Finally, you've booked a plane ticket and packed your bags for a flight to far-away lands. The next thing to do is to make sure you prep for your journey to ensure it all goes smoothly. Packing the right comfort accessories is vital for this. The joys of returning to travel can be quickly overshadowed by lack of preparedness. And, flying is more stressful than ever, with longer lines at airports, more paperwork to complete, and a reduction of food and services provided by airlines and airports. But, as a veteran international traveler, I'm here to help with a short guide, highlighting the things you'll need to pack to make your travel more comfortable and seamless.
Like it or not, on an airplane and in the airport, you’ll have to wear a mask for the duration of travel (including in and around the airport) unless you are actively eating or drinking. No exceptions. On domestic flights in the United States, you can wear cloth face masks. However, for most international carriers, cloth masks are no longer acceptable, and you’ll need to pack and wear a medical or surgical face mask. If you don’t, the airline will hand you one when you board. I always like to pack several as they are disposable, and over the course of a 30-hour travel day they start to get dirty.
Blocking out the light when you need to sleep is a must. It lets you set your sleep schedule on the flight regardless of the lighting situation. Good eyeshades will help to block out the disruptive flicker of a neighboring passenger's entertainment screen or any overhead lights.
It can be hard to sleep amid all the various noises on a plane or train. The roar of the engine, voices from nearby passengers, banging of carts and doors. Block out disturbing noises with a good pair of earplugs and get a few hours of quality shut-eye.
Sleeping while sitting, or even slightly reclined is hard enough. Having a neck pillow makes trying to sleep in an airplane seat so much more comfortable. Whatever your onward journey plans are, they’ll be way more enjoyable when you don’t end up with a strain in your neck.
Hand Sanitizer & Wipes
The airlines are boasting about how good their sanitizing measures are, but given how quickly some of the flights arrive and then depart, it’s unclear how deep a clean can they possibly carry out. This is why I always pack a bottle of hand sanitizer and a package of sanitizing wipes. The minute I get to my airplane seat, I wipe down everything—and I do mean everything I might touch around my seat including the tray table, controls, arm rests, touch screens. And, then throughout the flight, after I have touched anything that I have not wiped down—a meal tray or drink, the bathroom door handle, I sanitize my hands thoroughly.
Graduated compression socks especially merino wool ones, are the perfect way to ensure your feet stay warm and that your legs don't become uncomfortably swollen during any long-haul flight.
Airplane air is very dry and airline attendants just aren’t as attentive as they once were, especially with enhanced health and safety protocols in place. Which means you must carry along a refillable and collapsible water bottle. Either refill it yourself at a water station once you’re through security or ask the attendant to fill it for you on his or her first pass through the cabin.
Unless you are seated in first class or business class, airplane blankets are a thing of the past. Not to worry though. Just pack your own travel blanket, preferably one that’s compact and has its own storage case. Plus, it will double as a pillow if needed. You could always pack an extra large wool scarf as an alternative too.
These are my top items to pack to ensure not only optimum travel comfort, but also maintaining good travel health. Oh, and one more bonus item to pack—a healthy dose of patience and a smile. You'll arrive at your destination a lot happier that way.