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Five things to bring on every long flight

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There are long flights and there are long flights. Singapore Airlines has the longest haul currently, with nearly 19 hours from Newark, New Jersey, to Singapore. But that’s bound to be eclipsed soon as airlines and aircraft manufacturers vie to be the first to pull off the last major nonstop air route: Sydney to London, estimated at over 20 hours.

As an inveterate traveller, I fly multiple long flights a year. My personal longest was 17 hours from Johannesburg to Atlanta, but 10-12 hour flights are my norm. But then, I’ve been on sub-5 hour flights with fellow passengers lamenting how it was “such a long flight.” It’s all relative. No matter your definition, there are two keys to making any long flight seem short: comfort and distraction. Here are five(ish) items to help pass the time and miles.

Movies, music and more

Every major airline, and most of the smaller ones, have seatback entertainment. Generally these are of the on-demand variety, letting you choose from a variety of movies and TV episodes. But will they be the movies and TV shows you actually want to watch?

You’re probably better off bringing what you want. Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, Vudu and others all have mobile apps that let you download content to watch offline. If you paid for the movie or episode, you shouldn’t have an issue downloading it. If it’s Netflix, or included with Amazon Prime streaming, there’s no guarantee, though, and you should check well before your flight. You will not be able to stream anything from these services on the plane, even if you pay for the in-flight Wi-Fi. You’ll probably have a hard time downloading at the airport too, so this is all something best done at home.

A growing number of airlines are doing away with seatback entertainment and instead offer the same content via their own app, streamed internally on the plane’s Wi-Fi to your phone or tablet. Check if your flight has this beforehand or be prepared to download the app at the airport before you board.

Charging cable and battery

Since you’ll likely use your phone or tablet for a good chunk of the flight, you’re going to need to keep it charged. Long-haul flights usually have an airline’s oldest planes, so you can’t be sure if there will be a power or charging outlet available at your seat.

SeatGuru will help with this. The site gives you information about your specific plane, and even about the seat you’ve selected or been assigned. Sometimes there’s a USB port next to the seat back screen. Other times there’s a regular power outlet under the seat. No matter what’s available, you should keep a portable charger with you. A cable, perhaps a bit longer than you normally use, should be enough to let you use your device while it’s charging, no matter where the plug is at your seat.

Even if there is an outlet, a rechargeable USB battery is the most useful device to have while travelling after your phone itself. These let you charge on the go and extend your phone’s battery life for hours. Wirecutter, the New York Times company that reviews products, has reviewed and selected extensive options for chargers, cables, and batteries.

Noise-canceling headphones

Noise-canceling headphones reduce steady droning sounds like airplane engines. They’re not a cone of silence but can make flights can go from “clamorous and tiring” to “loud, but tolerable.” At least, the best ones can. For the past several years, I’ve reviewed every major noise-canceling headphone on the market, and even though there are dozens to choose from, the vast majority reduce very little actual noise.

My favourite is also the in-ear noise cancelling pick from Wirecutter: the Bose QuietComfort 20. They’re small and light, and you can somewhat-comfortably sleep with them on (at least, better than with many other options). Most importantly, they reduce an incredible amount of noise. If over-ear headphones are more your speed, Wirecutter suggests the Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II.

You could, if you want to go the really budget route, just use earplugs (which many airlines provide in amenity kits). However, those rely on getting a good seal between the plugs and your ear canals which, on some people (like myself), isn’t easy. Plus, even if you get a good seal, the sound of an aircraft engine probably isn’t going to be reduced as well as it would be with a good pair of noise cancelling headphones.

Layers

I’ve never been on a flight that had a steady or predictable temperature. It’s pretty much impossible, given the cold air outside, the humid, heat-producing mammals inside, and that pesky ball of fusion in the sky (or the lack thereof, depending on the time and weather). Layers are key. Some airlines will give you a threadbare blanket to “warm” yourself if it gets really cold, but I’ve never regretted bringing a hoodie or pullover. Worst case, it doubles as a pillow. I’ve had good luck with Smartwool outer layers, but they’re expensive and, really, anything easily removable will work here. I also tend to never wear shorts since I’ve been cold on planes more regularly than I’ve been hot, but you know your body best.

