Ten Tips for International Flights

Although you wouldn’t know it by my lowly Silver Elite status these days on Delta, I have done a fair amount of international travel. Later this week, I’ll be in the air for over 20 hours, traveling from Minneapolis/St. Paul to New York (JFK) to Dubai to Columbo, Sri Lanka. My fellow World Vision travelers and I have been trading flying tips on our Facebook group, and several trip members are worried about sleeping or not sleeping on the flights.

While I doubt any of us will take an $18,000 shower on Emirates Air, I’m sure we’ll all survive. That being said, here are my top ten trips for international flying:

1) Don’t beat yourself up. I don’t sleep much on flights. Never have, and I doubt I ever will. But I no longer bum out about that. Instead, I just know that I won’t be sleeping, and I’ll have to suffer through some exhaustion upon my arrival.

2) Don’t over-medicate. I’ll take a melatonin pill, but I think that the stronger sleep-aids are a recipe for disaster. They don’t necessarily put you to sleep, but they definitely make you groggy. And if you have any weird side-effects, you’re pretty much screwed.

3) Work out the day before. Being that I’ll be sitting and sitting and sitting, I make sure and get a serious workout the day before the flight. I mean a 2-hour, sweaty, intense workout. Get the endorphin rush, the lactic acid release, and you’ll possibly sleep more on the flight.

4) Don’t set an alarm. For the week before the trip, I go to bed as early as possible and sleep as long as possible. I won’t try to realign my sleep with Sri Lanka because it’s like a dozen time zones away. That would be futile. Instead, I will go into the trip well-rested.

5) Pre-hydrate. In spite of the warnings to avoid alcohol on flights and to drink only water, I will drink some booze. So I’ll make sure to drink a bunch of water in the 48 hours before the flight to compensate.

6) Watch good movies. If there are any good movies en route, I’ll be sure and catch them, even if it means less sleep. Looks like I’ve got a lot to choose from.

7) Don’t watch bad movies. There are a lot better ways to spend the hours than watching a stupid movie, like…

8) Write your book. A long flight is a perfect time to start that book that you’ve always wanted to write. I’m at about 11,000 words on my current manuscript, and I hope to double that by the time I return in a week.

9) Gas-X. ‘Nuff said.

10) Don’t do anything on day one. When you arrive at your destination, take a day to sleep, work out, sleep some more, and get your bowels moving.

What are your tips for international flights?

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  • Evelyn

    Keep your hands away from your face and don’t pick your nose during or for 24 hours after the flight. This keeps you from getting sick.

  • Carl

    I’ve heard that the truly enlightened close their eyes and read their memories.

  • Teer

    Don’t throw out the sleep aids. On my 18 hour flight to Yemen, Tylenol PM knocked me out twice. Once we arrived I was a little groggy but that wore off as we approached customs.

  • http://www.rjaypearson.com R. Jay Pearson

    Amen to 3, 5, and 10. (Did you know one drink in the air is the same as three drinks on the ground?)

  • ME

    Took me several flights to come to grips with point (1). Great advice.

  • Ben

    The entertainment system on emirates is great, but my tip for those who do try and sleep is put on a hoody and stuff a good travel pillow in the hood. This will keep the pillow next to your head and give you the psychological comfort of a pillow if not the actual comfort of one.

  • Jordan

    Never tried gas x on a flight, but its served me well in other, on the ground, situations (e.g., tripe soup)

  • http://www.rjaypearson.com R. Jay Pearson

    And by the way Tony, God bless you and your team on your trip. My prayers for a safe journey, there and back.

  • http://differentchurch.wordpress.com/ Arthur Stewart

    Tony-

    Good ones! several are the same suggestions I wrote about in a similar series of posts a while back http://www.stewart5.net/category/travel-tips

    I would add:
    -Be quiet on the plane out of respect to everyone else. Remember, we chose the flight, not to travel together :)
    -Pack early and take less than you think you need
    -Shower/shave as late as possible before you go because it may be a while before you do either again