How to Prepare For Your First International Flight

Setting off on your first international flight will be one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking times in your life. Whether you’re traveling solo, with your family or with a trusted group of friends, the unknown will more than likely cause all sorts of stress. That being said, it should also be one of the most exciting times in your life. Yeah, planes are uncomfortable and the food sucks, and sitting in the one spot for multiple hours at a time is frustrating.

But your first international flight doesn’t have to be awful. I’m here to help you through it, with tips on ways to stay comfortable, the best things to pack in your carry on bag and more. Anything that can be useful in helping you through your first international flight!

Keep reading for tips on preparing for your first international flight. We also have a super useful packing list, tips for first time travelers and a guide to planning your first international trip.

How to Prepare For Your First International Flight

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means, if you click on certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for continuing to support Rhiannon Travels, and keeping it a free travel guide and resource for everyone to use!

Be Prepared

I know what you’re probably thinking: duh. But although it may sound obvious that preparation is key when it comes to travel (and almost everything else in life), if you’re feeling nervous or overwhelmed about your first international flight, it’s easy to forget those important steps. Most material items can generally be picked up along the way, but there are some things that you definitely cannot forget.

1. Don’t forget the essentials

Passport – Your passport is the most important possession you will have when traveling internationally, so protect it with your life. You cannot physically travel anywhere internationally without your passport. Always be sure it’s kept in a safe place, and have photocopies in a few different places in your luggage, just incase.

Alternate Form of ID – It’s a good idea to bring along an alternate form of identification, just incase. You may not need it, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry in an airport.

Insurance Information – Have either an electronic copy or hard copy of your insurance information handy, just incase. You may need to call your insurance company to ask a quick question, or for something a little more serious such as lost luggage when you arrive at your destination. Put their contact information into your phone for easy accessibility.

Cash and Credit or Debit Card – Whether you decide you want a quick bite to eat before your flight, or find a good deal in Duty Free while you wait, you’ll want to have cash or a debit/credit card handy. Keep your wallet in your carry on bag, instead of packing it into your checked luggage.

Booking Confirmation or Boarding Pass – You may not need it because everything is electronic these days, but if you’re a bit nervous about the whole process going as smoothly as possible, it won’t do any harm having a hard copy of your booking confirmation, and even a print-out of your boarding pass, if you decide to check-in early (more on that soon).

A Travel Wallet to keep it all in – There’s one perk in needing to take so many important documents on your international flight, and that’s being able to purchase a cute travel wallet. There are a ton of different styles and sizes available, but one that has multiple sections and has a zip to close the wallet is the best option.

2. Be prepared for departure day

Check in Online – Some airlines allow early online check in, which then means you’ll save time on the day of your departure. Double check on the airline’s website around 24 hours before your flight, to see if this is an option. Sometimes, checking in online means you can choose your own seat, also.

Arrive at the Airport Early – If you are traveling internationally, it’s recommend to arrive at the airport around three hours early. This will give you plenty of time to check in, check your luggage, go through security and customs, find your gate and purchase some snacks. It’s always best to arrive too early than be running late, so don’t be afraid to over-estimate.

Have your Bags Packed and Outfit Ready – If you have an early morning flight, you don’t want to be running around trying to pack everything last minute. Try to have everything packed into your suitcase the night before, except any bathroom products you will need in the morning. Have your outfit laid out too, for ultimate organisation!

Cancel any Services or Deliveries – If you are not having a family member or close friend look after your house while you’re gone, be sure to cancel any regular services or deliveries. The fewer people coming by your house and leaving newspapers or parcels, the better. If you can, ask a family member to do a quick check of your home every few days, just to make sure everything is okay and to put your mind at ease, if this is something you are concerned about.

Tell Family or Friends where you will be – It’s always a good idea to give at least one family member a copy of your itinerary. This should have your flight details, accomodation information and contact details and a rough outline of where you will be and when.

Double Check Travel Insurance – The night before your departure day, double check that your travel insurance is in place and valid. You can do this by giving your insurance company a quick call, and will put your mind at ease just incase something does go wrong.

Have Currency Converted – A couple of weeks before your departure day, purchase some cash in the currency you will need at your destination. It’s always a good idea to have a little bit of cash for small things like a Taxi or public transport ticket. Load the rest of your spending money onto a travel card or simply take your own debit or credit card.

Wear Comfortable Clothes

Other than remembering to bring your passport, wearing comfortable clothes on the plane is crucial in surviving your first international flight. I choose the outfit I’m going to wear on the plane, days in advance, and make sure everything is clean and easily accessible on the morning of my flight. This makes life a lot easier, and you will thank past you for being prepared. Especially if you have a super early morning flight.

