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13 Tips for Surviving International Flights

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Traveling internationally is time-consuming and exhausting, but we’ve come up with 13 tips to help make your flight a little easier.

1. Book Your Seat Early

Book your seat as early as you can to get your best possible choice. Everyone has their own preference; some like to sit up front to be the first off the plane when it lands and some like to sit in the emergency exit row for the extra leg room. Whatever you prefer, book it as soon as possible.

2. Watch Your Connection Times

It can be tempting to book a connecting flight that has a 1-hour layover. Who wants to sit and wait 5 more hours after an 8-hour flight for their connection? Don’t fall into this trap. Your first flight could be delayed for any number of reasons, so it’s always a good idea to leave a good cushion of time (usually at least 3 hours for international flights) to account for any issues. Regardless, you should purchase travel insurance to protect yourself in case your first flight ends up getting cancelled.

3. Research Your Aircraft

You’ll probably want to look into what kind of plane you’ll be flying in and whether or not it offers WiFi or if they at least offer movies on demand to help keep you entertained for your trip. In addition, while you’re looking this up, it wouldn’t hurt to find out some specs on your plane, like the size and type, so you’re aware of how many other people will be onboard and what safety features it has.

4. Know what DC Power Is

Unbeknownst to me, some airlines (like American) have not converted their planes to have standard plugs in their planes, and still have DC power outlets under their seat. This will do you absolutely no good unless you have a car cigarette lighter adapter that converts to USB power.  To avoid being up the creek, pick up a cheap car charger next time you’re checking out of CVS or Walgreens.

5. Bring a Hoodie

You never know where or when it will be cold or if the person next to you on the airplane will keep the cold air nozzle blasting for your entire 10-hour flight. Play it safe and keep a hoodie on hand so you’re not a popsicle by the time you get to where you’re going.

6. And Meds

You should, of course, always keep your prescription medications with you in your carry-on, but it’s also wise to bring a few over-the-counter drugs and a small “emergency” kit as well. Pack it with things like Advil or Tylenol for a headache or general pain, Tums for an upset stomach, an antihistamine like Benadryl for allergies, and bandaids for any small accidents. If your flight is taking you to a cruise, don’t forget to pack some Dramamine as well. These medicines will also come in handy if you’re traveling to a country where you don’t speak the language, as it will be much more difficult to purchase Tylenol if you don’t know how to ask for it. Further, there are some countries where even over-the-counter medications require a prescription from a doctor, so it’s best to just take your own rather than deal with an international hassle.

7. Stay Healthy

The best thing you can do for yourself before and during your trip is to stay healthy. Take care to eat well and exercise at the level you’re used to. Also, make smart choices. If you’re used to eating super healthy, don’t have a “Forget it; I’m on vacation!” moment and go crazy on some hot wings and cheese fries in the airport before your flight. If your stomach doesn’t agree with your decisions, the last place you want for that to happen is in the middle of a flight.

8. Disinfect

Another thing to carry with you is a small, travel-size bottle of hand sanitizer. You will be encountering all sorts of germs coming from every corner of the world, so sanitize yourself often. The last thing you want is to get sick while you’re on your trip.

9. Go Easy on Booze

For an international flight, chances are you have a long trip ahead of you. Not only will your flight take several hours, but you will have to go through customs, and then maybe another flight or you have to board a train, catch a cab, or navigate a new city with a taxi driver who barely speaks your language. Don’t make this harder on yourself by getting drunk. That buzz may feel good for a minute, but it won’t be worth it if you end up missing your connecting flight because you ended up in the airport bathroom for a while.

10. Stretch

On really long flights, getting blood clots from sitting stationary for too long is a very real threat, so don’t be afraid to get up, stretch, and take a quick walk up and down the aisle of the plane just to get your blood flowing again.

11. Hydrate

Because there is such low humidity in airplane cabins, you can get dehydrated more quickly than normal. Don’t shy away from drinking water because you don’t want to get up to use the restroom and bother the people sitting next to you – your health is more important!

12. Noise-Canceling Headphones

It only takes one flight with a crying baby for a person to buy a pair of these. Of course, it’s not always a baby. Sometimes it’s the people who decide to have very loud conversations for the entire flight. Either way, if there’s anything on this list that is worth the investment, these are it.

13. Dress Comfortable

Flying internationally means you’ve got a lengthy travel process that, in addition to a normal flight, includes a customs line and probably includes additional travel like taxis, buses, trains, or cruises. That being said, dress comfortably. That doesn’t mean show up in your pajamas, but dress comfortably enough that you know you can wear those clothes without complaint for your entire journey – or perhaps longer, in case they should lose your luggage.

Do you have any tips for surviving your international flight?

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