For some travelers, a long international flight is something they don't mind at all — they pop into a seat, drift right off to sleep, and wake up refreshed a dozen hours later halfway across the world.
Unfortunately, that only covers maybe 5% of international travelers. The rest of us battle jet lag, dry air, uncomfortably tight seating arrangements, and often more than 20 hours in the air just trying to reach our destinations.
For nearly everyone planning a vacation in Tahiti, a long international flight is unavoidable. There are, however, some things you can do to make your international flight a little bit easier for you and your family, friends, or anyone else heading out with you to explore the gorgeous islands of Tahiti.
Our Top Five Tips for Surviving a Long Flight:
1. Plan Extra Travel Time and Prep for Jet Lag
Jet lag is just a part of international travel. If your schedule is tight, you may end up missing out on planned excursions and activities because you simply can't get out of bed for a day or so after your flight.
Start adjusting your schedule as best you can a few days prior to leaving. While odds are good you won't be able to fully change over to "island time" before you leave, even small adjustments of a couple of hours here or there can help you adjust a little faster after you arrive. Then, after your arrival, try to spend as much time out in the sun as possible rather than going to sleep right away. Even just a few hours of wakeful time on the beach will tell your body you've truly arrived, and it's time to go on "island time"!
We recommend scheduling two extra days to your vacation, as well — one after arrival, and one after your return — dedicated just to recovering from the flight itself.
This way, you can battle jet lag without worrying about missing out on all your great vacation plans. Besides, who doesn't love a planned "recovery day" spent lounging by the sea or in your oceanfront bungalow?
2. Bring a Small Pillow and Befriend the Flight Crew
We cannot emphasize this enough. A 'travel'-sized pillow is going be your best friend on any long international flight.
Your neck will thank you, you'll be able to get better sleep on the flight, and you'll be able to relax in that less-than-cozy airport seating during layovers. Make sure every single member of your party has a pillow.
If you forget yours or don't buy one before leaving, nearly every airport will have travel-sized pillows for sale, and they are absolutely worth the cost.
As a side note to this, befriend your flight crew! The flight attendants are there to help, and being kind and courteous is the best way to enlist them in helping make your flight more comfortable, even if you're cramped in middle-row seating.
Long flights can feel even longer if your experience is unpleasant, and the best way to work towards a great flight experience is to have a good relationship with the flight crew.
3. Pack Screen-Free Entertainment Options
No doubt you've planned to download several movies for the kids to watch, or you've stored your favorite shows on your tablet for in-flight entertainment. That's great, and we definitely recommend making sure all these electronic devices are fully charged before you board the plane (and be sure to charge them during layovers, too!).
Looking at screens for so many hours is hard on your eyes, and will make it difficult to fall asleep once you grow tired and need some rest. Try to pack some screen-free entertainment options, too — that new beach read you've been eyeing is a great choice.
Pack a few different books and magazines. Coloring books and a pack of colored pencils have become increasingly popular options even for the grown-ups, since they can give your brain a rest while still keeping you engaged. Trust me, it's worth the space books and magazines take up in your carry-on when you're only seven hours in and you just can't watch another episode of Frasier.
4. Pack Healthy Snacks and Research Airport Restaurant Options
Yes, international flights do tend to serve food, but sometimes the options aren't the healthiest. Plan to bring along some fresh food items like apples, individual packets of peanut butter, water, trail mix, or other healthier options.
If you're not able to get these prior to takeoff, the airport will sell snacks, too — it just might cost a lot more than you expect to pay.
If your flight has lengthy layovers, you may need to grab a meal in an airport restaurant. Try to research what options are available at your layover long before your flight, where they are located within the airport, and make a beeline for your chosen option as soon as possible after landing.
5. Most Importantly: Bring Noise-Canceling Headphones and Eye Masks
If you were to tell us we could only give you one single piece of advice about surviving an international flight, this would be it. Invest in good-quality noise-canceling headphones and eye masks for every member of your travel party. Yes, even children, if possible.
The only thing that can really make your international flight seem shorter is getting some rest, and between the sound of everyone's air vents blowing, children crying, personal devices playing movies, TV shows, or people having conversations, an airplane is a noisy place!
Noise-canceling headphones let you tune it out, and a good eye mask means you won't be distracted by everyone's screens.
Planning a Getaway to Tahiti?
At Journeys of a Lifetime, we don't just help you plan a vacation — we get to truly know you, your lifestyle, and the kind of vacation you've always dreamed of. We'll help you make the most of every single day, creating unforgettable experiences and memories that will last a lifetime.
To get started planning a vacation to Tahiti, contact us by phone at (864) 979-0160 or schedule your appointment online at any time.