Okay, hi. I am trying something a bit different for the next few weeks. I leave for Austria in a little over two weeks for vacation, and my mind is constantly preoccupied with packing lists and checking off to-dos. Having lived in Scotland for three months and traveled to Europe twice (soon to be thrice) in the last five years, I thought I would take time to impart my limited and biased traveling tips and tricks onto you.
I will be posting today and Friday. Today’s blog is all about my basic international flight essentials, how to survive TSA, avoiding overpriced airport food and drink, and making an otherwise uncomfortable 8+ hour flight a bit more bearable.
Collapsible Water Bottle & Snacks
Airports are miniature chasms of hell, where you are trapped in purgatory with screaming children, people who take up three seats at the gate to take a nap, and overpriced everything. There is no reason to spend over $20 on a bottle of water and expired Chex Mix snack packs.
Take a collapsible water bottle with you. They take up little space in your bag and the water you put in them is FREE. Also, despite rumors, you can take food through TSA and onto the plane. I have seen families with pre-packed lunches meander through checks with no problems. Take snacks that are filling like, Cliff bars, homemade trail mix, or even beef jerky. Plus, part of your plane ticket price includes one, most likely two, meals plus snacks and drinks. You won’t be starved on the plane, I promise.
Earbuds & Headphones
One important thing I learned from my travels is that despite their cute, well-cushioned design, spending 8+ hours with earbuds in can actually be painful. I would suggest taking earbuds AND headphones for a long flight. Not only are headphones more comfortable, but they let the person next to you know you don’t actually care about her compression socks or clay jewelry Etsy shop.
Neck Pillow & Eye Mask
Whatever you do, do not buy a neck pillow at the airport. They are overpriced and pathetic. I’ve recently discovered the joy of a self-inflatable neck pillow that is great for a number of sleeping positions on a plane. Try to find one that supports your chin or the back of your neck, so you aren’t constantly bobbing forward and wake up with neck pain. Self-inflatable ones take out the hassle of actually blowing it up, and are super easy to store in your backpack.
If you are someone who struggles to sleep with any light peeping through, invest in an eye mask. Planes never lower their lights completely, and it is beyond annoying to try and sleep when the person next to you has their screens at full brightness. Also, another tactful way to ignore your seat mate’s rambling.
Slip-On Shoes & Warm Socks
This piece of advice is nothing new, but please, for the love of whatever god you worship and for the love of the people behind you in TSA, wear slip-on shoes. They can be slides, a slip-on sneaker, flip flops, booties, sandals, hell even socks with sandals. If I have to watch one more wanna-be Real Housewife untie her gladiator stiletto heels at TSA, someone is going to end up with a shoe in their ass.
If you opt out of the socks and sandals look, I suggest packing warm socks in your personal bag. Airplanes are a unique climate. I am always cold, but slightly sweaty from the faux leather seats. If you sit near a window, one half of your body may be numb by the time you land. Having some fuzzy, designated airplane socks is a small luxury that makes an otherwise uncomfortable travel experience a little cozier.
This is a small add-on to your TSA toiletries bag, but if you are a contact lens wearer like myself, these are a godsend after waking up on the plane and your contacts and eyeball have fused together. Any box store will have these for you!
Supplements & Vitamins
Packing supplements and vitamins may seem frivolous and something to leave off your endless packing list, but hear me out. Jetlag, on top of breathing 100+ strangers breath for hours on end, is going to affect your immune system in one way or another. Here’s a list of vitamins to consider:
- Melatonin: It can help you fall asleep on a long flight and when battling jetlag
- Zinc: Taking these once a day, in general, helps keep your immune system in good order
- Dramamine: If you are motion sick, these are great. Pro tip: Take one when you get home after a night of drinking to reduce hangover symptoms (you’re welcome).
- General painkillers: Jetlag can cause headaches, and constant walking can cause soreness. Pack these as a precaution.
Entertainment & Media
Flying is a great time to catch up on shows, movies, books, etc. But come prepared. Without wifi on the plane, make sure anything electronic is pre-downloaded. Download your favorite movies and shows off of the Netflix phone app, save your new podcast episodes, and download your Spotify playlists. Pack a few books you’ve been meaning to read or upload the audiobook to your phone. If you are going to be using your phone a lot on the flight, be sure to put it on battery save mode and take a portable charger. If you want to emulate my cool airplane vibes, take some knitting or crochet to keep your hands busy as well.
If you need some good, quick reads for the flight, here are a few suggestions:
- The Great Gatsby – 180 pages
- The Old Man and the Sea – 127 pages
- The Little Prince – 134
- Frankenstein – 166 pages
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s – 160 pages
If you want to check out a few new podcasts to pass the time:
- My Brother, My Brother and Me: NSFW Comedy/Advice
- Sawbones: Medical History/Comedy
- Reveal: Investigative Journalism/Reporting
- The Adventure Zone: Dungeons and Dragons Storytelling
- Wonderful!: Comedy/Feel Good
- Myths and Legends: Modern Tellings of Old Stories
- My Favorite Murder: For the True Crime Obsessed
Thanks for stopping by early this week! My Friday’s blog will feature my basic international vacation essentials. You can read about what you need for your hotel or hostel, and what to take with you while you’re out and about.
Next week I will also be posting on Wednesday and Friday. Wednesday I show you what I will be packing in my purse and backpack for my 10-day European vacation. Friday will feature what and how I pack all of my clothes, shoes, toiletries and more for a 10-day European spring vacation into a standard carry-on suitcase!