How to Prepare For Your First International Flight

Your first international flight can involve a mixture of feelings, like anxiety, excitement and nervousness. These are all completely normal. After all, there’s a ton of preparation that goes into travelling abroad. By following these tips, you’ll be ready for take-off and all set to enjoy the journey. 

Here’s what to know when flying for the first time.

1. Embrace the Emotions

Embrace the emotions of preparing for your first international flight. Even experienced travellers get nervous when the plane leaves the ground. Work on calming strategies, like deep breathing or listening to a soothing playlist so you can live in the moment.

2. Check Your Passport

In your long list of what you need for an international flight, this should be number one. Make sure your passport is valid and that you have it on your body at all times. Guard it with your life.

3. Pack Light

It can be easy to overpack. You want to make sure you have enough clothing and other items for your trip abroad, but the more you pack, the more you have to haul around with you. Bring things you can wear a few times and neutral colours that can be mixed and matched.

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pack light for your first international flight"
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4. Get Immunizations

Depending on where you’re travelling, you may have to get certain immunisations or medications. For example, some countries may have mosquitoes that carry malaria, so you may want to get medicine to prevent infection or disease.

5. Book a Specific Seat

Do you need leg room? Are you planning on sleeping during the flight? Do you like to get up and move often? You’ll want to be comfortable, so book a specific seat that meets your needs. For example, aisle seats allow you to get up and move whenever you want.

6. Pack Toiletries and an Extra Outfit in Your Carry-On

It happens — luggage gets lost at airports. Most times it shows up within a day or two, but sometimes it might take longer. Packing extra toiletries and clothes in your carry-on will ensure you can change and freshen up.

7. Alert Your Bank

If you plan to spend money in another country, make sure you alert your bank. If you don’t, they might think your credit or debit card was stolen and block it from being used. Additionally, exchange currency so you have the correct type of coins and cash for your destination.

8. Dress for Comfort

There’s no need to wear a suit or dress on a long flight. You want to be comfortable but also look decent. Planes can get cold sometimes, so double up on layers that you can add on or take off. Wear shoes that are easy to remove at security, and avoid wearing anything metallic for that reason.

9. Arrive at the Airport Early

In any resource on how to plan for your first flight, whether domestically or internationally, they’ll recommend you arrive at the airport early. Checking in, checking your bags, going through security and finding your way around the airport can take a couple of hours. It will be less stressful if you give yourself plenty of time to do those tasks.

10. Drink Water

The aircraft cabin can get extremely dry. It’s okay to have an alcoholic beverage, but you really want to drink water when possible. Usually, a flight attendant can fill up a bottle if you have one. That way, you don’t need to constantly ask for disposable plastic ones.

11. Invest in Airplane Accessories

You want the most comfort possible when you’re on a long flight. Invest in a neck pillow, eye mask, cosy socks, a portable charger and a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. Plus, load up on entertainment, whether that’s a book or a fully charged tablet so you can play games or watch a movie.

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12. Make Copies of Important Documents

While it’s good to have originals of all your identification and important documents on hand while you’re traveling, you don’t want to risk losing them all. Take photos or make hard copies of things like your passport, visas and driver’s license for easy, on-the-go access. Don’t forget copies of your travel insurance if you’ve decided to take extra precautions!

13. Stretch During the Flight

When the seatbelt lights go off and it’s safe to move around the cabin, get up and take a lap around the plane. Stretching will help you avoid a blood clot, and it will make you feel better overall. 

14. Get Used to the Local Time Zone

As soon as you step on the plane to head to your destination, get on the local time zone. Jet lag is unavoidable, but you can minimize its effects if you get used to the time zone early on. You can begin preparing for this a few days before your trip, even if that means waking up at odd hours.

15. Make Your Luggage Stand Out

When you arrive at your destination and go to the baggage claim, you’ll see hundreds of suitcases that likely look similar. To avoid confusion, add some colourful fabric or a bright luggage tag to your bag to quickly identify it. 

Enjoy Your First International Flight!

With these tips, you’ll be as prepared as a professional traveller. Stay safe, have fun and enjoy the flight.

Globalteer guest author Ginger
Author - Ginger Abbot

Ginger Abbot is a learning and education writer with a personal passion for study abroad and international travel. She also serves as Editor-in-Chief of, where you can read more of her work.