How to Survive Long Flights: 12 Tips to Help You Keep Your Sanity on Long Hauls

There are many great destinations around the world to see, but some require a long flight in order to get there.  Here are a few ways to help you to not go crazy on that long flight.

1)   Pack a spare comfy outfit.  While wearing comfortable clothes on a flight is a given, even your most comfortable outfit may become uncomfortable after an extended period of time.  Pack an extra outfit in your suitcase that you can change into should the clothing you wore onto the plane become uncomfortable.  Even if you don’t need it for the flight, you can change into it upon landing to help you feel fresh or have a backup in case your checked luggage gets lost.  Also, be sure to wear comfortable shoes that can be easily removed.

2)   Bring good headphones (and two pairs).  Many pairs of headphones will start to hurt your ears after extended wear.  Bring a set of a different kind to relieve your aching ears.  Invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones for extra peace and quiet.

3)   Choose your seat cautiously.  If you typically choose aisle or window seats, think very carefully about where you should sit on a long flight.  Sit in the aisle and you may have to deal with people getting up and down often and may struggle to sleep in an upright position.  However, choose to sit by the window and you may get trapped in your seat by those sitting next to you.  Check if there are exit row seats available as they allow a little extra leg room.

SeatGuru shows you the optimal seat on your flight

SeatGuru shows you the optimal seat on your flight

Check out www.seatguru.com to find the best seat on every flight. It will show you the layout of your plane with each seat ranging from red (bad) to green (good seat). It will also show you the amenities available on the plane.

4)   Bring a pillow and blanket.  Nothing makes your cozier than your own pillow and blanket.  Check out the Lug Nap Sac I wrote about in “Travel Accessories We Can’t Go Without”.

Lug Nap Sac Travel Blanket & Pillow

Lug Nap Sac Travel Blanket & Pillow

5)   Leave the extra carry-on bag behind.  While it may be tempting to pack two carry-on bags, you will regret it when you want to stretch out your feet.  Try to keep your luggage to what will fit in the overhead.

6)   Bring food and water.  There is nothing worse than being on a long flight when all the meal options are terrible.  Prepare like the airline will not serve you any food instead of banking on eating what they serve or waiting for a flight attendant to bring you a drink.

Check www.airlinemeals.net for what you can expect to eat on your flight.

7)   Continue your daily routine.  If you wash your face, brush your teeth, etc. every morning and evening, bring the items you need to continue this regime.  Not only will it give you something to do for 5 minutes and a reason to get up; but it will help your body register the end of the day/start of a new one.  It may sound strange, but changing into sweat pants, and preparing like I am going to bed helps me relax and actually get some sleep on a long flight.

8)    Prepare for the dry air.  Recycled cabin air gets very dry.  Make sure to drink lots of water to keep your body hydrated to avoid extreme jet lag.  Make sure to pack eye drops, lotion, and chapstick to protect your skin from being in dry conditions for an extended period of time.

9)   Walk around regularly.  Get up at least every few hours and walk around just to get your blood flowing.  If you sit for an extended period it can cause cramps and other health risks.  Some travelers like to wear compression socks on long flights to increase the blood circulation in their legs.

10)   Bring back support.  If you often experience back pain (or even if you don’t) bring some form of back support to keep your body from aching upon your arrival.  Bring a lumbar support pillow to allow extra support for your back.

Adjust-Air Portable Lumbar Support

Adjust-Air Portable Lumbar Support

11)   Prepare entertainment for 1 ½  times longer than the flight.  If you have a 12 hour flight, don’t bring only a book that will take you 13 hours to read.  You are bound to either get bored with it or finish it faster than you expect.  When you are bored and in a contained space, it is hard to keep yourself focused.  Bring options to choose from to keep you entertained (movies, games, magazines, books, work, etc.).

12)   Take airborne before you go and/or while you are in the air.  A long flight can do a lot of damage to your body and immune system. Take airborne and other vitamin and mineral packed supplements to make up for this damage.  There is nothing worse than getting sick right when you arrive at your destination.

8 Things You Probably Are Not Packing For Your Trip

While everyone knows to pack clothing and toiletries, here are some items you may not think of and some that you may not pack because you don’t think you will need them.

1. Pillowcase:  I have stayed in a lot of hotels, many of which I did not want to touch the bed covers let alone rest my head on their pillow.  Packing a pillowcase lets you keep your peace of mind while you sleep in a strange place whether you’re staying in a sketchy hostel or the Four Seasons.

