5 Things to Know Before Your First International Flight

3 years ago I went on my first international flight and was pretty surprised at how different it was from the many domestic flights I’ve taken over the years. I know many of you are dreaming of and/or planning for international trips, so to prepare you for what to expect, here are 5 things to know before your first international flight!


Confirm Your Seats Before Flying

If you book your flight in advance enough, you’ll see that airlines often end up switching the plane that was originally supposed to be taking you. For example, if you book window seat 10A and they decide to use a different aircraft for your flight, you’ll likely automatically be placed in a new seat. And many times you can be switched from your beloved aisle or window to the dreaded middle seat. So make sure you’re checking that your seat is still the one you want!

Avoid Alcohol + Caffeine Pre-Flight

While alcohol and caffeine always seem to be a good go-to at the airport, both should be avoided pre-flight, if possible, since they’re both dehydrators. Instead, drink lots of water! But if you do still plan to indulge in either, make sure to drink at least one glass of water with each alcoholic or caffeinated beverage, otherwise you won’t be feeling too great once in-air!

Not Every Plane Has USB Ports for Charging

I learned this one the hard way on my first international flight on the leg from Detroit to London. While most planes WILL have USB ports to charge up your devices, be prepared for them not to be as well, by bringing your own portable chargers. Since most international flights take place over night, it’s a real bummer to land in the new country and not have much of a phone battery left (mainly for accessing your phone’s camera)!

Set Your Clocks to Destination Time

This is the first thing you should do when you board so you can start adjusting to the time of your destination. Set your phone, watch, iPad, EVERYTHING to the time. It can be hard to fall asleep when you’re still thinking it’s only 10 p.m. in your time zone, but if you look and see it’s 4 a.m. where you’re on your way to, you’ll start to get a different mentality.

You’ll Eat + Drink (A Lot!)

Unlike domestic flights, they actually feed you A LOT on international flights. For example, an overnight international flight will give you a full dinner service (including wine), a snack a little later on, and breakfast a few hours after that. It’s kind of crazy! Pro tip: Be sure to confirm that this is the case with your airline before flying, as smaller/budget airlines usually have an option to purchase meals + other extras, which is why the flight prices might be cheaper.


Have you flown internationally? What tips do you have for first-time international fliers? If not, what’s at the top of your international travel list?!



  1. December 9, 2016 / 6:59 AM

    I find that a lot of the time, the USB outlets are super hidden!!! My sister and I have found them in the weirdest places!

    • December 24, 2016 / 9:16 AM

      Really? Wow! Where have you found them? I’ll have to look if I don’t see any right in front!

      • December 24, 2016 / 1:11 PM

        Underneath the seats!!! Or in between the seats :) You have to feel around for them ;)

  2. December 9, 2016 / 9:23 AM

    I can’t remember the last time I saw a USB port that wasn’t in business class! I must be flying the wrong airlines! that’s awesome!!!

    • December 24, 2016 / 12:09 AM

      I usually fly Delta for international flights and for the most part they’ve been there AND I’ve seen them popping up a lot more on domestic flights too! It’s SO handy!

  3. Courtney Patterson
    December 9, 2016 / 10:40 AM

    We’re thinking of taking our first international trip next year so these tips are GREAT. Thank you!

    • December 24, 2016 / 12:08 AM

      Ooh yay! Where are you thinking of going?

  4. December 9, 2016 / 10:54 AM

    These are great tips! Traveling internationally makes me uneasy because I don;t know what to expect so these are perfect!

    • December 24, 2016 / 12:09 AM

      Thanks so much, Adrianna!

  5. December 9, 2016 / 6:06 PM

    I do not look forward to those really long flights between the USA and Asia, but I’ve had to do it many times. As long as they have a tv in the back of the seat, I’m good. I’ve done the long, 13 or so, hour flight with no tv and that is not as much fun!

    • December 24, 2016 / 9:47 AM

      Oof I can’t imagine being on one of those flights (although I do want to make it to Asia one day). I definitely agree about the TV! Being able to watch all the movies makes it go so much faster!

  6. December 10, 2016 / 1:09 PM

    I fly to Thailand today all the way from Seattle. Definitely glad I read a few of your tips! Super helpful and I can’t wait.

    • December 24, 2016 / 9:50 AM

      Thanks, Vincent! I hope you have/had a fantastic trip! I’ve heard great things about Thailand!

  7. December 10, 2016 / 2:46 PM

    I love the tip about setting your clocks to destination time! That’s so smart and I can definitely see it being a help.

    • December 24, 2016 / 9:51 AM

      Thanks, Ashley! It definitely is! Otherwise you’ll end up staying up later instead of trying to sleep, which is rough when you land in the morning :)

  8. Shani Ogden
    December 11, 2016 / 11:02 PM

    I’ve never traveled internationally, but hope to one day! I like your tip of setting your time to your new destination.

    • December 24, 2016 / 12:10 AM

      Thanks, Shani! What places are at the top of your international travel wishlist?

  9. December 12, 2016 / 10:56 AM

    We had the USB in our seats for our flight from NY to Italy earlier this year, so I assumed that we would have it coming back home. I was so wrong! I’m never going to make that assumption again!

    • December 24, 2016 / 9:51 AM

      Exactly! I was so bummed when it happened on our flight to London because my phone battery was draining and I needed to charge up when we got there (because it was my camera as well)!

  10. JamieSplendry
    December 20, 2016 / 9:24 AM

    Good tips for those who haven’t flown internationally before and a great reminder for those of us who have! Anything to make travel a little easier is much appreciated!

    • December 24, 2016 / 9:52 AM

      Thanks, Jamie! I totally agree, travel can be crazy enough sometimes!

  11. Stephanay Jnote
    December 20, 2016 / 9:59 AM

    Yeah! I agree. I took my first flight into Europe this year and was not sure what to expect. It was different; long. Yes, they feed you a lot. No, you are right. But every plane has USB Ports.

    • December 24, 2016 / 9:52 AM

      How exciting! Where did you travel to?

  12. Jewels
    December 20, 2016 / 12:21 PM

    Great tips!! Avoiding alcohol and caffeine pre-flight is key! I also try to avoid really salty snack foods while on long distance flights.

    • December 24, 2016 / 9:53 AM

      Thank you! That’s a good tip too! I try to be as healthy as possible on flight days – it really helps!

  13. Jennifer Harmon Montefusco
    April 21, 2017 / 7:10 PM

    Omg! Rachel! What great tips!! I love this blog!!!! Amazing!!!