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When I started travelling back and forth from Colorado around 5 years ago, I (like most first-time solo flyers) thought that in order to have a happy and comfortable flight, I would need to bring as many creature comforts on board with me as possible.
I realized pretty quickly, that bringing my own full sized pillow, thick blanket, and a menagerie of toiletries was actually more of a hindrance than helpful. My bag was bulky, my pillow got in the way of other passengers, and a number of my toiletries were confiscated before I even boarded the plane.
Here are 5 things, from experience, that you can do to make a flight (long or short) more comfortable for you and those around you.
1. Pack less toiletries in your carry-on.
You may be tempted to have a spare bottle of soap, wash cloth, hairbrush along with many other items with you in your carry-on. While it is good to stay fresh, especially on a long flight, there are much easier (and less bulky) ways to do this. A toothbrush and small tube of paste will do. Pack a comb rather than a brush, a small pack of baby wipes instead of soap and wash cloth (I know, it won't make you sparkle but believe me, it is easier to carry and will do until you reach your destination). Don't worry about make-up, no one minds that you are fresh faced, they probably just want to rest and read/watch TV, just like you do. Carry a stick deodorant. Honestly, this one was a game changer for me. It is so simple, but before I thought of it, I was worried I would smell due to not being allowed my can of antiperspirant. Which brings me to my final toiletry tip. Absolutely no spray cans. Not only are they not allowed, but are dangerous on a flight. Your hair will be fine without that can of dry shampoo, I promise.
2. Zip Lock Sandwich Bags
Another simple one, but you will be your own and everyone else's hero if you bring a few extra zip locks with you through security. The first time I thought to do this, an older lady was having a bit of a panic as she couldn't find a clear bag (the dispenser was empty). I handed her one of mine and she acted as if I had gifted her a puppy. It was great!
3. Please wear socks.
For real. Wear socks. Everyone wants to kick back and take their shoes off during a flight. You can't get comfortable while wearing your Doc Martens, but if you have any kind of consideration for the other passengers and the flight staff, cover those tootsies with your favorite under shoe foot wear. No one wants a naked foot peeking through the gaps in the seats.
4. Take a neck rest.
Instead of taking a full sized pillow with you, a neck rest will do. It won't get in the way of other passengers or the attendants and if you buy one with a toggle which attaches to your bag, and you will save on things to lug around. While we are on the subject of comfort, if you absolutely have to bring your own blanket, make it one which folds down very small. From experience, I can say that a long coat (which you can wear for the flight) will work just as well as a sub when you want to get extra cozy.
5. Be friendly, be patient.
When we fly, we have to remember that we are not the only people on board. We are also not the only people who are nervous, or tired, or hungry. A flight will be much more enjoyable if you can smile, say please and thank you, and hold back the urge to scream when your coffee takes more than 10 minutes to come. Take into account that the attendants have probably been on their feet all day, having to fake happy to rude passengers, possibly having to skip breaks in order to keep other people happy. Being polite will make their day a lot easier and from experience, attendants tend to be much more attentive and responsive to passengers who show their appreciation.
So, there are my 5 ways to make air travel as simple and comfortable as possible. I hope this has helped and I hope you have a wonderful flight and trip, wherever you are off to.