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1. Pillowcase (pillow not included)

2. Food you can’t get where you are going.  One of my travel companions dips everything in ranch dressing before she eats it.  She freaked when she realized ranch is almost impossible to find in Europe and what you can get is nothing like what she was used to.  If you don’t go a week without it at home, assume you won’t be able to find it in your destination and take some.

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2. Condiments and items you intake daily

3. Adaptors. If you are going to a country where the outlets are different, do not forget to pack an adaptor.  While hotels provide most appliances (such as blow dryers) you are still likely to need an adaptor for something.  It is almost impossible to find adaptors once you reach your destination since all those sold in local stores are to adapt the local plug to a foreign one instead of the other way around.

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3. Adaptors

4. Space bags.  In a previous post, I mentioned that I could not stand travel Space Bags, and that I do not believe they work.  While this opinion stands, there is one excellent alternative use for them that everyone should consider.  Space Bags are a great option to store smelly, wet, or dirty clothes in when traveling, because they are created to seal in everything and store larger amounts of clothing than a Ziploc bag.  Whether your clothing smells like cigarette smoke or is covered in mud from a hike, storing them in a Space Bag keeps them from rubbing off on your other clothing.

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4. Space Bags for storing dirty clothing

5. GPS Tracker. For less than $100, you can buy a GPS tracking unit to store in your checked bag.  If your bag gets stolen or never makes it on the plane, you can check where the GPS system is and find your bag once again. For example, the Mini Real Time Tracker, shown below, uses a SIM card to send its current coordinates to your phone.

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5. GPS Tracker

6. Spare credit card, medicine, and ID. Often travelers are told to keep these items safely in their carry-ons during trips.  While this is sound advice, you should keep a spare of everything you can’t live without in your suitcase. This way if your wallet, purse, or bag get stolen on your trip you can have a backup.

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6. Spare necessities

7.  Spare outfit for the opposite climate you are traveling to.  If you are traveling to Sweden, it is safe to bet you will not be needing shorts and a tank top.  However, the place you are staying may over-compensate for the cold by turning the heat much higher than comfortable.  The same can be said for very warm climates.  Pack just one outfit in-case you are stuck in the opposite temperatures you prepared for.

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7. Spare outfit opposite of destination climate

8. Pharmaceutical needs. On a trip to Europe, I had a cold and did not take any medicie with me.  I tried to find some Sudafed but could not find anything similar to this common medicine even with the pharmacist’s help.  Drug products vary greatly from country to country and even region to region, so bring anything you may need with you.

Though rarely mentioned in travel blogs (probably due to the taboo nature of the topic) the same can be said about products such as tampons and condoms.  The U.S. has very different health standards than many other countries, so stick with what you know to be safe and pack safe and reliable drugstore products from home.

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8. Drugstore products of all kinds

9 Things You Are Probably Forgetting to Pack in Your Carry-on

Packing for a trip can be a daunting task.  There are probably a number of things that you will wish you had packed once you take off, here is a list of some of the most common things you’ll wish you had remembered to pack in your carry-on.

1)      Eye Drops– The air in planes is very dry.  Especially if you plan to sleep on the flight, you will want to pack some eye drops to put the moisture back in your eyes when you wake up.

2)      Socks– I like to be as comfortable as possible when I fly.  Often I want to take my shoes off, but don’t want to freak other passengers out by sitting in my seat barefoot.  If you pack a pair of neutral socks no one will notice you getting comfortable and your toes will stay warm.

3)      Layers of clothing– Never underestimate how cold airplanes will be.  If you are going to a tropical location, you will probably want to wear shorts and a tank top.  Even if you are not, bring multiple layers to accommodate to the cabin temperature.

4)      Billow– Okay, so you can take a little pillow and blanket, but a billow (a blanket that is stored as a pillow) is more fun.  If it is cold on your flight or you just want to snuggle up, you are going to want to bring a pillow and blanket.

5)      Water and Snacks– Relying on the plane food is a terrible choice.  When you get bored, you typically get hungry, so even if you don’t think you will use it make sure to pack drinks and a snack to tide you over.

6)      Tylenol or other painkillers– Whether you experience muscle pain, back problems, headaches from the cabin pressure, or any other issue, you will be glad you packed a painkiller for a flight.

7)      Immune System Booster- Planes are known as breeding grounds for sicknesses, take Airborne or some form of vitamin C to protect yourself as much as possible from getting sick.

