Traveling can be tough for all kinds of reasons. Long lines. Delayed flights. Interacting with a bunch of strangers. Lost bags.
But it can also be tough because sitting on the plane can cause neck and back pain unless you are conscious about preventing it. In fact, 90% of travelers report neck and back pain on the plane.
Who wants to pay all those extra fees for checked baggage anyway? Get a regulation-size carry-on with wheels and skip everything else.
A lot of your back pain isn't starting in the plane. It's starting at drop-off, as you lug giant bags and purses towards the check-out counter. And sooner or later, you're going to have to pick them up again.
While you're at it, find a lightweight purse or backpack which distributes weight evenly. I like a Multipurpose Backpack. In fact, it's seriously so well-designed I once packed clothes and toiletries for an entire week's trip, while including phone, Kindle, and chrome book with all chargers, plus my wallet. I had to do laundry once while on the road, but it was freeing and easy.
If you're not quite at my level of minimalism it makes a great travel purse too. (Hint: if you're flying Spirit this thing is the exact size of their less-than-generous carry-on limits).
If you're using a normal airline, a regular carry-on will do. Think you can't live without loads of stuff? See how veteran travelers manage it all the time.
TL:DR? Make sure all the colors in your bag go together, bring exactly one pair of jeans (on your body, at the airport) because jeans are bulky, and favor slacks, skirts, shorts or canvas pants. Have a couple of outer shirts for layering. Make sure your shoes are good no matter where you want to take them, and bring them on your feet.
A good pair of boots can go with almost anything. And if you've absolutely got to have a pair of shoes that kills on the fashion front, standard carry-ons do have the room if you are careful about everything else.
Support The Lumbar Spine
Improper lower back support is one of the major reasons why people get uncomfortable on the plane. The seats just weren't designed to be particularly ergonomic.
If you have a Soothie you can strap it into place to get exactly what you need where you need it. If not, you can roll up a small blanket. Place it behind you and lean back until you're seated comfortably.
If You're Going to Nap, Get Proper Neck Support
Speaking of improper support, planes weren't really meant for napping, either. But if your flight's super long there's no getting around needing some sleep.
Theoretically those chairs recline, but then you're sentencing someone else to a long, uncomfortable trip while your seat slowly crushes both that person's legs and his or her will to live.
You need something specially designed for sleeping while sitting up. Here are a few travel pillow options worth checking out. Soothie works here too, but if you've got to choose because you only have one, use Soothie for the lumbar support and use a travel pillow for your neck.
Use Hot & Cold Therapy to Relieve Pain In Transit
Chiropractors will tell you to alternate between heat and ice if your back and neck pain gets too crazy on the plane. Your freezer pack will last for 6 hours, so charge it up and slip it in place before you leave home.
Need the hot pack? See if a flight attendant will warm it in the microwave for you, or better yet slip into an airline convenience store to warm it up before boarding.
Having both will help if the plane starts to turn super cold or super hot, which it always seems to do whenever I travel.