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5 (Totally Free) Ways To Make Your Flight Better

06/16/2015 05:27 pm ET | Updated Jun 16, 2016

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Staying comfortable in the air is not always easy. Legroom is tight, planes are packed, and comforting extras, like snacks and entertainment, can cost extra. But Hopper is here to help. We found five ways you can stay comfy on a plane -- and unlike that bag of potato chips, these are all free.

1. Bring a Water Bottle

Whether you're indulging in salty snacks or free airplane booze, you should keep yourself well hydrated, as the dry recirculated air could dehydrate you mid-flight. But don't rely on tiny bottles of water from the flight attendant. Instead, pack an empty water bottle (you can take it through security) and refill to your heart's content before boarding and during your flight. Some airlines, such as Spirit, even charge for water these days, so having your own H2O source could save a bit of money.

We recommend collapsible water bottles like the Vapur Element or the Platypus PlusBottle, but even a plain plastic bottle could do in a pinch.

2. Check a Seat Map

Don't get stuck in the one row that doesn't recline. Even in regular old economy, some seats are worse than others, with limited or no recline, narrower seats, no seat-back entertainment, or a location near the loud (and smelly) restrooms. Always check a seat map while booking or checking in. (Or if you are flying with an airline like Southwest, which has no assigned seating, know which rows to avoid before you board and always check in early for the best chances at an early boarding group.)

3. Dress Comfortably

You don't need to wear pajamas on a plane to cozy, but you will notice a serious difference in your in-flight experience when you dress comfortably! First, dress in layers: Airplanes can get surprisingly cold, and provided blankets are often tissue thin. Also wear loose-ish breathable fabrics that won't rub or cut into your skin. Choose comfortable flat shoes that you can slip on and off as needed. Women may want to pack a scarf that can perform double-duty as a pillow or warm wrap. Also consider wearing glasses instead of contacts: The recirculated air inside of the cabin can dry out your eyes, and contacts can become very uncomfortable for some wearers.

4. Pack Light

Legroom is hard to find on today's planes unless you're springing for first class, so there's no reason to make it even harder on yourself. Keep as many items in your carry-on as you can and stow your bag above you in the overhead compartment. Place your reading material, tablet, sleep mask, and any other in-flight goodies in the seatback pocket, leaving the floor completely clear. That way, you can stretch out as much as possible (plus you won't have to struggle with repacking items and carrying heavy bags as you deplane).

5. Bring Your Own Entertainment

While some airlines provide free in-flight seat-back entertainment, such as Virgin and JetBlue, other airlines charge for the privilege. Don't get stuck reading the safety manual for kicks. Instead, bring your own entertainment from home, whether it's a book you've been meaning to catch up on, a laptop or tablet preloaded with movies, or simply a pad of paper and pen for doodling. Also, make sure to look for outlets under the seat if you're bringing electronic devices along that may need a charge.

This post originally appeared on Hopper.com, the travel app that makes smart predictions about when to fly and buy, based on billions of individual flight searches. Set up a fare alert in the Hopper app now!

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