Air Travel Tips for Flying Comfortably

Flying can be physically and emotionally stressful and tiring. These air travel tips will help you fly more comfortably.

Schedule a comfortable flight if possible
Your plan for flying comfortably begins at home when you book your flight. There are several things you'll want to consider before you even leave the house.

Avoid red eye flights. Red eye flights can be a bargain, but you have to calculate if the monetary savings is worth the price you'll pay in physical exhaustion. You'll be doubly exhausted if your flight carries across time zones. Not only will your sleeping schedule be disrupted by the overnight flight, but you'll also be off due to jet lag.

Watch out for layovers. Look for direct flights if you can. Again, flights with multiple layovers may be cheaper, but the loss of time and convenience must be weighed against the monetary savings. Keep in mind that every layover has the potential of destroying your travel plans, since all it takes is for one plane to get delayed and you may miss your connecting flight in the next city. Short layovers may not leave you enough time to compensate for any flight delays, and long layovers will leave you stranded in the airport with nothing to do for hours.

Factor in how early you need to check-in. When booking your flight, check the airport's website for the recommended check-in time. In most cases, it is advisable to arrive at the airport two hours before your flight is scheduled to leave so you will have time to park, check your bags and go through security. Add in your preparation time, drive time and those two hours when booking your flight. If you're not a morning person, that 8 a.m. flight may mean you need to get up at 4:30 a.m.  Schedule your flight such that you won't be panicking the morning of your departure or tired all day because you got up much earlier than usual.

Consider upgrading your seat. It's a battle of expense versus comfort, but flying first class really is much more comfortable than flying coach. If you've got frequent flyer miles to burn, you may want to trade in some points to fly business class, or splurge for the comfortable seats, leg room and extra amenities.

The day of the flight
There are several things you can do on the actual day of the flight to make your trip more pleasant.

Set your alarm early. Give yourself plenty of time to get ready and pack those last minute toiletry items without rushing.

Check-in online. Check-in online and print your boarding pass at home before you leave. If you have a seating preference, you can even view the seating chart online and request an optimal seat (near the front, away from the bathrooms and away from the engines, or a seat either on the aisle or window instead of a single middle seat flanked by two other passengers). By checking-in at home, you can skip the check-in line and go straight to baggage check, or, if you are carrying-on your luggage, go straight to security.

Pack a carry-on bag or large purse. Check with your airline to see what you can carry on, but most airlines allow you to bring a compact carry-on bag and a personal item, which can be a laptop, a large purse or a bag of about laptop size. You will want to bring items for entertainment in case you get delayed such as a book, magazine, laptop, crossword puzzle book, mp3 player or work you need to catch up on.

If you are traveling with children, have the kids pack their own carry-on bags with quiet, compact toys. You may want to bring along snacks, though you'll have to purchase drinks at the airport once you pass through security since you are not allowed to bring containers holding liquids over a limited amount (check your airlines for the most recent restrictions on liquids allowed as these amounts change). Consider packing a comfortable head support pillow in your bag as well if you hope to sleep on the plane.

Consider using noise-canceling headphones. The drone of the airplane engine can be irritating, so invest in noise-canceling headphones or ear plugs.

Dress comfortably. Make sure you dress in something comfortable that does not squeeze at the waist when you sit down and will be versatile, depending on the weather and temperature in the plane. If you tend to get cold easily, you may want to pack a light jacket in your carry-on bag since planes tend to be cooler. If you wear contacts, you may want to wear your glasses for the flight since the air conditioning on the plane will dry out your contacts and make you uncomfortable.

Use anti-nausea precautions if you get air sickness. If you suspect you may feel nauseated on the plane (some people experience air sickness because of the air pressure changes, anxiety or turbulence), you may want to wear a sea band (a bracelet with a bead that presses gently on a pressure point on your wrist, available at drug stores) or take anti-nausea medication 30 minutes before you board the plane.

Once on the plane
Once you're on the plane, try these suggestions for a more comfortable flight:

Remember to stretch. Once the seatbelt sign is off, feel free to get up and stretch or walk the aisle of the plane as needed, especially if you have problems with back pain.

Drink water. Flying is very dehydrating, so ask the stewardess for as much water as you need to remain hydrated. Most flights offer a drink, but don't be afraid to ask for extra if you feel any signs of dehydration (such as feeling thirsty, getting a headache or becoming drowsy).

Take measures to relieve ear pressure pain. There are several ways you can reduce ear pain due to air pressure changes in the cabin. You can chew gum (the swallowing and chewing motions will help your ears pop), invest in ear plugs designed to help your ears with changing air pressure (these also muffle the drone of the plane engine, so they do double duty) or yawn.

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