That much flying is tough on the body, especially in coach, and if you arrive feeling like a wreck, you're not going to have much of an appetite for hitting the culinary scene you've traveled so long to reach.
Over the years, I've learned a few tricks to make long-haul flights more comfortable. My strategy centers around a quart-sized zip-top bag, which I think of as my in-flight comfort kit, filled with items to help me sleep, and to feel refreshed during the flight. I just tuck this bag into the seat-back pocket and I've got all of what I need at arm's reach. (Plus, if I forget to check lotion or liquids, I can always tuck them into this bag and get through security.) You'll want to create your own kit based on your own needs, but here's what I bring:
- Eye shade
- Disposable teeth wipes. Such as Oral-B's brush-ups or the equivalent, easier than carrying toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Ipod and headphones. (Many airlines charge for headphones now, and yours are probably better.
- Pack of tissues
- Granola bar
- Foldable hair brush and elastic hair band.
- Lip balm: That cabin air is very dry!
- Medication: I bring Advil, sleeping aids, and a few different tummy medications.
- Pen: For filling out entry forms on arrival. Jot down your passport number and expiration date on a piece of paper and tuck it in the bag and you won't need to keep your passport with you at your seat.
- A blow-up u-shaped neck cushion. It's not as comfy as one of those bean-bag ones, but I'm also concerned about keeping my luggage weight as low as possible.
- A shawl-sized scarf: I drape this around my sorta scratchy u-shaped pillow, use it as an extra blanket or even ball it into a pillow.
- Compression stockings: I resisted this for years because -- well, they sound so uncool, and also I thought they'd be uncomfortable -- but they look just like regular socks, and I find they feel good -- more like a gentle massage than a tourniquet. Deep vein thrombosis is a hazard of long-haul flights, so it's a smart precaution.