Different parts of the plane will also have some effect on the temperature. Window seats are likely cooler than aisles, and exit rows cooler than all others.

Anything you need for your personal comfort

There is a massive market for in-flight comfort products. Most are pretty useless. For example, if you only fly once or twice a year, spending money on a travel pillow probably isn’t worth it. Before you’re tempted to spend money on things you’ll use once or twice, consider saving that money for a seat upgrade.

However, other things may be good to pack in your carry-on. Most airlines on long, overnight flights will give you a sleep mask and a small tube of moisturizer, both of which you might find handy to bring yourself if you have a mask or brand of lotion you prefer. Airplane air gets very dry, and even at night there are lights around the cabin you might find distracting.

Usually you’ll get a bottle of water for free, but if you’re the thirsty type, bring an empty water bottle and fill it before you board. A snack won’t hurt either; just keep in mind that many countries, especially smaller island types, won’t let you enter with fresh fruit.

If you’re on the older or huskier side, consider compression socks. These should help keep the blood from pooling in your lower legs and feet, which can cause blood clots or uncomfortable swelling. But really, everyone should get up and walk around every few hours, especially on those long-haul flights. Safe rule of thumb, if one of your seatmates gets up to use the bathroom, you should go too. Even if it’s just to walk around and stretch your legs.

Lastly, as we’ve mentioned before, a pen is handy. If you’re on a long flight, chances are you’ll need to fill out some sort of customs or immigration form, and airlines neverhave pens.

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Travel & Escape

Why your hotel mattress feels like heaven (and how to bring that feeling home)

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(NC) Choosing the right mattress is a long-term investment in your health and well-being. To make a good choice for your home, take a cue from luxury hotel-room beds, which are designed to support the sound sleep of tens of thousands of guests, 365 nights a year.

“When we’re shopping for a mattress, we do lab testing, identify the best materials, bring in multiple mattress samples and have our associates test them,” explains David Rizzo, who works for Marriott International. “We ask for ratings on comfort level, firmness, body support and movement disruption. It takes 12 to 18 months just to research and select materials.”

Here, he shares his tips to pick the perfect mattress for your best sleep:

Understand your needs. People have different food and exercise preferences, as well as different sleep cycles. So, it’s no surprise that everyone has unique mattress preferences. Not sure whether a firm or a soft mattress is better? Rizzo says the best gauge is to ask yourself, “Do I wake up with aches and pains?” If the answer is no, you’re golden.

Foam versus spring. All mattresses have a core that is made up foam or innersprings or a combination of the two. Today’s foam-core mattresses contain memory foam — a material engineered by NASA to keep astronauts comfortable in their seats. It’s special because it retains or “remembers” its shape, yielding to pressure from the sleeper’s body, then bouncing back once the pressure is removed.

An innerspring mattress has an encased array of springs with individual coils that are connected by a single helical wire. This wire creates continuous movement across the coil that minimizes disruption if the mattress is disturbed, such as by a restless sleeper. According to Rizzo, the innerspring is “bouncier.”

Temperature preference. Consider how warm or cool you like to sleep, and factor in the construction of the mattress to find one with a temperature that suits you. The air space engineered into an innerspring mattress promotes ventilation, which some people find keeps them pleasantly cool. To accomplish the same purpose with a foam mattress (or the foam layer of an innerspring) it may be infused with metal, usually silver or copper, to help dissipate heat and humidity.

Need to test out the right mattress for your needs? Find the right fit during your next trip by booking your stay at marriott.com.

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Travel & Escape

How to make the most of summer travel

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(NC) One of the best parts of our short Canadian summers is the opportunity to enjoy them a little bit extra on long weekends. If you need ideas, check out these creative things to do whether you decide to stay in town or go away.

Do a dinner crawl. Pub crawls are fun for couples, friends and also families with older kids. For an exciting twist that stretches your dollars and lets you taste food from several spots before you get too full, try a dinner crawl. Eat apps at one restaurant, mains at another and dessert at another.

