It’s something that most budget travellers suffer from: a love/hate relationship with flying.
On the one hand, flights get us to exciting places we’ve never been before, offering us new areas to explore and a choice of destinations at our fingertips.
But let’s be real here. Flying is not fun. In fact, it could be categorised as one of the most unenjoyable experiences we put ourselves through.
Seriously, how many times have we walked through the business class section, death-staring those rich businessmen for their seats that actually recline and their delicious looking in-flight meals, while we make our way back to the overcrowded, understaffed, stuffy, dark metal coffin that is cattle class?
Budget travellers (such as myself) can’t afford the luxury of anything other than economy, so we’ve got to do everything can to make the best of this horribly uncomfortable experience. Here are my travel hacks for having the most comfortable flight ever!
Hacks for some cattle-class comfort
1. Choose your seats wisely. For long-haul flights, certain aircrafts will have a few rows of seats at back of the plane that have extra room on the window seat (check out the last 3 rows of a 747-400). If you get the seats at the very back, you’ll also have the added benefit of not having a toddler kicking the back of your seat for the duration of the flight, and you don’t have to ask two people to move every time nature calls.
2. Travel with someone you can spread out on (if possible). Make sure you pick seats when you book or via online check-in so that you’re seated together.
3. Order special meals to get your food first. I request vegetarian meals on full service airlines. It’s a great feeling when you get your meal comes out first, and everyone around you stares with envy while they wait another 15 minutes for their own meals.
4. Dress comfortably, within reason. You’ll look like an idiot walking through the airport in your pjs, but there are ways you can dress somewhat classily and still be comfortable too. Check out this rad infographic by Girl vs Globe on how to dress for a flight.
5. Place a pillow behind your lower back. Ergonomics are basically forgotten by airlines, who have so kindly shaped their seat to curve my back in a way that’s sure to have me develop Scoliosis. Back pain can be lessened by placing a pillow (which are usually provided unless you’re flying with a budget airline) behind your lower back.
Special meals make meal time fun
Hacks for getting sleep
6. Use your normal method of getting to sleep, whether it be hot chocolate, herbal sleeping pills, a shot of whiskey, or watching a doco. For me, a glass of red wine and reading a book with my head resting against something will have me out like a light.
7. Block out noise and light with ear plugs and an eye mask. These two items make it feel as though you’re just in a dark room instead of a crowded, noisy aeroplane.
8. Neck pillows. Need I say more? I know these look incredibly dorky and take up precious bag space, but you can get inflatable ones, allowing you to hide your dorkiness from view until the last minute. These pillows prevent your neck from sitting in uncomfortable angles and allow you to sleep upright.
9. Get a lounge pass or hotel room and have a shower and a massage during a stopover on a long-haul flight. It might seem like an unnecessary expense, but it works wonders for making you sleep better on the second leg of the flight. My friend Roxanna swears by this method!
Travelling as a couple has its benefits
Hacks for preventing jet lag
10. Start adjusting your body clock a day before you depart. By staying up late or going to bed early, the day before, that jump between time zones will be slightly less traumatising.
11. Stay hydrated. The conditioned air in the aircraft cabin is incredibly dry, and dehydration will make your body feel worse after landing. Make a mental note to accept water every time it’s offered to you throughout the flight.
12. Don’t give in to tiredness when you arrive. Stay up as late as you can before your normal bedtime. Going to bed too early or taking a long nap during the day will just stuff up your sleeping pattern even more!