You’re already in the air. Keep the high.
Written by Nicole Banister (@theycallmebanz)
Whether it’s winter or summer where you’re reading this, it’s halfway through the year so you’re probably going to want to get in a bit of travel. There is a ton of advice out there from young globetrotters and jetsetters like myself about where to travel, how to travel, and what types of experiences to be had whilst traveling. But they say that the journey is more important than the destination, so let’s take a moment to reflect on the travel time itself.
While you’re in the air, heed these 5 hacks that will keep you happy, relaxed, and comfortable at 35,000 feet.
Leg room is perhaps the most highly coveted piece of space on an economy flight which, if we’re being honest, most of us budget-vacationing hostel-staying points-using millennials are flying. To this day I still ask the people at the check-in counter if the emergency exit row seats are available — ain’t nobody got time to actually pay extra for them, but I obviously still want to be in those seats. So because there is most likely not a ton of room in front of you, pack a tiny handheld bag within your main bag. When you board the plane, you can park the big bag above your head then drop the small bag in the seat back pocket in front of you with absolute plane essentials (headphones, USB chord, chapstick, tissue, pen for writing on an immigration form, etc.). Your legs will thank you later for the space to stretch and circulate.
These days, a drink is the only thing you’re getting for “free” on an airline, if that. International carriers are generally less frugal than American ones: for example, I could take a 6-hour United flight from DC to Los Angeles and only get a drink and a small bag of peanuts, whereas I could take a 2-hour South African Airways flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg and get a full hot meal. When your flight attendant comes by with a cart of drinks and snacks, remember the words of Eminem — you only get one shot. Take advantage of that one shot and get two drinks. Stay healthy with a glass of tomato and a glass of orange juice. Get bubbly with sparkling wine and sparking water. Turn up with a pale ale washed down by ginger ale. Whatever your beverage preferences, stay hydrated in the friendly skies.
On international flights, you’ll most likely get a side of bread with your meal. The little roll comes fluffy and puffy with a little side of butter or cheese, and elite airlines like Singapore and Emirates give you that little roll already toasty. It’s a thoughtful, home-spun touch on an otherwise mass-produced meal. If your bread isn’t warm when you receive it though, or if it simply isn’t warm enough, put it on top of your unopened, hot meal. Let it sit there for a couple minutes as you start with your side salad and crackers, or perhaps as you’re sipping on one of your two drinks. Voila — warm bread to make the journey a bit more homey. I personally like to check the bread when it arrives regardless because oftentimes the stewards put it in a small bowl of sides (read: butter and cheese), but sometimes there’s a little piece of chocolate in there too. If the bread is already heated, that bread will melt your chocolate. Devastating.
It’s really quite easy to get on a flight, store your bags, take a seat, fasten your seatbelt, and then immediately turn the TV on to binge watch all of the latest films you didn’t spend $16 to see in theaters. Intersperse your movie and TED Talk watching with a bit of light reading kindly brought to you by the seat back pocket just above your knees. Not only is this a nice way to give your eyes a rest from the docket of digital devices demanding our attention these days, but it’s also one of the best ways to learn more about your destination. The most spontaneous part of your trip could be ditching the first weekend’s plans to go to a festival you didn’t know was happening until you read about it. The most beautiful view on your journey could be captured after a tip from a local travel expert in a column in that magazine. You never know what you’ll learn unless you read it, so the seat back magazine is always worth a skim.
Full disclosure — I haven’t actually used compression socks myself. However, everyone and their mom (literally, my own mom) keeps raving about them so I figured I’d throw them on this list. When I was younger, I used to scoff at the videos on planes that demonstrated leg and ankle exercises to do in your seat. Now, I religiously move my feet around every half an hour and actually stand to walk through the aisle at least once every two hours. Compression socks compliment your in-flight movement. These socks ensure that your blood is flowing even though you’re sitting down, which can help reduce the possibility of blood clots and swelling. I’m hoping to get my own soon and will definitely keep you all posted. (Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a preferred vendor!)
Whether you travel once a week or once a year, you deserve the most comfortable in-air journey possible. Happy flying!