Advice for flights to Europe

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#21
30 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
Thanks for all the great advice. I love the way these message boards let us share our knowledge and experience. Even the rookies can be as confident as seasoned passengers. I hate going anywhere unprepared and now I feel ready to pack my carry-on and go!

Thanks again to all who responded.
#22
Kansas City, KS
824 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Along with all the previous advice I would add that a pair of support hose is important. They will help keep the swelling down in your feet and legs, and will go a long way in preventing blood clots in the legs due to inactivity. I put mine on after arrival at the airport before boarding. I find they are a great help especially on overseas flights.
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#23
The OC
5,799 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
There's a range of opinion on the cleanliness of the lavs towards the end of a flight. Some of it depends on the nationality of the airline. For example, crews on US carriers ignore the condition of the lavs and if they get really disgusting they simply mark it "out of order". On most Asian airlines, the FA's inspect and tidy up the lavs almost hourly and they're almost always spotless.
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#24
Victoria, Canada
606 Posts
Joined Feb 2012
Originally posted by kenish
There's a range of opinion on the cleanliness of the lavs towards the end of a flight. Some of it depends on the nationality of the airline. For example, crews on US carriers ignore the condition of the lavs and if they get really disgusting they simply mark it "out of order". On most Asian airlines, the FA's inspect and tidy up the lavs almost hourly and they're almost always spotless.
I usually fly Air Canada and they are somewhere in-between. They don't clean and restock the lavs every hour; however on long-haul flights they usually take a pass at cleaning up a bit and restocking the supplies in the Lavs.

On the European Carriers and Air Canada, usually there is an open bar. The US carriers are not as liberal with their bar service. I try to go light on the alcohol and coffee as it tends to dehydrate.

Different people respond differently. I usually try to get up early the day I leave, that way you are tired when you get on and have a chance of sleeping (or cat-napping as the case may be). I tried not to take a nape as soon as I arrive but try to get into adjust to the local time zone.

Some airports have arrival lounges with showers. If you are making a transferring in Europe with a long wait you may want to check the airport web site. There is usually fee with these.

You should think about what type of schedule you want to keep while in Europe. If you are on a cruise ship with lots of late night entertainment that you want to take in, you may want to try and adjust to a schedule where you sleep in and stay up late. I would try to immediately jump into the sleep pattern you want to be have.
#25
6,751 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Originally posted by hrt4girls
We are flying from ATL to BCN

Does anyone have any suggestions of what to put in my carry on to make this flight easier?
I assume you're flying coach since you didn't say otherwise. Delta provides a light blanket and a small pillow to coach pax, but I prefer my own neck pillow and my own slightly heavier fleece blanket; theirs are tissue-paper thin.
I bring eye shades, and noise reducing headphones and listen to the white noise app on my iphone through them. I also take an ambien or unisom. I bring a bottle of water on the plane, so if I get thirsty mid-flight I don't have to wait on a flight attendant to bring me something, and I keep chapstick with me as well. I dress in comfortable layers in case the plane is hotter or cooler than I like. I bring a pair of heavy socks to wear during the flight, but still wear slip-on shoes that I can put back on quickly when using the lavatory. I flew to Europe last week and I did brush my teeth and wash my face (Olay facial wipe) in the lav before most people woke up and the lines got long, then reapplied a little make up after I got back to my seat. I've changed clothes in the lav several times and while it's tight in there, it's do-able, but I usually only bother to change onboard if, for example, I'm flying in the winter and arriving somewhere hot and sunny- I'll change from jeans to shorts just before arrival. If there won't be a huge temp change in my departure and arrival locations, I don't bother.
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Remembering 34 past cruises:
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#26
Central Valley, CA
11,164 Posts
Joined Jul 2002
I just back from flying London-LAX, and we've "done the pond trip" several times. I cannot sleep on airplanes, so here's what I do to make it through in good shape:

YES, YES, YES get the noise cancelling headphones! These are great on any airplane, because you just never know when Noisy Nellie or Little Jeffrey will be in front or behind you. Get a good pair; we both have Bose, and they are worth every single penny we spent.

Take an MP3 or iPod with a "soothing" playlist. Whatever helps you relax and snooze or sleep. I have 32 songs that play continuously.

DEFINITELY take a sleep mask. I buy mine from the Dollar Store, and make sure the inside is black. The more light and sound you can eliminate, the lower your blood pressure and the easier it is to snooze or sleep.

Yes on loose comfy clothes, especially your feet. Mine tend to swell on airplanes, so I always have a pair of flipflops. If your feet tend to get cold, then take a pair of diabetic soft socks. These are non-binding and will keep your feet warm. I also do the ankle exercises every so often on the plane.

I always have a really good book to read, too, and now I have a Nook.

