Business Travel 101: Flight Comfort (Revisited)

a green scarf on a mannequinBusiness 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.

For some people, sitting in a cramped, crowded airplane feels the same as sitting in their office. They are comfortable, can get work done, and reach their destination feeling refreshed and ready-to-go. I am not those people. I have to work at feeling comfortable on a plane, sometimes have to talk myself into working, and more often than I’d like, I arrive feeling exhausted and frazzled. There are tricks I’ve picked up on over the years to make the whole flying process easier, and I hope they help you too.

  • Pick your seat online. If it’s possible to pick your seat before you check in, you have a better chance of avoiding the dreaded (and uncomfortable) middle seat. For Southwest, make sure you check in as close to 24 hours before your flight as possible to give yourself an earlier boarding number (or pay the extra $10 for Early Bird check in).
  • Wear comfortable, wrinkle resistant clothes. The easiest way to feel good during travel: comfortable clothes.  This is not the time for tight-around-the-midsection pants or a movement-restricting shirt. Make sure that you feel good sitting for long periods of time in whatever you wear. I prefer slacks with a bit of stretch in them and pullover blouses, not button downs, as well as flats.
  • Stay hydrated. This is important for comfort, health, and looking good. Drink at least 8 oz of water for every hour you are flying. This will keep you from getting dehydrated, which in turn keeps you feeling more alert and prevents your skin from drying out.
  • Bring a pashmina. I know I talk about the wonders of the pashmina often, but when you are freezing on your next flight you will be really glad you brought one. This time of year you can use it as a blanket while flying and then as a scarf once you arrive. It can also work as a pillow if you have a window seat. Hooray multi-taskers! (Pictured: the lovely cashmere blend wrap from Nordstrom)
  • Keep your skin hydrated. I always keep lip balm with me when I fly because my lips get super dry. A friend of mine always keeps lotion with her because her hands get really dry. If you tend toward dry, you will feel much better if you can address these issues before they become problems.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. Shoes that are too tight can become painful during flights. A few years ago I was flying home from California, and because I was running late to the airport didn’t get to change into my softer, more flexible shoes. That flight was miserable–my feet were cold, sore, and hurt a LOT. My advice is to wear shoes that are flexible, breathable, and even a little bit loose.
  • Bring entertainment. Whether it’s work, a book, music, knitting, or something else—you will be happier if you have something to do. If your flight is bumpy and the person next to you is snoring, it’s much easier to block out the annoyance if you are involved in an activity.
  • Snacks! It’s always a good idea to carry something to eat. You never know when you’ll be stuck on a tarmac for hours with no food, or when your flight will be delayed and you won’t have time to grab dinner in the airport during your layover. Trust me, a granola bar, piece of fruit, or some nuts won’t take up much room but could save your trip.

Readers, any other tips for being comfortable on the plane?

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  1. Depending on if you are a woman, I always throw a pair of socks in my bag too in case I have dress shoes on so my feet don’t freeze.

  2. Your suggestions are spot on. I would add that I generally wear contacts, but always bring my glasses for long flights.

  3. My must have for flight days is my Dansko Clogs……I can be on my feet for twelve hours in them and still be comfy. Look Great with dress pants and I can wear a pair of socks with them so I don’t get cold feet. Another must is either knitting or crocheting. I love to read while on planes but somtimes get air sick. So another must is prescription nausea medicine.

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