Make a Long Haul Flight More Comfortable
Worn in comfy slippers. “Star fishing” as you sleep in late on a Sunday morning. Doing a full body stretch after an afternoon nap. These are all the comfortable things I’ve dreamed about while cramped in a tiny seat in economy counting down the hours to landing after a long-haul flight. Thankfully though, I have discovered a handful of hacks and items that really make a difference in my flying experience. A few were tips from fellow travelers I have met along the way. Some are tried and true holy grail items that are always on my packing list wherever I go. All of them are guaranteed to take the edge off flying. So without further ado, here are 9 tricks to make a long haul flight, or any flight for that matter, more comfortable.
Trick 1. The “Sneaky” Business Casual Outfit
I know it’s tempting to want to wear pajamas on the plane, especially those red-eye flights that put the lights out almost immediately. Except if you’ve ever had a layover that wasn’t planned or had to go straight from the airport to part of the travel itinerary it can be nice to feel a little more put together ,instead of that wrinkled t-shirt or your stretched out leggings you can’t wait to get out of. Thankfully there are loads of comfortable, stretchy and breathable fabrics out there now that are perfect for flying as well.
My personal favorite travel outfit is an all-black ensemble. And the key is layering. It’s easy to dress up or down depending on where I’m going and is easy to add pops of color to and use pieces throughout my trip. Throw in some gold jewelry somewhere and I feel super comfortable and still put together.
A pair of comfy jogger pants like these are great for easy chic travel. The sweater/ tank top combo helps with the inconsistency of temps on flights (seriously, why does it get SO hot sometimes?) and some sneakers like these are great for running to gates in time. I also have a pair of compression socks tucked away for circulation if my legs get stiff on longer flights.
The main goal when looking for travel clothes is usually soft, stretchy and breathable but not frumpy. All things that can easily be slept in on a plane, train or automobile but looks just as great in a casual restaurant or trekking through the streets of a new city.
Trick 2. A Wide Cashmere Scarf or Pashmina
I’m not reinventing the wheel with this one of course but the type of scarf is key here for maximum comfort. Think of it as a blanket you know is clean. A warm layer for every season that you don’t have to pack. And it works great as a buffer for sharp areas of your seat when you trying to dose off.
I found a super soft thick cashmere scarf years ago at a Nordstrom Rack that goes with me everywhere. This things has come in handy so many times on unexpected chilly nights away from home. It’s filled in a weird uncomfortable gap between seats on an overnight train and worked perfect to cover my arms while visiting the Vatican in the middle of summer. Find one that dries well after a gentle hand wash and you always have a clean blanket. Stick with a neutral color such as black, camel or off white and it can go pretty much anywhere. Click here for one of my favorites
Trick 3. The Inflatable Travel Pillow Hoodie is My Savior
Seriously, of all the travel pillows that I’ve lugged with me on and off planes this is by far my favorite. First of all- its inflatable. This means that I’m not squishing a full-size horseshoe monstrosity into my backpack or creatively hooking onto me like this poor image I can never un-see (Click here if you curious).
I quickly blow it up at the beginning of my flight and as we start to descend, I just let the air out, roll it up and shove it back into my bag. It’s a huge space saver and so hassle free. Second, it has a hood. I don’t always need this but if you’ve ever sat behind the guy that insists on having the shade up the entire flight and it’s glaring directly into your retina while you’re trying to nap, this is a life saver. Just pull it down over your eyes and its lights out. Or shove your scarf into the hood for a larger pillow! Its also sweatshirt material so it hand washes and dries easily. I can’t tout this thing enough. It seems so simple, but I don’t see them very often. This one is a great one to try. Its genius.
Trick 4. Mulberry Silk Eye Pillow
I know this one is kind of a no brainer since they even give eye pillows out to passengers sometimes. Mainly first class but occasionally we peons in the back get one too. Rarely did they block out the light and usually just gave me a weird rash and indents on my face. I started bringing my own from home ages ago as my skin was having all kinds of issues and I wanted one for travelling that wouldn’t trigger my finnicky rosacea. If you’re not on the silk pillowcase and hair-tie band, I highly suggest you try them.
Same goes for my mulberry silk eye pillow. It doesn’t leave creases on my skin or do weird smushing things to my eyelashes or eyebrows. It blocks the light since it contours to my face and is incredibley soft on the skin. So, after coming out of a deep coach class nap I feel more refreshed and bright eyed than ever.
Now I always have an extra silk eye mask tucked away in my bag. Its great for weird hotel window lighting as well. Shove some earplugs in and its like being right at home wherever I am. Click here for the one I use, I have two, one for home and one that always lives in my weekend bag. My dream one is this one that I saw Lisa Eldridge use in her “Fly with Me” video and truly is life goals but for now this budget traveler it sticking to what works with her wallet.
Trick 5. A Small Massage Tool
This idea originally came from a dude I shared a flight with that legit pulled out a shiatzu chair thing, like you see from Sharper Image and plugged it into a battery pack in his aisle seat. It blew me away. I was also impressed that he gave the space in his carry on for it. Although, I guess if you are in enough pain you’re willing to try anything right?
But he did give me the idea to bring my small roller ball massager on my next trip. I’ve carried something along the lines ever since. They’re perfect for long haul flights when your body starts to stiffen up. Great for injuries that get a little creaky with all the extra walking while traveling and help with lymphatic flow after being in high air pressure for extended hours.
