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How to prepare for an international flight (when we can fly again)

By Natasha Heard  |  March 20, 2020

Whether you’ve never actually taken a long-haul flight or you will need a few reminders by the time we are allowed to roam freely across the world again, there are many useful tips to consider to make your experience a comfortable and exciting one.

Perhaps you’re planning to head to the delights of Peru or you’re popping off to a paradise retreat such as Bora Bora, either way you’ll want to make sure that the lead up and journey itself are a positive part of the experience too.

Even if you’ve travelled long distances before, you can still get a culture shock when arriving at completely new country to you, especially with the time differences involved, long, tiring hours on the plane and confusion if you don’t speak the language. To give yourself the best possible experience so that you can fully enjoy your luxurious vacation read for on for our guide on how to prepare for an international flight.

The rules for international flights have many dos and don’t’s

Check in with your GP

Before you go abroad, make sure to schedule a visit with your local GP surgery to get yourself any vaccinations required for the country you are visiting. Depending on where you’re going, you may need to receive immunisations that you don’t currently have, and you may need extra regular medication depending on how long your trip is. In the wake of the recent worldwide scare, when we are all able to travel far and wide again we will, no doubt, be a lot more cautious about our hygiene and the cleanliness of all much-used surfaces that we come across, especially on door handles and lap trays on public transport, so ensure you have hand sanitiser in your bag!

Plan carry-on carefully

Similar to most short-haul airlines, you’ll be allowed one carry-on suitcase and one personal bag on a domestic flight, though it’s important to check the particular rules of your airline/airport before you pack, and first class will probably give you more. You’re going to want to plan your carry-on bag very carefully and take the biggest possible bag that your allowance gives you. Make sure that you have all of your travel documents (passport, hotel reservations, insurance card, and other important details) readily available and if you’ve experienced a lost or delayed bag before then you will surely know to pack all valuables, essential medication and toiletries and a change of clothes in your carry-on luggage.

If you’re taking a long international flight, you’re likely going to travel through multiple time zones

Prepare to change time zones

If you’re taking a long international flight, you’re likely going to travel through multiple time zones. This may seem like a rather fun prospect but the difference in time may leave you feeling jet-lagged once you reach your destination. This can cause you to feel fatigued and disoriented by the time your body clock realises that your usual bedtime is completely different than it should be. You won’t want to miss out on a minute of your fabulous and exotic holiday so using an hours calculator before your trip will allow you to calculate the difference in time zone, meaning you can gradually start to change your sleep cycle so that you’re not as exhausted when you arrive and not a minute of fun will be wasted.

If possible, try and sleep as much as possible on the flight as well as this can help you maintain a healthy sleep cycle and thus reducing your chances of jet lag once you reach your destination.

Choose your seat wisely

Where you sit on an international flight matters! If you’re going to be spending hours on a plane, you don’t want to sit somewhere where you’ll be uncomfortable. Of course, first-class seats are ideal in terms of comfort as they offer the most amount of space to recline in with wider seats and more leg room. If you can’t get a first-class seat for your journey, then a window seat near the middle of the plane is the optimum position. A window seat means that you don’t have to move for others constantly and the middle of the plane often feels less turbulence.

A window seat will allow you to see the world during your flight

Get comfy

Even if you enjoy always looking your best when out in public, you might want to make an exception for an international flight. Long hours on a plane can be exhausting, especially if you’re wearing an uncomfortable dress or suit, so choose clothes that allow you to move freely and are not overly tight and take a pair of comfy shows too. If you’re in first class, a lot of airlines will offer pyjamas for your in-flight snooze, which is a nice treat but, if not, ensure you are wearing layers so that you can easily adjust to the changes in temperature before during and after the flight. Also make sure that you stay hydrated throughout and get up and walk about to stretch your legs and keep yourself healthy.

Prep your electronics

When you’re sitting through a long flight, you’re going to want some form of entertainment, the more the merrier in fact! While most airlines will have a selection of movies and other in-flight entertainment available, you might have a particular film in mind, or you may even be halfway through an excellent TV series that you just can’t wait to finish. In this case you should make sure you’ve downloaded any shows or movies to your phone, tablet or laptop in advance so you can just sit on your seat and watch away.

Also try to download a variety of content to your device; consider a couple of good reads on a book app, a puzzle or game app – keep your mind stimulated and interested and, most importantly, make sure your devices are fully charged.