These days it seems that air travel is more of a means to an end, a tolerated necessity for getting from point A to point B. Airlines haven’t been making flights more comfortable either. Unless you fly first class, you can expect to deal with cramped economy seating, overpriced airline food and the occasional crying baby. That’s not to mention the long security lines at airports and the added stress of navigating unfamiliar places. Fortunately there are ways that you can make the trip to your vacation destination a little less stressful. Here are 5 must haves to keep your vacation flight stress-free.
According to the Pew Research Center, nearly two thirds (64%) of all US adults possess a smartphone, and if you’re between 18-29 that number is as high as 85%. A smartphone is essential for taking the stress out of modern day air travel—with the right apps, you can check your itinerary, book a new flight, reserve a rental car, find the best places to eat, store your boarding pass and do virtually anything you would on your personal computer. After all a smartphone is basically a pocket sized pc. Most major airlines allow you to present a QR code representing your boarding pass on your smartphone, provided you checked in online beforehand. Download apps like TripIt or Evernote to keep track of all your receipts and travel information. With the official Mobile Passport app, your smartphone is all you need to enter the United States from abroad.
There are few things worse than being stuck on a 12 hour flight in a cramped economy seat with nothing around you to help pass the time. If you’re lucky the airlines provided you with a tiny screen on the seat in front of you, preloaded with last year’s blockbusters, random episodes of old TV shows, your standard set of radio stations and simple kids games. Anything worth watching is usually expensive pay-per-view, and the tiny low resolution screen is hardly worth it. Fortunately there is an easy solution for avoiding this situation—the tablet. Tablet PCs were made for situations like this—simply download the movies, games or other media you wish to enjoy on the flight before the trip and you’re ready to go.
3) Noise Cancelling Headphones or Earbuds
You never know what kind of people you’ll end up riding along with when you purchase your seat on an airlines—you could end up seated next to a loud snorer, someone who chews a little too loudly, a pair of chatterboxes, or the most dreaded culprit of them all, the crying baby. Even in the absence of these passengers, the plane itself emits a monotonous drone as speeds across the sky towards your destination. Fortunately, a nice pair of noise cancelling headphones or earbuds is all you’ll need to tune out the noise and keep you entranced with your entertainment medium of choice. Even if you neglected to bring a laptop or tablet pc, you can always plug them into the entertainment system on the back of the seat in front of you for some relief.
4) Sleeping Aides
Every night, you return to your bed, close your eyes, and breeze through 6-8 hours of your life before you wake up refreshed to tackle the new day. Wouldn’t it be great if you could shave even 5 hours off of your flight to Aruba? Sleeping is a great way to pass the time on a flight, but airlines haven’t exactly gone out of their way to make that easy for you, especially if you’re flying coach. Cramped seats and awkward neck rests make it difficult for most people to benefit from the restorative effects of sleep, if they’re even able to glean any rest at all. Fortunately, years of air travel have spawned a second economy within airports around sleeping better on the plane. From sleeping masks to neck pillows, there are many aides designed to help you sleep better while traveling by air.
Once upon a time, airlines used to offer complimentary meals to all their passengers, in addition to the pretzels and beverages they still serve on flights today. The meals weren’t the best in terms of taste, but at least it could help you stave off hunger while you fly to your destination. Today, the meals are just as bland, but you have to pay a pretty penny for anything more than pretzels and soda. That’s why it’s always a good idea to bring your own snacks. You might not need them for intercontinental flights, but for long trips abroad, hunger is one type of stress you do not want to have to deal with. Snacks are an especially good idea if you’re traveling with young children. A well fed baby is less likely to cry on the flight, sparing yourself and your fellow passengers the stress of a temper tantrum.