If you love to travel, then you know all about long flights. Navigating international airports, managing delays or cancelled connections, and plenty of long lines. Here are a few essentials to make those long international flights a little more comfortable.
1. Bring a pen in your carry on bag.
You will have to fill out customs paperwork that is distributed on the plane before landing in another country. The flight attendants will have about 3 pens for entire plane... seriously. Pack your own pen so that you can fill out the paperwork before landing. This way, you can book it for the front of the customs line when you deplane and save yourself lots of time. We recommend a ballpoint in a zip-lock- just in case the pressure causes an ink leak.
2. Pack some nuts to keep from going nuts.
Long flights are one thing, but adding an extra few hours to an already long flight can be a major travel downer.
In the United States, there are Tarmac Delay Laws about how long you can wait on the airplane before taking off or deplaning. The maximum wait time is 3 hours, and the airline must provide food and water within the first 2 hours of the delay.
In our experience, not all countries or international airlines follow these guidelines. We once sat 3 plus hours on a runway in Beijing for what we were told was a weather delay, but turns out was runway congestion. Keep some nuts or other non-perishable high protein snack tucked in your carry-on for times when your flight ends up being a little, or a lot, longer than you bargained for.
3. Matador Travel Earplugs.
Noise cancelling headphones are awesome. I pack a Bose set for long flights, and they are wonderful. But nothing quite beats a pair of earplugs. They take up little space, don't rely on batteries, and they don't make your ears sore when worn for hours on end. We recommend grabbing the Matador Travel Earplugs before your next round of travel. This kit comes with three sets of earplugs and two keychain holders for storage and easy access, so it's quiet and convenient.
4. A big scarf...or small blanket.
Aside from the little air vent overhead, there is little you can do to control the temperature on a flight. Some flights will have blankets, but we learned that these are infrequently laundered from a flight attendant who apologized for a blanket smelling of feet. Bring a lightweight blanket or better yet, a multipurpose blanket scarf.
5. Sanitizing wipes.
Hand Sanitizer is a great addition to a travel kit to help ward off those in-flight germs. We actually like these Sanitizing Hand Wipes a little better for their versatility and inherent leak proof design. Clean your hands, or wipe down a questionable tray table.
6. A photocopy of your credentials.
When travelling, especially abroad, it's a good idea to have a photocopy of your passport tucked in a safe place. Also, a digital picture on your phone can be handy should something happen to the original.
7. FlightAware App
While you're waiting to board, make sure and download the FlightAware app for your smartphone. This app allows you to check the status of any flight around the world, and even shows a map with the progress of the flight path. You can send a link to loved ones or someone waiting to pick you up on the other end. It's an easy, care-free way to communicate while traveling. One less thing to think about along the way.
Anything we forgot or you simply can't go without on a long flight? Tell us in the comments!