10 useful tips when travelling overseas

An airplane flying over a beach in Thailand.
Photo by Perfect Lazybones/Shutterstock

As we all know, overseas vacations are great. But overseas flights? Well, they are what you make of them.

There’s no avoiding the fact that flying over the ocean can sometimes take an entire day and that your freedom during this time is rather limited. However, there are lots of ways to make a flight more fun, or at least more manageable. They involve a little pre-planning, but when you’re strapping into your seat and staring down the barrel of a twelve-hour flight, you’ll thank yourself for taking the trouble. Here are a few ways to make the transition from “home” to “away” a little more pleasant.

Check in early

Nowadays, most airlines let you check in online up to 24-hours before your flight and we recommend you use this option. It’s one less thing to worry about at the airport (and if you aren’t used to flying overseas, you may find yourself worrying about a few things). So, get online, and check in the night before your flight. It’s one less thing that will be weighing on you.

Choose a seat using Seatguru

Sometimes seats that sound great in theory are actually the worst places to spend several hours. You never know when there’s an emergency kit stored in your leg room, or if you’re in the one seat without an in-flight entertainment system. But now, thanks to Seatguru, you can look at a detailed map of the exact model of plane you’ll be flying on. They even mark the most and least desirable seats for you. We guarantee that you’ll find this to be one of the most indispensable travel tools available to you.

Grab local cash before your flight

Having some local cash in hand is always advisable when you’re going to another country. You never know how easily you’ll be able to access your bank account in unfamiliar territory. Also, some countries require you to pay visa fees after you land—and there may not be an ATM close at hand. Stop in at one of the money exchange booths at the airport before you get into the air, and be ready for all eventualities.

Pack your own snacks

If you don’t bring your own snacks, you’re left with only two options on a long flight: pay exorbitant prices for a small package of crackers or a sandwich, or get “hangry.” Neither of those is particularly appealing, so go with the third option: bringing your own snacks. Even buying some pre-packaged meals at a grocery store will be a lot cheaper than shelling out airline prices.

Wear comfy clothes

You might want to look like a high-powered traveling executive, but your power suit will definitely start to get on your nerves when you’re trying to take a nap or when you spill your complimentary coffee down your front. Opt for loose clothes, and bring a few layers in case it gets cold.

Get a portable charger

Even without a signal, your phone or tablet is one of the most indispensable items you own. It’s your camera, your podcast repository, your note-taking device, and your portable gaming system. So don’t let it die on a long flight. Get a charge pack so you can juice up your devices on the go. They’re relatively inexpensive, and they save you that feeling of dread when you see your batter drop to its last ten percent.

Bring a refillable water bottle

Bringing your own water bottle through airport security is one of the best moves you can make. It saves you (and the planet) from buying bottled water once you’re through the gates—which is particularly worthwhile considering how much everything costs once you’re past security and essentially hostage to the exorbitant prices of the inner kiosks.

Don’t plan to work

We know, it sounds perfect: several hours strapped into a seat with nothing to do but finally hammer out that project. And yet something about the airplane environment simply renders it a “no-work zone.” Particularly if you’re squished in economy class. So forget about working. Bring your iPad, your music, and your neck rest, and devote yourself to relaxation for the duration of your flight. Anything that makes the time pass quickly is your friend—and if that means playing Candy Crush for eight consecutive hours, well, so be it.

Carry on a travel pillow

And earplugs, and an eye mask, and a blanket, and your melatonin pills, and whatever else will help you relax. The only thing better than disappearing into a movie during a flight is disappearing into the sweet oblivion of sleep.

Have fun

The flight is the first step in a new adventure. So don’t treat it just as a necessary chore. If you do it right, your flight can be one of the parts of your trip that you’ll remember and treasure forever. Enjoy it!

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