Tips for surviving those awful international flights

Tips for surviving those awful international flights

Back in February, B and I headed off to Hawaii so I could join her in the Fifty States Club.  (Meaning  we had visited all 50 states.) We caught a quick hop to Seattle and then flew to Kona on the Big Island. I knew this was going to be a long flight, but I made the (wrong) assumption that it would be like all the other international flights I’ve been on. Well, you know what they say about assumptions! We were solidly unprepared for the seven-hour, TV-less flight that took us to paradise. Below are some flight survival gear we neglected to bring that help make those tedious, over-ocean flights bearable, along with a few that we (thankfully) don’t ever leave home without. 

What are we talking about?

Here is a video we made about most of the items below.

Eva Airplane
Eva air took good care of us from Seattle to Taipei.

Flight Survival Gear


I used to just bring my basic Apple headphones that come with a new iPhone on flights because they are so small and easy to fit in a bag. These are not great at cutting out ambient noise though. So last year I broke down and decided to get some proper headphones. B uses Sony MDR-NC7 Noise Canceling Headphones that she has been very happy with for years. I opted for the Sony MDR-7506. While these are not noise canceling, they do fit over the ear and do a good job of drowning out crying babies. They were about $100 on Amazon and apparently this model has been a workhorse in the headphone field for about 30 years.  

Sony headphones

Sony headphones…for audiophiles everywhere


B and I have had our trusty Apple iPod Touches for many moons. (Or at least I did until I left mine in a rental car in Sacramento last weekend. Grrrr….) I know iPhones these days have plenty of memory and can fit lots of songs on there. But I’ll be honest, I still have no idea what the cloud is or how it works. I know I sometimes have music on my phone when I’m using data and random songs will get saved to my phone somehow that I can listen to without Wi-Fi.                                                                                                                                                                                                              But to make things simple, I like to have a device dedicated to all my tunes. Maybe if Alamo can’t locate my iPod, I’ll have to figure out how to save music to my phone. But the bottom line is, music and podcasts can help get you through your flights. When you can’t binge-watch any more in-flight movies, you need to be able to put on something chill, close your eyes and relax.

Water Bottle

The canned oxygen that is forced through the ventilation system sucks most of the humidity out of you on a plane ride. To combat this, you need to drink lots of fluids. This will also help with your jet lag. The flight attendants come by pretty frequently but it is a good idea to keep a bottle of water handy for the in between service times. As a bonus, you’ll have to use the restroom a lot which will recirculate some of the blood that is gathering in your ankles.


Some international flights offer little fleece blankets. But just in case they don’t, it is a good idea to bring a scarf that can double as a blanket. It isn’t so much that it can get cold, but that it tricks your mind into thinking it is bedtime when you are snuggled up.


Socks serve three purposes on a long flight. First, they keep your feet warm. Second, they help keep your cankles at bay. Third, they allow you to stay clean. Who knows when that carpet was last cleaned. I’m looking into getting some specialty compression socks for the long flights–stay tuned for a review in a future post.

Neck Pillow

B did a lot of homework and research to find the best neck pillow out there. She ended up with the Cabeau Evolution pillow. It is essentially a big hunk of memory foam shaped like a horseshoe. There is a plastic clip at the end that allows the end of the U to stay together, thus providing a nice support system for your head no matter which way it lolls.

How does it work?

The Cabeau takes up more space than an inflatable pillow, but you are able to roll it up tightly and put it in it’s carrying case that can be velcroed together (which makes it much smaller than you’d think possible). If any of you have ever bought a memory foam pad for your mattress, you’ll know how amazing it is that something so small can turn into something so big. This is along those same lines. Once B purchased her Cabeau and tested it out, I did what any sensible Jane would do: I bought one in a different color.

Cabeau memory foam neck pillow

The Cabeau memory foam neck pillow


No matter your media – electronic or paperback – you need a few good books with you on a long flight. I like to put a few on my iPad and then bring a real one too, leaving it on the road once I’ve finished it. Luckily for me, on the disastrous Hawaii flight I had a beach book in my purse.

Ear Plugs

Whichever direction you fly, time zones are going to mess with your circadian rhythm. It will help if you get at least a few hours of shut eye on the plane. Ear plugs will help you drown out the noises of the plane.

Nighty-night Medicine

I’m not one of those lucky people who fall asleep at the drop of the hat. If I am going to catch a few hours of sleep sitting up in an uncomfortable seat, it is going to take some assistance. Everyone is different with what works for their bodies. I will bring a Tylenol PM or Benadryl with me in the hopes that it will knock me out for part of the ride.

Well there you have it. Having the above items will help make your loooooong flights a little more manageable. That and the awesome netflix-like collection of shows airlines provide, combined with the excuse that you really don’t have anything better to do.


With a little preparation and a trusty flight survival gear kit, you can and will survive international flights. You will wake up to a whole new country and set of adventures. As a bonus, you will have had time to plow through the entire first season of The Originals guilt-free.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *