More U.S. travelers will be flying internationally this year—and the thing they’re dreading most? The uncomfortable seat. So says TripAdvisor’s 2015 Air Travel Survey, which found that 67% of U.S. travelers are planning flights abroad this year, vs. 60% last year, and that uncomfortable seats are what 77% of U.S. travelers hate most about flying. So I thought I’d share a few hard-earned tips for making an overnight international flight more comfortable. Here are seven items I keep in my carry-on bag—they’re all lightweight and take up little space—to help get me through the night:
- Lightweight compressible parka. I used to throw a pashmina shawl in my carry-on to use as a blanket on the plane. I no longer need to, thanks to my North Face Thermoball Full Zip Jacket, which is so comfy and warm that it’s become my wearable blanket. (Magically, the jacket is never too hot, so I take it even to warm-weather destinations.) Alternatively, I can fold the jacket into its own pocket and use it as an airplane pillow.
- Inflatable neck pillow. I like the Cocoon Ultra-Light AirCore Neck Pillow: It weighs only 4 ounces and keeps my neck in a safe and comfy position when I’m trying to rest or sleep. It prevents neck pain on long train rides too.
- My own homemade “business class” amenities kit. Into a sandwich-size Ziploc bag I place the in-flight items I’ll need, including eye shades, earplugs, eye drops, Vitamin C (to lower the risk of catching a cold from the dry, recirculated air on the plane), and sleeping pills (I use drowsy-making Benadryl or Tylenol PM.). You could throw in a small toothbrush and toothpaste, lip balm, and tiny containers of face or hand cream too. (I place this “kit” in my laptop bag and, in all these years, have never had to remove it when going through airport security. But if you’re concerned about a tiny vial of eye drops not being in the quart-size zip-top bag holding your liquid toiletries, you could keep the eye drops in the quart-size bag until you’re past security.)
- Laptop stand. Working on your laptop in-flight can be highly uncomfortable—or even impossible—when the person in front of you reclines his or her seat: If you can’t open your laptop far enough, you end up slumping down in your seat just to be able to read what’s on the screen. And slumping hurts. The Aviator Laptop Stand raises the screen, enabling you to open your laptop the way you normally do.
- Inflatable back pillow. The Self-inflating Lumbar Cushion inflates and deflates when you twist the valve. It takes pressure off the spine, thus relieving back discomfort not just on the plane but on long drives in rental cars too. (On short flights it can double as a neck pillow.)
- Facial mist. As a pick-me-up—and to counter the effect of dry airplane air—I spray Kiehl’s In-Flight Refreshing Facial Mist on my face every couple of hours. It cools the skin, and the tingly sensation is reinvigorating.
- Hydrating eye pads. Toward the end of a transoceanic flight, after staring at my laptop in the dark for hours, I’m usually bleary-eyed. Eye drops help only so much. So, during the last 20 minutes of the flight (when I’m forced to put the laptop away), I close my eyes and place XpresSpa’s moist Cucumber Eye Pads over them to cool, soothe, and revivify them. That way I can feel like a human being again when I set foot in the foreign country.
What items do you use to make a long flight more comfortable?
You’ll find more travel advice from Wendy at WendyPerrin.com.