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Seven Ways to Make Your Next Flight a More Pleasant Experience

Guest blogger Billy Chamberlin is an avid traveler and writer who's always looking to simplify the airline travel experience, such as by making airport parking reservations.When not away on business, he strums away on his banjo and builds model spacecraft.

These days, traveling can be an unpleasant and stressful experience. It seems there are constant barriers in place to make things more inconvenient and irritating. One goal, of course, is to not let these things get to you. If they do, it's usually downhill from there and when you've got a long flight before you, that's one thing you definitely want to avoid. So what can you do to make your personal travel experience much more comfortable?

Get Physical

This can be a challenge, but getting physical activity while traveling is critical. If you have time to spare—say you arrive earlier than expected for a flight, or you're stuck on layover—get moving. Don't sit around waiting. Walk, jog, do pushups, it doesn't really matter. All that matters is that you get your heart pumping. It will make sitting down for the extended period of time that much more bearable. When you're on the plane, be sure to stretch your arms and legs. This can be even more challenging, but if you can, take short little walks up and down the aisle or flex your arms and legs in your seat.

Wear Comfortable Clothes

You can be comfortable and still look good. This is (still) occasionally a topic of contention, since there are still people who believe in dressing professionally for a flight. They certainly shouldn't be faulted, but when you're stuck in a relatively small space for a few (or several) hours, certain types of clothing can get really uncomfortable. Additionally, it can be helpful to dress appropriately for your destination, if you are traveling over a distance that will take you between climates. You don't want to dress in your winter coat when flying from Minneapolis to Atlanta.

Headphones

Having a pair of noise-canceling headphones is always recommended. Get a pair that are comfortable in or over your ears for a long period of time, since it's unlikely you'll be taking the off frequently.

Power up

Make sure all your devices are fully charged before your flight. Over the course of an average flight, a fully charged device, whether it's an MP3 player, e-reader, tablet, phone, or handheld gaming system, should last you, since it's unlikely you'll use the device over the course of a single flight (plus, at a small screen for long periods of time isn't recommended anyway, since it can cause eyestrain with leads to headaches). There are some airlines (and, specifically, aircraft) that do offer accessibly to charging stations or power sockets, but don't board your flight counting on it. Power sockets are much more common on newer aircraft due to consumer demand and the reality we carry around a considerable amount of tech when we travel. However, if having access to a power source is a concern, keep a second battery or power pack in your carry one bag.

Read

While you may have a bevy of electronic devices, it's important to keep a low tech alternative around, just in case. Whether it's a book or a magazine (or several), reading helps to take your mind of other things and gives you something else to focus on. Physical books and magazines are ideal—e-readers are okay, but using a device that doesn't strain the eyes is recommended.

Stay hydrated

This is absolutely critical. The air aboard an aircraft is almost always dry, which can do a number on your eyes and skin, not to mention the overall pleasantness of your flight. Be sure to drink plenty of water before and during the flight. Worried you'll have to use the restroom frequently? Don't! Getting up to use the restroom the perfect time to stretch your legs. It doesn't matter that you might have to bother one or two people for two seconds to get there, either. Also, avoid drinking alcohol, since it will exacerbate dehydration.

Healthy snacking

Dried fruit, almonds, raw vegetables—anything that's easy to pack and munch on during the flight is likely a better option than the in-flight meal.

Keep positive. If things go wrong, there isn't much you or anyone else can do. You are likely to run into situations where you will be powerless. Accept it and avoid turning into a travel monster no one likes. Consider talking to your neighbor, have an impromptu, pseudo-therapy session where both of you can air your grievances in a level-headed manner. Of course, you should only talk to your seat mate if that's something you're interested in doing. Not everyone wants to engage in conversation and that's perfectly fine. If the person next to you doesn't want to chat, don't try to force a one-sided conversation, as that will make your neighbor uncomfortable and that's not cool. At the same time if someone tries to chat you up and you're not interested, let them know. It's generally easier to get out of a conversation if you have something else to focus on, like a book, as well as headphones to shut out your surroundings.

No matter how you decided to make your flight as comfortable as possible, remember: the less stressed you are during the journey, the less stressed you will be when you arrive at the destination!

Want to be a guest blogger for SmarterTravel? Read up on our Guest Blogger Policy, and then send your story pitch to guestblogsubmissions@smartertravelmedia.com with the subject line "Guest blog submission." If we like your idea, we'll ask you to write the post!

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