How to Survive Your First International Flight (and keep your sanity!)

Heading off on your first international adventure will be one of the most exciting and terrifying times in your life. I can guarantee that! Whether you're traveling solo, with your family or with a trusted group of friends, the unknown will more than likely cause all sorts of stress. First, you'll need to tick off everything in my 10 step guide to planning your first international trip. Then, once your international adventure gets closer, you need to pack! Each of these tasks will make you equally as nervous and excited for your upcoming adventure, but don't fret. If you're prepared, your first international flight can actually be fun!

How to Survive Your First International Flight (and keep your sanity!)

Here is everything you need to know before embarking on your first international flight!

Be Prepared
I know what you're thinking. 'Duh'. But although it's pretty obvious that preparation is key when it comes to travel (and almost everything else in life!), if you're feeling nervous or overwhelmed about traveling (or more specifically, flying) it's easy to forget crucial steps. Most material items can be picked up along the way, but there are some things you should try not to leave the house without.

Here are some of the things you definitely cannot forget when heading off on your first international flight:

  • Passport - THE most important possession you will have when traveling internationally. Protect it with your life! You physically cannot travel anywhere while overseas without your passport.
  • Drivers license or alternate photo identification - basically, a form of ID other than your passport. It's always best to bring a backup, no matter where you're traveling or how long for!
  • Insurance information - everyone hopes that they don't need to actually use their travel insurance. But in the unfortunate event that you do need to contact your insurance company, it's best to have all the important information handy. It definitely makes the process a lot faster and less stressful.
  • Cash - I recommend having a little bit of cash in the currency of the country you're visiting, as well as some spare cash in your home currency. Perfect for the cab or public transport to and from the airport!
  • Booking confirmation, boarding pass or e-ticket - if you receive a boarding pass or e-ticket via email, print it out. You may not need it, but it could save some time when checking in. It's also a good idea to print out your flight confirmation email, just incase!
  • A travel wallet to keep it all in! - this one isn't an absolute must, but it's mighty convenient nonetheless! You can pick up some cute, cheap travel wallets in most department stores or online! AliExpress has some great, budget friendly travel wallets!

Being prepared when traveling international is SUPER important! Here are some must-pack items! Click To Tweet

Wear Comfortable Clothes

Besides remembering to bring your passport, wearing comfortable clothes on the plane is crucial in surviving your first international flight! I decide on the outfit I'm going to wear on the plane, days in advance, and make sure everything is clean and easily accessible on the morning of my flight. Why? Well, I'm an organisation freak. But generally speaking, it makes life a LOT easier! You'll thank past you for being prepared, especially if you have a super duper, kill-me-now early flight!

Now you're probably wondering what the perfect 'plane outfit' is, right? Well I'm about to give you my personal opinion. Everyone will have a different go-to outfit for flying, but after some trial and error, this is what I personally like to wear on any international flight!

  • Leggings - THE most comfortable pair of 'pants' you'll wear on a plane. Invest in a good quality pair - it will be the best thing you'll ever do! I love lululemon or Lorna Jane for great, high quality and comfortable leggings.
  • A soft, comfortable t-shirt or tank top - put it this way: what would you want to wear for 8 or more hours, sitting in a cramped seat next to a hundred other people? Whatever comes to mind first, wear that!
  • A warm jacket - planes almost always get super cold. Make sure to bring a warm, comfortable jacket with you, especially when traveling internationally. Something that's easy to take on and off, and if it has a hood, even better! I prefer jackets over jumpers, purely for convenience.
  • Comfortable enclosed shoes - this is especially important if you've got a layover before arriving at your final destination. Depending on how long your layover is, you'll potentially have to kill a few hours waiting for your next flight. Wearing comfortable shoes will get you through any situation, whether that's exploring the city (if time permits), or walking up and down the airport a million and a half times!
  • A pair of thongs (flip flops!) - if you're wearing enclosed shoes on the plane, it's a good idea to pack a pair of thongs (flip flops) for trips to the bathroom. Given that you'll be sitting on a plane for multiple hours, you'll want to take your shoes off for optimum comfort. But you also don't want to be heading to the bathroom without any protection from the gross plane floor!

Like I said, everyone is different, therefore will have different go-to plane outfits. But this is what I consider to be the perfect in-flight clothing attire!

Here is the perfect outfit to wear on an international flight! Comfort is key!… Click To Tweet

Bring Plenty of Entertainment

Flights are boring. International flights are a million times more boring. You'll want plenty of entertainment to keep you sane! Depending on the length of your flight, make sure to bring a variety of things to keep you occupied. The more you have to distract from the fact that there's still 7 hours left of your flight, the better!

Here are some suggestions for the perfect in-flight entertainment:

  • A book (or two!)
  • Laptop (and charger!)
  • Phone (again, don't forget your charger!)
  • Headphones
  • Pen and paper
  • Puzzle books
  • Kindle or other type of e-reader
  • Magazines
  • Any work projects you need to do
  • Small travel sized board games
  • Card games (Uno works well!)
  • Colouring in books and pencils (perfect for kids and adults!)