Buy a bottle of water before you get on the plane, and sip it until it's empty. Drink lots of fluids on the plane, and eat little snacks as you go along.

When I arrive at my destination on either end, I just stay up until it's dark outside.

The point I'm making here is I don't force myself to sleep. I make myself relaxed, drowsy, take naps, and just veg-out. Drugs and alcohol just make you dopey when you get there.
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#27
New York
4,744 Posts
Joined Jan 2000
Gone First Class, Business Class and Coach. If you are flying from the east coast, there is no way of getting around it.....if you land in Barcelona a 8:30 AM local time, , that's 2:30 AM body time. No matter what seat you were in, no matter what amenities were offered, your body is still saying, "it's 2:30 in the morning!!!" Yes, you might be able to fall asleep and stay asleep from right after dinner until landing, but have dinner some evening at home, go to bed and set your alarm for 2:30AM, get up and stay up and see how you feel come mid-day.
#28
Near Orlando but California Dreaming
14,039 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
Originally posted by marco
Gone First Class, Business Class and Coach. If you are flying from the east coast, there is no way of getting around it.....if you land in Barcelona a 8:30 AM local time, , that's 2:30 AM body time. No matter what seat you were in, no matter what amenities were offered, your body is still saying, "it's 2:30 in the morning!!!" Yes, you might be able to fall asleep and stay asleep from right after dinner until landing, but have dinner some evening at home, go to bed and set your alarm for 2:30AM, get up and stay up and see how you feel come mid-day.
Welcome to my world. I'm often on 5:00 am flights which means I'm up at 2:30. Once I land it's non-stop business meetings, sometimes until well into the evening. Best thing to do is avoid carbs and try to eat proteins in small portions every couple of hours. A little caffeine boost through the day, but avoid things like Jolt, Red Bull, and espresso, just have a small cup of regular coffee when you're really starting to drag.

Lots of good advice above, I'd suggest bringing a neck pillow and store it in a plastic bag with some lavender soap for a week or so prior to your trip. When you pull it out to use it, you'll smell the calming, soothing lavender when it's up near your face. but those around you won't be able to smell it.
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#29
Irvine, CA
8,392 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
Originally posted by FlyerTalker
Depending on your perspective on safety, you might want to consider keeping your shoes on until after takeoff. Just in case there is some kind of issue on takeoff, you may need to walk (run) across ground that may not be "friendly" to bare/stocking feet. And no time to put them on.

Yes, it may be a bit paranoid, but I can wait those extra minutes to take off the shoes. And be sure that you have shoes that can be adjusted, as your feet will swell some after many hours airborne and you don't want to have to struggle to get back into your shoes before landing. It's why just about every business/first amenity kit has a shoehorn included.
Originally posted by BuckDanny
Great advice from everyone. I fly across regularly too. I'd like to add a couple of things:

If you are going to check in a luggage, make sure to also have your essentials in your carry-on: toiletry, clothes for a 2-3 days, etc. Just in case your luggage doesn't make it to BCN, that way you are set with the bare minimum for a few days if you have to.

Another important thing is sleep management and jetlag, since you have never been there it is important. Unfortunately going across eastbound is the most fatiguing. Here's the technique I use every time I go, which is the same most flight crews follow as well for fatigue management:

As soon as you arrive to your hotel, take a nap no more than 4 hours. Then go outside and take as much sun as possible (the body's internal clock adjusts with sun light). Have some dinner, and go back to sleep at a normal around 10pm. You will wake early morning, and shouldn't feel too tired. Then follow a normal sleep schedule.

If you take too long of a nap, you will not sleep at night and never adapt. If you skip the nap, you could wake up at some odd times and not be able to go back to sleep.

Have fun!
Such great tips. I'm really enjoying reading all this information
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#31
Columbus, OH
46 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
Originally posted by Photojunkie_I_am
Lots of great information. Mine would be to leave contacts off while flying and wear eye glasses if possible. The air in the plane dry mine out terribly.

Hope this helps,
Sharon

Good point Sharon! The air inside airplane is always extremely dry in comparison to ground level; this goes beyond just contacts. Any sensitivity to dry air should be addressed, such as bringing lotion for dry skin, and chopstick from dry lips.
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#32
Olathe, Kansas
3,069 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Originally posted by Photojunkie_I_am
Lots of great information. Mine would be to leave contacts off while flying and wear eye glasses if possible. The air in the plane dry mine out terribly.

