Enjoy Your Flight: Top Tips From Our Frequent Flyers

23 Apr 2018

Missionaries travel a lot! They fly to the countries they work in, and they fly home again. They also fly in and out of countries to get visas, to go to conferences, to get extra training, for counselling, or for respite. You get the picture, they really do fly a lot. So, who better than our awesome missionaries to pass on their best travel tips. There’s lots of different contributors, so enjoy their different points of view!

Luggage and Packing

Travel lightly and leave plenty of space to bring souvenirs back – you will regret it if you don’t leave plenty of space.

Always travel with spare undies and a change of clothes, that way if your luggage gets lost (as it frequently seems to be doing lately) you’ll still have something to change into. 

Pack little things (like earrings) inside weekly tablet organisers.

To keep things light, if you are travelling for 7 days, pack enough clothes and supplies for 3 days. If travelling for 10 days or more, pack for 5 days.

Pack light for holiday trips and bring sachets of laundry detergent. It’s much easier getting around with kids when you have one suitcase between you. You can always do laundry in the bathroom sink/shower!

Pack a small library-bag sized bag with the things you want to access on the plane and put it inside your carry-on luggage, that way you don’t need to keep opening your carry-on during the flight.

If travelling with excess baggage, to maximise luggage space and weight try a sturdy plastic tub with a lockable lid. They weigh less and are useful for storage at your destination. Some have inbuilt zip-tie holes that also help with securing the lid.

Use individual carry bags for kid’s clothes to then be packed in the general luggage. Keeps each kid’s clothes separate and organised. Could do with adults as well I suppose.

Flights and Airport

It is so worthwhile booking a seat up-front or in a quiet zone for a smoother journey.

Book all legs of your flights on the same ticket. We book connecting international and domestic flights together and usually get our international baggage limit carried over onto our domestic flights.

Make sure that you give yourself time for transits – there’s nothing worse than running to your next plane. There are plenty of places to sleep at an airport or nearby.

Buy domestic tickets for flights within a country locally through a website or the airline themselves, not your international travel agent. 

Book all your meals and luggage online, and always expect to take more luggage than you plan to!

Sign up for budget airline specials (AirAsia, Jetstar etc.). The price difference means you won’t get a very expensive meal and movie like on the full fare airlines, but you can invest the money you save on ministry!

Get to the airport early so you avoid being stressed, hopefully miss the longer queues, and you can take a breath before you board the plane.

Make good use of the take-off / landing times by reading your bible and praying. Nothing else is happening, and people don’t think your weird, they just think you’re praying because you are scared of flying, and that is an acceptable reason in the eyes of most people!

A friend bought me a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. They’re crazy expensive, but they make a huge difference to the quality of rest (I won’t call it sleep!) on the flight.

Immigration forms ask for lots of data from each passport. This has you fumbling through passport pages that won’t stay open, especially if you have your hands full with little kids. Print this info for your whole family on one piece of paper, cut to fit inside a passport cover and put with each passport. Saves heaps of time and stress!

When arriving into a country check the date they stamp into your passport to make sure the stamp shows, and the date is correct.   I have experienced these problems and then had trouble leaving the country! For safeguard, keep an electronic or paper copy of your entry and exit tickets.

Tech Smarts

Notify your credit card provider that you are travelling overseas, otherwise when you try and pay for things on your credit card they may put a stop to it.  Has happened to us – more than once.

Buy a local SIM when you arrive where you are travelling, to avoid big bills on international calls and texts from your home provider.

Find out if there are any transport apps (like Uber) in the local country. In Cambodia we now have PassApp – which is like the Uber of tuk-tuks – it all works through your phones GPS, provides metered fares, saves confusion, long negotiations in a second language and removes the chance of being ripped off.

A spare wallet keeps local cash separate from your main stash of cash, cards etc. Zip lock bags work well too, especially at the beach. And a tiny zip lock for sim cards.

At least 24 hours before departure, adjust yourself mentally (and even physically if possible) to the time zone you are traveling to. Set your watch to where you will end up BEFORE you get on the plane and start getting your routine set before you arrive.

No matter what time u arrive at your destination (even if 6am), do NOT cat nap more than once for 20 mins. Go to bed at 7pm and sleep through for a solid 12 hrs. Next day will be a little sleepy but 3rd day you are good to go. 

The second night is always the worst for jetlag (the first night you could pretty much sleep standing up), so it’s the days before and after it that you need to be most disciplined in the daytime to not nap and get sunlight if possible. An afternoon walk is a great way to combine both those things.

Eat lightly at least 12 hours prior to boarding plane – ascending altitudes does strange things with your stomach and better not to board on a full stomach.

With small kids, wet a small washcloth (flannel) and put it in a ziploc bag so that you always have a wet cloth with you on the plane. A reusable, chemical free alternative to wet wipes.

Lollipops for takeoff and landings when little ones have to sit in their seat with the seatbelt on. Then use that wet flannel to clean their hands and faces afterwards.

Give your kids lollies or something to eat during descending and take-off so their ears don’t hurt.

Bring stickers for kids to stick all over the seat in front of them!  They come off easily at the end of the flight. 

Bring a light pram. Many countries require you to carry it to the plane, down staircases, on an airport bus etc.

Cheap playdough makes a great toy for little kids on the plane!

If you are traveling with kids, it’s worth paying the extra dollars to have less layovers.

Don’t bother packing too many toys/distractions for children when flying long distances. With the built-in entertainment and the activity packs the airlines gave them, your toys might not get used!

Always pack a spare change of clothes for each family member in the carry-on luggage, because flights do not always work out as planned.

We use our child car seat on long plane trips for our two year old, now he is too big for the bassinets. This has saved us as he sleeps a good 8 hours on the plane!

We travel with our daughters sleeping tent (it folds and then pops up into place). She still uses it every night of her life and it means that she always has her bed no matter what country and no matter what weather. At least that doesn’t change for her with all the other changes.

An important reminder with travel and kids: Transition is hard. Expect it to be rough with every transition. Extra tears, and extra grace needed.

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