I might as well admit it right away, I’ve never been a big fan of air travel. I take it very often because I love to travel, but it’s not a cakewalk for me, especially when it comes to long-haul flights. So here are all the tips I’ve developed over the years to make air travel as pleasant as possible.
Choose your seat on the plane as soon as possible
Gone are the days when you chose your seat on the plane at check-in when you arrived at the airport. Now, it can sometimes be done as soon as the ticket is purchased, or when electronic check-in opens, 24 or 48 hours before the flight. The rules vary with each airline. This is becoming more and more a paid service, and not only in low-cost companies. For those who wish to have a specific seat (window or aisle), it is, therefore, better to study the conditions set by the company when you buy your ticket and note in your diary the date and time from when you can s ‘to register. I invite you to do it as soon as possible because it has happened to me that all the seats are already assigned even a month before the flight.
Porthole or hallway? It’s a bit of an eternal debate… On this, everyone has their position. Those who want to enjoy the view and be able to sleep against the bulkhead prefer porthole. I, who need to get up often to stretch my legs, am a fan of the aisle seat, for long-haul flights anyway. Otherwise, for short flights, I choose porthole. For those who want to have more space on the plane and perhaps be lucky enough to have two or three seats, it is better to choose a seat in the back of the plane. On the other hand, you should also know that this is where you feel the turbulence the most (like at the back of the bus or a car).
For those who are still at the stage of finding the ideal plane ticket, then I advise you to do more research on flight comparators such as Kayak or Skyscanner for example. For a long-haul flight I don’t necessarily look for the cheapest possible ticket and I pay attention to the level of comfort of the airline: each year Skytrax establishes a classification that is interesting to consult.
Dress comfortable and bring warm clothing
Air travel is not a fashion show! So of course, it is better to avoid having a too neglected look, but the main thing to plan is to have a comfortable outfit. We tend to forget it when we go to a hot country in the summer: airports and planes are air-conditioned places, and it can be very cold there! With travel fatigue, the body is more vulnerable, and it is very easy to get sick after a long-haul flight. Not the ideal way to get your vacation off to a good start… Every time I travel by plane, I, therefore, bring a warm sweater and a scarf or scarf. For the bottom, either wide trousers (tight jeans are really to be avoided!), or cotton leggings under a dress or a tunic (t-shirt leggings, it’s not classy!).
The big advantage of the dress and leggings outfit is to be able to remove them easily on arrival if you go to a hot country, and presto, you find yourself in summer clothes! To avoid having swollen legs, I also put on compression stockings, but I’ll talk about that later…
Prepare your cabin baggage well
The first thing to do is to check with the airline the authorized dimensions of cabin baggage. As the sizes are different, I recommend, for the purchase of cabin luggage, to respect the dimensions established by IATA, the International Air Transport Association: 55 cm long, 35 cm wide, and 20 cm depth, handle and any castors included. Normally, it passes on by most companies. Here is a selection of cabin luggage if necessary. With most airlines, you can have both a handbag and a cabin bag, but that’s the same, it’s to be checked in the conditions when you buy your plane ticket. With EasyJet for example, you can only have one bag and you must therefore be able to put your handbag in your cabin baggage. You should also pay attention to the maximum weight! There are quite a few companies that weigh cabin baggage at check-in.
If you exceed the weight of cabin baggage, the best tip is to put several jackets on top of each other and fill the pockets well. You can also put heavy books or documents in a plastic bag, taking care not to show them at the counter during check-in.
The next important thing is to prepare your cabin luggage well. First thing: put all your valuables in it, especially your electronic equipment such as a computer, camera, tablet… Thefts are frequent in checked baggage, even if they are equipped with padlocks. Plus, given the way they’ve swung across the carpets, I wouldn’t like to know of any breakables inside.
Another thing to consider: is the case (not that rare) where you do not have your luggage in the hold on arrival. For my part, it has already happened to me, and it is then necessary to wait several days before recovering it (if it is recovered!). When you have a stopover, you can also find yourself having to spend an unplanned night at the airport if the plane is late or something else happens… This has happened to me too, so I always bring underwear and a tee. Spare a t-shirt just in case. I also always have the chargers for my electronic devices in my cabin baggage. Finally, for those who take medication, the same: keep them with you in your cabin baggage!
