13 ridiculously helpful tips for flying for the first time

Whether you’re a flying virgin or are about to embark on your first international flight, you’ll probably be interested in our helpful tips for flying for the first time.

At one time or another, we have all needed tips for flying for the first time. And even if you have taken a few trips, you probably still have a few questions (some of which you may feel are just too dumb to ask your well-traveled friends!)


Our guide to surviving and thriving on your first long flight covers the documents that you’ll need, the precautions that you should take, and a brief list of the products that you might want to get to make your first flight comfortable and problem-free.

After reading our tips, we hope that you will feel prepared, excited, and ready for your first big flight!!!

Check your passport


The most important matter for international travel is obviously your passport so check that that your passport is still valid and has enough blank pages.

A lot of countries insist that your passport has at least 6 months validity left on arrival at your chosen destination. So if your passport is worn-out or due to expire, you should consider applying for a new passport.

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Do you need a visa?

Our next biggest tip for flying for the first time is to check if you need a visa to visit your intended destination.

It may be as simple as turning up at the embassy in person and getting your visa but some countries can take weeks/months to give you the necessary travel permit.

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Copy all important documents

It is wise to take both digital copies (on your phone) and also old-fashioned paper photocopies of all of your official documents.

This should include your passport, visa, flight ticket, driving license, car park ticket, and possibly your credit cards (but be sure to cover some of the numbers on your card for security reasons.)

Of course, keep these copies in a different place to the originals or you could lose the whole lot. Should the worst happen and you lose one or all of your documents, it will be a whole lot easier to deal with local police or the immigration authorities with your copies in-hand.

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Check baggage limits and measure your check-in luggage


Ensure that you are aware of the baggage limitations of your chosen airline(s).

You can easily check the weight restrictions on the airline’s website but if you are still unclear, just give them a call for peace of mind.

You should also bear in mind the items which are not allowed on airplanes these days. For example, you cannot transport dangerous liquids or any kinds of weapons (especially firearms.)

Hand luggage is often scrutinized so check the current guidelines. At the time of writing, liquids up 100ml are allowed on most airlines but sharp items such as tweezers or nail scissors are a no-no! Again, If you are unsure of the rules, take a peek at the airline’s or airports website to avoid any potential issues.

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Arrive early


Bit of a no-brainer this one, but many folks just don’t allow enough time to get to both the airport and to get through the sometimes lengthy airport procedures.

Our advice is to get to the airport about 3 hours before international flights. Possible delays can be caused by traffic jams, weather conditions, and a plethora of other things that might arise when you’re in a hurry!

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Check in online


Online check-in is the easiest way for passengers to confirm their presence for a flight via the airline’s website.

Depending on the airline and the exact flight, passengers can choose their meals, preferred seating, and even print off their own boarding passes.

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Exchange money before arriving at the airport


Don’t fall into the trap of changing your cash at the airport! Exchange rates are notoriously bad and can leave you severely out of pocket with your travel cash.

Many banks in the United States allow customers to purchase the most common forms of foreign currency, such as euros or pounds. Ask your bank if there’s a fee and compare your bank’s exchange rate to the global exchange-rates online. Note that in some cases, you may have to wait a day or two for the currency to arrive.

It is also worth considering using ATMs which are in abundance at airports and hotels. Foreign ATMs offer easy and convenient access to your cash in the local currency, usually without charging inflated conversion rates. Most foreign ATMs accept U.S / U.K-based credit and debit cards, especially cards bearing the Mastercard, Visa or American Express logos.

A smart move is to inform your bank of your travel plans. This will avoid the awful situation of your transaction being flagged and your card eaten by the cash machine.

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Wear the right clothing


Probably the most important piece of clothing on a long flight is your underwear. Choose comfy undies that don’t pinch, slip or itch.

Get yourself into some comfy pants that stretch slightly when you pull at the fabric. Try not to wear pants that are loose at the waist, as wearing a belt on flights can be uncomfortable.

Pick a short-sleeved T-shirt with a layering cotton or wool cardigan or sweatshirt. This item should zip or button up so its easy to slip-on and slip-off in tight spots such as economy seats.

Only wear socks made from natural fibers like cotton or wool. These will wick away moisture to avoid your feet from getting sweaty.

Shoes that slip-on are probably the best. You will probably be asked by security to remove them at one point and you may well want to slip them off and on when you are in the air.

This one sounds strange but one of the best tips for traveling for the first time is to wear your heaviest coat. This frees up room in your suitcase and it can be stored in the overhead lockers as soon as you are on board.

Our last clothing tip is for those that feel the cold. A large scarf or pashmina in your carry-on can be a godsend when the cabin-crew crank up the air-conditioning and could also come in handy if you are visiting a chilly destination.

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Check if you need vaccinations


Vaccines will protect you from the most serious diseases. Depending on where you are going, you could come into contact with rare diseases that are not present in your home country.

Getting the right jabs will keep you safe while you’re traveling and ensure that you don’t bring any serious diseases back home with you. The vaccines that you will need depend on a few things, including where you plan to travel and which ones you have had before.

Do some research a few months before your departure as some countries require proof of vaccination for certain diseases, such as yellow fever and polio. It’s important to get vaccinated well ahead of your trip (4 to 6 weeks is perfect.) This gives the vaccines enough time to start working and enough time for any follow-up shots.

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Pack 2 days before


Packing for your international trip is as much an art form as making sushi or arranging flowers so leave yourself enough time.

There’s nothing like the feeling of your bags being “ready-to-go” a day or two in advance of your departure so get yourself organized!!!

