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First time flying (21 tips you must know before you fly)

First time flying is super exciting. Here is everything you need to know

Plane Flight

First time flying? Check out all the recommendations to help you get over the initial hurdles. Find out tips on how to prepare for the flight as well as what to do to minimise any discomfort. From vitamin help, through ideal snacks for the flight, to what to do during a long haul, our guide is here to help first-timers.

Based on my personal experiences, I put together this list with all the items you should take with you on a long flight. I'm sure this will help you have a much better journey than ever before.

First time flying (21 tips you must know before you fly) - Contents

First time flying - This is exciting!

It’s amazing that we live in an era when we can get on a plane and in a few hours we find ourselves on the other side of the planet. Of course, long hauls can get very tiring and demanding, especially when you need to stop a couple of times during your travels and spend time in different airports. My longest flight was a 28-hour journey from London to New Zealand, via Abu Dhabi and Perth. I remember embarking on this journey totally unprepared, hence ended up feeling sick, catching a cold, not getting any sleep and having a terrible time. Worry not, this won't happen to you because you will be prepared!

I wish I knew how to really prep for a long flight and how easy it is to transform your long haul into a first-class experience. If you are a first time flyer to Europe, don't forget to check this awesome packing list for your ease.

Noise Cancelling Earphones / Headphones

There are two reasons why you will need these. Firstly, because you will actually enjoy the sound of silence, as opposed to the continuous background engine noise. Secondly, you might find yourself very unlucky, being seated right in front of a family with small children. Nothing wrong with small kids, of course, but sometimes it can happen that they cry a lot due to cabin pressure. It can happen to any of us. So you want to make sure your sleep doesn't get disturbed no matter what. Put those noise cancelling headphones on and listen to relaxing music or download a white noise app which allows you to sleep in silence.

Check prices and read reviews: Amazon.com
Bose QuietComfort 35
Bose QuietComfort 35 on Amazon.com

Offline music available on your phone

Most airlines will have their own music available on the entertainment system, but sometimes you might find yourself on a plane that has some really bizarre playlists. I for example, really like listening to meditation music during a long flight. I use it to fall asleep on. On my way to Japan, I flew with China Air and none of the music selection was right for my taste. If you don't want to listen to music, you can download an app for white noise. Some people can't sleep with music and that's ok.

Have some snacks with you

What if you don't like the food you get on board? Or you get hungry in-between meals? Best to have some snacks with you just in case. I like to bring a couple of bagels (they really put your hunger at bay), some salted crisps, nuts, a couple of fruits (something like apples, bananas or blueberries) and some protein bars.

They don’t take much space in your hand luggage and are sure to make your flight more pleasant. Try to avoid sugar as it might make you more susceptible to catching viruses.

Check prices and read reviews: Amazon.com
KIND Protein Bars, Crunchy Peanut Butter, Gluten Free
KIND Protein Bars, Crunchy Peanut Butter, Gluten Free on Amazon.com

Wet wipes and sanitising hand gel

I love to keep my hands clean at all times. I find it really refreshing to use the antibacterial wipes after sleeping on a plane or finishing my meal. It’s also quite nice to clean my surroundings, such as the folding tray and the armrests. I also go to the washroom to just refresh a little: clean my face with warm water and wash my hands with soap. You are more susceptible to getting ill because of the dry air and a crazy number of passengers around you. Keeping your face and hands clean helps minimise the risk.

Check prices and read reviews: Amazon.com
Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizing Wipes
Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizing Wipes on Amazon.com

Avoid alcohol and drink plenty of fluids

I know, it’s a difficult one. You totally want to enjoy the free booze included in your flight price. For your own sake, just don’t do it! The alcohol will get you dehydrated, together with the already recycled dry air, you will end up having some killer headaches. Make a habit of drinking at least 2 litres of water during your flight. Yes, that might mean going to the loo a lot, but it’s better to keep hydrated than end up all dry, with a horrible hangover-like feeling. Hydration will also help you better cope with the jetlag.

A super comfortable travel pillow

I’m sure you don’t want to invest a lot of money in an expensive travel pillow, but honestly, sleeping is crucial on a long haul flight. Besides, the more you sleep, the faster time flies. Most international flights will have pillows and blankets available, but I like to use those for securing my lower back. Just buy the most comfortable (not necessarily the most expensive) travel pillow for your needs. I found a £15 foam travel pillow in a supermarket and I've been loving it since.

