I’m excited to be heading off to Sydney, Australia in February, with large thanks to the Gilman Scholarship who is helping me fund this journey. Gilman is an undergraduate scholarship that provides funds to students receiving the Federal Pell Grant to help them financially studying abroad. But I know, like a lot of you, I will dread the ever present eleven hour plane ride. (Dun, dun, dunnn!) However, this isn’t my first rodeo on a long plane ride, as I have been on a fifteen hour plane ride before.
Some of you will have eleven hour flights with non-stop and some of you will have many stops along the way spanning into a whole day of flying. If you’ve never been in a plane long enough to have both breakfast and dinner, I have come up with a few tips.
Wear warm comfortable clothes. It’s probably not a good idea to be wearing those tight skinny jeans or low cut skirt for nine hours while you try to take a nap on the cold plane. And those blankets are not going to keep you as warm as you think.
You can always wear jeans in the airport and then change into sweatpants when you get on the plane. Also, pack plenty of clothes in your carry-on in case you need to change or if the airport—for some reason—loses your luggage. At least for a few days, you’ll be fine with what you have in your carry-on.
Take an empty water bottle! The TSA can’t take away your empty water bottle, it doesn’t have liquids and you know the airport will charge you an arm and a leg for one of their own. The airport has plenty of water bottle filters, so you’re good on water once you get through the TSA.
Also bring snacks! Some airplanes won’t feed you besides your breakfast or dinner, which can be seven hours without proper food. And sometimes the food they do serve isn’t that great. Some airplanes will serve you snacks, but don’t assume, always have a backup. Also, don’t bring the snacks into your host country, leave it on the plane as you may not be able to bring food into the country.
Be active! Don’t sit there and play video games on your phone in the terminal, you’ll have hours to do that on the plane. Get up! Stretch! Walk around the airport! Explore! (Although do keep an eye out on time) You’ll be sitting down for who knows how long, if you don’t want to have a huge amount of jet-leg, try to stay active.
In fact, you should get up a few times on the plane to stretch, so as not to cramp your legs. But for the most part, when you’re on the plane, try to get some sleep. It’s going to be a long flight and a long day ahead of traveling to your hotel/apartment/international friends’ house.
Change your phone to 24-hour time. Most international airports use military time, something that we Americans might not be familiar with too much. Now, you could just use math—take 12:00 and minus it to whatever it says on your ticket—however, it’s always best to know what time it is at all times.
Horror story time, one time I thought I had done the math right, as I had done many times before, but I was tired from an earlier eight hour flight and it turned out I was off by an hour. I missed my flight and was stuck in China for a day. Don’t be like me and try to think you’re the math wiz of the world that doesn’t need help. Change your phone!
Now, there’s a hundred more tips I could say, but those are the most important ones I know.