Tips for a hassle-free international flight (podcast)

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Your bags are checked. You made it through security. Your ticket in hand as you line up to board a metal machine with wings that flies through the air at lightning fast speeds. 11 hours later you’ll have landed at your international destination with swollen feet, bed head and hopefully only minor jet lag. While a lot of people have experienced long-haul flights, that doesn’t necessarily equate to a well prepared flyer. I have been on over 20 international flights myself and I still find that if I don’t make a list of things I need to prepare for a long flight I end up forgetting crucial elements, like dressing in layers or having enough snacks in case I don’t like the in-flight food menu. Here’s a list of my tips for international flights, some are from learning the hard way and some I’ve gathered from other travel savvy friends.  Preparing yourself will make traveling more enjoyable and ensure smooth sailing or should I say flying from one country to the other

 

 

  1. This starts before you even get to the airport. When booking your flight make sure you choose your seat based on your needs. For example I’m one of those people who can easily fall asleep on a plane so I often pick the window seat so I can put my pillow against the window to help prop my head up. If you’re someone who likes to get up a lot or tinkles frequently then choose the aisle seat.
  2. I recommend to all travelers when its domestic or international take a u-shaped neck pillow with you. These come in a variety of fabrics depending how soft or firm you like your pillow and can be purchased at travel stores or even target. If you can fall asleep it will be that much more comfortable and if you can’t at least you can make yourself as relaxed as possible by having something to rest your head on as you read or watch a movie. It also makes as a great lower back pillow if you need the extra support there instead of your neck. I promise the neck pillow is a life changer
  3. Speaking of comfort some more flight essentials are a lightweight blanket, earplugs, socks and an eye mask. These items will keep you warm,drown out unwanted babies crying or that bright light the guy next to you is shining as he reads his book. Planes can be quite cold and loud so these items are necessities for a comfortable flight. Which takes me to my next tip and that is to dress in layers
  4. Layer are not only helpful for in-flight temperature fluctuation but also in case your destination ends up being a different temperature than your departure.
  5. Another element crucial international flights Don’t overload your carry-on bag. Some airports are extremely large and require trams from one terminal to another, it’s a hassle to have to lug around and oversized and heavy carry-on bag after you’ve been on a plane for half a day. It’s even more frustrating if you have a layover and you’re in a hurry to get to your next gate but you have a 20 pound bag slowing you down
  6. So in order to make sure your carry-on is light weight but still has the necessities here’s a few recommendations for items in your bag:
    1. A change of clothes, underwear and a toothbrush just in case your checked bag gets lost or delayed
    2. Chapstick and lotion to keep your skin moisturized in the drying recycled in-flight air
    3. Hand sanitizer
    4. Pain reliever like Advil or Tylenol for unexpected headaches. I also get indigestion sometimes when I fly so I always have tums handy
    5. A water bottle and snacks like nuts, dried fruit and a granola bar just so I don’t have to purchase overpriced airline food if I’m still hungry after the in-flight meal
    6. Your own headphones are also a must. can’t tell you how many times the airline headphones suck for lack of a better word
  7. Get up and walk around at the very least every 3 hours to get your blood flowing. I used to work for a doctor who told me every time I took a flight to get up and walk to lower the risk of blood clots. Blood clots are a serious health concern no matter how old you are. Compression socks can also help prevents clots these can usually be purchased at your local drug store
  8. A book or magazines to entertain you just incase your in flight movies are in french and the only french word you can decipher is Merci at least you have back up entertainment to get you through the a few hours of your long flight

The more you travel the more you can add on to my basic list and personalize it for your specific needs for worry and hassle free international travel!

HERE’S SOME MORE TRAVEL TIPS FOR FIRST-TIMERS AND PROS.

How to pick a hostel

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Since I’m a “starving student” that loves to travel I often have to save money and cut corners on insignificant things when I travel like accommodation. I also travel solo most of the time so staying in hostels instead of hotels works the best for me; it not only saves me money but I’ve met some life long friends by staying in hostels. I’ve put together a few tips to help you find the right hostel based on your preferences. I know, especially when you’re a rookie traveler, finding the right hostel can be a bit of a daunting task especially if you’ve never even stayed in one. Hopefully my tips come in  handy and you can definitely trust me, I’ve stayed in good and bad hostels but after several years of traveling I think I have the process figured out.

 

1. Pull up a map online of the city you will be staying in and find either the city center, the nightlife area (if that’s what you’re into) or the most central area to most attractions or transportation.

2. Once you’ve located on a map the area you want to stay in log on to a hostel booking website. My two favorite are:

Hostel Bookers

Hostel World

 

3. Once you’ve typed in where you want to stay and your dates you’ll see a list of places that are available and the price per night. Usually you can filter the list by price, area or rating. I usually filter by area first. Then I narrow my choices down based on the rating and price. As far as a good price goes, you can get an idea of what’s average, what’s cheap and what’s expensive based off the list you’re given. Never go with the cheapest (usually far from main areas) and never go with the most expensive (often you can get a hotel for cheaper).

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4. Rating is the most important aspect to look at when booking a hostel. I never stay somewhere that has below an 80% rating. The whole point is not just to save money but to meet interesting people and have a good experience.

5. Narrow it down to 3-4 choices then read good and bad reviews about the hostel. I tend to look for things like “I had a great time, the staff is friendly and it’s a great social atmosphere and close to (insert desired attraction here).” ( Also a good review of the showers is a bonus, you would be surprised how much a good hot shower makes you feel after a night of partying.) If it’s rated 80% or higher take the bad reviews with a grain of salt, sometimes people are very picky and sometimes they just get that rare bad experience.

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6. Once you’ve read the reviews look at where the hostel is located and make sure it’s close to public transportation if needed. The only exceptions to public transport would be if you have a car or if the place you’re traveling to is a resort/beach town. Obviously you would rather be by the beach if that’s the case.

7. Decide on one of the hostels based on your budget and preferences. Sometimes you have to compromise, like maybe a hostel is a few dollars less per night but you have to walk 10 minutes to get to the main city area. Decide what you will and won’t sacrifice and then decide from there.

8. BOOK IT! Make sure you get a confirmation email and ALWAYS print this out and take it with you when you go on your trip. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to get my confirmation  out because they couldn’t find me on the reservation. Did I say print out the confirmation? PRINT OUT THE CONFIRMATION!

BONUS: I like to also print a map of where my hostel is just in case I get lost or I need help finding it. A lot of the times, especially in Europe, the hostels are upstairs or kind of hidden so a map always helps.

10 BEST HOSTELS IN EUROPE

7 BEST HOSTELS IN AMERICA

10 BEST HOSTELS IN SOUTH AMERICA

MORE HOSTEL TIPS AND TRICKS

Happy Travels!

(VIDEO) How to Pack: a way you’ve never seen before

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If I had a free flight for every article, video, and pin I’ve seen with the title “how to pack like a pro” I would have traveled around the world 10 times over. With that being said I don’t want to be added to that dreadful list only to be another person offering the same, boring and generic packing idea saying “roll your clothes”. I’m fairly confident  I know my way of packing is unique and I use this concept every single time I pack so you know it’s been tried and tested to be up to every traveler’s standards. Here’s a thorough demonstration of how to pack like a pro world traveler.

 

 

 

 

 

How to Pack: Filing System Packing from nicole hale on Vimeo.