This is my go-to, perfect international flight outfit. I don’t really care too much about looking cute, but I do like to be comfortable. Here is the outfit I almost always wear, regardless of how far I’m traveling:

Leggings or Tights – I swear by Lorna Jane tights, and have about 8 pairs of them in all sorts of styles and lengths. Wearing a good quality and comfortable pair of tights on a long-haul flight, will be the best decision you will make since deciding to travel in the first place.

A Comfortable Tank Top – I like to wear a tank top on flights, because I personally feel it’s more comfortable than a t-shirt. With more freedom under the arms and less material getting in the way, I always opt for a tank top.

A Warm Jacket – Planes are always going to be cold, regardless of the temperature outside. The higher up you fly, the colder the plane’s cabin will be. I always wear a comfortable jacket on the plane, to be prepared when I start shivering. A jacket is a lot easier to put on and take off than a jumper; and I suggest choosing one with pockets and a hood, for ultimate comfort.

Comfortable Enclosed Shoes – If you have a long layover in a different city before arriving at your final destination, you may be walking around a large airport for hours on end, just to kill the time. Some cities even allow airport guests to head out and explore while waiting for your next flight. Either way, it’s always a good idea to wear comfortable, enclosed shoes while traveling.

A Pair of Thongs (flip flops) – If you decide to wear enclosed shoes on the plane, pack a pair of thongs (flip flops) as well. These will come in handy for trips to the bathroom, and if you are landing in a warm location.

Bring Plenty of Entertainment

If there’s one thing I can say for sure, it’s that flights are boring – especially international flights. You will definitely want to pack plenty of entertainment in your carry on bag, to keep you busy throughout the journey. Depending on the length of your flight, bring a variety of things to keep you occupied. Just like a day at home, you will more than likely not want to do the same activity for multiple hours, so variety is key.

The more you have to distract yourself from the many hours left of your flight, the better. Here are some suggestions for the perfect in-flight entertainment:

A Kindle, E-Reader or Regular Book – If you’re an avid reader, I can’t think of a better place to smash out a book or two, than an international flight. Purchase yourself a kindle before your flight, and download some great stories to immerse yourself in.

Laptop and Charger – Given that I run this blog, I like to get some work done on flights occasionally. Depending on the time of day and how long the flight is, I’ll take out my laptop and do some writing or editing. If you have your own blog or run an online business, long-haul flights are a great chance to get some work done.

Phone and Charger – Download some games that can be played offline, before you get on the plane. This is a great way to kill some time, and generally international planes have USB charging ports on the back of each seat.

Headphones – I suggest noise cancelling headphones, to block out any annoying sounds while on the plane. There’s nothing worse than being seated next a screaming baby or group of excited teenagers. So come prepared with some good quality noise cancelling headphones.

Travel Sized Board Games and Card Games – This is a great option if you’re traveling with kids. Not only is it a good distraction to avoid temper tantrums, it’s also lots of fun for adults! Travel games like Uno, Yahtzee and Scrabble work well.

Colouring in Books, Puzzle Books and Magazines – Colouring books aren’t just for kids anymore. There are entire brands dedicated to creating adult friendly colouring books. If this doesn’t interest you, there’s always the classic puzzle books and trashy magazines to get you through the flight.

Note: If you forget to pack quality entertainment, there are plenty of stores throughout airports that sell books, magazines, puzzle books and more. You may have to pay a little more than you would in a regular shop, but it’s worth it, especially if you have a long international flight ahead!

Pack Plenty of In-Flight Comforts

Unless you’re lucky enough to fly First Class or Business Class, you’re in for an uncomfortable flight experience. On every international flight that I’ve been on, each passenger has been given a small pillow, blanket and pair of socks. I cannot vouch for the fact that every airline supplies these, though. So it’s best to come prepared just incase, and bring along some familiar comfort items of your own:

Neck Pillow – These come in a huge range of colours, styles, shapes and range of comfort. Airport gift stores sell them (for a hefty price), and you can also buy them from most department stores, travel stores and online. Shop around to find one that suits you, is comfortable and in your price range!

Socks – Like I mentioned earlier, planes can get very cold. More so on international flights, given that you’re even higher in the sky. Having a pair of socks handy is a good idea if you are hoping to have a little nap, since it’s the best way to keep your feet warm!

Pain Killers – I always get headaches when flying. I’m not entirely sure why, but it’s probably a combination of the altitude, lack of real air, and small spaces with lots of people. So I make sure to pack some pain killers in my carry on, just incase.

Toothbrush and Toothpaste – Some airlines do provide these on international flights, but just incase, it’s a good idea to pack them in your carry on. (remember, you are only allowed under 100ml of liquid in carry on luggage).

Deodorant – Because let’s be honest, who wants to be stuck next to someone smelly on a plane? I always bring a roll-on deodorant on all flights with me, even domestic ones! Instead of packing my deodorant in my suitcase, I pack it in my carry on. That way, I can freshen up on the plane or after landing!

