Let’s say you find yourself on a plane ride you absolutely need to go on. Business trip, vacation, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you need to spend an entire age or what feels like forever on a plane. Oh, and you’re traveling economy. Riding a plane is always fun: watching the torrent of in-flight movies, figuring out which of the two menu options you’ll go for. But fun is inversely proportional to how long the ride is. Past 12 hours, a plane ride feels more like being stuck in metal tube for a whole day. It’s a chore to survive these long-haul flights but there are ways to get through them in more or less one piece.
Watch the movies. Okay, this isn’t really a tip as it is stating the obvious. Make good use of the entertainment. They’ll chop off precious hours off your flight time. And please, don’t just rewatch movies. Check out the catalog and see if you can find a movie you won’t watch anywhere else. You paid for the entertainment. Might as well get something out of it. Fancy a classic like The Manchurian Candidate or a mockumentary like This is Spinal Tap? The options are endless.
Sleep. Here’s another obvious tip. Try to get some sleep. But not just any old nap. Work to acclimate yourself to your destination’s sleeping pattern. If your destination is six hours behind from your point of origin, try holding off sleep for just a bit more until it’s bed time at your destination. This is so you can fight off debilitating jet lag as early as the plane ride.
Bring your own gadgets. If you didn’t know yet, regulations are loosening up on the use of gadgets on planes. Some, if not most, airlines allow the use of gadgets during flight with minimal limitations. You can use a phone (on airplane mode), a tablet, or a laptop. And some planes even have Wi-Fi onboard. You can catch up on your favorite series, do work, or even play a game if you have the battery.
Bring your own headphones. This is technically a gadget, but it deserves its own section. Unless you’re traveling business class, chances are that you’re getting a low-end set of headphones with the uncomfortable foam and the lanky plastic. It pays to bring your own set. The provided ones are very unwieldy. They don’t do anything against crying babies. They fall and tangle if you nod off. If you bring your own, you can at least plug it in to your own iPod and relax. If you want to plug in to the plane’s system, buy and bring an airplane adapter.
Read a book. If you’re trying to get some shut eye, a book might help. That, and an airplane is a peaceful place to read a book, if you have little faith in the entertainment and can’t sleep. Just remember: it’ll be better to read a light book. Reading Infinite Jest or The Brothers Karamazov isn’t light reading. One, you most probably won’t finish it. Two, they’re too difficult a read to be relaxing.
Stretch. Sitting in a cramped space gets uncomfortable after a few hours. Stand up, stretch your legs, and get the blood flowing. Do this on the way to the bathroom so you don’t look weird stretching on your seat. Incidentally, if you have any business to do in the bathroom, go in the period before the second meal, while the lights are dimmed, and everyone’s asleep, you won’t be disturbing the flight attendants who’ll be milling about when the lights go back on, you won’t get stuck in the aisle because of the food trolley, and you won’t have to endure a line while your bladder is bursting.