5 Tips for Making Air Travel More Comfortable

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Cramped quarters, crying babies, and overpriced refreshments; in the face of these many air travel obstacles, maintaining high spirits in coach class can be an uphill battle. Flying doesn’t always have to be such a nightmare, however. Here are several simple tips that, once implemented, will rescue savvy travelers from the typical discomforts of a long journey away from home. Any of these five tips will help you maintain a reasonable level of comfort — along with your sanity — in the face of a multi-hour flight. Bon voyage!

1. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes

While we (unfortunately) can’t make those squashed seats any bigger, The Huffington Post suggests that travelers maximize their comfort by working on factors within their control. Choosing something comfortable to wear can be a lifesaver on long flights. Breathable, loose-fitting clothing is especially helpful in maintaining a comfortable personal space while flying.

Casual pieces offer the best range in terms of flexibility for comfortable rest and relaxation on your trip. Keep in mind that airplane cabin temperatures dip drastically upon entering the air. Always bring an extra layer to warm yourself up should it get too chilly. AARP recommends that travelers keep a sweater or  a lightweight, compressible fleece blanket in tow for all flights.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

2. Bring a neck pillow

An upright seated position and a neck pillow do not, by any means, make for an ideal sleep. Still, The Huffington Post writes that having a pillow can make a world of difference on a plane — and may even save you a pulled muscle or two!

Such pillows are available at many retailers online and in-store, and it’s hard to miss them at the airport kiosks. Neck pillows have come a long way from your standard mediocre plush. The pillows are lightweight and compressible, and are now offered in many shapes, sizes, and firmness levels for the flyer’s convenience.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

3. Walk Around/Stretch

ABC News notes the importance of getting up to stretch your body during a long flight. Try standing up and walking around every few hours to stimulate your arms, legs, and neck to avoid those aches and pains so frequently experienced by travelers. Not only will this movement help relieve minor discomforts, but it will also dispel cramping, fatigue, and eliminate the threat of deep vein thrombosis, a life-threatening condition that develops after extended periods of sitting.

There are plenty of exercises that you can do on the flight to keep your body in check, many of which are recommended in this article by Ace Fitness. If you feel silly doing arm rotations aboard your flight, simply get up and take a stroll to the bathroom or do a quick lap up the aisle.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

4. Hydrate

Everyday Health emphasizes the importance of this advisory, noting that “The air inside the cabin of a plane usually has a humidity level of 10 to 20 percent — much lower than a comfortable typical indoor humidity of 30 to 65 percent.” The significant drop in humidity can lead already weary travelers to become dehydrated.

Symptoms of dehydration vary widely according to the degree and severity of the condition. A lack of water inside the body slows down — and can even halt — some of your body’s fundamental metabolic processes. This leads to headaches, dizziness, and fatigue, among other symptoms. William L. Sutker, M.D., chief of infectious diseases at Baylor University Medical Center, advises airplane passengers to drink generous amounts of water, as well as pack a small bottle of moisturizer to apply to drying areas of skin. Nose drops and eye drops can also be helpful tools in combating dry passages.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

5. Pack light

Lugging around heavy bags is perhaps the most aggravating part of the travel experience. Travel + Leisure advises travelers to pack as lightly as possible to avoid the hassles involved with bulky luggage. According to Valerie Ricci, a 25-year flight attendant with American Airlines, “I watch people struggle with their luggage — lifting it, carrying it down the aisle, banging into other people … If you want to be comfortable in coach, bring less on. You won’t have to have something under your feet, and it will make you more comfortable in general.”

Not only will lighter bags help you in navigating the airport, cabs, and public transportation routes throughout your trip, but it will also make the flight itself exceedingly more spacious and comfortable — for you and your seat neighbors. If you’re able to pack your luggage into carry-on bags, you will avoid the harrowing task of winding through labyrinthine baggage carousels and being slammed with those alarming bag check fees.

Sometimes checking a bag is unavoidable. Even in this case, do your best to minimize carry-on items, only bringing those articles that are absolutely necessary for the duration of the flight.

More From Life Cheat Sheet: