I don’t fly as much as some people, or even as much as I’d like for myself. But I have crossed both the oceans a couple of times, and I’ve learned enough to increase my comfort level.
1.) Amenities. Good amenities make air travel seem luxurious, instead of like a chore. I have an AmEx Platinum and the AmEx Priority Lounge Pass. This is key. Get one, or suck it up and pay to access lounges. I get all the free snacks and coffees I desire (or booze, depending on my goals), and sometimes showers. And sometimes spas. In the U.S., I rely on USOs and military lounges heavily, but these aren’t options overseas. Embrace the #loungelife.
2.) Audio. I fly with two pairs of headphones: (1) my regular old Apple earbuds (the kind that come with an iPhone or iPod; and (2) my Bose QuietComfort 35. Both are important for different reasons.
The Apple earbuds are for airlines that ban over-the-ear headphones. This infuriates me, but I run into it more and more frequently. I have no idea what regulation prevents them from being used on takeoff and landing, but it’s stupid (it’s probably safety-related, but I still don’t like it).
The Bose are my *favorite*. They’re Bluetooth-enabled, but they have a cord in case you’re watching a non-Bluetooth device or trying to save battery. They cancel crying babies while enhancing sound quality, and the battery lasts forever. It’s basically like magic. They also come with a jack adapter and their own hard case. I sometimes wear them without turning them on because they make things quieter even without the ANC technology, and they prevent my neighbors from talking to me.
3.) Entertainment. I keep lots of options on hand since I don’t sleep well on planes; a 9-hour flight requires 9 hours of entertainment. I do NOT understand people who board the plane with nothing and twiddle their thumbs the whole time.
I download podcasts. I haven’t explored much, but I can recommend “What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law,” “The West Wing Weekly,” and “Wellfed Women.” Each has lots of content already, so there’s significant backlog.
I always bring my iPod, but it’s old, and I’m terrible at putting new music on it. It’s a Plan C or D, reserved for when I’m feeling a bit emo.
I travel with my iPad, and I use library apps to download a wide variety of books before I leave. Like, between 4 and 6. It’s hard to guess what kind of mood I’ll be in. And they’re free! And you can have 6 books for the weight of 1!
Make sure you check to see what, if any, apps the airline itself might have. Lots of international flights provide free in-flight wifi, or at least a media player app. For example, I downloaded United’s app on my iPad, and I could watch their whole array of TV shows and movies on my own device.
^Apparently I’m obsessed with Apple, Inc. #buystock
4.) Wardrobe. This is probably my most opinionated part. I have the same traveling uniform almost every time (exception: I’ll dress fashionably for short hops in Europe). I wear (1) compression tights, (2) my heaviest shoes/boots, (3) light base layer, (4) cashmere drape front cardigan, (5) huge Banana Republic blanket scarf, and (6) a jacket with zipper pockets. Also: everything I wear is black. I match. It’s as chic as I’m going to feel after an oceanic flight + customs.
The top layer is either a North Face soft shell jacket, or a North Face puffy. Having zippered pockets is VITAL because I keep my phone(s), passport, and boarding pass on my person. I don’t leave them in bags when I travel. And I zip them, so I can’t lose them. This isn’t rocket science, but it’s key.
Also, it may sound like I’m preparing for an arctic expedition with base layer + cashmere wrap + outer layer. But I freeze on airplanes, you guys. Freeze. And it saves me space in the carry-ons I packed, since I almost never check bags.
5.) Products. Makeup remover wipes + serum/oil. I use Kiehls’ Midnight Recovery Serum. I keep lip balm, hand sanitizer, and body lotion my person for moisturizing. Holy Grail: Emergency bottle of contact solution. These are for in-flight use.
6.) Snacks. This is tricky because I’m a keto person now, and lots of easy keto snacks aren’t welcome over certain borders. Lots of countries don’t like meat / cheese / produce crossing boundaries. One option is to eat everything you bring. I do a lot of nuts, but realistically, that’s not very satisfying. I try to scrounge snacks in lounges and pick out the lunch meat in the on-board meals.
7.) Hydration. Bring your own water bottle (Camelback makes handy-dandy collapsible ones), refill, and drink constantly. Just make sure it’s empty before security or you’ll end up chugging the contents in front of an agent trying to prove it’s not a harmful substance (maybe this happened to me in Frankfurt…).
8.) The Neck Pillow. I have an inflatable one. I bought it at an airport store, paying three times its actual value. Except not, because it’s amazing. If there’s any chance at all of me sleeping on a plane, it’s because of this baby. The inflatable nature is key, because I can easily squeeze it into my handbag. Mine also has its own cover, so I can take it off and wash it because #airplanegerms.
Bonus Round – Helpful travel apps:
The State Dept’s travel website (register before you go),
Sit or Squat (find public restrooms anywhere),
Park-o-pedia (find parking and prices),
OpenTable (research restaurants and menus + make reservations),
HostelWorld (a wide range of accommodations),
Air BnB (even more accommodations), and
Google Maps (self-explanatory).