10 tips to make air travel (almost) comfortable

Let’s face it – cramped quarters, stale air and little leg room are nobody’s idea of comfort. But just because you have to reevaluate the size of your personal bubble as soon as you step foot onto an airplane doesn’t mean your entire flight has to be miserable. Travel inspiration website DreamPlanGo suggests following these 10 travel tips to make your plane ride as comfortable as possible. You’ll arrive at your destination in the mindset that your vacation has already begun:

Ditch the salty food. Are you prone to bloat? Skip the salty food before your flight and you’ll be glad you did. Excess sodium can cause fluid retention (bloat) and make you feel uncomfortable, creating crummy conditions when you are stuck in a small space for hours on end. Instead of the chips, try an apple, grapes or other water-rich, low-sodium snacks.

Plan your seat. If you’ve ever been on a plane before, you know that some spots can be less than ideal if you’re searching for extra leg room or quiet surroundings. Seats in the back of the plane often encounter the highest traffic because of bathroom facilities, while seats over the wings are often louder. Most airlines give you an option to choose a seat for a nominal fee. If you want your peace and quiet (and leg room), the investment is well worth it.

Hydrate. It’s so easy to get dehydrated when you’re on a plane because of the constant dry-air circulation. You don’t have to go into camel mode on the plane. Instead, prepare to fly by drinking plenty of fluids for a few days before you take off, and then make sure you have access to water while on the flight. Some travelers carry mineral water facial spray to feel refreshed during the flight, while aloe-filled saline nasal gel can help restore moisture to dry nasal membranes.

Defend your leg room. What if your legs didn’t always have to be held captive behind the traveler who insists on reclining the seat for the entirety of the flight? Enter Knee Defender. This small, plastic device that prevents airplane passengers from reclining has caused a stir since hitting the market in the 2000s. Although not banned from airlines, many people have balked that this product impedes the right of passengers so you may get some pushback if you try using it. Then again, if you’re tired of your long limbs being squished into small spots, you might want to go for it.

Don’t clutter your foot space. Leg room is pretty important on flights lasting longer than an hour. One of the best ways to optimize your airplane seating space is to pack lightly. Ditching carry-on luggage can open up valuable real estate below your seat. That means extra room for your legs, feet and less chance you’ll develop claustrophobic feelings.

Slip into slippers. Comfort might be hard to find in a two-foot space, but it doesn’t mean your feet have to suffer. Find pleasure in the small stuff by packing a pair of cozy socks or slippers you can slide on after taking off. Slippers with treads on the bottom mean you don’t even have to re-shoe when you need a bathroom break.

Consider compression socks. If circulation is an issue for you, don’t leave home without a pair of compression socks. Medical and non-medical gradient stockings not only help with circulation in your legs, they can prevent serious blood clotting conditions, like deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Compression socks aren’t just for people with circulatory problems, either. A pair of supportive socks can help beat restless legs and ultimately make your muscles feel more invigorated.

Save your seat. Hours in a hard airplane seat can make anyone’s backside hurt. Instead of enduring the ergonomic nightmare, consider a self-inflating seat cushion. It takes seconds to prepare and can offer hours of back relief by alleviating pressure on the spine and tailbone.

Drown out the noise. It’s almost guaranteed you’ll fall asleep if you take a red-eye flight or overseas airplane adventure. One of the best ways to get a good night’s (or day’s) sleep? Noise-canceling headphones. Although some brands can be pricey, the soundless environment it creates and the ability to drift off to dreamland to only the beats of your favorite song might just merit the price tag. Disposable earplugs are a cheap (and slightly less-soundproof) alternative.

Prevent plugged ears. Ear congestion is one of the most irritating and uncomfortable side effects from flying. Even though airplane cabins are pressurized, elevation changes cause minor changes in pressure that are felt in the middle ear (specifically, the Eustachian tube). Some travelers are more prone to “plugged” ears than others, especially those battling colds and sinus problems. To combat airplane ear, try taking an antihistamine or decongestant 30 minutes before boarding your flight. They will help reduce swelling, meaning air will more easily pass through your middle ear.