Your first long distance flight can be unnerving. To make sure everything goes smoothly, I’ve learned from experience that meticulous organization is key.
My family is ‘bi-continental’. I have made many trips over the Atlantic, to the point where packing a carry-on has become an art.
Every airport, airline, and travel conditions bring their own little quirks. After your first flight you will learn a lot about your travel persona. For the first-timer, who hasn’t discovered their travel mantra yet, the most daunting problem is where to start? Here are my tips after years of trial and error:
Choose your bag carefully and pack wisely.
I always take a backpack because it’s easier on my body to carry for many hours. Be very selective of what you pack since you have to lug this bag, your suitcase, and your purse everywhere. Being saddled with a bunch of heavy luggage is the worst!
Layer your bag
Bring a thin blanket, for a more cozy flight nap. Fold or roll the blanket and place in the bottom of your bag. Then entertainment activities; for me, it’s an epic book, my journal, and mp3 player with noise-cancelling ear buds.
Follow up with a spare scarf, handy as a pillow, then make-up bag and toiletries.
Keep your make-up bag small
I only bring hand sanitizer, make-up wipes, earplugs, toothbrush, and toothpaste. Keep make-up to a minimum; for me, it’s concealer, blush, and mascara. All tubes, gels, and bottles must be under 100 mL.
I also like to leave room at the top of my bag to stash my purse for those times when two bags too cumbersome.
Buy a backpack with a padded section for your laptop
That way it’s accessible to quickly pull out during security checks without messing up the rest of the bag. I keep my folder of important papers in this section too.
Bring a refillable water bottle
I usually take a metal one with a screw-on top. The metal bottles can take a beating and easy to empty and refill in a hurry.
No valuables in the front pockets of your backpack
I used to keep my most used objects in the extra pockets and then one day I lost an ipod. A silly, but common, mistake.
Dress comfortably and in layers
Do try to avoid wearing a belt or many accessories because you will have to take it all off to go through the metal detector.
Try over-the-counter melatonin or anti-histamine pills.
While in the aircraft remember to get up and stretch, this is so important!
Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to your neighbor at the beginning of the flight. Now you have established some decorum with your seatmate, it will make it easier to pester them later to move of their seat so you can to go to the bathroom.
Don’t eat a lot of sugary or salty snacks. In my experience,
Jet lag + dehydration + sugar hangover = Worst Arrival Ever.
On arrival, I jump into the nearest bathroom for a chance to freshen up. You have time before your bags will be on the carousal; use that moment to gather your bearings. It helps to jump into your usual morning routine in order to wake-up from airplane grogginess.