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Need help being on a long flight

Going amazing places sometimes requires a long flight. Any hacks or tips people have for sleeping on a plane? Any favorite items or pillow you’d recommend? General comfort ideas or stretches?

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived.
10 Replies

@REI-AliciaS I purposely drink a lot of water on long flights, which makes me get up to use the bathroom. That way, it ensures I get some circulation and movement. Also, every four or so hours, I get up and walk to the back of the plane and do a little stretching (reach down to touch my toes and hang for a few; air squats; pulling my arms across my chest to stretch my shoulders).
I don't have any good sleep ideas so I'm interested to read suggestions from others!

@REI-AliciaS An eye mask and noise-cancelling headphones. Shoes without laces that are easy to put on and take off and some comfy, warm socks. Fasten the seatbelt above your blanket. That way the flight attendants don't have to wake you up if the "fasten seatbelt" signs come on.

If you have a stranger sitting right next to you, I'd advise asking first before taking off your shoes. In such public, inescapable circumstances, people from many cultures/backgrounds would find that rude.

Additionally, there are a bunch of diverse commerical and DIY travel pillow designs out there. If you have the time, testing them out with sitting-up naps before a long trip might help.

Definitely some noise-cancelling headphones. Or at least some ear plugs if you don't want to sleep with headphones on!

I avoid caffeine prior to flying and during the flight. Eye masks and earplugs aren't my thing but earbuds help with white noise if that's helpful for you. I agree with loose shoes you can slip on and off in need be. I've heard melatonin works well but have never needed it. I usually use the head clips that are usually on the top of the flight seats where your head sits. You can usually snap them towards the middle of the seat to keep your head straight. If not I just roll up a jacket or blanket as a pillow. I think sitting near a window helps too because no one is needing to wake you up and get past you.

During colder months, I like to use a larger scarf that can double as a light blanket. I'm not a fan of inflatable pillows, so I use a memory foam neck pillow that can easily be tucked away in a compression sack. It makes traveling with neck pillows less cumbersome. You can use the neck pillow as lumbar support as well.

I would say don't forget to wear compression socks on the plane-- they are truly a wonder to travel with! A great trick to help with circulation on long flights. 

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived.

@REI-AliciaS First class or Biz class flat-bed seat if you can get it. Smiley Happy

But seriously, in coach, try the following:

  • Pick a seat far away from others if possible. If there are empty rows, even better: spreading out across more than one seat can make a big difference.
  • Some spots on the plane, especially around the exit doors, can get pretty cold—make sure a blanket is provided or bring your own light travel blanket.
  • Many long-haul planes have adjustable “wings” on the headrest that take the place of a neck pillow for me. YMMV, so bring something to support your head from flailing side-to-side.
  • Bulkhead rows on large planes usually have bassinets for people traveling with infants—not all babies will sleep through the flight... Avoid those areas if that will keep you up.
  • Ear plugs and eye shades are must.
  • Disposable slippers (the cheap ones you sometimes find in hotels) are great for when you get out of your seat. You can just leave them behind when you exit. Do NOT go into the lavatory barefoot or in your socks—that is not water on the floor!
I am a big fan of dressing in lots of layers - because as a few people noted it can be cold on long flight - but you also have the occasional overheated cabin -so the ability to easily remove some clothing and remain appropriate is always beneficial to me.  
I also recommend downloading any media you might want to consume a few days ahead of time.  Books onto an e-reader, movies/tv on your tablet, music/podcast on your phone.  It is always nice to have access to these things - wifi free if need be.  
Safe travels!