The edges of the screen are fuzzy and peaceful looking. The seats are appropriately spaced. People tilt their seats back with a smile (and with plenty of room on both sides). Children are sitting cross-legged in their seats with their safety belt fastened perfectly around their little waists. The airplane swooshes gently into a sky laden with puffy clouds.
Welcome to your flight.
I am relaxed by the in-flight commercial, until my knee bumps the chair in front of me and jiggles the screen (and a fellow passenger, sorry!). I wish I was as short as the people in the safety video. As the flight gets longer, my already insufficient leg room shrinks. The person in front of me decides to play a cruel joke and tilt his seat back to take away what precious room I have left. And then the child two rows over decides that now would be a good time to test out her singing ability.
But there is a moment, when I get my satisfaction.
The beverage cart comes around, and I order a can. I’ve noticed that when you order a can of anything, they give you the full can. Not just a small cup, but an entire drink all to yourself. Insignificant as it may seem, it is my one moment of bliss.
Welcome to my flight.
As with any flight, there are ways to make your experience a bit better. You just need to come prepared. With your sanity and survival in mind, I offer up the best 10 gadgets to have on a flight.
#10 – The Neck Pillow
Sure, it’s not really a gadget in technical terms. But after watching Lord of the Rings for three hours straight, trust me, you will thank me. Your mini DVD player does not double well as a pillow. A neck pillow will help keep you from sleeping on your neighbor’s shoulder (which means you might actually get to sleep) and guarantees that you won’t spend the next few hours working the kink out of your neck.
#9 – Cell phone
This is a great gadget to have on the plane…so you can put it away! Nothing is more annoying than someone trying to talk on a cell phone above the noise of the plane. So please, set your ringer to quiet, text to your heart’s content, and realize that your conversations are much more enriching when you’re not sharing them with the three rows in front of you.
#8 – Charger
Some airlines come equipped with a standard plug-in for all of your gadgetry. Bring along a charger just in case. Instead of hoping that you have just one more minute of battery life left (and three hours of flying), you’ll be able to keep your devices fresh. (And you’ll be able to finish your Rocky marathon!)
#7 – iPod
Tired of your music? Download an audio book in advance of your flight. If that doesn’t entertain you, try out a few new podcasts. They’re a great way to learn about something new and pass the time. Just make sure you charge the battery before you board. Or better yet, bring item #8.
#6 – DVD Player
What better way to spend the flight than to catch up on a few movies? If you’re riding with a friend, bring an adaptor (or buy a DVD player with several headphone ports). They’re not too expensive and they make the hours fly by. Several airports offer DVD rentals and a few major hubs have kiosks where you can rent a player to take with you.
#5 – Tooth Brush
Again, it’s not technically a gadget (unless its electric). But if you’re stuck on a long flight, there is nothing better than spending a few minutes stretching out and brushing your teeth. Not only will it help you feel refreshed, but it’ll make your drool smell a little bit nicer when you fall asleep without your neck pillow.
#4 – Portable Gaming System
Just like their full-sized cousins, a portable gaming system offers hours of entertainment. But don’t get too carried away when you finally rescue the princess from the angry dragon. (Space is limited.) If you’re intent on doing this for a few hours, you may want to cart along another set of batteries, just in case! (That handy charger works here too.)
#3 – A bottle for water
Chances are the small shot of water they give you from the beverage tray will help…for the next ten minutes. Carry on a small bottle of water to help keep you hydrated. You’ll be so happy that you’ll forget this isn’t technically a gadget.
#2 – Laptop
This is probably the best gadget to have on a plane — provided you’re not spill-prone. If you’ve got a laptop, make sure it is charged (or see #8) and bring your favorite movies or games along (or, if you must, get some work done).
#1 – Headphones
This is the greatest invention known to airlines (and probably the reason they charge you $5 to buy them). Headphones have the potential to make or break your flight experience. Loud child two rows back? You’ve got the solution. A set of compact, noise-canceling headphones will allow you to drift away from the fact that you are crammed into a small seat beside frazzled parents with screaming babies and behind the man who tilted his chair back.
With these gadgets on hand you’re all set to enjoy your flight! Just remember, ask for the full can.