Monday, August 27, 2012

How to Make an International Flight Enjoyable

I have been in Taiwan for a few days now, and it feels like I am only just barely getting over the huge onset of jet lag that hit me like a smack in the face when I first arrived. Luckily, now I feel like I am back to normal, and ready to begin my adventures!

I was very lucky to have had such a pleasant flight, because once I arrived in the country, making it to my apartment ended up being a bit more challenging than I had anticipated.


However, this unique experience of having a pleasant and enjoyable twelve-hour plane ride from San Francisco to Taiwan was not purely luck, as my numerous experiences flying internationally have taught me a thing or do about what to bring on a flight to make it a fun and exciting experience rather than a dreaded one.

Here are some tips to help make your next flight happy and peaceful and lovely. Enjoy!

1. Pack ahead of time and pack wisely. 

 This really seems like a no-brainer, but this is probably the step that I have the most trouble with. Every time I go somewhere new I find myself caught up in a flurry of exasperation and indecision about what to bring, what to leave, what will be practical, and what I absolutely can not live without.

With that said, as you can imagine, leaving this packing until the day before (or the day of!) the flight is guaranteed to cause major stress as the time crunch only makes it all the more stressful.

I know that for some of us planning ahead just doesn't happen, but please, please pack your bags up a couple of days ahead of time- trust me! You will be so glad that you did, especially because the days before you leave, everyone seems to LOVE to ask, "have you packed yet?" and when you are really down to the wire it can be difficult to at that point restrain yourself from launching into a full blown panic on the spot.




This is when I was in panic mode while packing my things to go. Granted, it is a bit different if you are moving to another country (as I was) rather than just visiting, but either way, plan ahead!

Also, WEIGH your bags once you have packed them! For most international flights you are allowed two pieces of luggage that can weigh no more than 50lbs (22kg). If your bags weigh even the slightest bit more, you may be asked to throw away some items (or pay exorbitant fees for over-regulation luggage weight) before they let you through! If you have to choose between practical and fun, (though I hate to say it) choose practical.

Keep all of this in mind, and plan as though your flight is leaving one day before it actually is. And, if you don't mind bending the truth a little, go ahead and even tell people that your flight is leaving one day earlier too! That way there won't be the extra pressure of "saying goodbye" to a gazillion people right when you are headed out the door.

For example, my flight was leaving at 1am on the 23rd, and because I don't subscribe to the idea of speaking as though anything past midnight is considered the next day, I acted as if it was the 22nd that I was leaving, and that is what I told most people (which was actually on accident at first, but turned out to be a very happy accident in the end!). This provided enough time for me to have a little extra leeway to take a break from the stress and just RELAX before the flight, which I really needed! Try it. You'll like it.

2. Get to the airport- REALLY early. 

I'm not talking about the recommended two hours for international flights. Give yourself three to six hours!

                             photo: travelsfo.com

Have someone take you to the airport who truly, genuinely loves your company, and after checking your bags, use that extra time to have a drink in the airport, hang out, and have a genuinely good time. This positive experience will help wash away some anxiety and pre-flight jitters if you are able to change your mindset, (even just a little!) to think that airports are relaxing, fun places that bring you feelings of happy anticipation of your future travels.

3. Bring these things with you (in the bag you take on the plane):


  • eye drops (dry eyes are so uncomfortable!) I used these quite a few times throughout my flight and was so happy that I brought them.


  • an inflatable neck pillow. (light, compact, and oh so necessary because even fully-reclined seats are not the most comfy chairs for sleeping.) 
  • really thick, creamy face and hand lotion and lip balm (this alone will make me feel so much more relaxed!) dry skin on a long flight is no fun at all. I LOVE Burt's Bees products- can you tell??!!






  • hand santitizer. This will at least help to give you a little peace of mind when the person sitting next to you sneezes!





  • one or two large empty water bottles (fill them up at the water fountains past security). The flight attendants, wonderful as they are, NEVER give you enough water! So, do as I do and bring your own.

  • eye mask for sleeping on the plane (mine has a panda face on it! but this one is really cute too).

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  • small notebook and pen (sometimes I find that long flights are the best time for creative inspiration! I used my mini notebook to write down all the things needed for international travel that I am blogging about here!)


  • small and lightweight magazines. I prefer the New Yorker, Glamour UK (because it is tiny!) and Teen Vogue (also because it is tiny! and I don't care if it is meant for "teens" because the fashion is so fabulous in this magazine- plus a little more practical than Vogue). You can flip through these to keep yourself busy when you are waiting to use your e-reader or mp3 player.

  • e-reader and mp3 player. You won't be able to use these throughout the entire flight, but having my kindle fire along stocked up with books, magazines and a couple of movies and/or tv shows ensures that I won't ever have nothing to do! I also like to have my ipod nano with me just for music, as the iphone battery runs out so quickly and I want it to be as charged as possible when I arrive!


  • cleansing face wipes.  If I could choose any one item from this list, it would be this one! Every few hours on my fligh I used one of these, and instantly the airplane grime would be wiped away while the cooling sensation of cucumber would leave me feeling calm and relaxed! ahhhhh. 


  • medication (just in case you get a headache on the plane, or can't seem to sleep on one without a little help!) Please do not mix these with alcohol.                                                                                     

               
For some of these items, you may need to portion out just enough in a smaller container to bring with you (for flight regulations) but finding travel containers is pretty easy, and all you have to do is make sure that they are visible in a clear bag when you go through security! 

Other than that, there are a few more things to help make the trip a bit more smooth:

  • Locate your passport two weeks in advance, and make sure the expiration date is not too far off. As you can see in my last post, this is something I had to remedy at the last minute! Make sure you have the visa that you need for your destination and length of stay.
  • Bring an umbrella and store it in an easily accessible place in your luggage for when you arrive.
  • Make sure that you are physically able to carry both pieces of luggage up and down stairs in case upon arrival, you encounter subway stations and other places you need to go with no elevator or escalator!
  • Call your bank ahead of time and notify them that you are going out of the country so that they do not block your card when you arrive and try to use an ATM. But still, use an ATM at the airport to get some foreign currency (just in case!) or bring cash and exchange it at the airport before your flight.
  • Contact your cellular phone provider and purchase an international calling plan for the length of your stay so that you are not charged huge fees while you are away.

And lastly, ENJOY your flight! Remember, flights are a great way to catch up on all of those movies you missed in the theaters! 

Here is a video of when I first arrived in Taipei- (maybe a little tired and sweaty, but not too frazzled, right? It's because I used these tips!)


(If you are viewing this through email, go to the website at fashionsedation.blogspot.com to see the video, and it should work!)

Since I arrived, so much has been happening at once, but I will be sure to try to keep these updates as current and fresh as possible as I go along!

 See you again soon!

 Xoxo, Camille

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