Ten Tips for Surviving International Air Travel

Sydney Airport

©Exploramum and Explorason – leaving Australia 4 years ago

I was talking to someone last night about how many flights we had been on, and although we try to ‘keep our feet on the ground’ as much as possible by taking land travel, it is necessary to take flights as well.

A one-hour plane ride it seems is now taken rarely by us, and these can be pleasant. The excitement of going to the airport, packing our things, flying high above the clouds, and reaching a new destination, can all be a source of excitement to the airplane ‘tyro‘.

Two or three hours in the air, while possibly making one impatient to reach the destination, are still very bearable.

Yet what about those long international flights lasting 6 hours or more?  To the novice flyer, they may seem from a distance unbearable.

However, the experienced traveler will have a better impression of these flights, no doubt – at least as far as economy class is concerned.

Of course, luxury travel is a different matter entirely, and surely first-class flyers will find these flights mostly pleasant.

This week starts our 5th year of world travel, so some may consider us ‘world-travel -experts’.

So for all of you, we have put together some useful tips that we have learned from our years of airplane travel experience.


©Exploramum and Explorason – prepare the contents of your carry-on for the flight


Make sure you have all that you need for the long flight in your carry-on bag.

Whatever you expect to need in the span of 8 – 12 typical hours in your life, should be included in your carry-on bag.

If you enjoy music or movies, you should have headphones, earphones, or ear-buds (preferably of the noise-canceling variety) with you. Plus of course whatever device you will be attaching them to – be it a phone or laptop – that is of course fully charged. You may also wish to carry a charging device.

If you need glasses or contacts, they should be available, as well as their corresponding cases, and any solutions if you need to take contacts out.

Remember flying dries out your eyes, so eye drops might come in handy as well.

Pack a clean pair of clothes in case you have someone fall ill, or you find the cabin gets cold.  Also plan for what temperature lies ahead in your arrival destination so you are comfortable the entire flight and not overheating, or freezing cold. Keep in mind any layover airports that might have a complete temperature change.

A pack of kleenex is also handy.

If you suffer from travel sickness, make sure you have a few tablets for your flights clearly labeled for going through security.

Chewing gum or sweeties may be good to have if you think your ears may need .popping’.

If you travel with a little one, make sure you bring enough for them to drink on the ascending and descending flights – a feed at these times helps their ears.

watch a movie on your computer

©Exploramum and Explorason – technology entertains both adults and kids


 Have your own entertainment organized beforehand

Especially for those with a ‘more unique’ taste, the film and music selections offered by the airline in-flight entertainment might bore you.

Bring along DVD’s for your computer or pre/download your favorite movies.

As entertainment is the best way to pass long stretches of time (for those who can’t fall asleep), a lack of proper media can make for a very dull flight indeed.

For budget airlines, this needs to be booked online in advance and paid for – it is not included, nor is it free.

Prepare books, newspapers, magazines, and movies for the flight well in advance. Explorason also pre-plans his music for the journey.

If you have little children, bring along something to keep them busy too – coloring in; a few small cars, or a doll for example.  Something to keep their little minds and hands busy.  Nothing noisy or the other passengers won’t like you quite so much, and you will endure their glares – gosh I hate those glares!


Wear appropriate clothing.

If you have any hope of an upgrade to business class, then you need to look the part. This means smart and stylish clothes. Don’t wear anything that creases heavily or needs ironing.

The best type of clothing to wear is loose and / or stretch clothing that covers you well for long flights.

It is important to dress respectfully – no-one wants to see too much of your flesh, and it can be considered poor taste. Not only that, it is hard to fall asleep worrying you are going to ‘fall out of your clothing’.  “It is also hard for other passengers to sleep looking at your ‘bits’ falling out of your clothing” as Explorason says with a laugh.

If you are prone to being cold, you should also consider wearing layers of soft clothing.

I also love a pair of socks, because my feet get cold on flights.

seat on plane

©Exploramum and Explorason – choose your seat before the flight


Choose your seat prior to your flight, whenever possible.

Do whatever is in your power to get an aisle seat if you foresee having to use the restroom often. There is nothing worse than climbing over a person when they are asleep, or worse, not being able to wake them at all, and sitting there in dire need of the restroom.

If not, the window seat is superior and I find as I can lean on it, and this is also more comfortable if you have a child that falls asleep on your lap.

Most people will find middle seats quite unpleasant, so try to avoid these.