8)      Everything you will need if your luggage gets lost- many people only pack the things they foresee needing on the actual flight, but if your bag gets lost you are going to want things that cannot easily be obtained at your location.  Make sure you carry-on your prescriptions, phone charger, a change of clothes, a toothbrush, and anything else you wouldn’t be able to make it two days without.

9)      Hotel and transit directions in paper form- On a trip to Spain, I made the mistake of saving the address and phone number of the people I was staying with on my Iphone and Laptop.  When I arrived, both devices had died and I was without any way of locating where I needed to go.  Make sure you have exactly what you need to get to your final destination on a piece of paper or something that cannot go out of power.

If you think there is anything we are forgetting, let us know below!

Travel smarter, not harder friends.

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7 Tips to make the most of your carry-on

With stringent luggage rules, you aren’t left with much room to pack clothing and other goods in your carry-on.  Here are some suggestions to help you make the most of that space.

  1. Wear layers of clothing on the flight.  A great way to get some extra outfits in for your trip is to wear layers of clothing.  Throw an extra plastic bag or reusable shopping bag in your suitcase to put the extra clothes in later.  Always wear your bulkiest shoes and fluffiest sweater or jacket since they won’t condense well.
  2. Pack small objects such as socks and underwear in your shoes. If it is small enough to fit in something, put it there.
  3. Pack your biggest and least moldable objects first, then squeeze softer objects around those items. Pack shoes, bags of toiletries, and anything else that cannot be forced into an odd shape first, then bend your t-shirts and pajamas around them.
  4. If you don’t need it, leave it.  Europeans are known for wearing the same outfit for days in a row, no one is going to notice if you are wearing the same pair of jeans.  Trust me.
  5. Pack dark clothes and plain clothing. If you pack dark jeans and plain clothing, your friends are much less likely to notice you wearing the same shirt in all 300 photos you upload.
  6. Pack accessories. A great way to trick people in to thinking you are wearing a different outfit is by changing something simple like a scarf.  Especially in winter months, focus on packing more of what people will actually see than shirts that will end up hidden under your coat.
  7. Spacebags are a lie, and piss all fellow travelers off. One girl I have traveled with a few times carries the travel version of spacebags with her for short trips.  I guarantee I fit 3x more clothing in my backpack than she did, the hard plastic bags do not optimize space in any way.  Plus they are loud and take way longer to pack in than just rolling your clothing. The only thing spacebags are truly useful for is pillows or other incredibly fluffy items with tons of excess air in them.

Travel smarter, not harder friends.

How to Fly Successfully on Budget Airlines

How to Successfully Fly on Budget Airlines

Taking a budget airline flight can be very cost effective, but only if you can successfully avoid all the hidden fees and traps.  Navigating the regulations of budget airlines, such as Ryanair, Wizzair, and EasyJet, is similar to trying to understand the rules of the Federal Tax Code.  Here are a few tips to help you travel with ease and maximize the little space you have.

1)      Location, Location, Location.  Budget airlines can offer the crazy low prices they do for multiple reasons; one of these is by offering flights out of tiny airports that don’t get the traffic of the mainstream ones.  One example of this is The Paris/Beauvais airport which Ryanair regularly flies out of.  This airport is not really located in Paris, but in the neighboring city of Beauvais over an hour’s drive away from the heart of the city. Airports outside main cities require special travel arrangements and take more time.  In the Paris example, you should arrive at a bus stop to the airport over 3 hours before your flight at a cost of 15 Euro.  Don’t rule out these tiny airports right away, but remember to factor in the added cost of getting to them and the extra travel time to make sure the plane ticket is still a steal.

Map of the Paris/Beauvais airport in relation to Paris

2)      Always pre-print your boarding pass.  Some budget airlines may charge up to 60 Euro to print your boarding pass at the airport if you do not print it before hand.  Even worse, the ticket may not be available to print more than 24 hours before your flight and 4 hours or less before the flight.   Be sure to check the time restrictions to print off your ticket and research a place to print the ticket within that timeframe to avoid paying an extremely hefty fee.

3)      Choose your suitcase wisely. Budget airlines love to pick out travelers with baggage that is outside of the specified size to make them pay for breaking the luggage guidelines. Pack in a backpack or some form of bag that you carry on your person instead of a rolling bag.  Every time I witnessed someone get stopped by the “baggage police” (which happens very often), it was someone using a rolling suitcase.  They love to make everyone with a wheeling carry on try to fit it in the little metal cage that is the measurements of the restrictions.  Can’t get it in? Pay a large fee.  Our backpacks were usually larger than these rolling bags, but never got questioned.

Carrying a wheely bag is like carrying a giant target, just avoid it.