My feet swell sometimes on flights and this always helps move things along. The first couple of times I was a little embarrassed but I can’t tell you how many people have commented on how jealous they were. I’m telling you though, a quick neck stretch and a few trigger points with a tool can be a real pick me up. Linked are some of my favorite little massage tools for every occasion. (roller ball, shiatsu tool )
Trick 6. Anti-Microbial Face Masks
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, masks are going to be part of our daily lives for a while. I’ve never really minded them as a whole since I’m down for the end game of this pandemic and I get to get back on the road again. That being said, maskne is a B!%$#.
These masks are made of an anti-microbial fiber and helps keep the breeding ground at bay. I prefer these on long trips as I know they’re helping my skin since I’m wearing them longer than just a Target run. And dare I say it, they’re kinda comfortable? I know that can be an oxymoron when talking about masks but if you’ve gotta wear one for multiple hours, might as well have one that feels like it’s being part of the solution and not the problem. I save my cute patterned ones for the grocery store.
Bonus tip: I’ve also been loving this product as a mid day bacteria kill mist or post errand spray that also really seems to help keep the spots away. I’d love for it to come in a travel size but for now I just transfer it to a travel size dark covered spray bottle that I just refill between trips. The main one lives in my car.
Trick 7. Skincare and Make-up Must Haves
This topic could be an entire blog post of its own but I’ll boil it down to the basics here. Skincare is a must do for comfort on a plane for me. I can’t stand feeling dry and planes are the worst for sucking all the moisture out of everything with it’s constantly filtered and circulating air. Also, planes are really germy, so I try to keep it minimal and not touch my face too much. If I do, I always slather some hand sanitizer on before I do anything with my face.
The following are my holy grail go to’s for prepping my skin for a comfortable flight. You will always find a few moisturizing staples in my bag and a handful of make-up go to’s. When I can I try to use dual action items to save space. I’m also all about travel sizes at home since it lets me try new things and if I like it I know it can come with me.
For quick lightweight moisturizer I like the Hado Labo Plumping Gel for moisturizing and the Cerave Moisturizer that duals great for a hand cream. I use the Cerave as more of an occlusive over the Hado Labo if my skin is especially dry that day or if it’s a really long flight and it seals in the moisture.
Elta MD UV Elements Tinted is great as an spf for when your closer to the sun than normal and need some protection from the rays during the day. And because of the tint it helps give a little coverage without feeling like your wearing caked on makeup.
3 Makup Must Haves
Nars Creamy Concealer for softening those dark circles and a little of my favorite smudgproof Mascara by Lancolm helps me feel put together between naps, snacks and cocktails on the flight. Add a little Milk Makeup Lip+Cheek in Werk and I look as fresh as I did when I boarded. Well, sort of.
Trick 8. Entertainment
For maximum avoidance of boredom, don’t forget to download ahead of time. There is nothing worse than hearing the nice lady tell you that there will be no entertainment for the flight, or no wi-fi, or your seat has the one broken screen on a packed flight. This is why I always download as much as I can the night before a flight.
First, it helps me settle into bed and stop obsessing about what I’ve forgot to pack. It also lets me download the latest of whatever show I’m in the middle of. I try not to start a new show on a flight though. There is something really comforting about sinking into a show in which you are familiar with the characters that really helps you forget where you are. It’s nice to get lost in a show or movie you’ve been dying to watch. It’s also a really good time to indulge in the crappy rom-com or horror that your household wont watch with you.
Also make sure to throw that extra battery charger and your own headphones in your bag as well. Being completely self-sufficient on a flight can be nice when you don’t have to worry about anything but you and the little screen in front of you. And maybe that glass of wine when the cart comes by.
Trick 9. A Few Pieces of Extra Clothing
I’m going to sound a little Mom-ish here, but this can be a great piece of mind tip. Bringing some extra clothing in your carry-on bag can come in very handy. It’s also nice to know you have some back ups if the dreaded lost luggage curse gets you. Of course, don’t over pack your beloved carry on with an entire extra outfit but it’s always a good idea to stuff an extra pair of knickers, maybe some socks and and extra t-shirt in a neutral color. You can relax knowing you’re covered in a tight spot.
I once had a girl sitting in an aisle seat manage to spill an entire glass of red wine all over a brand new white peasant blouse I just bought as I sat all the way over in the window seat. I have no idea how she managed it and I still mourn the loss of that shirt. But, I had a back up in my bag so it was easy to move forward and not sit there feeling ridiculous like a Jackson Pollock knockoff. She also bought me drinks the rest of the flight and we ended up having some great conversation. I just really learned a lesson there and have always had a few things tucked away for such an occasion since to make me more comfortable in case of emergency.
Bonus Tip for Making Any Flight a Little Nicer**
Gifts for the Flight Attendants! Hint-they like food. Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t going to make them come over and fluff your pillow for you or anything. But this is a small industry secret. A polite thing to do is to give the flight attendants a gift from your travels or home city as you board the plane. We normally give a small box of chocolates or some cookies from wherever we are just coming from. They are always appreciative, and we don’t expect something in return ever, we are just grateful for all their hard work and patience.
I will say though, that often times they say thank you back in some way. Once it was a fresh baked cookie from first class. Once it was an extra snack pack. It can also just be an extra smile. It does however set the tone for the flight. I’m so appreciative of our life and every trip we take and extending that gratitude to the hard workers just makes the whole thing more comfortable for everyone. And lets be honest here, they are putting up with some crazy stuff these days. Lets remind them that there are still good and appreciative travelers out there still.