Periodically I’m asked tips for traveling internationally so I figured with the onslaught of flights lately that I should formalize these. Hopefully you find at least one of them to be helpful!
- Airline selection – go foreign. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud to be an American but not when it comes to my in-air care. Each year the top airlines are noted through various awards and I can attest that each one is great and that’s including economy seating – and at a comparable cost to American based airlines. Some of my favorite are Qantas (if you’re heading down under), Singapore Air, Cathay Pacific and Qatar.
- Don’t Book Through 3rd Parties. There are a lot of search engines available and they are very useful in researching prices and routes, but don’t book through them. These same prices are available through the airline site. The issue arises when you need to make a change to your booking. Third party sites fares and deals have different codes and the airline can typically only rebook on flights that have seats with these codes available (which often times are a limited number per flight). This is even more difficult if there are multiple airlines involved which tends to be the case for International flights.
- Plan your in-flight experience. Once your flight is booked stay on the website and manage your booking! It’s common (and recommended) to select your seat but did you know there’s more you can do? I always select a special meal. Let’s face it, airline food is never a foodie experience but there are ways to eat better. I always choose a fruit platter meal, that way I can get something healthy while in the air (and keep the cankles down) but they also have low – sodium, kosher, vegetarian etc. You an also look at what movies and TV shows will be available during your trip.
- Research Your Airport Connections. Let’s face it, travel isn’t always so glamorous (says the girl who once spent 18 hours in the Madrid airport during college). Airport amenities have come a LONG way since that long Spanish night in 2001. Regardless of your connection time do a little research. If it’s a short connection you can find the best route to run to your next flight, if it’s long you can see how to keep yourself entertained. Sometimes I even book routes based on the airport. Singapore has multiple free movie theaters, a butterfly garden and amazing shopping, Doha has a fantastic gym that if you book a spa appointment (who doesn’t love a good massage) you have complimentary use of the gym and it’s impressive lap pool, it also has quiet rooms, massive play areas for kids, and amazing shopping, Dubai has amazing shopping (do you see a trend yet?). Most airports have a pay per use lounge complete with food, quiet rooms, TVs, business centers and most importantly showers.
- Plan Your Carry On. This is just as important of planning your layover. First, always carry your charges with you and bring a multi-country adaptor. This is important as you never know where you may end up if there are travel delays (I’ve been stuck in both Doha and Hong Kong and rerouted to Germany – glad I was able to charge my phone!)
- Compartmentalize. I use cute zipper bags for each category in my carry on. Electronics, Medicine, Toiletries/ Cosmetics etc. If you’re developing a cough half way through your 16 hour flight you want it to be easy to reach.
- Clothes. Once Qantas upgraded me to business class (a mistake they never made again) and they give you a pair of pajamas to change into. This way when you land your clothes are still nice and fresh and feel slightly more human. I have run with this by bringing a light pair of black pjs with me to change into and it makes a huge difference.
- Make up. It’s amazing how much make up disappears while just sitting around for 26 hours. Pack the minimal that you need to feel your best. I bring basic eye shadow, liquid eyeliner pen and tinted lip gloss to freshen up.
- Medicine. Nothing is worse than being in a foreign country and getting sick – and planes are a hotbed for germs. I carry a mini walgreens with me because no one wants to go on a wild goose chase in another country looking for mucinex, excedrin, Nyquil, pepto and so on and so forth.
- Travel Comforts. Take anything with you that will make you more comfortable. My FAVORITE investment in the last year was an inflatable foot rest. It has honestly been the best $20 I’ve ever spent.
What tips would you add?