The Brighter Writer


Pardon My French:
International Traveling

great tips for airplane travel, international or otherwise

I swear to you, international traveling is one of the most exhausting things I've ever done in my life.

It rivals childbirth.

I drove to my sister's house at 7am Tuesday, left for the airport by 8, sat at Denver International from a delayed flight until 11:45, ran as fast as my tiny legs could possibly take me to catch my connecting flight in Philadelphia, and then flew 7.5 hours to Paris with an arrival of 9am the following Wednesday.

Now, I'm not an expert on international traveling, however I'm pretty much an expert on being bored and uncomfortable and I hate both. So with that being said, here's what I did to keep myself from jumping out the airplane window after the 5th hour passed me by:

1: Keep comfortable. I'll go from top to bottom. Don't put your hair in the sort of pony tail that you can't lean back on when you want to sleep. Keep it loose and easy to manage. Wear something that makes it easy to move and sleep. I decided on a over sized shirt and spandex jogging pants. Bring along a giant sweater that can double for a blanket. It gets cold on those flights! Flip flops or any other slip on shoes are the easiest to get on and off when you're going through a million security check points, but if you decide on sandals, make sure you pack socks or slippers to pull out on the airplane so your toes don't fall off from hypothermia. I packed my leg warmers as well for extra precaution and I wasn't sorry I did.

comfortable airplane outfit for international travel

2: Plan ahead. My sister got us these little deflatable neck pillows from IKEA that rolled up into their own carrying bags. They took up virtually no space and they were softer than a chinchilla. I also made sure to pack my eye patch for sleeping.

inflatable neck pillow from IKEA and eye patch for international airplane flights

3: Stay connected. Most international flights let you purchase wifi now so bring along your tablet or laptop or whatever portable thing you have that will allow you to Pinterest and read interesting blogs like The Brighter Writer. Flights mostly provide a wide range of movies to watch but it never hurts to bring along a few of your favorites and a portable DVD player. Ours came in especially handy when we discovered our flight had been delayed an additional million years. If you're traveling with a friend or family member, pick up an earphone splitter so you can share (and don't forget your plug adapters for foreign outlets!) I also looted the local library for all the best romantic movies about France just to get myself a little more hyped up. Like I needed it.

headphone / earplug splitter for watching movies on the airplane

4: Pack reading materials. Bring your favorite book or magazines along with you. Sky Mall is interesting and all, but 20 minutes later you're back to square one.

reading materials for international airplane flights

5: Stay hydrated. IKEA makes these water bags that are just perfect for traveling. They conveniently clip onto your purse or bag or whatever but they are also completely collapsible. They take up hardly any space and when they're empty you can walk them right through security with no hassle. Fill them up at the nearest water fountain and you're good to go without having to spend $5 on a bottle of water from the gift shop.

collapsible water bottles from IKEA for traveling internationally

6: Sedate your boredom. Okay, so obviously this step isn't for everyone. But here's a little hint: airplane bottles of alcohol are called that for a reason. They're under the 3.4 ounce liquid rule and as long as you can fit them in your 1 allowed quart sized zip lock baggie, you're completely acceptable. Don't spend $7 per drink on the in-flight beverage menu if you don't have to. Mixers are free so there you have it. If you aren't a drinker and having a couple cocktails to take the edge off isn't your thing, try talking to your doctor about prescription drugs. If you're of normal health, your doctor will most likely write you a script for a just a couple of sleeping pills or anxiety medication to make the flight not so uneasy. Sleeping away the boredom never hurt anybody.

But if neither one of those options appeal to you and you're braving the flight the old fashion way, don't be afraid to get up and wander around! By all means, stretch your legs! Those international airplanes are gigantic and you'll have more than enough time to make a couple loops around them. Go people watch and check out what everyone else is doing.

alcohol on international airplane flights

Speaking of liquids, instead of packing your bulky mini-bottles of shampoos or conditioners, hit up your local Walgreens or other drug store and ask the cosmetic counter for samples of their hair care products. They're flat so they take up less room.

use flat shampoo samples from your local drugstore when traveling to take up less space

We made it!

Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris France

So enough on the flying advice.

Once we got there, everything was different. The same, but different. I was thinking the first thing I would see would be some sort of French architecture clad building or maybe even the Eiffel Tower, but alas, I was greeted with a giant IKEA. Which somehow was sort of comforting in my jet lagged little mind.

IKEA in Paris, France

First things first. We checked into our miniature but gorgeous hotel suite at Hotel Le Meridien Etoile.

Hotel Le Meridien Etoile. Paris, France

Which, by the way, if you've never been in one, the first thing you'll notice about the bathrooms is that their showers have no doors. It's the strangest thing I've ever seen. But I guess this makes sense since the French don't spend much time in the shower anyway (I kid, I kid!! I'm completely joking...)

Hotel Le Meridien Etoile. Paris, France

Anyway, it was time to hit the ground running. Time for an espresso. There is no regular American coffee in France. All they drink is espresso. It was strong, it was bold, it was everything I was looking for in my first taste of Paris. Immediately after I took this picture of my espresso and baguette at La Terrasse, I began my whirlwind tour of the most beautiful city I've ever been in. But more on that in a couple of days.

For now, I sleep.

Espresso at La Terrrasse. Paris, France