Travel + Leisure

I Travel for a Living, and These Are the 15 Products That Make Flying More Comfortable 

I’ve been flying for three decades, and these game-changing accessories might make you forget that you’re in coach. 

By Kristy Alpert

There was a time in my life when I would fall asleep the second the plane began taxiing on the runway. My 37-year-old body cringes now at the thought of how I used to contort my neck or fold in half to sleep in a fetal position between the arm rests. I more or less grew up on an airplane, flying stand-by with my pilot father’s flight privileges since I was 3-years-old, and have since begun my own professional traveling career, writing about both luxury and adventure tourism as a professional travel writer. So, as you’d imagine, my job involves a lot of time spent flying from one place to another, whether that’s on a brand-new luxury airliner headed toward the Middle East or sitting shotgun in a twin-engine plane headed toward a remote village in Uganda. 

I tend to pack lightly — a byproduct of growing up on a steady diet of standby tickets — and thus have had to learn how to make those long (and sometimes rough) flights more than just bearable, especially because I often have to hit the ground running once I land. Luckily, in my 15 years of travel writing, I’ve encountered several products that have made my cabin experience impressively more comfortable. And, they’re all available at Amazon (some are even on sale ahead of the Prime Big Deal Days event). So, keep scrolling to explore the game-changing travel accessories that will not only make your next flight comfortable, but, yes, enjoyable, too.  

Trtl Travel Pillow  

I was skeptical of this neck pillow until a fellow travel writer convinced me to try it out on a long flight to Bora Bora. He was nice enough to let me borrow his, and at the end of my trip, he had to ask me to get it back. I’ve tried several types of neck pillows, and this is the only one that allows me to wake up without a kink in my neck. After securing it in place, you simply tilt your head slightly to one side and get the sleep support that you need to wake up ready to tackle a new time zone. 

Maxfeel Pure Silk Eye Mask  

Sure, there are fancier eye masks out there, but this $10 eyeshade has been with me to all seven continents now, and I have zero complaints. It does the trick, and the price point makes it easy to replace if anything ever happened to it — though, I’ve had mine now since 2016 and it still looks brand new. Key features include its adjustable strap, which easily creates a customizable fit so you don’t have to worry about it being too tight or slipping off when you move your head, and the mask is slightly oversized so light won’t creep in. The luxe silk material also feels soft against the skin, making you forget that you’re sitting in a middle seat in coach. 

BlueHills Travel Blanket Pillow 

I was part of the small group that misses those flimsy airplane blankets until I found this fold-up blanket-pillow combination. I don’t bring this on every flight, but on long-hauls, I attach this to my Rollaboard or hook it with a carabiner to my carry-on so I can snuggle in for a cozy flight. This blanket is unlike airline blankets in every way; it covers from my neck all the way past my toes, it’s actually insulated, it’s soft, and it folds into a pillow for easy neck or lumbar support.  

Twelve South AiryFly Audio Transmitter 

Not having to use those free headphones on a plane is a luxury that I never knew I was missing until I watched my seatmate plug in this transmitter, which connects your wireless headphones to any console via Bluetooth. I sat in awe as they enjoyed their in-flight entertainment without having to struggle with poppy sound quality and uncomfortable earpieces like me. I ordered one upon landing and always have this in my bag next to my favorite Bluetooth earbuds for flights that still use seatback entertainment. 

Earth Therapeutics Aloe Socks 

This comfy find was actually a Christmas stocking gift from my mom. I keep a pair permanently stowed in my carry-on, and they’ve become part of my travel routine: I sit down, get settled, kick off my shoes, and slip on a pair of these cozy socks. Some people swear by compression socks, but I prefer to wear something fuzzy. And even better, they’re infused with aloe vera and vitamin E to moisturize your feet, so you get the comfort of their plushness and the skincare benefits of their nourishing fabric. 

Tagry Bluetooth Headphones  

A quality pair of noise-canceling headphones are essential for air travel, especially if you’re trying to catch some Zs on your flight. Though I typically wear my Bose wireless earbuds while traveling, I was instantly impressed by reviews from this Amazon-favorite pair. They’ve racked up more than 40,000 five-star ratings, proving that this $50, noise-reducing pair functions just as good (or even better, according to some reviewers) than some of the big-name brands out there. 

