I flew first class one time in my life. I sacrificed a seat on a flight because it was overbooked (sarcastic: thanks, Delta!), and was upgraded on a flight I took later that day (non-sarcastic: thanks, Delta!).
It was a glorious experience. The flight attendant hung my jacket up for me, I could stretch out my legs completely, there were endless snacks and drink options, the seats were heavenly, and I received more TLC than I had on any flight before. I soaked it up, because I knew that it would possibly be one of the only times in my life I’d fly first class.
So far, I’ve been right.
Because money greatly affects the type of travel I do, you’ll find me in coach. That one flight in first class didn’t spoil me for life, and I don’t dread hopping on a flight with an economy seat–I do it all the time with no complaints.
But I’m not gonna lie: those long flights directly behind a crying infant and squeezed between a sneezing passenger to my left and the curved wall of the airplane to my right can suck sometimes. Even on the short flights, it can be tough. Luckily, there are a lot of things you can do to make your experience flying (coach or otherwise) even better. Here are some of my tips, and all of these can all be done before you step foot at the airport!
* Stay healthy.
A week before your departure, make sure to drink plenty of water daily. Overall, it’s a great habit to have, but it will especially be helpful in keeping you alert and in aiding with jet-lag. I keep a large glass on my desk and keep refilling it throughout my day. Also, take a Vitamin C supplement each day prior to the flight, as a preventative measure. Trust me: traveling is the absolute worst time to come down with the plague!
* Work out.
This is another excellent suggestion for everyday that makes a huge difference when traveling. The day before my flight, I get a good workout in–usually a run, but sometimes a hike or a bike ride. It’s helpful to exhaust myself a little, relieve the stress of packing, and it guarantees that I’ll board the plane and appreciate my down-time instead of feeling trapped.
* Check in early.
I don’t completely love the concept of early check-in (What happens if I check in but somehow miss my flight? Huh? Huh?! RIDDLE ME THAT.), but I suppose I’m not going to get a better seat if I try to defy the airline rules at this point. I prefer window seats, but if you’re looking for more legroom, try an aisle and/or emergency exit row seat. You know what’s most comfortable for you, so check in and claim it as soon as you can.
* Bring some snacks.
Almonds, fresh fruit, or a PB&J sandwich are far better options than airport or airline food. Also, if you’re a vegetarian like me, you’ll have slim pickin’s. When I travel I especially crave carb-filled items and sweet things, so I like to pre-pack some sandwiches and fruit leather strips.
* Dress comfortably and bring layers.
You don’t have to wear a broken-in velour track suit, but wear something that makes you feel comfortable. If that means a leggings, go for it. If that means jeans, then go for it. I’m a personal fan of warm tights and a skirt. Also make sure you plan for any temperature. Planes tend to be a little cold for me, so I always make sure to wear my coat through security and I opt for boots instead of sandals. If you end up having layers you don’t need, you can always stuff them under the seat in front of you or use them as a pillow.
* Remember a few helpful items.
There are a few things I never fly without.
1) Lip balm–you’re going to want it when traveling anyway, so make sure it’s accessible.
2) Hand sanitizer–because GERMS.
3) Oil absorbing face wipes–my face is grease city after even the shortest flight. Instead of piling on makeup after flying, I use one of these puppies and I’m set.
4) An eye mask, neck pillow, and/or earplugs–if I’m planning on getting any sleep, I may as well make it as peaceful as possible.
5) Mints–they’re a nice post-flight refresher.
* Plan your activities.
Charge your iPad, arrange a cool playlist, download some new games on your phone, pack a book, or buy a magazine at the airport…whatever it is that will keep you occupied and happy. If I have some good tunes to listen to, I could fly halfway around the world and back and I’d be so content you may not hear a peep from me. It’s a cliche, but it’s true: times flies when you’re having fun. So plan to have as much fun as you can!
What other ways do you prepare for a flight?