I've been traveling a lot lately. Back and forth from school, during break to Oregon and San Francisco, and what I realized is that if you aren't properly prepared for a long flight, it can be MISERABLE. Example: my flight home from Boston to LA on American Airlines. It was a long, long flight and I'd just come from taking a final, so I wasn't really prepared or on top of my traveling situation. I didn't bring any food (for six hours!) and I have a stomach condition where not eating for that long is just unacceptable. And I forgot to bring anything to watch/read, AND I dressed terribly for a plane. It was a disaster. So, I thought I'd put together some tips (for myself mostly) on how not to be so miserable on a flight.
1. Dress appropriately. This can be difficult if you're going from somewhere warm to somewhere cold or vice versa. What I'd recommend doing is wearing jeans or a longer skirt/dress. Please step it up from sweats. If you're wearing shorts or a short skirt you will just freeze. Planes are always too cold. As far as shoes go, you could do Uggs if you have cold feet, or I'd recommend a simple leather boot, boat shoes, Conserve, really anything but heels or sandals. Heels are just silly, and sandals will give you cold feet. But the real key here is doing light layers. That way you can prepare for any climate while not carrying too many bulky parkas or jackets. I had only a parka and a tee, and in the parka I was boiling but in the tee I was freezing. Such a fail. Be smarter than me and do something like this:
Love Quotes Eyelash Fringe Scarf, $60.20 at shopbop.com, C&C California Striped Draped Cardigan, $171.50 at shopbop.com: I am a huge fan of big sweaters like this for flights. You can leave it open or wrap it around yourself for extra warmth, and this one is big and cozy with a hood and a cotton-cashmere blend (just warmth enough). It's so long that it can basically double as a blanket, but it isn't bulky or unflattering, AND it's on sale. I always take a scarf on plane flights because they are fabulous multi-taskers. If your neck is cold, wrap it around your neck. Or you can wrap it around your shoulders, use it as a blanket, use it as a pillow, etc, etc. Getting a scarf in a neutral color means that you can get more wear out of it (and this is also on sale).
2. Snacks. You always need to have snacks. Airplane snacks are terrible and ridiculously overpriced. Bring your own snacks, and be a much happier person. I like to cover multiple snack categories so that you can satisfy most cravings. I'd do something sweet/carby, something healthy, and something savory. For example, a scone or two, some apples or carrots, and some pretzels or some sort of chip. As far as drinks go, it's difficult because you can't bring liquids past security. What you could do is bring powdered drinks, and then add water once you get past the TSA. I love Crystal Lite's Green Tea Mango packets. Delicious. Or you could bring tea bags and get hot water from the stewardess.
3. Entertainment. The most important category. I usually fly Virgin, which has fun personal TV screens where you can watch satellite TV or a selection of movies or TV shows. And they have great variety, and always things that I like. American has...nothing. Blah. In general though, you can either fall asleep, watch or listen to something, or read something. As far as watching and listening goes, obviously bring your iPod, and either bring some DVDs or rent a movie on iTunes (do it before you get on the plane when you still have internet access) if your laptop has a good battery life. If you like sleeping on flights (I so envy you if you can do that) then bring a traveling pillow and an eye mask. It is hard to sleep with video screens playing and tons of windows open. A cute eye mask like this one from Etsy will make your life so much easier. Now, for the books. This is tricky. I made the mistake of only bringing the book I was reading at the time (The Decameron, yes, I am a nerd) which is very intense 14th century Italian literature. But the problem is, that once you go through the whole drama of the airport and getting on the plane and taking forever to taxi to the runway, you won't be in the mood for something hard-hitting and dry. You'll probably want something lighter and more fun. The best solution is to bring two or three books that cover all of your reading interests, so something light, something intellectual, something action-packed, etc. That way you won't be stuck with a book you can't bear to read and nothing else to do. My current favorite airplane reads are White Queen by Philippa Gregory, an awesome historical novel about the War of the Roses--more fun than it sounds, I swear--and 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, which is a fantastic semi-surrealist novel about colonialism in Colombia. I realize that sounds really pretentious to have as a favorite book, but it's seriously one of the most entertaining, action-packed books I've ever read.
I hope that helps somebody! Now if only I could take my own advice...
Images via shopbop.com, barnesandnoble.com,