It’s hot. It’s cold. It’s stuffy. My knees hurt. There’s no space. And what is that smell? Is it healthy for a baby to cry this long? Wait, how did they even get that food on a plane? If you have recently taken a long flight, this all probably sounds hauntingly familiar. Unless, of course, you rank high on the frequent-flyer totem pole and are able to fly business class regularly. But for the most of us, coach flights are really the only affordable and realistic option. This leaves us with one solution: learn how to adapt to flights that are becoming increasingly cramped and uncomfortable.

Choose Your Seat Wisely

Choosing your seat offers huge advantages. While some flights do not offer customers this option to pick the exact seat they want, many of the major airlines do. Take advantage of this and opt for a spot that will maximize comfort. For most people, this means dodging seats near the toilets, avoiding being sandwiched in between two other seats, and choosing an exit-row seat when available.

Eat Before Leaving

This tip gets mixed reviews, and ultimately you should experiment with your own body to determine what works best for you. Some research shows that by fasting before a long-haul flight, you can help ease jet lag. Specifically, by fasting for around 16 hours before boarding a plane, you can engage a part of your brain that makes it easier to adjust to a new time zone. However, on the other hand, some people suggest eating a meal before leaving home. They see this as a move that helps ease your mind, provide nutrition, and, well, who knows exactly when your next meal will be?

A note about eating while in the air: experts suggest that on long flights, eating light snacks is better for your body while it’s trying to adjust. Instead of eating meats and fatty proteins, they suggest eating carb-rich foods. Things like whole grain bread and crackers are good because they induce the secretion of insulin, which makes it easier for bodies to adjust to travel and jet lag.

Bring Entertainment

Entertainment is the tried-and-true way to pass the time. Whether it be music, books, movies, shows, podcasts, writing, coloring, or filling out crossword puzzles, having an enjoyable form of entertainment to help pass the time can make all the difference on a long, uncomfortable flight. Also, don’t forget to bring at least one type of non-electronic entertainment. This will give you something to do when all your electronics need to be stowed away and in the event that something goes wrong with your electronics.

Get A Snack

Sometimes the small bag of peanuts and cup of soda doesn’t always cut it. Pack a snack to help make the flight more enjoyable. Bringing your favorite snack, say, a chocolate bar, for example, can help brighten up the journey and calm any nerves. For most airports, as long as your snack is wrapped or sealed and non-liquid, you should be fine getting through security.

Dress For Comfort And Warmth

Flights are notoriously chilly. Regardless of the temperature at your departure point, be prepared to stay warm. On top of this, dress for comfort as well. Wearing comfortable pants and a long-sleeve shirt is a great choice because this will allow you to roll up your sleeves if it gets too hot.

Mind Your Body

A common misconception is that cabin air pressure is similar to the air pressure we experience at sea level. This, however, is not the case. Generally, cabin altitude hovers between the range of 5,900 – 7,800 feet. This is the size of a small mountain, and depending on what you are used to, this can mean less oxygen. Low humidity can also strain your nose, throat, skin, and eyes. If you often experience a problem when flying, do what you can to prepare for your flight. If you occasionally need an inhaler, for example, don’t forget to keep this in easy reach when on the plane.

Sleep

If you are one of the people who can fall asleep within minutes of setting your head down on the pillow or before your flight takes off, congratulations. You are one of the lucky ones. This isn’t the case for most of us. if you are one of the 70 million Americans who suffer from a sleep disorder, there may be some steps you can take to improve your chance of sleeping through a long flight. Below are some tips for improving your chance of catching some shut-eye on a flight:

  • Adjust sleep habits to slowly reflect what it will be like at your destination.
  • Get noise-canceling headphones to get the quiet you need to drift off to sleepytown.
  • Wear an eye mask to block out light and distractions.
  • Dress comfortably to stay warm and relaxed.

Although this may seem like a lot of advice, traveling thousands of miles in a cramped, pressurized metal tube is quite a feat. Experiment with these tips and do what you can to improve the comfort and magic of traveling.

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