Note: If you forget to pack quality entertainment, there are plenty of stores throughout airports that sell books, magazines, puzzle books and more. You may have to pay a bit more than you would anywhere else, but it's worth it, especially if you've got a long international flight ahead!

What is your favourite in-flight entertainment? Here are some suggestions if you're looking for… Click To Tweet

In-Flight Comforts

Unless you're lucky enough to fly first class or business class, you're in for an uncomfortable flight experience. On all international flights I've been on, each passenger has been given a small pillow, blanket and pair of socks. But I can't vouch for the fact that all airlines supply these. Plus, they're not that comfortable. So I definitely suggest bringing along some extra bits and bobs to get you through the flight.

  • Neck pillow - these come in a huge range of colours, styles, shapes and range of comfort. Airport gift stores sell them (for a hefty price), and you can also buy them from most department stores, travel stores and online. Shop around to find one that suits you, is comfortable and in your price range!
  • Socks - like I mentioned earlier, planes get super cold. More so on international flights, since you're even higher in the sky! Having a pair of socks handy is a good idea if you plan to sleep. It's the best way to keep your feet warm!
  • Pain killers - I always get headaches when flying. I'm not entirely sure why, but it's probably a combination of the altitude, lack of real air, and small spaces with lots of people. So I make sure to pack some pain killers in my carry on, just incase.
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste - some airlines do provide these on international flights, but just incase, it's a good idea to pack them in your carry on. (remember, you are only allowed under 100ml of liquid in carry on luggage).
  • Deodorant - because let's be honest, who wants to be stuck next to someone smelly on a plane? I always bring a roll-on deodorant on all flights with me, even domestic ones! Instead of packing my deodorant in my suitcase, I pack it in my carry on. That way, I can freshen up on the plane or after landing!
  • Lip balm - I don't know about you, but my lips get super dry whether I'm flying or not. So I always make sure to include a lip balm in my carry on, for ultimate convenience!
  • Moisturiser - another essential for me! My hands get very dry and itchy during cold weather and in unfamiliar surroundings. I like to keep a travel sized tube of moisturiser with me, to keep me comfortable during any domestic or international flight!
  • Chewing gum - some people experience their ears 'popping' during take-off and landing. A great way to combat this is by chewing gum before the plane takes off and just before landing. For some reason, this helps to stop the ear popping, and the uncomfortable feeling afterwards!
  • Tissues - before heading off on your international adventure, stop by the supermarket and buy a few packets of travel sized tissues. Trust me, you will be glad you have them on more than one occasion. Even if you don't use them during your actual international fight, there will be a time you'll need a tissue!
  • Empty bottle of water - trust me. Let's just say, airplane water isn't the greatest. You aren't allowed to bring a full bottle of water through airport security, but they allow you to bring an empty water bottle. So once you're passed security, fill up at a water fountain, and you're set for your flight!
  • Special food requirements - whether you're allergic to a certain type of food (always make sure to alert your airline before your flight if this is the case!), or simply like a nice cup of herbal tea, don't forget to bring them along! If you can only eat a specific type of snack, pack it in your carry on! Most airlines will be more than happy to assist you in making your flight as comfortable as possible, and this includes special food requirements!
  • Anything else that helps you feel comfortable! - international flights are different for everyone. Some people aren't phased. Some people are highly anxious when it comes to flying, and therefore need some extra reassurance when it comes to getting on a plane. If there is something that helps you to relax, don't forget to include it in your carry on! As long as it isn't restricted for air travel, there's no harm in bringing along something that will put your mind at ease for your first international flight.

Don't forget to pack some deodorant in your carry on luggage for international flights! Click To Tweet

Everybody's flying experience will be different. International flights are long, boring, filled with anticipation and will make you appreciate a bed more than you ever have in your life. Jet lag will kick your ass, and you'll be so confused as to where you are, it will take a while for it to sink in that you've actually flown to an entirely different country or continent. But once you've done it once or twice, flying internationally will get easier. Follow this guide and you'll be prepared for anything!

Are you approaching your first international flight? For you experienced flyers - can you remember what it was like to fly overseas for the first time? Tell me in the comments below! I'd also love to hear some of your own flying experiences, and any tips you've got!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This simply means that if you click on certain links within this post, I may receive a super small commission. The funds I earn are put back into making this blog super awesome and helpful for you guys!

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How to Survive Your First International Flight (and keep your sanity!)
How to Survive Your First International Flight (and keep your sanity!)
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  • This is perfect! People often underestimate the important of preflight prep. It’s all the little things that help make the flight just a tad more bearable and comfortable.

    • You’re definitely right! If you’re prepared in the beginning, you won’t forget anything important! Thanks for reading 🙂

  • A friend of mine loves boardgames. A year ago we were supposed to head off to Indonesia for a month and he handed us a few to play while we were day. Definitely gave the who vacation a different twist to what we usually are used to.

    • That sounds like so much fun! Definitely a different twist, but in the best way! 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  • Awesome post with some helpful tips! 100% agree on bringing an empty water bottle, I have read so much bad stuff about water on the planes plus water at the airport is ridiculously overpriced! I always bring a drink bottle 🙂

  • This is such a great guide! I remember being super overwhelmed for my first solo international flight and I wish I had this to be extra prepared!

