How To Survive An International Flight

63In the final quarter of 2014 I ventured on a holiday to Pakistan, as can be seen from my post and pictures here. However one thing I haven’t discussed yet and feel would be of great value is the actual flight. The international, long haul, one stop in another country before we reached the final destination flight. Yes all I wanted after was my bed. 

I have often tried to imagine that the experience of travelling on a plane is part of the holiday itself. Not having to wait until you reach the final destination is a mercy. However that has not always been the case. We travelled economy – yes – we go hard.

If by the time you reach your seat in the plane, you haven’t been lightly frisked, stared at, made uncomfortable and irritable for no reason, thought of at three different ways about how you might end up in jail ever if you haven’t done anything wrong, lost your shoes, children, passport or will to live – then congratulations the havoc or what I will call airport shenanigans have begun. Don’t forget to pick up the duty-free good and browse through the magazines which you probably won’t even look at on the flight. Too edgy. I shall announce here, that climbing into a long metal tube, filled with hundreds of people I don’t know and worst of all – crying children – being locked in the clouds and not being able to leave when I want, breathing recycled air and being terrified to not only flush the toilet – it sounds like the engine is failing – but also hating the food, this is all terrifying if you are claustrophobic but if you aren’t then welcome to the beginning of your holiday. Enjoy your stay.

Be Prepared

Luggage wise, do yourself a favour and underpack. You don’t want to be open your cases in the middle of the airport to lighten the load. Trust me, the extra few things are not worth the hassle. Don’t assume you have a certain amount of weight allowance. Never ass-u-me anything. Check the guidelines. Follow them to a T. No ifs, no buts.

If you get motion sickness then don’t forget to pack your tablets in your handbag. Also some hand gel, tissues, paracetamol (for when the little munchkins start crying), chewing gum – keeps the ears from popping – ear plugs or headphone, electrical items such iPad and travel charger to keep your items charged whilst on route, a hair tie and facial moisturiser.

Know Your Airline

It is a fact that if you are buying a cheaper ticket then the flight will probably be a little more rough. Money buys comfort in the travelling world. If you have kids it might be worth dishing out that little more to get through the flight a tad bit more comfortably.

Cheaper flights could also be a hint at: terrible customer service, late, canceled or delayed flights at short notice, a lack of personal space, bad plane hygiene and awful plane food. The slightly cheaper option is for the brave of heart. If you cannot deal with these shenanigans and don’t want to nurse a saw everything: head, shoulders, knees and toes upon arrival at your destinations then dish out a little more my friend.

My most recent travels to Pakistan we used Turkish Airlines. The food was horrible. The flight was great from the UK to Turkey and then the connecting flight was awful. Unfortunately both there and back I had a child sitting next to me screaming and had to pray to god for the entirety of the journey to not throw myself out the plane.

Connecting Flights, Immigration & Customs

Give yourself time. You would rather sit in the middle of an airport for an hour or maybe six longer than have to rush through a foreign airport to get your next flight. Plus immigration and customs can take time. Everyone is in a rush – don’t join the sinking boat. Your brain will be much after the flight you’ve been on so show yourself mercy. Grab a bite to eat, use a proper toilet, have a nap on the airport floor – trust me it is a luxury after sitting rigid in a tiny plane seat.

Carry-On Hell

After landing in Turkey and maneuvering ourselves out of customs, we finally found our gate number and started trudging towards our destination. It was a long trudge. At least more than three-miles. No exaggeration. My carry-on became my worst enemy. There is no plus side to lugging your carry-on around the airport and filter through people with only a half functioning brain.

Comfort Is Your Friend

Forgive me but comfort is my only friend when I show up at the airport. If it wouldn’t make everyone suspicious of my sanity I would turn up in pyjamas and unbrushed hair. Since I cannot do that, wearing clothes that aren’t difficult to get off and on, flat unfussy shoes – don’t need to be holding up the queue trying to do up your stiletto heels and a cardigan than is light but warm. They provide blankets on the plane but it can still get a bit chilly on the flight or in the airport.

Food

Take advantage of the time before you depart the plane. Buy yourself small snacks to get your through the flight. I hate food on planes. Drink water it is your best friend. Don’t forget to check that you can actually take food on board and usually liquids exceeding 100ml aren’t allowed on board so make sure to buy a bottle of that size and refill it on the plane.

Zone Out

I don’t know if I’m gifted with the special talent of not being able to watch a whole movie in one sitting but I am. However, whilst up in the air I took advantage of the movie provided by the airline and thanked the lord they had much variety – well done Turkish Airlines.

I spent my time watching movies on had downloaded to my iPad before I set off and used my own headphone – plane headphones are horrible.

If you follow these tips and mentally chant ‘I will reach my destination in – insert seconds, minutes and hours’ – then you will be fine. It will all become a little more bearable if you try to enjoy the journey too!