Not all flights are created equal. Some of us will travel for a duration of 23 hours, some will travel within the same state for 45 minutes. Regardless of the duration, the unexpected seems to always happen. A missed flight, a delay, overcrowding, whatever the cause, here's what you need to be prepared for everything.
If your flights have been delayed or you have a long layover or you just have to spend the night not at your destination, it's always nice to have some back up clothes prepared. I've been stuck in so many airports and so many countries and I have learned my lesson. The airports and the flights will make us feel yucky, unclean, unkempt. Bring extra clothes. A shirt, jeans, underwear, socks and a bra. If you will be meeting people at the end of your flight, it's also nice to feel fresh and clean when you meet them, regardless of any delays.
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This is almost a no brainer, but sometimes people forget or do not realize they need these items (especially if you're flying for the first time). For some reason flying one flight seems to take a toll on our hygiene and appearance. Always be prepared with a toothbrush.
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I've only lost my passport once, in Germany, and I was lucky enough to instantly retrieve it. But imagine if you're in a foreign country with no self representation. You won't be able to enter the foreign country without a physical passport on hand. You will just have some sort of proof of who you are in case you're put in a sticky situation and have nothing to turn to.
Being on your phone for hours could bore you, so prepare other forms of entertainment. Books are great and flights help us catch up on a forgotten novel. If you're traveling with a buddy, bring some cards. An adult coloring book is another great alternative. Or just bring your laptop to catch up on some work.
Airport food has outlandish pricing. One old, crumbly sandwich costs 10 dollars. A juice? Maybe like 6 dollars. How about water? Well, not all airports provide fountains and the water costs triple the original price. Again, if you're stuck over night and need to sleep at the airport, it is an unexpected expense. Say you do get stuck over night and decide to wander into the city instead of waiting in the germ-infested airport, you will need a small amount of money to make sure you survive. Not to mention you might like a souvenir or a duty free item. Just be prepared in any case.
Flights can get cold and the blankets provided inflight don't always do the job. If you're satisfied with the inflight blanket, just remember, the airport doesn't provide anything. Bring a jacket because at one point or another, you will get cold and use it.
I have started my period during a flight and I have gotten ill during a flight. The flight most likely will not provide pain medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Bring something with you for the worst case scenario. Chances are if you have to get it from the airport it will cost more.
Not everyone can stomach airplane food, and their portions don't exactly fill you up. Bring some snacks for the flight or for long layovers. Less money spent and a happier tummy.
My first time leaving the country I didn't know there were cards I had to fill out on the flight before entering the foreign country. Then coming back I had another card to fill out. You'll either have to wait for a kind neighbor to give you their pen, or you can skip the hassle and look like a total travel pro and bring your own. You never know when you might need to write something down or fill out a form. Airports don't always provide the little things.
Pack the heavier stuff in your carry-on bag. When you're traveling with a big luggage for check-in, there's a weight limit. I always get carried away and pack more than I need, just in case. In order to avoid a heavier-than-allowed luggage, distribute the heavy stuff into the carry-on luggage (the rolling kind). Those bags don't get weighed and you will avoid a headache at the check-in line.
Heavy cell phone users will find this as a no brainer, but please do not forget this small item! It's easy to forget it plugged into the wall or to forget it because you were trying to charge your phone before you fly out. Have it with you in the airport because quite plainly put, a dead phone sucks.
I may be a bit of a germaphobe on a daily basis, but even if I wasn't, I would still bring hand wipes or hand sanitizer with me on a flight. Airports see so many people worldwide who might be ill or carrying diseases foreign to your body. The inflight seat might not be the cleanest. In any case, try to do your best not to get sick, especially if you're going on vacation, it might ruin these precious carefree days.