Traveling to distant destinations is a dream that many of us share, but reaching these places means facing long hours of air travel that can be stressful and tiring, as well as nightmarish for those who are afraid of flying.
Getting to the United States from Europe involves many hours on board a plane, but with these bits of advice, the journey will "fly by", allowing you to arrive at your destination refreshed and ready for a wonderful adventure!
After choosing your destination, ensuring that your passport is ready and ordering your ESTA (required for a trip to the USA), you should begin by choosing a "strategic" place on the plane. This can be done when booking your flight (if your airline allows), or when you check in at the airport.
With this in mind, SeatGuru is a very useful site, which has a database of the different aircrafts used by airlines, with a seat map and their numbers. It recommends the best and most comfortable seats (in green), and the worst (in yellow and red) with the reasons why, such as: proximity to the bathroom, reclining seats, window misaligned with the chair or little legroom. To know which plane your airline will be using, you can just enter the flight number and look at the SeatGuru seating arrangements on that particular plane.
Now on to clothing: dressing appropriately for the flight is surprisingly good advice! Dress yourself as comfortable as possible. Avoid tight clothes, in particular around the waist. Also, dress in layers, so that you can add or remove layers if you’re hot or cold! Aeroplane temperatures are often unbearable! Keep a sweater and a scarf at the ready to protect your throat.
Don’t forget your feet! Your feet tend to swell more after many hours of inactivity. So, remove your shoes (obviously being respectful of the smell that may affect your neighbours!) and spend the flight in your socks, so you can relax your toes and help your blood to circulate. In any case, from time to time, take a little stroll down the aisle to stop your feet from swelling.
Remember to place your hand luggage well so you have as much room as possible. Keep only what you need with you, such as: glasses, book, medicine, etc. This means that you won’t have to get up all the time. Make sure you have enough legroom, and don’t keep a big bag right by your feet: at first it might not bother you, but after a couple of hours it will become irritating.
When you want to sleep in difficult conditions (in a sitting position or in confined spaces - which is often all there is on low-cost airlines) a travel pillow could be useful and convenient, as well as a resting kit, which includes an eye mask and earplugs. However, you should purchase these things yourself in advance as it is increasingly less common for airlines to provide them.
During the flight, avoid drinking coffee or tea: you will be doing yourself a favour, as these beverages are more like dirty water than anything else, and because you will avoid keeping yourself awake for too long. Instead, drink natural substances: such as chamomile tea. Also, avoid sleeping pills or sedatives that relax you too much, and that would mean you would be less attentive in a potential emergency situation.
Finally, for many, a surefire way to rest well on board an aeroplane is missing a night's sleep, or sleep as little as possible the night before your departure. In this way, in fact, we are already exhausted when the flight takes off, and we won’t even know that we’ve been flying by the time we see the Statue of Liberty out of the little window!
Travelling to the United States? Do you have your pre-planning checklist in order? Visit our ESTA Guide for more information about obtaining your travel permit. We'd love to hear from you. Send us your comments or questions for travel assistance.