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It’s safe to say that for most people, flying is the least fun part of any trip. And the longer the flight, the less enjoyable it is, especially for those of us unlucky enough to be seated in coach. The seats are cramped, the food is mediocre, and chances are there’s a screaming baby sitting next to you. How do you survive without going insane? Pack the following items in your carry-on and you might stand a chance of arriving at your destination not feeling like a zombie.
Headphones, iPod, Laptop, DVD Player
While many international carriers now offer free in-flight entertainment, many still do not, especially on their older model planes. Unless you know for certain your flight has it, it’s best to bring your own distractions. Pass the time watching your favorite DVDs on a player or on your laptop, or dose off to sleep to your favorite tunes, which will also help drown out noise of the people around you.
Neck Pillow, Blanket, Ear Plugs and Eye Mask
To keep jet lag at bay, try to get some sleep on the plane. Most airlines stock a limited number of blankets and pillows (though they sometimes run out), but they often aren’t comfortable and they may smell funny. Bring a neck pillow – it may look odd, but it will help you sleep – and your own soft blanket, cover your eyes with a mask, and drown out sounds with ear plugs, and you should be nodding off to dreamland in no time. You’ll arrive at your destination rested, refreshed, and ready to explore.
Books and Magazines
Bring your favorite travel magazines or a can’t-put-it-down novel and the time between boarding and bedtime will pass quicker than you realize. Keep the guidebook for your destination handy so that, in the morning, you can excite yourself and shake off any remaining sleepiness by reading about the destination you’ll soon be reaching. You can also do some last-minute brushing up on the local language.
Water Bottle and Snacks
Plane food is notoriously bland. It’s also usually loaded in sodium, which can contribute to feeling bloated and sluggish upon landing. Skip the free meal and instead nibble on healthy snacks that are a mix of whole carbohydrates and protein and are low in sodium. Don’t rely on the flight attendant to keep you hydrated. Bring your own large water bottle on board and drink from it often. Drinking a few glasses of wine may be tempting as you figure it will help you relax and fall asleep, but try to avoid it. Alcohol will only increase your dehydration. No one wants to arrive hungover for the first day of their vacation.
The best way to make the time pass quickly, and to ward off jet lag, is to sleep as much as possible while en route to your destination. If you have trouble falling asleep naturally, talk to your doctor about a sleep aid. Some people have luck with Benadryl or Tylenol PM. Just be sure you try it out several times at home so you know exactly how your body will react before you take it on the plane, and follow your doctor’s orders to the letter. Don’t mix it with alcohol and don’t take it until the plane has been in the air awhile and it is time to go to bed.
Toiletry Kit and Change of Clothes
After a long flight in a confined space, breathing recycled air and sleeping in your clothes, you can’t help but feel a little gross upon landing. Bring an extra set of clothes on board and change shortly before landing. Stock toothpaste, face wash, minimal makeup and contacts (if you wear them) in your carry-on. About 45 minutes before landing, head to the restroom to freshen up and change. By the time you land, you’ll feel like a new person and be ready to dive right in to your destination.