International Flights: Some Tips

Having suffered through a painful trans-Pacific flight two weeks ago and then successfully making it through a significantly less painful trans-Pacific flight today, I feel qualified to share some tips:

1. Don’t sit in the middle.

This seems obvious, but it has to be said. Especially if you’re like me and get stressed out by the idea of inconveniencing others, sitting in the middle is not a good idea. Being on the aisle means you can get up infinite times to go to the bathroom, stretch your legs, grab those free snacks, whatever. 13 hours without that is…well, unpleasant.

(I happen to be one of those people who don’t sleep much on flights, so if you’re a sleeper, you might want to skip this advice. One time I sat next to a young guy who literally slept through the entire 13 hours. I was completely dumbfounded by it.)

Today, I actually got one better. I could only snag a window seat, but turned out it was directly behind first class, which meant: extra leg room, plenty of room to spread out all my stuff, and I could get up whenever without disturbing the guy next to me!

2. Do face masks on the plane.

You might want to wait until they dim the cabin lights, just for your own dignity’s sake, but this was by far the best part of my flight this time around. Airplane air is so extremely dry. So when I put on the face mask it was like heaven on my face. Seriously. Do it. My only regret is that I only brought two. Three next time.

Face mist would probably feel like heaven on your face, too. I’m doing that next time.

3. Bring lots of snacks.

I’m usually cautious about what I eat on planes, because my digestive system can be a bit more sensitive/unpredictable. But the worst thing you can do is be unprepared food-wise. I basically brought an orange tree with me this time. Okay, that might technically be illegal, but bring stuff you like to eat. You never know what they’re going to feed you. Or when.

4. Bring travel size toiletries to freshen up with.

After having experienced numerous international flights at varying levels of preparedness, I would say this is a must. Bring a little bottle of lotion, a toothbrush, face wash, etc, so that when you get off the plane, you can immediately escape to a bathroom and start to feel yourself again. That airplane air is not normal. 13 hours of it needs to be washed off a bit. Do yourself a favor and provide yourself the tools to do so.

I used to feel like international flights were not a big deal, but I think I’m getting older… Fortunately, I’m also getting smarter!



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Elizabeth holds to simple faith in a complex world. She values the beauty of the everyday and strives for vulnerability with other imperfect humans. She is constantly learning, laughing, and finding herself in awe of grace. Elizabeth is currently finishing up her MDiv at Fuller Theological Seminary and serving on staff at a church in downtown LA.

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