Surviving a Long Plane Ride When Studying Abroad

You’re super excited to be studying abroad. You’ve packed, filled out all the paperwork, your visa is all set up, and you’re sitting in the airport. The only thing that stands between you and what should the best experience of your life is the flight. Some of them may be on the shorter side, 6 hours or so (like mine, when I studied abroad). However, I’ve also flown to Singapore, which was a 24 hour trip, and it can seem like a very long time. So using my knowledge, and a few tips from independenttraveler.com , I’ll give a few pointers as to how to survive that long flight to your destination.

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1. If you have frequent flyer miles-upgrade! I may sound like a spoiled brat, but I was able to sit business class for both of my flights to and from Spain, and on the way home from Singapore, thanks to my dad (he travels a LOT). He used his miles to upgrade my flights, and it really does help the flight go by quicker. Plus you’re just way more comfortable when you have a leg room and a cozy seat.

2. Check for seats at the gate. When you get to your gate, it can’t hurt to ask if there are any other seats open. You could end up switching from a middle seat to a completely empty row if the plane hasn’t filled up. Or you can switch to an exit row, which tends to have more leg room, but not always.

3. Use this as an excuse to escape. If you have schoolwork you’re supposed to do or something, try to avoid it. Or at least not spend the entire flight doing it. Whip our a book you’ve been wanting to read or watch some in flight movies. I think on one plane ride along I watched 4 movies that I had been wanting to see. Take a break from the real world and just enjoy the time to do whatever you want.

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4. Get some sleep beforehand. Don’t think you should stay up the night before a long flight. I did that by accident (too excited), and I slept for maybe an hour tops on a 16 hour flight. I spent the whole week in Singapore just trying to catch up on all the sleep I lost. You can try using a sleep aid, although I found that didn’t work out for me. I just have trouble sleeping on airplanes. If you are going to sleep, make sure you time it with the place you’re going, rather than where you are coming from. If you know you’ll be arriving at night, don’t try sleeping in the last five hours or so of your flight, or you definitely won’t be able to sleep that night.

5. Don’t pack too much in a carry-on. This may sound like it goes against what I just said above, but it doesn’t. There’s a difference between being prepared and packing 5 extra outfits in your carry-on. Just try to bring what you’ll need for the flight. That way, it won’t be cramping up your space.

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6. Be prepared. And by that I mean bring headphones, iPods, iPads, computers, pillows, blankets, etc. I borrowed my dad’s noise cancelling headphones, and it was awesome. If you’re on a long flight, you’re going to want a variety of things to keep you occupied, so bring them. And, especially if you’re sitting in economy, a neck pillow will do wonders. I’ve always found planes to be freezing, and usually those little blankets they give you are not enough, so if you have space, I’d bring your own. Plus that way you know how clean it is. And if you have special dietary restrictions or are afraid of plane food, bring your own.

7. Get up frequently and stay hydrated. Drink lots of water or Gatorade or something on the flight. I had one glass of wine and it gave me a huge headache that I couldn’t get to go away for another day or two after the flight. Being on a plane is an excellent way to get sick because you’re in a small space with lots of people, so it’s important to be healthy and take care of your body. You’ll also want to get up and either go to the bathroom or walk around every couple of hours. This will help to prevent blood clots in your leg, but it’s also just better for your health in the long run. If you’re like me and feel uncomfortable getting up if you’re not in the aisle seat, then get the aisle seat. It may be harder to sleep in, but it’s more important that you get up frequently. Plus going to the bathroom a lot will give you a chance to freshen up so you don’t step off the plane looking like death.

You just have to relax and let it happen. I find that when I’m not staring at a clock, thinking about how much time has passed and how much I have left to go, it goes by pretty quickly! Just keep yourself occupied with fun things like movies, games, music, and you might just find that you’re not ready to get off when the pilot comes on to say that you’re descending.

 

Pictures from here, here, and here.

 

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