I have been on my fair share of long haul flights, the longest being from New York City to Beijing, it was around 15 hours. At the moment, I thought I might go crazy. I was in the middle seat, stuck between my friend and a stranger. I couldn’t sleep (even though I took melatonin supplements beforehand) because I can never sleep on the flight on my way to my destination (I am okay on the way back home, I can usually sleep for hours). Since then, I have changed the way I look at long haul flights. Read on for some tips that have worked for me:
Choose an aisle seat
I can not think of a strong enough benefit for picking the window seat (never mind the middle one) over the aisle seat . Maybe it’s because I’m short, but I am very uncomfortable when leaning against the window. Also, I never look out the window – it is very boring for 95% of the flight, but I will admit I was jealous of the people in the window seat when flying over the Italian Alps.
For me, an aisle seat is the most comfortable option. Even if it means that I will be separated from my travel partner, I would rather have a comfortable flight – we spend most of the flight in silence anyway. If I am not assigned an aisle seat, I will usually talk to the gate agent to see if it can be changed.
In an aisle seat you can 1) stretch out your legs, 2) get up to go to the bathroom without bothering your neighbors, 3) have a bit more space, this is particularly important for me as I am plus-sized and do not like to invade other people’s spaces.
Some people don’t like that you have to get up when your neighbors want to use the bathroom, but it is not something that happens very often and I use the opportunity to stretch out, which brings me to my next point…
Do not be afraid to stand up and walk around the plane. Sometimes, I go to the back of the plane (near the kitchen) and just stand around a bit, as it gets tiring when you have been sitting in the same spot for hours on end.
It is also important to exercise to prevent deep-vein trombosis due to long periods of inactivity.
Wear Comfortable Clothes
I usually choose to travel in leggings or in a dress with tights underneath. There is nothing more uncomfortable than tight jeans or feeling restricted because your jacket is a bit small on you and you can’t move your arms.
Do Not Try to Force Sleep
If I am not feeling sleepy, I try not to force it. I have spent hours trying to sleep, looking at the clock every couple of minutes. This just causes my frustration to keep building up. Instead, what I do is just play a couple of movies, read a book, or perhaps play a mobile game. You will notice that time passes by quicker when you don’t try to force yourself to go to sleep.
It’s All in Your Head
I think that my biggest source of discomfort is the anxiety I feel when I look at the clock and see that there are still hours to go before we can get off the plane. Now, I try to go with the mindset that it will eventually be over and that the new and awesome experiences I will be having at my destination are more than worth going through a couple of painfully long hours. A positive mindset goes a long way.
What are your trips for long haul flights? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!