Check prices and read reviews: Amazon.com
Everlasting Comfort 100% Pure Memory Foam Neck Pillow
Everlasting Comfort 100% Pure Memory Foam Neck Pillow on Amazon.com

Vitamin C

The air gets really dry and you are travelling for hours and hours in a box … with hundreds of other (potentially sick) people. To help you avoid potential illness, take a vitamin C pill prior to your flight. Get the super potent ones (1000 mg). Always have a few vitamins handy. If you’re feeling a little nauseous, just take another vitamin C pill. I know this may sound silly, but since I started taking a vitamin C before my flights, I just don't get ill anymore. Help your immune system with a little boost. Besides, vitamin C is cheap and easy to carry so it's really the best tip I can offer you!

Check prices and read reviews: Amazon.com
Vitamin C 1000 mg with Bioflavonoids
Vitamin C 1000 mg with Bioflavonoids on Amazon.com

Have a warm hoodie

Most airlines provide you with a free blanket but never underestimate how cold you can get whilst trying to sleep on a plane. Grab a warm, comfy jumper and sleep in it. It will give you such a fuzzy feeling. For example, I need at least three blankets to feel a little warmer. But in reality, nothing beats a nice jumper for added comfort.

Both my husband and I wear an organic cotton jumper to keep us warm. We also have a thermal underneath so if by any means we get too warm, we have layers so we can feel nice and comfortable. It also allows you to be prepared for your destination (add or remove layers as needed).

Flip Flops

If you don’t like wearing your shoes on a long flight, have your flip-flops with you. Don’t walk around in your socks or barefoot. People walk on the same carpet using their dirty shoes. Yucky! A pair of flip-flops takes very little space in your hand luggage so they are the perfect compromise. As an added bonus, we also use our flip flops as slippers in any hotel we check in. This way we don't walk with our bare feet in any bathrooms, no matter how clean they look.

Check prices and read reviews: Amazon.com
Riverberry Yoga Flip Flop with Yoga Mat Padding
Riverberry Yoga Flip Flop with Yoga Mat Padding on Amazon.com

Aspirin

If you have oily skin and you are prone to spots, here is a handy trick. Crush an aspirin and mix it with club soda water. Form a paste and bring it with you in a small container. Use the aspirin paste to dab it on any forming pimples.

Toothpaste, Toothbrush

Bring a good travelling toothbrush and some nice quality toothpaste. Don’t ignore your normal routines, brush your teeth after each meal and before falling asleep on a plane. When you wake up, brush your teeth again. I also recommend brushing your teeth just before landing. It feels really nice to have a minty breath and a fresh attitude.

Check prices and read reviews: Amazon.com
Wowe Natural Organic Bamboo Toothbrush Eco-Friendly Wood
Wowe Natural Organic Bamboo Toothbrush Eco-Friendly Wood on Amazon.com

Lip balm and Moisturiser

Whether you are male or female, please bring moisturiser and lip balm with you. During the flight, you will get really dry and your skin (especially your facial skin and the corners of your lips) will suffer a lot.

Once every few hours, you should clean your skin with water and facial wet wipes. Then apply a new layer of moisturiser. Use your lip balm as often as possible. Don't forget to use it after you brushed your teeth.

Check prices and read reviews: Amazon.com
Aquaphor Lip Repair
Aquaphor Lip Repair on Amazon.com

Eye drops

It’s not just your skin getting dry during long fights, but your eyes too. Have some eye drops handy and use them everytime you feel your eyes tired or drier than usual. I strongly recommend against wearing contact lenses during long flights. Wear your glasses instead. However, if you must wear your contacts, then the eye drops are an absolute must!

Check prices and read reviews: Amazon.com
Multi-Action Eye Drops
Multi-Action Eye Drops on Amazon.com

Sleep mask

Although the plane's lights are switched for some of the flight duration, you might still get blinded by the next seater who insists on reading whilst everyone is asleep. To avoid being woken up this way, best to wear a sleep mask. Try and find a good quality one made of soft material. I tried using cheap black ones provided by airlines as well as others which I bought online for a couple of pounds … they all turned out to be really bad quality and made my head hurt because of the tight elastic band. I ended up investing in a good Victoria's Secret sleep mask, made of brushed cotton. alternatively, I recommend a silky option with a looser elastic band.

Check prices and read reviews: Amazon.com
Jersey Slumber 100% Silk Sleep Mask
Jersey Slumber 100% Silk Sleep Mask on Amazon.com

Painkillers

Dehydration can cause some really nasty headaches and you most certainly don't need one during a 10-hour long flight. Drinking plenty of fluids is key, however, sometimes you might actually need a painkiller to alleviate the pain. Make sure to have a few pills handy. Try to buy the ones you could potentially take on an empty stomach (like paracetamol). You never know, you might need them in between meals.

Kindle

Long hauls are a great chance to catch up with those top travel books you’ve been meaning to read for ages. I always try to find fascinating subjects to keep me entertained and excited. Download a few books on your Kindle to ensure you have options in case one of the novels doesn’t turn out to be as great as you imagined.

