Travel AIDS for long flights

There’s no question about it: traveling opens our eyes and minds to new cultures, landscapes, and people. That being said, getting there isn’t always fun.

Most people don’t exactly look forward to long flights, but they don’t have to inspire dread, either.

If you’re like me and can’t afford to upgrade to business or first class, here are a few tips to keep you going while you’re stuck in coach.

Buy Right

Airlines that aren’t based in the United States tend to offer better amenities on long flights — like personal televisions, eye masks, slippers, and free wine with dinner. All other things being equal, go with the international option. And take note of your departure and arrival times — and time differences — when booking your flight. Paying close attention to these details can help alleviate the effects of jetlag.

Get the right gear

Just because you can’t splurge on business class doesn’t mean you can’t splurge on other things — like quality sleep gear. Eye masks, earplugs, neck pillows, and blankets are a must on a long haul. I recommend the Nap travel flight kit. In addition to being incredibly soft, the inflatable items won’t take up valuable carry-on space.

The Early Bird Gets the Exit Row

The best advice I received as I prepared for a flight from D.C. to Bangkok was to arrive at the check-in desk four hours early to request an exit row. Note: sitting in the exit row means accepting the responsibility to assist in the event of an emergency, but if you are happy to help, the extra leg room is worth it — especially if you’re tall. And, if you like an aisle seat, the people next to you will not have to climb over you to go the bathroom.

Test Before Take-off

If you’re planning to use a sleep aid to snooze through your flight, be sure to test it out at home. That way if you have an adverse reaction, you won’t experience it at 30, 000 feet. Another tip: don’t take any sleep aids until you’re in the air. If your flight gets waylaid on the runway, you’ll have a hard time staying awake to deplane.

Embrace Your Inner Couch Potato

Don’t underestimate the power of movies, music, television, and books to help you through your sedentary slog. Your airline may provide movies or even a personal television screen, but it might not take long to exhaust your options. Before you leave, load a robust array of digitized entertainment onto your laptop, tablet, or handheld device. You won’t regret it.

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