If there are 2 of you, then my tip is to book the window and aisle seats.  If the plane is not full, rarely will you have someone placed between you, and you will have more space to spread out. You can always swap seats with the person in the center, should it rarely get booked.

Remember there is extra leg room by emergency doors, but children cannot sit here, and often the armrests do not lift up.

Also, rear seats nearest the toilets can be a busy place where people congregate, knock you, chat, and worse – those toilets can get blocked, or really smelly! You don’t want to endure hours on a ‘stinky’ flight!

keep organised on the plane

©Exploramum and Explorason – hang your bag from the seat in front


Clean your area.

A few airlines don’t have the strictest of requirements with regards to airplane cleanliness. You don’t want to catch some nasty germ from dirty surfaces.

Bring some anti-bacterial wipes to help you stay healthy. I wipe down my tray and have needed them on seats and armrests before too.

Careful putting your hand in the pouch in front of you. People shove all kinds of trash down there. You might be in for a nasty surprise!

Another good tip is to hang your bag from the seat in front during the flight.  Easy to get to, and it stays clean – we saw another passenger do this so this isn’t our original idea, but we think it is a good one!

aeroplane meals

©Exploramum and Explorason – In-flight meals


Pack your own food and snacks.

SNACKS – When flying budget airlines especially with children, snacks are also important.  You may find yourself or your child quite hungry, and it is not wise nor satisfying to spend ten dollars on a travel-sized pack of candies sold by the airline when you can have a full packet of tasty and healthy treats at hand.

MEALS – This is, of course, a matter of taste. While most airplanes offer food with decent taste and a good selection of drinks, some do not.  If your taste buds do not approve of typical airplane food, or they do not offer your special dietary requirements; or if you believe it will be insufficient to keep you comfortably full, then why not pack a sandwich, or have some extra food of your choosing at the ready.

sleeping on the plane

©Exploramum and Explorason – prepare for a good night’s sleep


Use a moisturizer, hand cream, body lotion and lip balm.

Like dehydration, having dry skin or lips without any recourse on a long flight can be extremely uncomfortable.

Bring lip balm, face and hand moisturizer in your carry-on luggage if you are prone to such dryness.


©Exploramum and Explorason – reading material


Limit your risk for Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).

This is always a risk when you have to remain in cramped spaces for extended periods of time that you might be at risk of DVT.

Stretch before getting on the plane, and consider wearing compression socks and loose clothing for your own health.

Also, take some walks on the plane up and down those aisles.  Whilst you are doing that, share a smile with strangers, or a compliment.


Drink plenty of water.

There is nothing worse than the feeling of thirst, especially when you are in a confined space.

Be sure to drink water before getting on the flight, and ask for water from the flight attendants when they are administering drinks.

If you have a child, don’t be afraid to ask the attendant for a drink of water as you board, because there might be a wait of up to an hour, and kids just can’t cope.

Alcohol will dehydrate you, so keep those beverages to a minimum.


©Exploramum and Explorason – sleeping on the airplane

10.  SLEEP

Above all, get some rest or sleep if you can.

This is the most important tip in my opinion.

There is nothing better than being able to get a good night’s sleep on the plane.

You might experiment with noise-canceling earphones (Explorason loves these) or special travel pillows you bring with you, as many people find that these assist them in getting to sleep.

You might also try herbal supplements which make you naturally relaxed and drowsy. Others take sleeping pills, however as I am a mother traveling with a child, I don’t take these. I also find they cause depression, and who wants to be depressed when arriving at your exciting overseas holiday destination?

I try to grab a pillow and blanket as soon as I am in my seating area. Budget flights do not provide these, however.

I also pack two large cloth shawls / wraps. These double as blankets, or can be rolled to stuff in the crook of my back for extra comfort.

I also think it is important to have yourself at the right body temperature. You won’t sleep if your top exposes your back and you are a cold breeze for example, or your feet are numb.

Neither will you sleep if you are perspiring with the heat, or dehydrated.

Prepare yourself for sleep and go to the toilet before you nod off.

Some find a nice liqueur like Baileys can send them off into the ‘land of nod’.

Do whatever works for you.

So in conclusion, Explorason and I wish you a safe and happy journey to your destination. 

We hope you don’t arrive weary and tired but rather refreshed and ready with these great tips.

We’d love to hear your suggestions on any other tips and tricks to enjoying your flights –

please leave them in the comment section below.

sleeping at the airport

©Exploramum and Explorason – Don’t arrive worn out and dehydrated



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