Hope this helps,
Sharon
On overnight flights, I'll leave my contacts in through dinner, and then take them out...my body seems to read this as "sleepy time", and I get increasingly tired very quickly. I then put my contacts in just before breakfast. Depending on the length of the flight, that can mean I am without my contacts for 4 hours or 12 hours.
#33
NE Ohio
3,706 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
It's not easy, but do your best to avoid high sodium foods for a couple of days before flying. I wear surgical stockings to help with swelling too. Like another poster said, don't stress about sleeping. With noise cancelling headphones and a good book I can usually drift off for a while, and I'm greatful for every nap I get.
I also bring snack that are high in protein and low in sodium like unsalted nuts. The salted ones in the airport shops are instant ankle swellers for me.
Unless you're in first class it's never fun flying on a transatlantic flight which is another reason we love transatlantic cruises--only one long flight.
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#34
Vancouver BC
7,233 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
A quick afternoon nap (no more than 2 hours) will help, and then make sure you get up and go do something in the evening, so you then go to bed Barcelona time.
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#35
cruising.cockroach {at} gmail hotmail and yahoo
1,358 Posts
Joined May 2012
If you can, try to get as late a crossing as possible (though this will cut down your safety margin if boarding the same day). For example, BA has flights leaving Vancouver for London at 8p so arrival into London is ~5a Pacific time next day. Air France, KLM and Lufthansa have/had flights that leave for Europe around 2-4p which puts one into Europe at midnight local time. Pretty brutal as you imagine. I am tentatively on one such leaving Calgary in October. Not much fun even in business class.


For those of you who live near Toronto, Boston, New York, Chicago and possibly Washington who have a little bit more time, money and patience to spare, there is always the option of a daytime flight (usually all leave before 9 or 10a local time) to London. Arrival time is too late for a connecting flight so you'll have to spend a night in a hotel before your ongoing flight the next day.
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#36
cruising.cockroach {at} gmail hotmail and yahoo
1,358 Posts
Joined May 2012
Originally posted by scottbee
A quick afternoon nap (no more than 2 hours).
Naps are fine but I find it helpful to set an alarm to go every 20 minutes so you don't fall into too deep a sleep.
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Using cruise lines as a cheap means of comfortable if not speedy intercontinental travel....


Upcoming Sep 2017 Celebrity Millennium Vancouver-Yokohama


Mar 2016 Star Princess San Pedro-Vancouver
Mar 2016 CMA CGM Libra HongKong - Long Beach
Jan 2016 RV Yandabo Bagan-Mandalay

Nov 2015 Tirrenia Bithia Janas Arbatax - Civitavecchia
Oct 2015 Saremar Ichnusa Bonifacio-Santa Teresa de Gallura
Oct 2015 Corsica Ferries Corsica Victoria Savona - Bastia
Oct 2014 HAL Zaandam Vancouver-Valparaiso
Mar 2014 Corsica Ferries Mega Express 3 Toulon-Ajaccio & Bastia-Nice
Oct. 2012 HAL Prinsendam Civitavecchia-Fort Lauderdale
April 2012 Island Princess San Pedro-Vancouver
Kasr Ibrim Abu Simbel-Aswan Feb. 2007

Way, way back....
P&O Cathay between Singapore and Hong Kong and back, March 1968 + August 1969
Koeln-Dusseldorfer Line Rotterdam - Bern
Thomson Ithaca Tanger to Brindisi April 1974
Chandris Bruge-Norway-Tilbury August 1974
Chandris Southampton - Canary Islands + Madeira - Southampton August 1976
#37
Tampa, FL
76 Posts
Joined Sep 2009
I happened across this board and have to thank everyone for the helpful advice! My Hubby and I are cruising out of Rome this fall and have never flown across the pond before. You all have offered tips that I never would've even considered. Thank you!
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#38
Near Orlando but California Dreaming
14,039 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
One of the things I did was to reset my body clock BEFORE we left. I began about two weeks before we flew getting up 10-15 minutes earlier every day. The day of my flight to FCO I woke up at 3:00 am. By the time we finished dinner, it was bedtime. I fell asleep and slept about 5.5 hours.
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Past Cruises...
August 2002--Disney Magic Eastern Caribbean
October 2005--RCCL Mariner Western Caribbean
October 2011--Disney Dream Bahamas
June 2012--Windstar Wind Surf Back-To-Back, Rome to Venice to Athens
April 2014--Paul Gauguin to French Polynesia

Three weeks in Europe (two on a ship) with a 20" roll aboard and a tote bag--packing list here.

My all in a 20" wheeled bag for a warm weather cruise packing list here

20" rolling bag packing list for two weeks in a cool/cold climate here.
#39
1,781 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Bring some zanex so you can sleep, a neck support pillow, some socks, loose clothing, head phones and snacks. You should be fine.
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#40
Southern Maryland
9 Posts
Joined Oct 2013
Lifting feet off the floor and alternately pointing toes away and toward your head, "ankle pumps", will reduce the risk of blood clots by encouraging return circulation toward the heart. Women on oral contraceptives are at risk.
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