By Damilola Faustino
Sitting still on a jet for an 11, 14, or even 16-hour flight can be very stressful. Just like running a marathon, it’s something you have to train and plan for. It’s also kind of like spending the day in the desert, miles from civilization, because although there are a few things your flight attendant will bring you if needed, it’s not like you can pop down to the corner store for anything you forgot to bring. You’ll mostly be left to survive using your wits and your carry-on bag. So it pays to be prepared.
Assemble your life support system
There are lots of must-have items for your carry-on bag, but seriously, what you put in that bag is what you have to keep you comfortable, sane, and alive for the next half-day or more. You don’t want to be stuck halfway through a 13-hour flight without a product or medication that you normally rely on. Most importantly, pack extras of any prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs you might need.
Ensure you have the right kind of headphones and adapters
If you have a late model iPhone, you probably carry lightning plug earbuds that won’t work on the headphone jack in your seat, making the in-flight movie a disappointingly silent experience. Same goes for Bluetooth headphones. Some airlines still hand out headphones, but not all. To be safe, pack a pair of earbuds with the old plug, or a Bluetooth transmitter that can plug into the plane’s jack.
Figure out if you can get Wi-Fi
Some airlines offer free Wi-Fi, others offer it for a fee, and still. Whatever the case may be, you should make provision for your own Wi-Fi so that you won’t feel bored especially if there is no free internet.
Make a work plan
If you plan to work on the flight, download any documents you might need since you can’t count on that in-flight internet. Make sure your laptop is fully charged, and bring an extra battery pack or a portable charger. If you use a wireless mouse, pack extra batteries for it. If your work is confidential in nature, a laptop privacy screen may be necessary.
Make a backup entertainment plan
Don’t just assume you will watch movies provided by the airline. First, your plane might not even be equipped with personal screens. Second, the entertainment system or Wi-Fi may fail. Third, the available movies might not appeal to you. Download TV episodes or a movie onto your laptop, tablet, or phone. If you have a Netflix subscription, you can download some shows and movies there. You can also download books and audiobooks. Bring a portable battery pack for the device you’ll be using for entertainment.
Adorn the most comfortable outfit
Unless you’re in a premium class, you probably don’t want to tie up the bathroom long enough to change into pajamas during the flight or you might not be time enough to perform the contortions required to change in such a tiny space. Make sure not to wear anything that might slip or ride up if you fall asleep. This is particularly important if you’re lucky enough to be flying in a premium cabin where you can lie down.
Test anything you will use in-flight
When you’re stuck in a tube in the sky with no urgent care for 5,000 miles, it’s a terrible time to realise that your child is allergic to the medication you just gave them, or even that you wore underwear that won’t stay put. Use any medication you’re bringing for yourself or your children at least once preflight. Try sleeping overnight in the outfit you plan to wear, down to the socks and underwear. Try the travel pillow, put on the eye mask (and keep it on all night), and test drive the headphones. You won’t regret it.
Get a good night’s sleep
Most people hope to sleep at least some of the hours of a long flight, especially if you’ll be arriving at your destination early in the day local time. However, it’s a mistake to stay up late or skip sleeping entirely the night before takeoff. It’ll put you in a fog when you need to be sharp to get through security and onto the plane without forgetting anything, and if you can’t fall asleep on the plane, you’ll be truly miserable by the time you arrive.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
There is something about the physics of air travel that sucks every molecule of moisture out of your body. I know it’s tempting to not drink anything before a flight, to avoid having to get up and use the bathroom, but you’ve really gotta drink water — at home, at the airport, and on the plane.
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