An international flight is one of the most highly anticipated yet somewhat unpredictable parts of travel. Tyler Harms-Synkiew from University of Minnesota talks about tips and tricks to pass time and make it through the long flight!
One of the biggest concerns people in the US have with traveling abroad to Australia is the long flight across the world. Spending half a day (or longer) on the plane can seem like a daunting task to wrap your mind around.
If you’re tall, leg room and getting comfortable may be a concern. If you’re claustrophobic, just the idea of being in an enclosed space for that long may give you enough anxiety to have a panic attack. If you have a tough time sleeping, the frustration of being tired for a long period of time might be a concern. If you get bored easily, occupying yourself may be a concern. The list goes on.
I can assure you that it is not as bad as you think it will be.
My itinerary entailed taking a four-hour flight from Minneapolis to San Francisco, having a two-and-half-hour layover, and then taking a 15-hour flight to Sydney, Australia, with an additional 19-hour time change from Pacific Standard Time to Australian Eastern Standard Time.
Leaving at 11pm on a Tuesday and arriving at 9am on a Thursday was weird, however. It felt like Wednesday never happened. Knowing that most of your friends and family are over a half day behind you is a bizarre feeling that takes time getting used to.
Here are several tips to make the flight as smooth as possible:
Watch a movie/TV show
This is probably the easiest way to pass as much time as possible while you are flying. If you have a particular show you want to watch, do not forget to download it. I’d recommend downloading everything you want at least a couple days in advance just to make sure. Another option on this front is using the monitors they have in front of each seat. Most airlines provide free earbuds you can ask for. I love scrolling through what they have and maybe jumping into something new! The monitor will also likely have games as well as a flight tracker which is kind of neat to look at.
Listen to music
Many people get a lot of anxiety during flights. Before even reaching the plane, you might already be stressed after going through TSA and navigating through the airport. Personally, those are my least favorite parts of flying. If that doesn’t get you, getting into the air might. Music is one of the best ways to stay calm in these moments and can help ease your nerves so that you can relax. Again, make sure to download whatever music you’d like to listen to beforehand.
Read a book
Another thing that can help ease your mind during the flight is reading. Readers will have no problem with this one as it’s already a part of their routine but even non-readers can benefit from dusting off that book you’ve been meaning to read. You’ll have plenty of time to spend on this flight so you might as well spend it doing something at least semi-productive.
Get cozy and sleep
I understand that this is easier for some than others but if you can manage to get at least a little shut-eye on the flight, it will make the jet lag a lot more manageable. A good pro tip here would be to bring some sort of travel pillow; the airline should have you covered with a blanket. If you have a tough time sleeping in uncomfortable places like planes, the things above can help you relax to get at least some sleep.
Your destination a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow
The flight is most likely going to be a little tough (depending on how you cope), there’s no sugarcoating it and there’s no way around it. It’s important to remember why you’re doing it, however. Once you reach your destination, it will all be worth it. It may take a bit to get adjusted but don’t let the flight stop you from doing something you want to do. I promise, you’ve persevered through tougher things in life. Remember why you chose to go abroad and think about all of the exciting things you have to look forward to during your time abroad. Get excited for the opportunity of a lifetime and be grateful.
Take a picture of your boarding passes
If you are anything like me, you may have a tough time keeping track of things. While it can be extremely stressful to lose something important, make sure to take a picture of it beforehand just in case. I always take a picture of my boarding passes as well as anything else important just in case. You may also access and save digital versions of your boarding pass on your airline app (if available).
Another tip to go along with this is to have designated places/pockets in your luggage and/or on you for super valuable items such as your passport. If you put important things in the same place every time, you are less likely to lose them.
Preparing for your way back home
The way back is arguably tougher than the way there. The excitement of the trip has come and gone and you may be sad to leave. However, it’s important to be grateful for the opportunity you did have and the flight home is a good chance to reflect on all the things you were able to experience while abroad. Plus, anything you’ve done once you can do again.
Tyler Harms-Synkiew is an official blogger for spring 2023, sharing his story in frequent posts on CAPA World. A Sports Management major at University of Minnesota, he is studying abroad in Sydney this semester. All views expressed are his own and may or may not reflect the experiences of other students.
Tyler's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.