Long flights don’t have to be misery if you bring along a few creature comforts. Here is a short list of must-haves that will make the experience better if not great. (For a ‘great’ flight experience? Book first class, or fly Emirates where Economy class includes full gourmet meals, free alcohol, wifi/phone, and 2500+ TV channels).
I own one pair of compression socks, and I break them out for air travel: these. I put them on before I get to the airport, walk through security shoeless in them, and wear them on the plane to my destination. My feet are warm but not hot, and when I get where I’m going I don’t have scary swollen ankles that you can push a finger into and leave a lasting dent. Plus, these dry in no time so I can wash them in the hotel sink and repeat the process for the flight home.
Large pashmina shawl
I found a gorgeous pashmina in a thrift store and bought it even though I’m not usually a scarf girl. Turns out it is perfect for air travel – it folds down into a small space (I can zip it into a quart ziplock), it adds some nice color to my grey and black travel staples, and it is the perfect blanket for flights. I use it over the top of me when I’m cold, over my lap and legs before takeoff if I have stuck my purse behind my feet (shhh! don’t tell!), even once over my face when the person next to me would NOT turn off his reading light on a redeye flight. I can’t for the life of me find the same scarf to link to online, but if I had to replace it for some reason I would likely buy one or more of these. Right size, reviews are great, inexpensive, and gorgeous colors and prints.
Lush “toothy tabs” and a travel toothbrush
I don’t want to have to mess with a tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush on a plane. Maybe I’m just too picky, but I don’t want to dig around in my carryon for my toiletries ziplock etc. Instead I use Lush’s toothy tabs. Sometimes if I’m traveling really light these are all I will bring in terms of toothpaste for the whole trip. They are ingenious little tablets about the size of a “smarties” candy. You pop one in your mouth before you want to brush. Chew it up into a paste, add water to your brush, and go. They don’t foam as much as regular toothpaste but they do get your teeth clean and freshen your breath. Some of them taste funky though (wasabi and mint? lemon and pepper?), so if you are close to a Lush storefront maybe ask to sample. My favorites are “Dirty” and “Aquatic.”
I get nauseous just riding in a backwards-facing seat on the Metro so these are a must-have for me, but even if you don’t tend to get queasy pack these just in case. If there is enough turbulence it’ll make anyone nauseous, and on long flights that means extended awfulness. Sea Bands go around your wrist like ugly bracelets of stomach-soothing wonder. I have no idea how they work, something about pressure points, but once in position they help prevent queasiness. Bonus: they also work for many women for morning sickness, so they can potentially do double-duty.
Milk Makeup’s “Cooling Water” stick
Since I get miserably dry on both hands and face on long flights, and since I hate rummaging through bags to try to find something while I’m at my seat, having the Cooling Water stick on my person is handy and helpful. Plus it does feel cooling – always pleasant, but if I am feeling icky from the plane being stuffy it helps a bit. So far I haven’t been pinged going through security with it – it is solid enough that I have been able to keep it on my person. (If this changes I’ll let you know.) People with very dry skin, or headed somewhere cold, might want to check out the Hydrating Oil stick instead.