These 6 Things Will Make Your Next Flight More Comfortable

Traveling by plane can be uncomfortable, with long waits in the airport followed by hours packed into ever-smaller airplane seats. Rushed and frustrated, you often end up paying way more than you should for small conveniences.

After years of traveling and countless hours in transit, I've put together this practical guide to help you avoid the pitfalls of air travel and enjoy your trip. Here are some easy ways you can ensure you have a smooth, painless experience, both in the airport and once you board the plane. (See also: Tricks to Make Flying in Coach Feel (Almost) Luxurious)

1. Bring your own food and tea bags

Food at airports and onboard domestic flights is expensive — often double the cost you'd normally pay. And though meals are usually free on international flights, the quality is notoriously hit or miss. It's always best to err on the side of caution. Bring your own healthy snacks, like nuts, and dried and fresh fruit. Sandwiches made with bagels are also easily packable and won't squish easily in your bag.

Consider, too, bringing some herbal tea bags. Most coffee shops and flight attendants will give you hot water for free if you ask. This can save you on pricey airport lattes and help you stay calmer than drinking caffeinated beverages. Herbal tea is an especially good choice if you want to snooze while you're on the plane.

2. Bring your own water bottle

Bring an empty water bottle to get through security, and then fill up at the water fountains around the airport. If you're in a country where drinking from the fountain isn't always safe, consider heading to a coffee shop or restaurant and asking them to fill up your bottle with water from the soda dispenser. You can often get ice this way, too!

Having your own water bottle on the plane helps you stay hydrated without relying on sometimes slow service from the flight attendants, who dole out liquids in tiny plastic cups. (See also: 15 Airport Hacks From Professional Travelers)

3. Choose the right credit card

Booking your flight through an airline credit card gives you extra perks while flying. You'll usually get priority boarding, allowing you to get on the plane before all of the overhead bins are filled up with carry-ons. You may also get discounts on in-flight purchases, and travel protections in case your flight is canceled or your baggage doesn't show up.

Some premium cards even grant you access to airport lounges, which can make layovers infinitely more comfortable. You'll also get excellent service from staff in the lounges if your flight is canceled and you need to rebook. (See also: 12 Travel Perks You Didn't Know Your Credit Card Had)

4. Pack for success

Think strategically before you leave home about how you will spend your time while in transit. If you're checking a bag, be sure to put the items you want to use during the flight in your carry-on. It's frustrating to have packed your earbuds in your checked bag when you need them on the plane!

In-flight entertainment can be a good distraction from long hours of discomfort and boredom. But some airlines don't offer any entertainment, or at least not any that you're interested in. Bring your own to be sure you can stay occupied during the flight.

If you start your trip equipped with the right reading material, some good music, and a few favorite TV shows or movies, you may be surprised how fast your airport and flying time goes by. Amazon Prime allows you to download free books, movies, and music to take with you, and other services such as Netflix and the premium version of Spotify have similar services. You can also save free podcasts to your phone, or pay for audiobooks. With Audible's audiobook service, your first book is free.

Make sure your electronics are charged and ready to go. Some flights offer outlets but you don't want to take the chance that your seat doesn't have it or is not working.

Bonus Trick: If you can do without the checked bag entirely, this is an easier and faster way to travel. Traveling with just a carry-on means you can say goodbye to expensive checked bag fees and worries about lost luggage. (See also: 15 Packing Secrets From a Professional Traveler)

5. Set yourself up for sleep

Sleeping on a plane is another way to make the time pass quickly, but it's admittedly tricky business.

Bring along the items you need for slumber, including an eye mask, ear plugs, sleeping medications, and a neck pillow to get comfortable. A jacket can double as a pillow or blanket if need be. Try to get these items in advance. A neck pillow at the airport can cost twice as much as at a regular store.

Keep everything in a clothing pocket or a bag under your seat so it's easy to access when you feel drowsy. Getting up to rummage through a bag in the overhead bin is a sure way to wake yourself back up.

6. Try to have a sense of humor

Airports can be great spots for people watching. You get to see humanity in action in its many colorful renditions. Of course, it's annoying to be restricted in your movements and trapped in stale air for a long time, but keep things in perspective.

You're getting to experience one of the most freeing things of all, the ability to jet somewhere far away. Having a good attitude will only make the ride that much better.

By preparing yourself to have a good trip, packing a few travel essentials, and keeping a positive attitude, you can make traveling by plane not just bearable, but even enjoyable. Happy flying! (See also: 6 Things to Keep You Sane on a Plane)

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These 6 Things Will Make Your Next Flight More Comfortable

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