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When flying internationally, sometimes it’s hard to know what to expect. In this post, I’ll get rid of all the mystery with my top 10 tips for flying internationally and how to prepare for a long flight. These tips will make getting through security and accessing essential items easier, your flight more comfortable, and your body healthier. That way you can sit back, relax, and enjoy on your way to your exciting destination!
First time traveling solo? Check out my list of 11 things every solo traveler should know!
1. Choose your seat wisely
One of my top tips for flying internationally is to choose your seat on the plane ASAP to ensure you get your first choice.
However, if the airline requires you to pay for a seat reservation, don’t reserve ahead of time. Often, you can get a great seat you would normally have to pay for if you get your seat assigned at the airport since you’re traveling alone.
To help you choose a seat, head on over to Seat Guru. Seat Guru has exact layouts of hundreds of different aircraft along with customer reviews of each seat. In general, choose a window seat that is far away from the toilet. This will not only make sure you’re comfortable but also give you the best chances of falling asleep.
2. Wear comfy clothes
Wear stretchy, breathable fabrics. This doesn’t mean you can’t look stylish, though. A quick search on Pinterest for “airplane outfit” or “flight clothes” will give you uber-fashionable yet surprisingly comfortable outfit ideas. These will not only have you falling asleep in no time, but also improve your chances of getting an upgrade before boarding your flight.
3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
This is another one of my top tips for flying internationally, and for good reason. Airplane environments are generally very dry. Therefore you can easily become dehydrated very quickly if you don’t drink enough water.
Bring your own empty water bottle through security and then fill it up before you board. Make sure to drink lots of water throughout the duration of your flight to stay healthy and hydrated.
Also avoid coffee and alcohol on the flight, which will only make your risk of dehydration worse.
4. Compartmentalize your carry-on
Here’s one of my top international travel luggage tips: to get through security faster and access your luggage easier, separate similar items in your carry-on. That way, you’ll be able to quickly take out your electronics and liquids when you go through security.
I also highly recommend using packing cubes. These babies have been a lifesaver every time I travel! They make everything so much easier, both packing and unpacking all the time when you’re on the road. With these, you’ll avoid being “that person” that everyone else has to wait behind in the security line.
Once on the plane, having frequently-used items grouped together and at the top of your bag will make you (and everyone else around you) happier. If you’re stowing your bag in the overhead compartment, you’ll be able to take those important items right out of the top. Then you can quickly place the bag above you again. If placing your bag at your feet, getting the items out when you want them will be frustration-free.
5. Embrace your inner Wonder Woman
If you’re stowing your carry-on in the overhead compartment, please, embrace your inner Wonder Woman and make sure you can easily lift your bag above you. Again, you don’t want to be “that person” that everyone else has to wait behind for 10 minutes in the aisle. Heed these tips for flying internationally and everyone will thank you.
6. Bring your own entertainment
As an avid music-lover, I would never go anywhere without a good pair of headphones.
Neither should you.
Most pairs of headphones provided by airlines are crappy and/or uncomfortable. So make sure to bring a comfy pair that blocks out sound so they can double as earplugs if you sleep on the flight. If you know you won’t be sleeping during some of the flight, bring a tablet, book, or journal to keep you busy. Just make sure it’s lightweight.
7. Use the bathroom before meals
This is one of my top tips for flying internationally because the time after a meal is usually the busiest time in the bathroom department of the plane. So make sure to take care of your needs before a meal is served. This will not only be quicker but also a far less fragrant experience.
8. Pamper yourself
Bring some toiletries with you on the flight to take care of yourself and carry out your bedtime routine like you would at home. Though some suggest bringing more luxurious items like rosewater spritz for your face or under-eye gels, you can probably pass on these items – they will only take up more space in your carry-on.
However, do make sure to bring basic items like face wash, moisturizer, and a toothbrush and toothpaste. This will help you feel more comfortable before you fall asleep. Trust me on this one – on my first international overnight flight, I didn’t do any of these things, and I most definitely stepped off that plane with terrible breath and pimples I didn’t have when I got on – ick!
9. Keep your tootsies warm
Airplanes are notorious for being frigidly cold. It will be much easier for you to relax and sleep if you bring compact slippers or warm socks. This is one of my top tips for flying internationally because my feet are almost always cold, so socks aren’t enough for me. Because of this, I make sure to always bring a pair of cheap Snoozies slippers with me on a long flight.
10. Sleep smartly
As soon as you get on the plane (or even a few days before), adjust yourself to the local time zone of your destination. This will make jet lag slightly less painful to deal with later. For instance, if you’re on an overnight flight and you’re arriving at your destination in the morning, try to sleep through the flight like you would through the night. In order to do this, there are a few essential items you’ll want to bring with you:
- Sleep mask: This will block out any annoying lights so that you can sleep light-free. This sleep mask is amazing, and the extra material around the nose makes sure that light is actually blocked out.
- Inflatable sleep pillow: These are the horseshoe-shaped pillows you usually see people carrying on flights. It may not be chic while you’re using it, but you’ll certainly look chicer the next morning than the next person who couldn’t sleep. This hybrid pillow is half microfiber, half inflatable, so it’s compact but still comfy.
- Pashmina/scarf/light blanket: Sometimes blankets aren’t provided on flights, and if they are, they’re not very warm. Bring your own scarf or light blanket to feel more like you’re in bed. To pack extra-light, wear the pashmina or scarf onto the flight – that way, it can’t be counted as part of your carry-on luggage.
Also, if you plan on sleeping during the flight, make sure to wear your seat belt over your blanket. That way, flight attendants won’t have to disturb you if the seat belt on light comes on while you’re sleeping.
Lastly, don’t make the mistake of purposely tiring yourself out before the flight. If you end up being unable to sleep, you’ll be overtired once you arrive at your destination. This will put you in a worse position than you were to start.
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