Sep 25, 2014

International Air Travel Tips


I have to admit, if you haven’t flown internationally before the process can be quite daunting to think about. What airline should you fly? What do you need to bring? There are so many questions and not a lot of answers available. Today I am sharing my list of things I look for when booking an international flight.

Direct Flights
I always prefer to travel non-stop when possible. It can be more pricey sometimes, but if you look at different times or days you can usually snag a good deal. It cuts down on travel time, and saves you from having to navigate an airport in a (possibly) foreign country. If I can’t travel non-stop, I look for domestic layovers. Or if coming via Europe, a layover in London would be perfect. I really like what Thomas Cook Flights has to offer. Be forewarned that when coming back into the United States for a domestic layover, you will have to go through customs, gather your luggage, and go back through security before you get on your next flight so leave an ample amount of time in your layover. We usually do that and have time for a meal before boarding the next flight.

Long flights can be rough. Not only are they long, but you’re stuck in a small area with lots of other people. Some airlines have better perks than others. I’ve been on flights where a multi-course meal was served, complete with hot towel service, and others where we were lucky to get a beverage. I personally look for meal service, outlets or USB Plugs, seat back entertainment, and priority boarding for children (so much easier with a toddler!).

Baggage is not usually a huge issue for me because I travel light, but some airlines offer larger allowances for international flights which works out better if you are going on a very long trip, or planning to bring back lots of souvenirs. You can pack a carry-on inside of a larger bag if you want to have a big bag to check on the way home.

Modern Convenience
I try to cut down on my to-do list at the airport so online check-in is a blessing for me. It’s so much easier than fighting with the kiosk or waiting in a long line. When purchasing tickets, I love to be able to choose my seats. Often I will choose seats that are closer to the front of the plane if I know I have a shorter layover.

I hope that these tips help you figure out what to look for when booking an international flight. If you have any additional tips, please share them below!

This conversation was sponsored by Thomas Cook but all opinions and text are my own.

Expand Comments

great tips. The last time i flew international was to Germany and we moved their via the military. I had a 2 year old at that time and man was traveling not fun lol

We’ve been avoiding long flights with our 2 year old but have done some shorter ones.

Great list! I agree on direct flights, more direct the better. When I travelled alone, I didn’t really care about having to change planes or to wait, or the aminities. But travelling with children is all about going as straight and fast as you can and having as much entertainment during the flight as possible.

I haven’t flown internationally in years, but we’re traveling overseas twice next year! Thanks for the tips! 🙂

Great tips! Will have to put them to use the next time I’m planning a vacation!

Completely agree about checking in early. I love southwest specifically for that reason.

I am all for the non-stop flights when I travel. Thanks for the tips. Great graphic.

Thank you for the tips! One day I want to take the family to France!

I wish I was a light packer! I need some tips for packing light because I am horrible at it!

I get anxiety just thinking about an international flight- just because I do not like flying. However there are many places outside of the USofA that I am dying to go to! These tips are great and if I ever find myself booking an international flight, I will keep these in mind!

I always come prepared for long haul flights. Snacks, Movies, Books, Gum, all the necessities!

As a frequent international traveler, I agree with all of these! I completely agree with the non-stop flight option, and it’s great to ask the travel agency to see if they know what airplane is going to be flown (a more recent model, which has amenities like electric chargers, vs. an older airplane)… sometimes they do. 🙂

Happy traveling!


Great tip! I’ve also found that when booking at a place like Expedia it lists what plane will be used.

Picking a seat near the front for a short layover is so smart. I never remember HOW LONGGGG people can take to get off a plane until I’m stuck behind everyone for the 100th time.

I got stuck in the back once, on a delayed flight, headed for a very short Minneapolis layover. The people were so nice and SLOW. “Ooh you’ve got a short connection there don’tcha know. Aren’t you worried that you will be late?” YES, GET OUT OF MY WAY.

I’m actually more confused by domestic flights than international. Sometimes I’ll look at photography or modeling gigs in Scotland or Ireland or on the other end of England and flying there is actually cheaper than trains sometimes and I find it so daunting because I’ve never flown domestic before. I mean, I’ve basically only ever gone from Madrid to London and back. I did have a layover in Amsterdam once and fell in love with that airport, which does NOT show in how I look in the selfies I took there, but carrying a ton of uncomfortable luggage is rough. Always wish I could travel with people so we could spread out the luggage. I’d feel safer and less completely exhausted afterwards, lol.

Great tips. I love long haul flights as I get to catch up on books, movies and tv series that pile up on my iPad!

Next you should share some tips on surviving a long international flight! I flew to Uganda a few years ago and it took a couple days to get there. One flight was 14 hours long!

Great tips! I’m always a big over packer so I need to start packing light 🙂

It makes it a lot easier! 🙂

Great tips! Traveling can be pretty stressful but with experience it becomes much easier.

I’ve never been on a long-haul flight but these are great tips, even for the shorter flights I’ve taken around Europe. I always check-in online and choose our seats whilst doing so, it usually means that me end up with a spare seat next to us which is ideal for traveling with a little one. Thanks for sharing these tips.

A spare seat would be so nice! My flights always end up overbooked/jam packed. Only once have I had the luxury of an extra seat, haha.

Great travel tips. I have to sit on the aisle on a long trip, so I can easily get up and move around (or go to the bathroom) without crawling over everyone.

I always prefer a window seat because I usually sleep on flights, but I totally understand your logic here. 🙂

Funny you should post this! I just booked a 2 week vacation to New Zealand for December!! I am pumped, but the flight may kill me, lol! I did get a direct flight which is nice, I just need to find some sleeping pills, LOL!

I know lots of people take them but I would be way too nervous if something were to happen and I were in an “altered state”. Maybe because I always travel with my kids I’m almost always in mamabear mode? Lol.

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