Overseas and long haul flights

Are overseas and long haul flights that different? Imagine sitting in tight pants, thin t-shirt, stuck in an air conditioned flying sardine can for 8 hours. Sound like fun? Well, that’s something of what an overseas or long haul flight can be like. So what’s the difference between flying from the USA to Europe and flying from Seattle to Florida – there are definitely some.


When you are going to be stuck on an overseas flight to Europe or somewhere else you need to make sure the clothes you wear on the plane are comfortable. Tight jeans or pants – not so comfortable after 8+ hours sitting on a plane. They feed you on an overseas flight, but I can’t guarantee how great the food will be, that depends on the airline. But you will get fed. And if you get any sort of bloating from the food, those tight jeans just got worse feeling.

For overseas and long haul flights I make sure the clothes I wear I can sleep in. Remember if you want to change clothes, the only place is going to be an airplane lavatory – kind of small place. And you’ll have 100+ people also using that same lavatory. Sometimes the floor is wet from water, not a lot of room to hang your clothes to change into, and others are waiting for you – you can’t take 30 minutes to freshen up. Also any clothes you change into will have to be readily accessible – in your carry on. So it can be easier to make sure what you wear can take sleeping in and will be presentable on the other end. Its one thing to change your t-shirt, another to change from pants to a dress and heels – in an airplane lavatory.

Most overseas flights I’ve been on leave sometime in the afternoon and you arrive at your destination the next morning sometime. Where are you leaving from and where are you going, what will the weather be like?  If you are going from cold to warm, you still need a jacket for the cold region. But you want to make sure that you will be comfortable when you arrive at the warm region.  You need to think about your clothes and what makes the most sense.  I tend to wear loose jeans (think more trouser cut, or wide leg), a t-shirt, a sweater or jacket and comfy shoes on the plane.  If I’m going someplace cooler, I’ll carry a polar fleece jacket with me (yes I actually use polar fleece – I’m not real dressy).  Polar fleece has the advantage of it doesn’t wrinkle and it stuffs in an overhead bin well, and you can use it as a pillow if necessary.


What about toiletries for your carryon? Again, think about where you are going, how long you can wear that makeup, and what you will really use.  If you’re going from warm weather to warm weather, just moisturizer and maybe sunscreen is all you need to wear on the plane – keep makeup to a minimum.  Airplane air can be very drying, so carrying a small sample size moisturizer can be nice.  A full face of makeup is not the best thing to wear on a long haul flight.  Its going to rub off, fade, and need touch up no matter what. What do you really need, not what you want, is what you need to think about. You can always put lipstick and blush on when you land provided it is in your carry on or purse.  (There’s a reason celebrities wear huge sunglasses on flights – less makeup required.)

On overseas flights many airlines give you a small amenity kit.  It may have a toothbrush, toothpaste, socks, eye mask, and maybe some lotion.  These vary by airline.  It is worth it to check before you leave, your airline website usually says what is in that kit.  It might save you from having to pack it in your carryon.  But check your airline website to see what is available on overseas flights. Bear in mind First Class gets the nicest stuff (if you can afford First Class).


Just a side note about hair.  I strongly suggest you think about the fact you will be sleeping in whatever hair style you have.  I’m a big fan of loose braids, pony tails, something easy to freshen up on the other end. Rather like your makeup, it is going to get messed up on the plane after 8 or more hours.  Think of making your style something easy to freshen up at the other end. Its better to be comfortable with your hair on the plane then to worry about your hair. Suggestions – loose braids then let it down when your land- soft wavy curls, short style that just can be freshened with water and your hands, etc. It doesn’t hurt to keep a comb in your carry on just because.


Another issue is money.  Most people will tell you to just use an ATM wherever you land.  Great idea, but what do you do it its out of money?  Or you can’t find an ATM at the airport?  I always take a little bit of destination’s currency with me.  Enough to get me to my hotel/wherever via cab, bus, for tips, or whatever else that will be an immediate need.  Then I plan on using ATM’s.  I don’t take much with me, but I try to take some cash with me.  You can’t use US dollars in Italy for a cab.  Check with your bank, find a Travelex or other place before hand to change currency. Some airports will have a money exchange in their international terminals. Make use of it if needed.


Overseas luggage is another issue you should think about.  Where are you going, what airlines will you be using?  Non-USA airlines and airports have their own restrictions. – both for weight and size.  A USA carry on bag can be up to about a 14 x 9 x 22 inch suitcase, not so on other airlines.  Aer Lingus has a regional flight carry on luggage size of 18.5 x 13 x 7.5 inches.  That means that USA carry on just became checked luggage. That lady’s bag/gents satchel you carry on must not exceed 9.8 x 12.9 x 7.8 inches.  Not quite the same as USA requirements. It does you well to check this out before you go. This information was found on the Aer Lingus website, and other airlines will have their own requirements.  Check those restrictions before you go. (Our LAN flight had a 12 lb carry on weight limit.)

And don’t forget those cab rides.  You just might find that 28” suitcase you want to take won’t easily fit into a cab trunk.  Overseas they probably are not using large cars as cabs. I’ve seen people have to wait for a large vehicle/van to be driven out to them to pick them and their luggage up.  Their luggage was just too large to fit into the cab. And if you are taking a train anywhere, you will have to haul it on and off that train.  How heavy is it?  The larger the suitcase, the more we tend to stuff into it, and the heavier it gets.  That will hit you not only in the wallet, overweight luggage charges, but it can make it more difficult to transport it to wherever you are going.  Ever haul your packed large suitcase over cobblestone half a mile to get somewhere? Ever haul it over bridges in Venice? Big is not always better.

On USA domestic flights you have larger cabs, easier access to money, shorter flights, and less luggage restrictions. I’m sure there are some exceptions to this, but it is not like flying overseas. And for the record, my longest flight was DFW to Sydney, Australia – something like 16+ hours, nonstop flight. Plan well.