Lip Balm – I don’t know about you, but my lips get super dry whether I’m flying or not. So I always make sure to include a lip balm in my carry on, for ultimate convenience.

Moisturiser – Another essential for me. My hands get very dry and itchy during cold weather and in unfamiliar surroundings. I like to keep a travel sized tube of moisturiser with me, to keep me comfortable during any domestic or international flight!

Chewing Gum – Some people experience their ears ‘popping’ during take-off and landing. A great way to combat this is by chewing gum before the plane takes off and just before landing. For some reason, this helps to stop the ear popping, and the uncomfortable feeling afterwards!

Tissues – Before heading off on your international adventure, stop by the supermarket and buy a few packets of travel sized tissues. Trust me, you will be glad you have them on more than one occasion. Even if you don’t use them during your actual international fight, there will be a time you’ll need a tissue!

Empty Bottle of Water – Airplane water isn’t the greatest. You aren’t allowed to bring a full bottle of water through airport security, but they allow you to bring an empty water bottle. So once you’re passed security, fill up at a water fountain, and you’re set for your flight!

Special Food Requirements – Whether you’re allergic to a certain type of food (always make sure to alert your airline before your flight if this is the case), or simply like a nice cup of herbal tea, don’t forget to bring them along! If you can only eat a specific type of snack, pack it in your carry on. Most airlines will be more than happy to assist you in making your flight as comfortable as possible, and this includes special food requirements!

Anything Else that Helps you Feel Comfortable! – International flights are different for everyone. Some people aren’t phased. Some people are highly anxious when it comes to flying, and therefore need some extra reassurance before to getting on a plane. If there is something that helps you to relax, don’t forget to include it in your carry on. As long as it isn’t restricted for air travel, there’s no harm in bringing along something that will put your mind at ease for your first international flight.

Everyone’s flight experience will be different. International flights are long, boring, filled with anticipation and will make you appreciate a bed more than you ever have in your life. Jet lag will kick your ass, and you’ll be so confused as to where you are, it will take a while for it to sink in that you’ve actually flown to an entirely different country or continent. But once you’ve done it once or twice, flying internationally will get easier. Follow this guide and you’ll be prepared for anything!

Are you approaching your first international flight? For you experienced flyers – can you remember what it was like to fly overseas for the first time? Tell me in the comments below! I’d also love to hear some of your own flying experiences, and any tips you’ve got!

Pin it for later!

How to Prepare For Your First International Flight How to Prepare For Your First International Flight

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means, if you click on certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for continuing to support Rhiannon Travels, and keeping it a free travel guide and resource for everyone to use!



  1. August 5, 2017 / 1:51 pm

    This is perfect! People often underestimate the important of preflight prep. It’s all the little things that help make the flight just a tad more bearable and comfortable.

    • August 5, 2017 / 2:21 pm

      You’re definitely right! If you’re prepared in the beginning, you won’t forget anything important! Thanks for reading 🙂

  2. August 5, 2017 / 1:54 pm

    A friend of mine loves boardgames. A year ago we were supposed to head off to Indonesia for a month and he handed us a few to play while we were day. Definitely gave the who vacation a different twist to what we usually are used to.

    • August 5, 2017 / 2:21 pm

      That sounds like so much fun! Definitely a different twist, but in the best way! 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  3. August 5, 2017 / 2:07 pm

    Awesome post with some helpful tips! 100% agree on bringing an empty water bottle, I have read so much bad stuff about water on the planes plus water at the airport is ridiculously overpriced! I always bring a drink bottle 🙂

  4. August 5, 2017 / 2:28 pm

    This is such a great guide! I remember being super overwhelmed for my first solo international flight and I wish I had this to be extra prepared!

    • August 5, 2017 / 5:59 pm

      It is overwhelming on the first international flight! Such a long amount of time in the air! Being prepared definitely makes it less stressful 🙂 Thanks for reading, Caroline! 🙂

  5. August 5, 2017 / 5:17 pm

    The longest flight I took was to London (3 hrs flight time + time zone change) and it was also the first since I was a child. Talk about being unprepared! lol but I had enough music on my cell phone and an eager boyfriend to keep me entertained. Now I cringe when the flight is longer than 1.5 h lol I prefer short hauls and break my trip but then again, I have only flown within Europe.
    Great tips 😉

    • August 5, 2017 / 6:44 pm

      Haha! Wow 3 hours. My longest flight was 14 hours from Australia to America! haha. That was painful. Music and a boyfriend are two great ways to stay entertained! Thanks for reading 🙂

  6. August 5, 2017 / 6:28 pm

    Great post! Comfortable clothing and entertainment is key for me! One time I didn’t take entertainment on a long haul flight and then I found out the plane doesn’t have any! So yeah, definitely always have entertainment pre planned!

