I know that when it comes to international flights, people often see their vacation as starting once you've arrived. Particularly if you're taking cheap flights or on one of those cheap vacation packages, it's easy to feel like your vacation isn't ready until it's ready, particularly if you're traveling to your dream destination.
Not so for me. I love to fly, particularly on international flights. All of those things that people say they hate about flying are the things that I love best. I have no ability to control what's happening - not the events nor the outcome, and so rather than letting that eat me up alive, I lean into the feeling.
In one of the only ways in my life, this is a time when it's just me and I get to look to other people to solve the problems.
Making the Most of My International Flights
You might be thinking that I'm a laid-back, take it easy kind of person, and I promise you, this Type-A Virgo is a control freak as it gets. I can hear you asking, "how can you then have this love of flights?" and the truth is, I'm not sure.
I didn't fly on a cheap international flight for the first time until I was 20 years old. By then I think I hadn't had the chance to develop anything like fear. Instead, I was just interested in everything around me. The first international airfare I ever took was to Dublin, Ireland, and back again.
Here are the things you might think aren't true about me, but they 100% are:
- I'm over 5'8.
- I'm a control freak.
- I dislike not knowing what's going on.
Maybe I'm just lying to myself about who I am as a person, but the first time I picked out flight deals and vacation packages, I knew that I'd made the right choice.
Look, we all know the world is at our fingertips these days. It's so easy to get from A to B that it's a wonder we don't just all have wings attached. However, that's not the same as it being affordable.
Do I wish I could fly business class everywhere, sipping on the free champagne and enjoying a hot towel massage? Sure. But in the immortal words of Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids "Help me, I'm poor."
I don't want to spend a crazy amount of money on a flight when I'd much rather spend that money when I get there, not to mention the fuel surcharges and service fees and taxes. This isn't the same as choosing to be uncomfortable (there are so many ways to add comfort to your international flights), it just means I'm not willing to start shelling out an extra couple hundred dollars for something I might not savor.
Time Spending on Cheap Flights
Have you ever seen the triangle of cost? It's where you have value, time, and money, and you can only have two of the three. Although fares are round trips, you can have great quality in a fast time, but it's going to cost you a lot of money.
I'm in an enviable position. As a freelancer, my time is a lot bendier than other people's and so I'm always looking out for flight deals. This means that when it comes to the international flights I take, I'm a lot more willing to shell out some hours than I am to shell out dollars.
So if my international flights have to take me through a bunch of transfers, I have the time to do it. In fact, I find that it helps me work when I'm traveling (rather than doing it once I'm there), so I actually turn that into productive time for me. Score!
The Journey IS the Destination
There are also the things that I know about airports and international flights that I love, and the things that I don't so much love. For instance, I don't enjoy having patchy Wi-Fi, or not enough water. I hate having to walk long distances lugging a reluctant suitcase. I don't like to be uncomfortable or feel gross.
It's also how I feel about the places I stay - whether that's a vacation or a work thing. Just because I'm willing to compromise on some things when it comes to international flights, it doesn't mean I'll settle for everything.
So here's a little list of things I've found that makes me more comfortable and happy. Maybe they'll do the same for you too.
1. Pack like a boss
You might have thought I was kidding when I said I was type A, but I really am. I'm a packing list, careful ticking off, organizing sort of person. Whether it's a short domestic flight or one of the longer international flights, I know the things I want with me when I go.
Ipad. Water. Bullet Journal. Pens. Headphones. Portable Charger. Laptop.
I don't need anything else. I also know I don't need anything else, which has made my life a lot easier. I used to want to pack 12 books, as though I'd ever read them at the airport. Now I know I can carry them on my iPad and life is fine.
Putting them in my wheelie suitcase means I don't have to carry it all on my back, and I can make my way easily.
2. Prepare for comfort.
Nobody cares what you look like in an airport, especially when you're in the international flight's departure lounge or on board the plane next to senior travelers. So be comfortable. Make sure you're wearing what you want to be wearing so you can settle on a seat.
Bring a blanket and a pillow. Make sure you're wearing comfortably thick socks. Bring the creature comforts. You won't be sorry when you're seeing people dolled up to the nines and wriggling in discomfort.
All it takes to be comfortable in these spaces is to make yourself more at home. It's an excellent way to save money, and to make the most of your time in the airport - don't wait until you arrive at your destination when you can enjoy the fun in the airport and on your flight.