In spite of all the craziness happening in the world, international travel is still prevalent. People will always have the desire or need to fly. Whether it’s a personal adventure or a business trip, millions head to airports around the world daily for a sometimes dreaded, super-long flight.
Having experienced international flights more than a few times myself, I have a love/hate relationship with this mode of transportation. No matter how many times I board a plane, there’s always a certain amount of anxiety that I experience. For this reason, I strive to find ways that will make the entire travel process run a smoothy as possible–especially leading up to and during the flight.
If you find yourself struggling with long flights or have never flown in a plane for more than five hours but plan to, you will probably find these following tips useful. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a great place to start.
What To Purchase Before The Flight
Noise-Cancelling Headphones. Using headphones on flights is an absolute must for me. I do love babies, but the crying? Not so much. Often, it’s not even the babies, but the person who insists on talking during the entire 12-hour flight. My beloved Bose save me every time. These are my favorite, and I never head to the airport without them.
Antibacterial Wipes. You’re going to want to have an ample amount of these. Airports and planes are nasty. Antibacterial wipes will come in handy to wipe down armrests and that little drop-down tray behind the seat in front of you. Trust me; you want to do this. It’s also a good idea to wipe off the remote controls on flights that have backseat televisions.
Facial Wipes. Not only are these perfect for getting rid of the white stuff that accumulates on your face while sleeping, but they also feel great. I always keep a pack of face wipes in my purse or carry-on bag. On some long flights, flight attendants will hand out wet cloths to refresh your face and sometimes they are warm. Ahhhh!
Chapstick. Dry air creates dehydrated skin and my lips are usually the first to feel it. I always keep a good lip moisturizer within reach during long flights. Cracked lips are no fun and not cute.
Passport Holder. I love my passport holder. It’s a convenient way to keep all of my travel documents and money close by without having to dig in my purse for what I need. It is an absolute must-have.
Small Blanket/Head Pillow. So, on international flights, you will most likely be provided these items, but I prefer to bring my own. Yes, it’s a little more to carry, but after I started finding other people’s hair on the blankets given to me on the flights, I decided it was time to stop using them.
Reading Material. There are tons of places you can purchase magazines and books in the airport, but um, they are expensive! I usually download reading material on my iPad, but if I must get a magazine, you can bet I’m getting one BEFORE I go to the airport.
Small Bottles For Liquids. Don’t try to smuggle your 16.5-ounce jar of hair cream on the plane. If you do, just know that you will be giving it away for someone else to try, because it will be taken away. The rule is 3.4 ounces. Get some small flight-friendly containers to fill up and tide you over until you land.
Before The Flight
Make Sure Your Carry-On Bag Is Right. In addition to the daunting task of packing and trying my hardest to keep my luggage weight limit under 50 pounds, I also make it a priority to make sure my carry-on bag is well-equipped. This bag, in my opinion, is the most important because if some chance my checked baggage gets stolen or lost (which has happened by the way), I still have what I need. Also, keep in mind that your carry on shouldn’t be the size of a small vehicle. There are specific dimensions required for bags that will accompany you inflight, and if yours is too big, you’ll have to check it.
Early Check-In. If possible, check in to your flight the day before your scheduled departure. This action will save you from having to wait for a kiosk to check in when you arrive at the airport.
Download App for Boarding Documents. Check to see if your airline has an app you can use to scan your boarding pass electronically rather than print out paper documents. I don’t like paper everywhere, so I prefer this method.
At The Airport
Check The Monitors. Flight data (gates, time, delays, etc.) frequently changes, so be sure to check the monitors for up-to-date information regarding your departure.
Food/Water. I’ve read articles about how horrible airplane food and water is. Personally, I’ve never had good food on any flight. With this, I prefer to purchase my snacks and water before heading to the gate. While this is my preference, I also believe it to be a smart choice!
Go to the Bathroom. Yes, I know we are grown-ups here, but I want to remind you to use the restroom before getting on the flight. As travel buddies, my husband and I remind each other every trip. There are lavatories on the plane, but they’re small…and nasty… and there’s always a line. I’m sure you may have to go again while in flight, but going ahead of time will cut down on trips up and down the aisle.
Charge Your Electronics. I like to make sure all of my electronics are fully charged before getting on any flight. Most if not all international flights are equipped to charge your devices, but they don’t always work that well.
On The Flight
Have A Pen Handy for Filling Out Immigration Documents. If you are visiting another country, you’ll have to fill out immigration documents. Keep a pen nearby for this instead of waiting to fill them out once you land. It makes life easier.
Drink water to stay hydrated. Proper hydration before and during your flight is essential. It may be tempting to request an alcoholic beverage or soda, but opting for H2O instead is a better choice. Hanging out at high altitudes for an extended period dehydrates your body, and this isn’t good for your inside organs or your skin. Downing water while in flight has certain health benefits such as helping to cut the risk of heart attacks.
Walk around periodically. I do this because my legs tend to swell when I sit for extended periods of time. Be safe, however. Always take heed of the flight attendants’ instructions and pay attention to the seatbelt signs. Sometimes, turbulence is no joke and can do a lot of bodily harm. Another way to help reduce swelling of the legs/ankles is to wear compression socks. I don’t have any yet but plan on purchasing a pair soon.
So there you have it, my tips for surviving an international flight. Remember, travel light, travel often and travel smart!
All the best, always.