7 Things I Learned on a Flight to Europe

Going to Europe is exciting. But getting there is not. Being on a plane for an extended period of time is difficult for anyone to master. Even experienced travelers have a tough time beating jet lag after a long flight. Ahead, see what I learned taking a flight to Europe.

1. Become friends with a flight attendant

flight attendant

They can make your trip more comfortable. | Christophe Archambault/AFP/Getty Images

This goes for any flight: Make friends with a flight attendant. They have the power to make your trip more comfortable. You never know how excited you’ll be to get an extra yogurt until you’re on an eight-hour flight. Plus, flight attendants have lots of knowledge about where you’re traveling.

Hint: Don’t ignore your seatmate.

2. Make small talk with your seatmate

Couple talking on an airplane

They could have valuable information to offer. | DigitalVision/iStock/Getty Images

This is another chance to get valuable information about the city you’re about to visit. If you’re sitting next to a stranger, talk with them. I learned about a bike tour, restaurants, and a secret entrance to the Louvre Museum from talking to my seatmate.

Hint: Remember to move.

3. Go to the bathroom

airplane bathroom

Get up, and move around. | VVF/iStock/Getty Images

When the seat belt sign turns off, signaling passengers are allowed to move around the cabin, go the bathroom. Even if you don’t have the urge to go, getting up to move will help. And you don’t want to end up like me, waiting with a full bladder for the flight attendant with the food cart blocking the aisle to move.

Hint: How to beat jet lag

4. Sleeping on a plane

man sleeping in airplane

Force yourself to sleep. | Meinzahn/iStock/Getty Images

On a long flight, such as my flight to Europe, sleep is essential. If people are sleeping at your destination, you should be sleeping on the plane. For instance, I tried going to bed at 6 p.m. EST because Paris is six hours ahead. Furthermore, don’t skimp on items to help you sleep. Bring a blanket, neck pillow, and noise-canceling headphones. And if all else fails, cover yourself with a blanket or coat.

Hint: Do this right away.

5. Recline your seat the first chance you get

Woman sleeping in airplane

Get comfortable. | Tuned_In/iStock/Getty Images

To help with sleeping, recline your seat as far back as the seat allows. Yes, the person sitting behind you may dislike that, but you’ll be well rested. They may also kick your seat during the flight, like my neighbor did, but you’ll ultimately be more comfortable for it.

Hint: Plan for your electronics to malfunction.

6. Bring your own eye mask

Woman sleeping in airplane with eye mask

You’ll be happy you brought a good eye mask. | Digital Vision/iStock/Getty Images

I had the unfortunate experience of forgetting my eye mask only to discover my TV wouldn’t shut off. For the duration of the flight, the glow of the TV stared me in the face. I used the eye mask supplied by the airline, but they’re not the best. For that reason, bring your own eye mask even if you don’t think you’ll use one during your flight.

Hint: Avoid joint pain by doing this.

7. Stow your stuff in the overhead bin

putting bags in overhead bin

Give yourself that legroom. | Alexander Hassenstein/iStock/Getty Images

I like to keep my valuables on me in-flight, but I’ve learned this can hinder sleep. Stowing my backpack and purse underneath the seat in front of me kept me from stretching out my legs. And by the end of the flight, I felt like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz who needed oil to get his joints working again. Had I stored my stuff in the overhead bin, I would’ve had room to stretch out my legs.

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Read more: This Is the Smart Way You Can Get a Whole Row to Yourself on the Plane