is not drink carbonated drinks. Most of us love our Cokes and 7-Ups, but don't realize how bloated they can make you. Combine this with 9 hours of sitting in a seat, and you'll have one uncomfortable stomach. If you need to have a soda, have just one. Then take a short walk up the aisle to "walk it off". When you sit down, you'll feel much better and won't have the funny gassy feeling. Flying makes a person dehydrated, so make sure you drink lots of water. I tend to drink a lot of tea and decaf coffee. If you're dehydrated when you get to your destination, you'll feel lousy and won't want to do anything.

Along the lines of food and beverages, make sure you find out ahead of time what sort of food your airline serves. Most airlines post this information on their websites. If their sample menu doesn't appeal to you, or you are on a restricted diet, make sure you contact the airlines 2-3 days prior to your flight and ask for a special meal. They offer options such a vegetarian, no-salt, non-dairy, Chinese, and kid's meals, among others. If you are flying with a child, definitely get the kids meal. If your child doesn't like the adult's meal, you would have nothing else on hand. Play it safe. You don't want to have a hungry kid with you for 7-8 hours!

For your luggage, make sure you pack any valuables in your carry-on, or keep them on you. NEVER put your expensive items in your check-in luggage! What would you do if your grandmother's sapphire ring was in your luggage and your suitcase was lost or stolen? Keep them close to you where you can keep an eye on it. And never set your carry-on down and then walk away, even if it's just for a minute. There are people out there who prey on tired travelers on airports. Your bag will be gone before you know it.

Pack an extra set of clothing in your carry-on, just in case. You never know when you might have to change before you get to your destination. I had someone spill red wine all over my sleeve once, but luckily I had a spare blouse in my bag. It's also good in case you get to your destination before your luggage does. Also keep a hairbrush, toothbrush and a small tube of toothpaste -- when I have a short stopover, I go to the airport bathroom and brush my teeth in a real sink. I wash my face, brush my hair, touch up my makeup, and I look more presentable when I arrive than if I hadn't "fixed" myself up. I also feel more refreshed.

These are just a couple suggestions to make your long flight more comfortable. I know I have done all of these and I am a lot more relaxed when I get to where I'm going. I feel better when I arrive, and so I enjoy my visit a lot more too. It's no fun flying 8,000 miles and then being too tired to enjoy your trip!

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