Check prices and read reviews: Amazon.com
All-new Kindle Paperwhite
All-new Kindle Paperwhite on Amazon.com

Laptop

If you are a travel blogger, then you surely want to use your time on the plane to write an article or two. If writing is not your thing, you can still use your laptop for all sort of entertainment purposes. Even on short flights, I sometimes like to watch tv series.

Tea bags

I am crazy about my hot beverages and I feel the need to drink green tea everywhere I go. I suggest bringing a few tea bags with you as you might otherwise get disappointed if the airline doesn't have the type of tea you fancy. For example, on my way to Japan, I kept drinking jasmine tea because the company didn't have anything else. On my way to New Zealand, I could only have mint tea, which resulted in some serious stomach aches.

Check prices and read reviews: Amazon.com
Good Earth Green Tea
Good Earth Green Tea on Amazon.com

Medical compression socks

We all hate feeling heavy when we get off a plane. Your ankles feel incredibly thick and your legs are suffering. You can use medical compression socks to help with your circulation. These socks are designed to apply pressure to your lower legs, helping to maintain blood flow and reduce discomfort and swelling. Magic!

Check prices and read reviews: Amazon.com
EHbee 3 Pairs Compression socks
EHbee 3 Pairs Compression socks on Amazon.com

Hair Bubble

If you have long hair you might want to consider using a hair bubble, especially when you need to use the aeroplane facilities to wash your face and brush your teeth. Your hair will very likely get dirty and oily during the flight, so you don’t want it touching your facial skin as you might make it prone to pimples.

Positive Mental Attitude

This is probably the most challenging part of this item is not something you can physically bring with you on board. It’s down to you to have a positive mental attitude. You have to be on this plane for x amount of hours, so you might as well have fun. Relax as much as possible, drink hot teas, read a book and watch tonnes of movies. Listen to your favourite song a dozen times and smile. I’m serious, just smile and you will start feeling better. Do breathing exercising and draw circles with your nose to ensure your neck and shoulders get a little lovin’. Stretch as many times as you can, and think how cool that in a few hours you will be in a completely different time zone, on the other side of the planet.

Are you ready for the first time flying experience? What helps you have the best in-flight experience? Let me know in the comment section below.

Responses

R
Rebecca Emin
18 Apr 2016

What a brilliant list of tips. I have booked this for next time I fly. I can't imagine doing a 28 hour journey though, that must have been exhausting!

R
Rebecca Emin
18 Apr 2016

Oops, I meant bookmarked!

C
Cory
26 Apr 2016

It was crazy. I'm also quite a bad flyer which doesn't help much. I'm slowly learning all the tricks and tips to make myself super comfortable without disturbing other passengers of course.

T
Tony Ramonds
18 Apr 2016

Great article, keep up the good work.

C
Cory
18 Apr 2016

Thank you Tony.

B
Bryan (Bon Voya...
15 May 2016

I remember that LONG journey from the UK to New Zealand. I was lucky enough to get a whole row to myself and get stretched out.

C
Cory
18 Apr 2016

I'm so glad you liked the article. After the flight to New Zealand I felt I need to find ways to make the most out of my journeys. I'm sure you will start loving flying too.

C
Chris
02 Jul 2016

There's one thing to add for long haul I think (or super long haul with New Zealand) - set your watch to the local time before you get on the plane.

That and try to avoid unknowns trying to hug you in their sleep...

C
Cory
02 Jul 2016

You are absolutely right about the time! I had to change the time several times (in UAE, Perth and upon landing in New Zealand). This is crucial to ensure you don't miss your flight. As for the hugging part, I think I was lucky enough to not be in that situation. Though I bet you have a really funny (and cringey) story you totally need to share with us. haha

C
Chris
03 Jul 2016

I was mopey as my (then fiancée) wife was working in NZ for the year and I was flying back after Christmas. I always try to sleep on a flight and was awoken by an arm wrapping around my chest and another on my leg... Quite how my 'friend' didn't wake up when I relocated her is beyond me. Turns out, as I saw her passport when we touched down that she was a German police officer.

J
Jonathan Kemp
29 Dec 2017

Some amazing tips! Would definitely keep them in mind, the next time I travel.

S
Sandy
14 Jan 2019

I am a first time flyer, I will be going from RI to NV. Your tips helped me greatly, especially about listening to MY music, wet wipes, aspirins, Snacks, staying hydrated. As long as I have my bag with me I figured I’d be all set, you pointed out a few extras I had not considered. I need to practice some peaceful easy feeling meditations as well as MY music and noise cancelling ear buds/headphones.
Thank you so much.
Sandy

C
Cory
17 Jan 2019

Hi Sandy,

Don't forget to take a vitamin C before your flight. You will be great. Have lots of fun, part of travelling is enjoying the journey.
Safe travels,

Cory x