Business Travel 101: Long Flight Comfort (Revisited)

Business Travel 101 is a series from a couple of years ago about making that first business trip as easy and successful as possible. I’ve re-tooled the series, and now it’s more comprehensive than ever! It covers everything a new business traveler needs to know for that initial trip, including essential tips for packing, security, safety, etiquette, and comfort.

While it’s critical to be comfortable on any flight you take, long flights are a special case. Before my first trip to Manila a couple of years ago, I was anxious for weeks about the 26 hours of travel time. I bought all kinds of random stuff that I hoped would make the flight easier for me, but most of it wasn’t necessary. Fancy organizers and seat cushions sound cool, but in the end common sense ruled the day. (Of course, getting upgraded doesn’t hurt either!) For later trips, I brought way less stuff and did just fine. The tips below are a compilation of knowledge gained by me, my coworkers, friends, and family, and will help you prepare for that trans-Pac flight.

  • Dress comfortably. This may be the most important thing of all. The first time I flew to Manila, I wore yoga pants and a long sleeved t-shirt. Maybe not the most fashionable, but I sure was comfy! If you’re trying to look a little more stylish, try leggings, a tunic or jersey dress, cardigan, and comfy flats. This way you will look great when you get off the plane but feel like you’re wearing PJs. I also highly recommend compression socks. It will make you more comfortable, keep your ankles from swelling, and reduce your risk of deep-vein thrombosis. (Here is a more detailed post about what to wear.)
  • Bring the things you need to sleep. For me, nothing is more frustrating than being exhausted on a plane and not able to sleep. Plus, sleeping on the plane allows you to wake up refreshed, or at least less zombie like, when you get to your destination. I need a pillow, blanket or pashmina, eyemask, earplugs (or earbuds), and a Tylenol PM taken a half hour before I want to be asleep. Something that works well for me is to play my White Noise app through my headphones. Puts me right to sleep! (Check out my recommendations for getting your best sleep while flying.)
  • Beauty necessities. There are a few toiletry items you can bring that can make the difference between your skin feeling like sandpaper or, well, like skin when you land. I recommend heavy lip balm (I love Burt’s Bees), hydrating mist, facial moisturizer, hand lotion, and of course toothpaste and a toothbrush. I also bring facial wipes (like these great Seventh Generation lavender ones), deodorant, and makeup. Don’t forget that the liquids have to go in a ziplock bag to go through security.
  • Entertain yourself. Please. Whether you enjoy reading, listening to books, watching movies, playing games, knitting, etc., bring stuff to entertain you during the flight and during the layovers. Many airplanes have movies, but you may not like what’s showing or feel like watching one. Know yourself, and bring what you need.
  • Snacks, snacks, snacks. Buy a bottle of water at the airport, and have a few snacks on hand such as almonds, bars, trail mix, whatever. This way if the flight attendants haven’t made it to you and you’re about to pass out from hunger, you have something to tide you over.

My long flight packing list is pretty extensive, but when I am stuck on a plane for 14 hours I would rather have too much than too little.

Readers, what are your best tips for being comfortable during a super long flight?

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Comments

  1. The TravelRest inflatable pillow works better for me than the standard “horseshoe collar” everyone else uses.

    YMMV.

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