3M Ear Plugs 

These yellow ear plugs are issued to military members, which is how I first discovered them to be the best noise-canceling ear plugs for travel. My military husband let me borrow a pair for a flight, and now I always snag some while packing for a trip because this is the only type that doesn’t slip or expand too quickly in my ears. Bonus: This inexpensive bulk box will last you for many flights to come — and it’s on sale for 37 percent off.  

Travelon Deluxe Travel Neck Pillow 

I used this travel pillow for years before switching to the Trtl Travel Pillow mentioned above, but I still find myself reaching for this one for certain flights. It’s ideal for shorter trips when I just need to relax instead of getting a good, hard sleep. And, I love how it packs up so small in my carry-on, and inflates with only a few breaths. There’s even a handy pocket to hold your smartphone, headphones, and other tiny in-flight essentials, and its plush material is cozy to snuggle up to.  

Riiqiichy Pashmina Shawl 

I started traveling with an oversized scarf back in 2012, and I can count on one hand how many flights I’ve taken without it. It doubles as a blanket on chilly flights and a shawl while out at dinners in my destination, and I can easily just wear it as a scarf or tie it around my purse if I don’t want to waste suitcase space. This Riiqiichy Pashmina Shawl is an Amazon best-seller and is made with high-quality fabric that’s equal parts soft, warm, and cozy. 

Baleaf Women’s Leggings With Pockets 

There was a time in my life when being the daughter of an airline pilot meant dressing a certain way. Thankfully, those rules have been discarded alongside my “airport dress.” Now that I’m a paying customer, I dress for comfort, which often means wearing leggings. I love the side pockets on these comfy Baleaf leggings, as well as the fact that I can wear these at my destination, to the gym, or paired with a dress or tunic for a casual sight-seeing outfit. They’re available in 11 colors and won’t cost you more than $30. 

Voianlimo Open Front Sweater 

Layers are important while traveling, particularly on airplanes that can get super cold, but I often don’t have room for extra clothes that only serve one purpose in my luggage. Enter: the Voianlimo Open Front Sweater. This lightweight — and easy to stash — cardigan has been my go-to for every trip that I’ve ever taken. I can throw it on when I get chilly in-flight, wear it with a nice dress while out to eat, or keep it tucked away in my purse while out exploring. Add one to your cart while it’s on sale for $25. 

Owala FreeSip Insulated Water Bottle 

I actually don’t even leave the house without this water bottle, let alone travel without it. It’s a comfort to know I don’t have to wait for non-turbulent air if I need water, and I love how this best-selling water bottle can clip easily to my carry-on with a carabiner or easily slip into my personal bag. There are options to either sip or swig, but the feature that I love most is that this water bottle never leaks.  

PF Flyers Unisex Center Lo Sneakers  

I’ve been on what feels like a lifelong hunt for the perfect white travel sneakers ever since I realized how many outfits could easily pair with the classic footwear style. Unfortunately, so many pairs are unsupportive, but this version from PF Flyers is without a doubt the most comfortable travel shoe that I own. They slip on and off easily and have cushioned insoles that perfectly mold to any weary traveler’s feet and absorb shock. I wear them with leggings, linen pants, dresses, and literally everything in my suitcase. And at $60, they’re a budget-friendly buy, especially if you’ve had your eyes on a pair of Converse sneakers. 

Acelitt Women’s Casual Pants 

I wore a pair of linen pants on a trip to Botswana thinking it was very “Out of Africa” of me, but didn’t factor in that they’d get super wrinkled. Then, I realized the genius of lightweight polyester trousers — wrinkles only make them look better. Plus, they’re very breathable and still cover my legs to keep me warm on the plane. This style from Amazon-loved brand Acelitt is very close to my go-topair, which are the most comfortable pants I own. Want to try them out? Grab a pair while they’re on sale for $34. 

Lewis N. Clark TSA-Approved Padlock 

You can never be too careful, and it’s best to be prepared for any scenario when you’re on the go. Theft is a scary reality of traveling, which is why I never go anywhere without this TSA-approved padlock. It’s a little piece of assurance while traveling — yes, even in-flight; I’ve attached it around my backpack to the plane chair leg while heading to the cabin bathroom, and even connected another one between two zipper pulls on my laptop sleeve to help deter theft while I was stretching my legs in the aisle. 

Love a great deal? Sign up for our T+L Recommends newsletter and we’ll send you our favorite travel products each week.