Provide essential accessories
To improve your comfort on board, it is better to provide some accessories, especially if you are flying at night. Indispensable for me if you want to be able to sleep a little: a neck pillow and a sleep mask. In addition, if you want to watch movies on board, I recommend having personal headphones, because the headphones provided on planes are very often of poor quality. At a minimum, smartphone headphones will do (with an adapter for the airplane jack), but the idea is to have real headphones with a noise-canceling function.
You should know that the environment of an airplane is very noisy with the noise of the engines, not to mention talkative passengers or crying babies. For my part I have the Bose QC 35and since I tried it, I can’t do without it (read, my test of these headphones). The noise reduction is amazing, and I also use it for sleeping. You feel like you’re in a bubble, isolated from outside disturbances. Otherwise, there is a more economical solution for earplugs.
In addition, I plan a mini toiletry bag to refresh myself and moisturize my skin. You should know that the air on board an aircraft is very dry. I always pack a few samples of moisturizer; it does the skin well. To also put toothbrush, mini toothpaste, deodorant (small size), intimate wipes… For the eyes, I also have single doses of saline solution to rehydrate them during the flight. The rule for liquid and cream products on the plane is that they must be less than 100ml and they must be put in a plastic freezer Ziploc-type bag. Otherwise, it is possible to find ready-made travel kits with reduced-size products (see men’s travel kit or women’s travel kit)
As a bonus: it’s not always easy to fall asleep on the plane, so for my part, I take a melatonin tablet when it’s time to sleep at my arrival destination. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the body to fall asleep and a priori, there is no side effect. In all that, for my part, it works well, and I take it for 4 or 5 days after the flight when I have a significant jet lag. I’ve tried different brands and the one that works the best (for me anyway) is Chrono dorm. The tablets are to be melted under the tongue and it acts faster than a classic tablet that must be digested.
Things to do on board: walk and stay hydrated
These two tips are surely among the most important! One of the biggest risks during a long plane trip is to have a venous thrombosis, that a blood clot forms due to prolonged immobility, and it can be fatal if this clot goes up to the heart or the lungs. The Traveling Instinct Blog has also written a very comprehensive article on this problem. To avoid this, three strategies to adopt: get up regularly (at least every three hours) to circulate the blood in the legs; while seated, occasionally do ankle twists and foot flexions/extensions; for people at risk, wear compression stockings.
For my part, even if I have never had real circulation problems, I have been wearing compression stockings for years on long plane mother daughter trips. It helps to avoid having swollen feet and ankles and you feel much better on arrival. It is a medical device, so it is better to ask your doctor for a prescription and it is up to the pharmacist to take your measurements to determine the right size.
Another important point: you must drink a lot of water. Again, the fault of the very dry environment of the air of the plane dehydrates the body even more. In addition, having to pee forces us to get up and walk around a bit… Otherwise, a little trick to always have water available: during security checks, I always keep a small bottle of water in my bag empty plastic, which I will fill afterward in the airport drinking water dispensers (there are almost always some and it’s free).
It avoids having to buy a bottle of water at 3 euros in the area before boarding and that way I always have something to drink. I also fill it on board with the large bottles of water that are freely available in the “kitchen areas” of the plane. Like that,
Have fun on board
The ideal, of course, is to travel on board a good airline that offers a good in-flight entertainment system, such as Emirates, regularly cited as one of the best. But just in case, it’s better to still plan something to take care of, such as a good book, magazines, or having a few films on your laptop or tablet. For my part, I have a stock of playlists that I can listen to offline on my smartphone with the Deezer application. I have one with quiet music that I use to fall asleep.
Manage your fear of flying
Fortunately, not everyone is afraid of flying, but for those who have this problem, it can be disabling and spoil the pleasure of traveling. Even though I’m one of the big travel bloggers, I was afraid of flying for a long time, but it’s much better since I took a course against the fear of flying. For those who do not have the budget (380 euros minimum), it is possible to download the application which corresponds to this course, and which is free: It summarizes the main lessons of the course, and you can do relaxation exercises through cardiac coherence and listen to relaxing music. This is what I do during the flight in case of turbulence. I also have on my phone a playlist of music that I like, and it allows me to relax and better enjoy the flight.