Go on a mini getaway. You don’t need to go very far to enjoy a vacation – exploring a Canadian city over a summer weekend is great way to treat yourself to a holiday. Whether it’s checking out the museums in Toronto or the parks in Vancouver, there’s something for everyone. For upgraded benefits, special experiences and the best rates guaranteed, join Marriott Bonvoy and book direct on Marriott.com.

Host a potluck. Perfect whether you’re staying at home or going to your cottage, gather friends and family together for some food and fun. A potluck is an easy and affordable way to host a big get-together and lets everyone try something new and swap recipes. Make the festivities extra special with a fireworks potluck, too – ask everyone to bring some fireworks or sparklers and put on a light show. Just be sure to follow local regulations for consumer fireworks.

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Travel & Escape

Lottoland: Here’s why Canadians love it!

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Lotteries have been in existence for many centuries now and it’s an open secret that most people enjoy playing a good lottery.

Asides from gauging your own luck, the thrill of playing, the anticipation of the results and the big wins every now and then is something most people look forward to. Since 1982, the lottery has been in Canada, but now there is a way to play both the Lotto and other international lotteries from Canada, all from the comfort of your home.

With Lottoland, all you need to do is register and get access to numerous international lotteries right from their website. The easy-to-use interface has all the information you need, and great amount of care has been taken to ensure that the online experience is similar—and even better—than if players were to visit each location personally.

The Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries are hitting record highs with their prize money, in what the organizers claim to be the largest jackpot in the history of the world. However, the U.S. has gambling laws that are state controlled and buying your ticket through an online broker can be considered gambling.

“No one except the lottery or their licensed retailers can sell a lottery ticket. No one. Not even us. No one. No, not even that website. Or that one,” Powerball’s website says.

Therefore, to stand a chance to win the $1.5 billion-dollar lottery jackpot it means you have to purchase your lottery tickets directly from a licensed retailer such as Lottoland.

Since 2013, Lottoland has been operating in Canada, rapidly growing in popularity amongst Canadians. Due to its easy of use and instant access to lotteries that were previously considered inaccessible—as Canadians had to travel all the way to the U.S. to purchase tickets in the past—Lottoland has attracted lots of visitors.

Currently, there about 8-million players on Lottoland, a figure that points to the reliability of the website.

One of the core values of Lottoland is transparency and that’s why a quick search on the website would show you a list of all of their winners. Recently, a Lottoland customer was awarded a world-record fee of $137 million CND.

Also, due to the incredibly slim chances of winning the grand prize not everyone would take home mega-dollar winnings, but there are substantial winnings every day.

Securing your information online is usually one important factor when registering on any platform and as the site explains, “Lottoland works very hard to verify your information.”

The site has a multi-verification process that will ensure that you confirm your identity and age before giving you a pay-out. However, in the rare case that a player has immediate luck and wins a lottery before completing the verification process, Lottoland will hold on to the winnings until they complete your verification.

While this might seem like a tedious process, it is very important as these safety features would ensure that your information wasn’t stolen and ultimately your winning routed to another account.

Lottoland is licensed with the National Supervisory Bodies For Lotteries in several countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, Ireland and Australia—where it is called a wagering license. Typically, most gaming companies don’t establish insurance companies as it entails that their activities have to be transparent and the must be highly reputable in the industry.

Nonetheless, Lottoland has no issues meeting up to these standards as they have established themselves as the only gaming sector company who has its own insurance company—an added advantage for new and existing users.

Lotteries aren’t the only games Canadians enjoy playing and Lottoland recognizes this by providing players with other types of gaming. As an industry leader, video designers of online games often make them their first choice when it comes to publishing their works.

Online games such as slots, blackjack, video poker, baccarat, keno, scratchoffs, roulette and many others are always on offer at the Lottoland Casino. There’s also the option of playing with a live dealer and a total of over 100 games.

Lottoland has received numerous rave reviews from its growing list of satisfied customer and their responsive customer service agents are always available to answer any questions users may have, along with solving challenges they may have encountered.

More and more Canadians are trooping to Lottoland in droves due to the unique experience of going to a casino without having to leave the comfort of their homes.

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