Just about everyone loves taking trips, but getting there can be taxing on your body, especially if you're dealing with swollen ankles. Small, cramped seats and narrow, crowded isles make it pretty hard to fly comfortably - especially when it's a long haul journey that takes more than five hours. But there are ways to make the flight pleasant - and this doesn't mean flattening a few glasses of wine and a strong sleeping pill after take off.
10. Plan Ahead And Make Arrangements With The Airline
If you have any seat preferences or special needs (eg. wheel chair, assistance), let the airline know as far in advance as possible. Almost every commercial airline will bend over backwards to accommodate you and help you to get the most comfy seat on the plane - these are often the ones near the front, which provide extra leg room.
9. Dress For Comfort
Dressing practically for the plane will go miles during and after the flight. You won't be the most glamorous passenger getting on, but just wait until you get there. Take note of the following points:
Wear comfortable, slip-on shoes that won't hinder you when clearing security - these are also helpful when it's time to go to sleep on the plane and you want to kick off your shoes.
Compression socks/stockings are really useful during and after your flight. Not only will these prevent you from getting deep vein thrombosis, the increased blood flow in your feet and legs will reduce any stiffness and swelling.
Wear soft cotton and comfy material, rather than anything rough or heavy. It is uncomfortable enough sitting on a plane without having to feel the constant scratch of thick material.
8. Bring A Decent Pillow And Blanket
The pillows and blankets provided by airlines are not always effective - the pillows are normally as useful as a single tennis shoe. If you are particularly prone to getting a stiff neck or back, bring your own pillow or purchase a specialised flight pillow. There are some incredible products out there, either online or at travel shops.
7. Melatonin Sleeping Pills
If you struggle to sleep on an aeroplane (whether it's from the noise, the turbulence or the screaming children) and absolutely need something to help you doze off, try a melatonin sleeping tablet. Melatonin is the compound produced by your brain to regulate sleeping patterns. This is a natural product that carries little side effects and won't have you 'zinked' out for three days after you've landed.
NB: Please note that melatonin tablets should only be used after consulting a pharmacist or doctor for advice.
6. Stay Hydrated
The air conditioning inside an aeroplane can dry your skin and eyes out terribly. If you have sensitive skin, bring a small container of moisturiser, some lip balm and eyes drops. If you manage to fall asleep, it's always nice to freshen up before breakfast with some products that put the elasticity back in your face. Back this up by drinking lots of water, but not so much that you spend the whole flight going to the bathroom.
5. See Your Doctor Beforehand
If you are taking a long trip and have any serious prior or current health issues, see a doctor before going abroad. The change in climate, air pressure and time zones can be stressful on your body and risky. Even if it is just for peace of mind, check with your doctor before finalising travel plans. You will also need to update any prescriptions and have a medical certificate for your meds on the plane.
4. Travel Insurance
This should be the first thing on any traveller's list. Make sure that you are covered properly before leaving - certain policies have an age limit. Getting travel insurance that caters for your exact needs is an essential. If you are travelling in Europe, be sure to update your EHIC.
3. Pack Your Own Food
Airport food is notoriously expensive and aeroplane food is notoriously average. If you like to snack and nibble while you're travelling, pack your own snacks. You won't be sorry.
2. Practical Luggage
The wheel is considered the greatest invention of all time for a reason. A good travel bag on wheels makes the world of difference - especially when you are carting a week's worth of clothing and supplies around. Even if you need to borrow a bag for your journey, don't make the mistake of lugging your heavy bag around unnecessarily.
1. Ask, Ask, Ask
Ask for an upgrade when checking in - the worst the airline can say is no. If your seat isn't comfortable enough, ask for an upgrade again. If you have a special need that needs to be met, ask the airline to do something about it. By challenging them to raise their game to accommodate older passengers, you are increasing the overall level of air travel. Good for you if you get a free upgrade, better meal and more comfortable seat along the way.
Last Updated: August 2011