    • It is overwhelming on the first international flight! Such a long amount of time in the air! Being prepared definitely makes it less stressful 🙂 Thanks for reading, Caroline! 🙂

  • The longest flight I took was to London (3 hrs flight time + time zone change) and it was also the first since I was a child. Talk about being unprepared! lol but I had enough music on my cell phone and an eager boyfriend to keep me entertained. Now I cringe when the flight is longer than 1.5 h lol I prefer short hauls and break my trip but then again, I have only flown within Europe.
    Great tips 😉

    • Haha! Wow 3 hours. My longest flight was 14 hours from Australia to America! haha. That was painful. Music and a boyfriend are two great ways to stay entertained! Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Great post! Comfortable clothing and entertainment is key for me! One time I didn’t take entertainment on a long haul flight and then I found out the plane doesn’t have any! So yeah, definitely always have entertainment pre planned!

    • How good are comfortable clothes on a plane! Oh that would suck! That’s only ever happened to me on a domestic flight, but lucky I had my phone and headphones to listen to music! Thanks for reading, Lena 🙂

  • Stephanie Fox

    Some great tips I always forget something even after years of flying!

    • It’s super easy to forget things, isn’t it! Lol! Thanks for reading, Stephanie 🙂

  • Great tips, Rhiannon! It’s definitely reassuring to follow advice from someone who knows the ropes when it comes to travel. That way you can be assured that you will arrived in your destination refreshed. On occasions things may go wrong with your journey that you can’t prepare for (maybe apart from travel insurance of course) – and sometimes the best way to learn is just to get on and do it!

    • Thanks so much, Meg! I think honest, in-depth posts like this are the best way to go when flying for the first time! You’re right, things do go wrong. But you learn from those mistakes and know what to change next time! 🙂 Thanks for reading.

  • Great post for those who fly a lot as well as first timers.

  • These are some great tips! I did a similar post that you might find interesting. Some of these tip I have never even thought about and I’m going on a long haul international flight tomorrow 🙂

    https://milleseiersen.wordpress.com/2017/07/29/how-to-survive-a-long-haul-flight/

    • Enjoy your flight tomorrow! Hope some of these tips come in handy! Thanks for reading 🙂

  • These are great tips for any flight too! I’ve never thought about bringing entertainment on board as I rely on the airline movies. But they’re not always what you want to spend 12 hours + watching! I’ll take mini board games next time 🙂 Thanks!

    • It’s always a good idea to have a variety of things to keep you occupied! Thanks for reading, Anna 🙂

  • Great tips. I have really found that having a neck pillow helps me sleep and I think that is really key in minimizing jetlag!

    • Neck pillows are great! They also come in handy in hotel rooms and planes/trains too! Thanks for reading 🙂

  • These are fabulous tips, Rhiannon! Great job putting all of this together. The only things I’d add under in-flight comforts would be chapstick (my lips get so dry on long haul flights!), tummy upset tablets like Tums (the combination of flying + plane food often makes me nauseous), and maybe a mini lotion since skin tends to get pretty dry while flying, too. 🙂

    I’ve got a 26-hour journey coming up in a few weeks and I am NOT looking forward to having to entertain myself that long. This is when I really wish I could sleep on airplanes!

    • Wowza, I cannot believe I forgot to add those! Especially lip balm and moisturiser! I always have to take both of those items with me everywhere, regardless of flying! I’m definitely going to add these onto my list. Thanks so much for reading! 🙂

  • This is very comprehensive. I’d also bring snacks of any kind, even if you don’t have dietary requirements. I like to take advantage of the in-flight entertainment because I usually try movies and TV shows I wouldn’t normally watch at home.

    • That’s a great suggestion! And yes, I do also like to watch the movies available on long haul flights. Cos I probably wouldn’t remember to watch them any other time. Thanks for reading! 🙂

  • The first time I flew overseas I was flying to Russia. I packed all the snacks, sleeping and motion sickness medication, plenty of activities and then I was so luckyy because I just slept the entire flight. However the man sitting next to me was not so lucky because I ended up using him as a pillow for 8 hours. Oops.. hahahaha. Have you ever fallen asleep on the person next to you on a flight? Also, do you ever feel like your carryon is heavier than your actually luggage because you want to be so prepared for the flight? Cause that happens to me ALL the time.

    • HAHA! That’s hilarious! What did the man next to you do?! LOL
      No I’ve never actually fallen asleep on the person next to me. Well, except my boyfriend. And yes I can totally relate! It’s always so heavy cos even after checking luggage, we still have to carry around the heavy ass backpack throughout the airport! 🙁 Thanks for reading 🙂

  • I really love this detailed list! I also take an empty bottle with me and fill up after passing the security 🙂 I can’t imagine drinking only these small cups served by flight attendants 🙂

    • It’s so nice having your own bottle of water on flights, isn’t it! Thanks for reading 🙂

  • A very comprehensive post full with detailed tips! 🙂