Whenever possible, try to choose the best seat for you. Window or aisle? The answer is different for each person. If you’re thinking of snoozing most of the way, then a window seat gives you a better chance of sleeping mostly undisturbed. But if you need to get up and move around periodically, then avoid irritating your seatmates by getting an aisle seat.
Plan ahead by anticipating your new time zone. Start thinking about what you will be doing in the new time zone at various times during the day. It is a mental adjustment, but to further cement your efforts, change your watch and smartphone to your new time zone as soon as you board. That way you will be mentally prepared for your new time zone and possibly take a well-deserved or much-needed nap as you travel.
Pack carefully. Take as much as you need and no more. If at all possible, try to fit everything into carry-on bags so that there is no problem with lost baggage. Also, being able to carry your bags can come in very handy if you need to carry your bags further than you anticipated. It’s happened to me when we arrived at our hotel only to find out that we couldn’t check in for a couple of hours and because of some current renovations, they couldn’t hold our luggage. I was very happy to have wheels on my luggage and a light enough second bag that it didn’t hurt my shoulder to carry it around Seattle for a few hours.
Bring enough diversionary material to keep you occupied for the entire flight just in case you can’t sleep. I usually bring a book and a magazine, my iPod and headphones for music and noise reduction. Other people bring their laptops or tablets loaded with movies or television series that they want to watch during their “down time” as they fly. I always hope to be able to snooze for a little bit of the flight, I’m a light sleeper. It helps to have things to read, or a crossword puzzle or sudoku puzzle to do to keep myself entertained on the flight.
Whenever possible, try to do discrete stretches to keep your muscles and joints from stiffening as well as to keep your blood flowing. Blood clots occur with higher incidence during longer flights. Learning to do calisthenics while seated in your seat can prevent this.
If you forgot something on one trip, write it down in a travel journal that you review prior to your next trip. Soon you’ll be a seasoned traveler that everyone will both admire and envy.