    • August 6, 2017 / 10:23 am

      How good are comfortable clothes on a plane! Oh that would suck! That’s only ever happened to me on a domestic flight, but lucky I had my phone and headphones to listen to music! Thanks for reading, Lena 🙂

  7. Stephanie Fox
    August 5, 2017 / 7:36 pm

    Some great tips I always forget something even after years of flying!

    • August 6, 2017 / 10:21 am

      It’s super easy to forget things, isn’t it! Lol! Thanks for reading, Stephanie 🙂

  8. August 5, 2017 / 8:07 pm

    Great tips, Rhiannon! It’s definitely reassuring to follow advice from someone who knows the ropes when it comes to travel. That way you can be assured that you will arrived in your destination refreshed. On occasions things may go wrong with your journey that you can’t prepare for (maybe apart from travel insurance of course) – and sometimes the best way to learn is just to get on and do it!

    • August 6, 2017 / 10:20 am

      Thanks so much, Meg! I think honest, in-depth posts like this are the best way to go when flying for the first time! You’re right, things do go wrong. But you learn from those mistakes and know what to change next time! 🙂 Thanks for reading.

  9. August 5, 2017 / 9:12 pm

    Great post for those who fly a lot as well as first timers.

    • August 6, 2017 / 10:18 am

      Enjoy your flight tomorrow! Hope some of these tips come in handy! Thanks for reading 🙂

  10. August 6, 2017 / 4:45 am

    These are great tips for any flight too! I’ve never thought about bringing entertainment on board as I rely on the airline movies. But they’re not always what you want to spend 12 hours + watching! I’ll take mini board games next time 🙂 Thanks!

    • August 6, 2017 / 10:17 am

      It’s always a good idea to have a variety of things to keep you occupied! Thanks for reading, Anna 🙂

  11. August 6, 2017 / 11:23 am

    Great tips. I have really found that having a neck pillow helps me sleep and I think that is really key in minimizing jetlag!

    • August 6, 2017 / 4:57 pm

      Neck pillows are great! They also come in handy in hotel rooms and planes/trains too! Thanks for reading 🙂

  12. August 6, 2017 / 11:35 am

    These are fabulous tips, Rhiannon! Great job putting all of this together. The only things I’d add under in-flight comforts would be chapstick (my lips get so dry on long haul flights!), tummy upset tablets like Tums (the combination of flying + plane food often makes me nauseous), and maybe a mini lotion since skin tends to get pretty dry while flying, too. 🙂

    I’ve got a 26-hour journey coming up in a few weeks and I am NOT looking forward to having to entertain myself that long. This is when I really wish I could sleep on airplanes!

    • August 6, 2017 / 4:56 pm

      Wowza, I cannot believe I forgot to add those! Especially lip balm and moisturiser! I always have to take both of those items with me everywhere, regardless of flying! I’m definitely going to add these onto my list. Thanks so much for reading! 🙂

  13. August 6, 2017 / 11:51 am

    This is very comprehensive. I’d also bring snacks of any kind, even if you don’t have dietary requirements. I like to take advantage of the in-flight entertainment because I usually try movies and TV shows I wouldn’t normally watch at home.

    • August 6, 2017 / 4:55 pm

      That’s a great suggestion! And yes, I do also like to watch the movies available on long haul flights. Cos I probably wouldn’t remember to watch them any other time. Thanks for reading! 🙂

  14. August 6, 2017 / 4:34 pm

    The first time I flew overseas I was flying to Russia. I packed all the snacks, sleeping and motion sickness medication, plenty of activities and then I was so luckyy because I just slept the entire flight. However the man sitting next to me was not so lucky because I ended up using him as a pillow for 8 hours. Oops.. hahahaha. Have you ever fallen asleep on the person next to you on a flight? Also, do you ever feel like your carryon is heavier than your actually luggage because you want to be so prepared for the flight? Cause that happens to me ALL the time.

    • August 6, 2017 / 4:54 pm

      HAHA! That’s hilarious! What did the man next to you do?! LOL
      No I’ve never actually fallen asleep on the person next to me. Well, except my boyfriend. And yes I can totally relate! It’s always so heavy cos even after checking luggage, we still have to carry around the heavy ass backpack throughout the airport! 🙁 Thanks for reading 🙂

  15. August 6, 2017 / 8:40 pm

    I really love this detailed list! I also take an empty bottle with me and fill up after passing the security 🙂 I can’t imagine drinking only these small cups served by flight attendants 🙂

    • August 7, 2017 / 11:36 am

      It’s so nice having your own bottle of water on flights, isn’t it! Thanks for reading 🙂

  16. August 6, 2017 / 10:16 pm

    A very comprehensive post full with detailed tips! 🙂

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.