My Top 10 Long-haul Flight Survival Kit Items

Apr 18, 2011

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It’s been a busy year for long-haul flights for me – so far I’ve been to Europe four times and South America once. Traveling, especially on a 6+ hour long flight, always takes a toll, but I’ve learned to minimize the effects by always traveling with a key set of products. My survival kit for every long flight, especially those in coach, is the following:

1) Huge bottle of water. I never rely on flight attendants to supply me with hydration. There are far too many factors that could come in the way of getting good water in-flight so I never board a plane without my own supply.
2) Sleeping aids. I can’t sleep in coach, but one small 2mg pill of Lunesta puts me down nicely and doesn’t leave me feeling “cracked out” upon arrival. Lunesta is a prescription drug, so speak with your doctor if you are interested – mine prescribed me it once I told him how much international travel I do and that I need be be “on” upon arrival. There are potential side effects, so make sure to discuss them with your doctor before making any decisions. There are also non-prescription options as well, like melatonin and good old-fashioned Nyquil. Disclaimer: always try out any sleep aid in the comfort and safety of your own home, before taking to the air, to see how your body reacts to it.
3) Noise-canceling headphones. I personally use Bose QC15 – they can drone out even the loudest screaming baby.
4) Ear buds. Sometimes I even wear ear buds and the noise-canceling headphones to create my own, serene space.
5) Eye mask. I often sit in bulkhead seats that are near the galley, so the bright lights can seep into the cabin. Eye masks take care of that problem nicely.
6) Layered clothes. It can get absolutely frigid sitting in the exit row and sometimes it can be unbearably hot. Wearing layers can allow you to adjust to the cabin temperature at your own will. I personally like wearing jeans, a t-shirt and zip up hooded sweatshirt. I may look like the Unibomber with my eye-mask and huge headphones, but comfort is more important than appearances.
7) Comfortable shoes. My favorite travel shoes are driving shoes. These To Boot New York suede drivers are my current go-to travel shoes – while they are on the pricier side, the quality is impeccable and they are supremely comfortable. I met the President of the company at the Saks store in Boston recently and we had a great discussion about travel and points. He is a Delta Medallion, so I was able to give him some pointers. Maybe I should have asked for a discount :-)
8 ) In-flight Entertainment. I never rely on airlines to supply me with in-flight entertainment. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with Angry Birds on my iPhone. On my last trip to Stockholm, I think I played it for 4+ hours. I think it’s a cruel way to punish perfectionists, because I can’t stop playing until I have three stars in every level, which can be time-consuming. Other varieties of in-flight entertainment include books, magazines (Conde Nast Traveler, Vanity Fair) and movies on my beloved Macbook Air 13″.
9) A pen. This may sound silly, but I always travel with a pen. I never like to have to rely on the flight attendant or fellow passengers to supply me with a pen for my customs papers. I also like the ability to write down my thoughts in-flight, like last week when I started jotting down tips for people to become better coach passengers.
10) A positive attitude. While it’s easy to get frustrated by the hassles of flying: bad food, nasty flight attendants, cramped space, inconsiderate passengers, crying babies and the list goes on, I always try to appreciate how fortunate I am to even be able to fly. With so many people in the world who will never step foot on an airplane, I’m just happy I have the ability to travel the world – even if it is sometimes in coach! ;-)

So what are your “must have” items for long flights?

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