Holidays are supposed to be a chance to travel to an exotic locale, enjoy a week of rest and relaxation, and leave your worries behind. But if your destination can only be reached by plane, which is most often the case for Australians looking to get away, your trip ends up being wrapped in hours of stress while you're flying to and from your vacation spot.
There are, however, ways to make being trapped in a long steel tube with hundreds of restless strangers slightly more enjoyable. So here's everything you need to make flying the most comfortable part of your next holiday. Assuming, of course, you don't just have a private jet at your disposal. If you do, invite me over.
The best way to survive a long flight is to simply sleep it away. But those tiny tissue-filled fabric sacks the airlines call pillows just aren't going to cut it. So the next time you fly make sure you pack this First Class Sleeper pillow.
It inflates in mere minutes, and like the name implies, it makes it feel as if you're relaxing in one of those posh first class cabin seats. Except that all that pseudo-luxury didn't cost you thousands of dollars or billions of frequent flyer points. $US30
You might think they're bizarre, but some passengers — particularly the taller variety — find it far more comfortable to sleep leaning forward while flying. But resting your head on the seat in front of you, which usually contains an entertainment centre these days, is far from relaxing.
So the SkyRest travel pillow inflates to fill the void between your deployed tray table and your head, giving you someplace soft and comfortable to rest your noggin. And since it also supports your chest, you'll be less likely to do the constant sleep rocking which can end up doing a real number on your back by the time the plane touches down. $US35
Nothing can spoil a flight faster than the tremendous pain when the pressure in your ears doesn't equalise. You can try yawning, swallowing, even sneezing as much as you want, but sometimes that relieving 'pop' never happens.
But you can avoid all that torture on your next trip with a set of these EarPlane ear plugs which feature a special ceramic pressure regulating valve that ensures the pressure difference between the plane's cabin and your ear canals always stays as equal as possible. They're also available in child and infant sizes, which should completely alleviate the issue of the screaming baby when travelling with kids. $US12 for 2 pairs
But maybe your fear and discomfort with flying has nothing to do with boredom, pressure headaches, or even the worry that something might happen to the plane. Maybe you're absolutely paranoid about the billions of germs being spread about by all the passengers.
Activating the air vent above your seat really does nothing to solve the problem, since that breeze is just recycled from the cabin's polluted air. But placing this clever filter over the vent will ensure you're blasted by fresh O2 that's 99.5 per cent free of airborne bacteria, viruses and allergens. It's just too bad it can't also deal with that horribly stale smell. $US20
Without a doubt the worst part about air travel, whether you're tall or short, fat or thin, is when the jerk in the seat in front of you decides that they're the only passenger on the plane and reclines their seat as far as it can go. As if the cabin wasn't already crowded enough, what little personal space you have is nearly completed eradicated.
Unless you come prepared with a set of these Knee Defenders. When deployed they're engineered to make it completely impossible for the passenger sitting in front of you to recline their seat. And as far as the authorities are concerned, they in no way conflict with the operation of the aircraft. So as long as you don't use them during takeoff or landing (when no one is allowed to recline anyways) you can finally reclaim all the personal seat space you paid for. $US19
Without a doubt, though, the best way to make a flight enjoyable is to not have to experience it at all. So an over-the-counter sleeping pill is the way to go. It doesn't matter how bad the food is, how terrible the movie line-up will be, or even if the plane is booked full of screaming toddlers. Take a couple of these just before your flight boards and before you know it the flight crew will be poking you with sticks, trying to get you off the plane at your destination. At that point you Just wipe off the drool, gather your things, and have a pleasant vacation until it's time to do it all over again on the flight home. $US8