Whether you are flying somewhere with your family for a much-needed vacation or solo for a routine business trip, air travel comes with its own challenges. It is very common for people to get bored, restless or uncomfortable during flights, and these problems are easily eliminated with a little planning.

The best thing you can do to improve your in-flight experience is to bring the comforts of home with you. You are always allowed at least one carry-on bag, so make it count. Here are some tips:

·         Sanitation: Although it’s not a pleasant thought, it pays to consider cleanliness and plan ahead by bringing sanitary wipes and hand gel. The surfaces on airplanes get touched by many different people every day, and that includes the bathroom fixtures as well as your seat handles, pull-down trays and anything else you touch. Whip out your wipes as soon as you sit down and go over the main surfaces you will touch in-flight, and do the same when you go into the washroom (never enter airplane washrooms with stocking feet!). Use non-wash hand gel before eating and then again after exiting the aircraft. Take these quick precautions and you’ll save yourself from potentially getting sick on your vacation or trip. Just remember to keep any little bottles under 100Ml or they will be confiscated at the gate.

·         Healthy Snacks: While you may get food on the plane, ensure you won’t be hungry and that you’ll eat what you want by bringing along healthy snacks. Check with your airline or customs as to whether you can bring food through the gate, or buy some small items you like inside the gate, before boarding. This is especially helpful when the in-flight crew cannot get to you in a timely manner due to turbulence or other concerns, and you feel famished. Try to keep your snacks on the healthy side, as mentioned – salty snacks will only make you feel thirsty and dehydrated.

·         Reading material: A book or magazine will go a long way toward keeping you busy during your flight. If you forget, you can usually grab some reading material at the airport.

·         Audio: To drown out noisy kids or just to relax, in flight audio works like a charm. Many airlines offer movies or other entertainment, but not all offer free headsets these days. Bring along a headset of your own – iPod headsets fit into most airline audio sockets. You can also, of course, load your iPod or other listening device with music or stories to keep you entertained on your flight.

·         Reflection: You may want to bring a notebook or journal in which to record your thoughts. Away from the norms of your everyday life, you can make use of the chance to reflect by writing out goals, plans or other personal thoughts.  WORK TIP: Even if you are heading somewhere to get away from all your work-related concerns, flying time offers a unique opportunity for you to get some clarity. Consider using this time to ponder your current work set-up, how it can be improved and what your professional goals may be for the next few months and years. No matter what you do for a living, there is always room for improvement – in both your performance and effectiveness and well as your sense of satisfaction – and entrepreneurs, especially, often forget to step back and work ‘on’ their business rather than ‘in’ it all the time. Use this time to get a little perspective and you may find some new, exciting plans come to mind.

·         Comfort: Airplanes are very dry, so bring small items such as lip balm, saline eye drops and nose spray. Drink lots of water while on board, and keep your skin moisturized. You may also want to bring a small blanket or scarf and maybe even a mini-pillow, as many airlines no longer offer these as complimentary items, and you find yourself sleepy or cold with no recourse but to be uncomfortable. Also consider a sleep mask and earplugs if you plan on resting.

·         Relaxation: Listen to relaxing music or meditations to pass the time, and to alleviate nervousness if you are prone to it. Load your iPod with soothing guided meditations or calming music. Some enterprising airlines even offer these as part of their in-flight entertainment system.