As you can imagine, 20 hours is a an incredibly long time to spend in the air. I've been getting better at these long haul trips. My first time flying from America to Asia, I thought I was going to go nuts from claustrophobia and discomfort. I had reached my limit, looked down at my watch, and realized that I was only 8 hours into the trip. Ouch. I've come up with a few tricks to make the flight more comfortable, although I'm nowhere close to Vogue editor Anna Wintour's level. If you missed Part 1 of this series, it covers Tips to do Before You Go.
Investigate the in-flight entertainment
Check Seat Guru to find out what amenities are available on board. Some flights show a movie, usually one that is not kid appropriate, to the entire economy class on video monitors located over the aisles. You will probably want to bring along lots for your child to do during the flight to keep their eyes diverted from the screen. Other airlines' economy class offer personal entertainment systems for each seat with on-demand movies and plenty of kid-friendly choices. In this situation, my kids barely use what's in their backpacks.
Order a special meal
I always order the Child Meal for my younger two children. On this last journey, I had the Hindu Meal. It was one of the best in-flight meals I've ever had! The special meals are typically delivered first. Airlines require you to order these meals 24-48 hours in advance, so don't wait until you are on board to request one.
|Hindu Meal on Cathay Pacific: Crisp, tender veggies, flavorful rice and meat stew, yogurt, a roll, and fresh fruit.|
Don't toss your bottle
Some airports screen your carry-on bags again at the gate. I've gone through the initial security check with body scanners and X-rays, then bought a bottle of water, walked all of 200 yards to my gate, and been informed that I could not bring the unopened water on board. Instead of throwing away the entire bottle like most people do, just pour out the liquid. Show the screener your EMPTY bottle, and carry it through. In Singapore, there was a water fountain on the other side where I could refill my bottle immediately before boarding. On other flights, decant water from the beverage cart cup into the bottle or sweet talk a flight attendant into filling it up for you. Hydration is key to reducing jet lag, so it's better to have a filled bottle on hand than to buzz the attendant every time you're thirsty.
Bring a seat cushion
I cannot change how much leg room I have in economy. (Serenity now!) However, I can provide my tushie with a little cushy. Along with my U-shaped neck pillow and faux pashmina shawl, my other favorite comfort travel accessory for international flights is a seat cushion with a tail bone cut-out that I bought from the Wal-Mart Auto Department. Alternatively, I can put it behind me for lumbar support. Yes, it does take up a lot of space in my carry-on luggage, but it's so totally worth it.
|An extra seat cushion keeps the flight from being a pain in the rear.|
Wear noise canceling headphones
At about US$300, these babies aren't cheap. But if you travel a lot, you may decide that spending the money is better than losing your sanity to the tense, tired, crazy feeling you get from hearing the engines drone on and on. When my hubby first bought these, I was rather doubtful of their effectiveness. But when I tried them on, they really made a huge difference. It didn't just muffle the sound. It actually subtracted it from the sound environment. A few airlines loan these headphones as an in-flight perk to their first class and business class customers. If you don't want to cough up the big bucks, there are always foam earplugs.
This post is part of Travel Tips Tuesday on Suitcases and Sippycups.