Our top packing technique is to pack large items (such as shoes) first, then roll-up large items of clothing, which can be placed around your footwear, and then to place smaller items such as underwear in the available spaces.

If you want to make things a lot easier on yourself, try packing cubes. They are small containers made of fabric which are often rectangular in shape. They zip closed and are sized so you can fit several into a carry-on bag, suitcase, or a backpack.

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Select your seat in advance


You may think you’re not bothered about where you sit but just wait til you’re half-way through a 20-hour flight, and you may then regret not booking the perfect seat in advance.

For the safety conscious, you may want to grab a seat near the back of the aircraft. A 2007 study found that passengers sitting near the back of the plane were 40 percent more likely to survive in the event of a crash than those sitting in the first few rows.

If you just want a speedy exit, grab a seat at the front of the aircraft on the left, which is usually where the exit is located.

For those that just want to sleep, it’s better to opt for window seats. Here you can control the window shade and you’ll have a place to rest your head. It also means that you won’t be disturbed every time the passenger next to you needs the toilet.

And if you are a tall fellow, remember that seats in exit rows have more legroom than most (and the same applies to seats at the bulkhead.) Such seats, however, are usually in high demand and lately, some airlines have been charging an extra fee for seats with extra legroom.

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Visit the airport lounge


How often do you really fly? Why not make the whole experience less stressful by chilling out in the comfort of a serene airport lounge?

Airport lounges are one of the travel industry’s best-kept secrets. These fortresses of solitude can make traveling a whole lot less arduous. Yes, they will cost you a little cash to get into but the benefits are often more than worth the price.

These areas are mostly provided by the airlines themselves and offer comfortable chairs, food and drinks (usually with an open bar of alcoholic beverages), free newspapers and magazines, free Wi-Fi, and, most importantly, a calm and quiet environment for you to wait for your flight.

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Things you might need for your first flight

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One of the biggest problems that a lot of people face when flying is the irritation on the ears caused by high noise levels and the changing air pressure.

It can feel like your ears are blocked and then a popping sensation and for those that have a cold or allergies, there is a higher chance of experiencing pain in the ears during take-off and landing. These changes in air pressure can cause ringing in the ears or dizziness so it is an excellent idea to keep a pair of earplugs on stand-by for your flight.

Our pick of the earplugs are the Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs. These extremely effective earplugs have a triple-flanged design which makes them very effective at blocking out the noise of the aircraft engines and any nearby screaming babies!

They are made from non-toxic, hypoallergenic, soft silicone material which does not cause irritation or allergic reactions (as with cheaper earplugs made from PVC or plastic.)

These babies are suitable for everything from rock concerts to long-haul flights and are durable enough to be used again and again. They come in a cool waterproof aluminum box to make it easy keep them safe and clean.

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Eye mask

Whether you’re trying to sleep on a plane or even in a cheap, curtain-less youth hostel, light can have a devastating effect on your sleep.

Although you will often be given an in-flight eye mask with most airlines, they are usually flimsy as hell and not adequate for getting the rest that you need.

As we are all aware, it’s quality of sleep and not quantity that really matters when you are trying to sleep on a long-haul flight, so try using a contoured mask that will keep the pressure off your peepers for a deep and restorative slumber.

Our favorite sleep mask by far is the BELONSCI 3D Ultra Lightweight Sleeping Mask. Its 3D design sets it apart from other masks and the ergonomic features provide great comfort for your nose while delivering total darkness to your eyes.

The durable elastic Velcro is adjustable up to 3.54 inches so will fit the majority of fellows with no problem at all. The mask utilizes inner memory foam and external polyester fiber and it weighs just 30g.

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Travel pillow

One of our best tips for flying for the first time is to make sure you’re totally comfortable, so a good quality travel pillow is a “must-have” item for all international flights.

A good quality travel pillow allows you to fall asleep in relative comfort, even in a packed cattle-class section (economy seating.)

The Aeris Memory Foam Travel Pillow Kit was designed for the light sleeper. It is made from ventilated memory foam which molds to the curves of your neck without causing sweating, as with many cheaper pillows.

It comes with a silk eye-mask and a pair of foam earplugs, all of which are stored in a portable carry bag, which can be squeezed into your carry-on luggage.

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Compression socks

Does this sound familiar….after a long flight, cramped into a tiny seat, you eventually land only to see that your ankles have swollen to twice their normal size and the walk to baggage claim hurts like hell!

Traveling can be an amazing experience, but it can also play havoc with your circulation and in extreme cases, can lead to blood clots and deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Enter compression socks. They are suitable for everyone but are particularly important for those with varicose veins or other leg swelling issues. They significantly boost circulation and do a great job in keeping oxygenated blood flowing around the legs.

The best socks we have found are the Physix Gear Compression Socks. They are very durable and double-stitched with an anti-bacterial fabric. Even after multiple washes, they do not lose their compression properties so can be relied upon to keep your blood circulating in style!

The compression and support features are perfectly located in the heel, foot, calves, and toe areas for instant comfort and support. These flight socks also do a great job in wicking away moisture and will keep your feet and legs in comfort on long trips to foreign parts.

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Eye drops

If you’ve taken a long flight before, you will already know how dry your eyes can get.

In all modern passenger aircraft, half of the cabin air is freshly drawn through the engines with the other half being recirculated from the cabin. The recirculated air passes through a filter before being sent back to the cabin which can have a painful and irritating effect on your peepers.

The best way to combat this issue is to grab yourself some eye-drops. One of the best selling are the Similasan, Dry Eye Relief, Single-Use Sterile Eye Drops which are available at Amazon.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like to learn about the best places for single men to travel alone from our men only section.