Over 1.5 billion people around the world travel internationally every year, exploring fascinating new countries and broadening their cultural horizons. Yet, while international travel is exciting, many people dread the necessary long-haul flight that will get them to their destination.

Sure, plane seats are small and don’t offer much legroom, and it seems as though airlines are charging extra for everything from luggage to snacks nowadays. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a good flight.

There are plenty of ways to improve the experience of travel, and we’ve got the ultimate tips for having a good flight.


1. Create a sleep kit

Sleep kits are designed to help you sleep better on planes. You can purchase one at the airport gift shop, but it's worth your while to create your own one that you can store with your luggage at home.

The basics for a sleep kit include a travel pillow and an eye mask, but you might also want to add earplugs and a small blanket or a large shawl to this as well. Be sure to test-drive your neck pillow in advance – as well as any sleep aid medication that you’d like to bring along.

While this isn’t part of your sleep kit, make sure to dress in layers when flying as the temperature in the cabin can quickly vary from stuffy to icy cold. Your blanket or shawl will help if things get too cold, but being able to add or shed clothing will help you better control your comfort.


2. Check airline regulations before you leave

Airline regulations are constantly changing, so the bottle of travel shampoo that was fine one day might be confiscated on your next trip for exceeding the size limit for carry-on liquids.

You don’t want to find out what the current rules are as you’re unpacking your bag at security, so be sure to look up the most recent versions online before you leave home. Share the new regulations with your travel companions as well, and it will help make your trip through security easier.


3. Drink Water

Because the air in the cabin isn't humidified, flights are very dehydrating and your whole body suffers as a result. Your throat, lips, nasal passages, and skin all dry out, and the likelihood of blood clots can even increase.

This means that staying hydrated is especially important, and you should start drinking water before you even board the plane. The water sold in the airport can be quite pricey, so pack a collapsible water bottle into your hand luggage and fill it up at the airport water fountains.

Your aim should be to drink about 8 fl oz (250ml) every hour or two while you’re in the air – not counting coffee, soft drinks, or alcohol which are more likely to dehydrate you.


4. Pack hand sanitiser

One of the problems with public transportation is that germs abound, and it only takes one unwell person to affect a dozen others. Planes are full of surfaces that strangers have touched before you, including armrests, tray tables, overhead bin handles, in-flight magazines, light switches, bathroom doors and surfaces –- the list is seemingly endless.

While you’re on the ground, it’s still fairly easy to keep your hands clean because water and soap aren’t too hard to come by, but it’s not quite as simple when you’re in the air.

Be sure to pack a small airline-sized alcohol-based hand sanitiser to help keep at least some of everyone else's germs at bay. You can also bring along a pack of hygiene hand wipes to rub down any of the surfaces in your immediate vicinity.


5. Choose your seat wisely

To make the most of your long-haul flight, you need to be careful about the seat you choose. Those over the wings are the least bumpy, while bulkhead seats have the most legroom.

Bulkhead seats do have their disadvantages, though – the absence of under-seat space means that you can’t have a personal item at your feet during takeoff and landing, and so you have to keep everything in the crowded overhead bins, where you will need to get up after takeoff and before landing to retrieve and restore them.

If you want more leg room without the hassle, pick an aisle seat instead. If you plan to sleep, though, rather choose a window seat since you have something to lean on, less risk of falling over onto someone, and no one asking you to get up so they can get out of the row.

If you’re travelling with another person on a flight that places most seats together in groups of three, an old travel trick is to have one person book the window seat and the other book the aisle seat, leaving the middle seat open. Subsequent passengers will try to avoid middle seats, so if the flight isn’t full you might get the row to yourselves.

If someone does book the middle seat and you prefer to sit together, the other passenger will almost always happily surrender the middle seat to either of you.

 

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