Stay Comfortable on a Long Flight


“Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.” — Francis Bacon

Traveling on a plane can exhaust even the most energetic of people. Somewhere between the roaring engine take-off and the gentle coast at 20,000 feet, I find myself a bit narcoleptic. This can be problematic if I need to be working during the flight or if I want to feel alert when we land at the destination.

In my quest to fend off my In-Flight Narcolepsy, I’ve found a few things work well to stay comfortable, alert, and refreshed. I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me.

Caffeine Up Before Boarding
Drink a small coffee right before boarding. Falling in and out of sleep during take-off makes you feel groggy even hours later when it is time to deboard. A little dose of caffeine, timed just right, balances out your energy. For those of you who prefer to wait for your free coffee in-flight, you may want to reconsider. Read Forbes’ article “Why Airline Crews Skip the Coffee and Tea Onboard.” This article explains how the water on flights could be contaminated.

Fly on Leg Day
Get a hard leg workout or cardio workout in before the flight. Do 3 sets of 12 reps of barbell squats. Or 4 sets of 6 reps of deadlifts. Or, run sprint intervals using the pattern: one minute sprint, one-minute walk, for one mile.

More Leg Day ideas at 5 Best Leg Workouts from

Don’t Sit at The Gate
Moments from now you will be sitting for three (or more) hours in a modern day torture chamber. Regardless of how tired you feel, I urge you to remain standing while you wait at the gate. Standing now will make you more comfortable and less antsy on the flight. It will balance your energy and keep you from feeling lethargic.

Wear Soft Pants
If you don’t mind looking like a teenager, then I advise wearing sweatpants or pajama pants. In the event you are an adult and want to look like one, then you should buy the most comfortable and fashionable denim jeans I have found. The Banana Republic travelers pant are a gold for traveling (Traveler Jeans).

Free Your Feet
If flip flops will work with your outfit; then keep your feet free with a pair of thongs. Some people will pack their flip flops and wear their shoes to save luggage space.

For those who can’t wear sandals on the flight, I advise taking your shoes off. Note: only do this if you do not have smelly feet, please. Since feet swell in high altitude, taking off your shoes is much more comfortable and will allow you to land feeling fresh.

Plane Posture
Force yourself to sit up straight. It’s easy to want to lounge in what small space you have, but if you can, focus on sitting up tall, at least for the first half of the flight. Doing so will keep your blood flowing and your spine engaged, but it will also trick your mind into feeling more alert than it would if you were curled up into a ball.

Drink Soda Water with Lime
There are few beverages that the flight attendant serves that are more refreshing than soda water with a lime. Coffee is another option, but at this stage, you want to focus on hydrating. Also, some studies have shown that loud noises on an airplane can actually lower your taste receptors. So while you are springing for a soda or beer because of taste preference, that may be a waste.

“Airline food actually tastes OK; it’s the noise from the engine that distracts us.” Travel.CNN Article “6 In-Flight Myths, Busted”

Avoid Noise Fatigue
If you have ridden a motorcycle on the highway then you probably know about Noise Fatigue – the tired feeling you can experience from the wind slapping you in the eardrums. Similarly to wind on a crotch rocket, you experience physical fatigue from the high decibels being emitted from the airplane. My recommendation: wear over-the-ear headphones. BOSE Noise canceling will be best, but if you’re a baller on a budget (like me), you can even wear construction earplugs.

Flying is energy draining, but it doesn’t have to take the life out of you. Use these tips and your travels will leave you feeling sprightly.

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