This summer, I boarded my first of three planes that would take me to Sydney, Australia. Now it’s no secret that one of the least (and probably the only) unappealing aspects of visiting Australia for many people is that it is quite the journey. Attempting to plan ahead for the flight, I looked to countless travel sites and guidebooks for advice on how to prepare myself for the 21 hours of travel ahead. Now that I’ve had (and survived) my first trans-pacific journey, here’s my tips to making your plane ride as pleasant as possible.
1. Dress the part
Tabloids are filled of images featuring starlets dressing to the nines, casually strolling through the airport looking fabulous. While I fully support and enjoy their cute and well-planned outfits, I promise you this is not the time to show off your airport style. I donned my favorite sweatshirt, a scarf (highly recommended as it doubles as a blanket), leggings, and my sneakers, and while I was far from the best-dressed person in LAX, it was well worth it to be comfortable for the long flight.
2. Bring snacks
Many of my travel companions knew that we would be fed on the plane, and failed to pack anything else to fuel them for the trip. If you’ve ever had airplane food you know that it’s nothing to brag about, and on a 15-hour flight, you’re undoubtedly going to get hungry. I actually fell asleep before dinner came around, and was very thankful for all the snacks in my bag.
This requires some research and planning, but is absolutely the most important part of preparing for your journey. Think about what time you will be landing in your destination, and from the moment you board, try to think in terms of your new time zone. Many airlines will assist you in this by dimming the lights and planning meals according to the destination too!
4. Only bring one carry-on
I had three different flights to get to Sydney, and was incredibly grateful that I only had my backpack to carry around the terminal. Not only was it easy and convenient, but I also was able to ensure all of my things were close to me under my seat throughout the flight.
5. Get a good seat
While all airlines are different, Qantas (which is one of the major Australian airlines) requires you to pay a $25 fee to reserve a specific seat on board. While I personally find this silly and a bit ridiculous, I was definitely glad that I paid for the reservation when I was sitting in a window seat and my other friends had to sit in the middle of two strangers for 15 hours.
6. Pack a change of clothes
Now I know everyone says to do this just in case, but it’s particularly important in a situation like this, as you’ve been sleeping and living in the same outfit for quite a lot of hours by the time your realize your luggage is MIA. Also, if you’re switching hemispheres, remember they are in the opposite season, so it’s well worth it to have a fresh set of clothes to fit the new weather.
7. Print your visa
This is another “just in case” item, but it’s well worth it to have a hard copy of your student or travel visa. For me, this was even more relevant when I got to Australia, as my visa number was required for me to get my Aussie cell phone and apply for jobs.
8. Research customs requirements
Be aware of what you can/can’t bring through customs when you land- for Australia this meant we couldn’t bring any food or drinks off the plane, and had to claim many kinds of medication upon arrival.
9. Charge up
Make sure all of your devices are fully charged BEFORE you board. There’s no guarantees that you’ll be seated near an outlet on the flight, and while many of the larger planes have personal TV’s at every seat, these aren’t 100% guaranteed to work (the man sitting next to me had a broken TV for the first several hours) so you’ll want to have your own entertainment prepared.
10. Relax and enjoy
While I’m definitely not going to say that the flight is the most fun aspect of your travels, I was pleasantly surprised that it was relatively painless. Try not to constantly check the hours remaining or complain too much—I promise wherever you’re headed will be well worth the journey!
Brittany Cooper is a student from College of Charleston and a TEAN Featured Blogger. Check out her blog, Life in the Land Down Under while studying at the University of Sydney. Brittany is currently studying abroad with TEAN in Sydney, Australia.