After years of cross-Europe, transatlantic and, for the past three years, across the world flights, I can say that I have a clear idea of what makes a journey comfortable.
Below you'll find my top-10 tried-and-tested tips to get you through those 10+ hours in cattle class.
1. If you're not travelling with children, always pick an isle seat, two or three rows away from the back - this way you can get up without having to hassle your (sleeping) flight companions, and you're closest to the toilets (but not too close).
2. The carry-on has to be packed in such a way that you can easily get out all you will need for the flight when you first get to your seat*.
- first, you don't know how easy it will be to access your carry-on once you're up there (the over-head compartment might be quite high, things may have moved around or someone else's coat/bag might be in the way -> cue nuisance);
- second, if you don't have the isle seat, you have to open your bag in the corridor where you have no space and all this because you forgot to get your toothbrush out! Not fun!
*It pays off to get organized before the flight*
3. Never forget your noise-cancelling headphones. When you have to be around that noise for half a day it really messes with your head. If you're going to do this sort of trip often, invest in a good pair.
4. A small/medium toiletries bag is a must. For the very least, it should contain your toothbrush and toothpaste, hand sanitiser and cream, facial cleanser and moisturiser, a few band-aids and deodorant.
5. Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off. You may not want to wear shoes during the whole flight but you'll need them to walk around and go to the toilet!!
6. Don't forget an extra pair of socks! The first thing I do after I seat down is to get my shoes off, and put on an extra pair of socks. If I'm going to be sitting down for hours, I want to be comfortable. No shoes helps me move my feet/legs easily while the extra socks keep my feet warm.
7. Wear comfortable clothes, i.e., anything that doesn't cut the circulation to your legs!! And always extra layers: a cardigan or sweater and a long scarf/foulard/shawl. Even if your destination is warm, it will get chillier during the flight, particularly during the night.
8. Get a good neck pillow. No fun trying to have a good night sleep as you're sitting!
9. A resistance band. I try to get up every hour and walk around but sometimes that doesn't feel like it's enough. So, to exercise a bit more in such small spaces, I find an exercise band to be really helpful.
10. Finally, always carry a reusable water bottle with you and ask the flight attendants to refill throughout the flight. If you forget your bottle, always accept the water/juice when it comes around.
- Flights can be pretty dehydrating so drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids to stay on top of that game. One of the biggest misconceptions - and rookie mistakes - is to think that drinking alcohol will help you. It doesn't on the ground and it won't on a long-haul flight.
What are your top tips for a comfortable flight?