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International Flights: Some Dos and Don'ts to Make them Bearable

Andres Rodriguez / Hemera / thinkstock.com

Until we can have Scotty beam us up, we’re in for long hours when flying internationally. Here are a few tips that will hopefully help make it bearable.

Stay on Schedule
Don’t try to get a jump on time zones by changing your schedule before the trip. Living on London time doesn’t work too well in say, Denver. A well-rested traveler has a better chance of adapting to a new time zone. You’re going to be out of whack anyway, why start that way? Do reset you watch once you’re on the plane; you’re in the air anyway, so might as well prep for landing.

Be On Time
Most airlines suggest you arrive 3 hours early for any international flight. That is a bit ridiculous, but so are a lot of their rules aren’t they? Do try to get there at least 2 hours early though; one reason is to avoid any undue stress; second reason is you may get a shot at a free or reduced upgrade if you claim first dibs.

What are the Chances?
Free upgrades seem to be a figment of our imagination, or so I thought until I got one on a flight to Jamaica. I think was an accident though, since I didn’t even say a thing, yet ended up in the back of first class seats. This is definitely the way to go, but the price is prohibitive, especially on international flights. If you can afford it, jump on it, but most of us will have to hope for the upgrade fairy to bestow a little luck. There’s no harm in asking.

aimy27feb / iStock / thinkstock.com

Drink up but Make it Water
You should drink and drink a lot when flying, but alcohol is your enemy on long flights. Sure, if you’re on a shorter (4 hours or less) flight to the Caribbean it’s party time; but on longer flights, alcohol won’t help a bit. On any long flight, alcohol will not only throw your brain a curveball, but dehydration is a common cause of jetlag. Drink lots of water and lay off the caffeine as well.

Catch That Flick
Watch the free movies if available. Nothing passes the time better than a good flick or two. You might want to watch one of those chick-flicks you been avoiding all this time. Not only will it help you fall asleep, but you can now say you’ve seen it and avoid having to watch it with your significant other later. Besides all that, watching the new James Bond film or any other action/adventure film on a three inch screen just doesn’t cut it.

You Gotta Walk Around
Get up and stretch as much as you can. Nowadays, flight crews are a little uptight about letting people hang out in the back or in the aisles. Get up and go to the bathroom, even if you don’t need to. I know the grumpy lady in the aisle seat gets irritated at my frequent trips to the head but, hey, I’ll never see her again anyway.

Money Money
Make sure you exchange some cash into the local currency before you leave. You can do this at most banks with a little advance notice or just exchange a bit at the airport. Once you arrive you’re going to want that cup of Joe or that cocktail you’ve been holding off on, so it’s better to be prepared. After a long flight overseas, the last thing you want to do on arrival is stand in line to exchange money.


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