I've done the trip from New England to Korea several times. Counting each flight set as a one-way, I've done 7 international long-haul jumps to/from the US from/to Korea. I have also done some medium-length and short flights within Asia. I've been stuck in lines during disembarkation with people who have said things like, "Get me off of this plane! This is my second flight and I just want to be home" or "I can't believe I have another hour drive home after that 6 hour flight." I want to sack those people... like full-on, linebacker-style take.them.out. On my last trip home, I was feeling sassy so I responded with "26 hours ago I was in South Korea... a bus, international flight, 6 hour layover, and another flight later, I'm here and I still have 2 more planes before I'm home." A dumbstruck woman replied with a "Well for all that travel, you look great!"
After all that, I feel qualified to offer some advice on coping with long trips. Let's break it down into two categories: "What to Bring" and "What to Do."
[What you put in your checked baggage is your personal business, so let's focus on the items that will be accompanying you on the plane.]
1. Take advantage of the baggage capacity; but for GOD"S SAKE do not surpass it. There are other people on that plane, unless you have a baby or are carrying classified information that needs to be on your person at all times, there is no excuse for excessive carry-on luggage. Backpackers and people carrying-on animals get a little leeway.
2. Pack a small bag of toiletries. Mine usually includes:
-toothbrush / toothpaste
-lens case / solution (under 3oz / 100ml)
-face wash / moisturizer
-hand sanitizer and lotion (under 3ox / 100ml)
I like to wash my face and brush my teeth every 3-4 hours or so on the plane (if I'm awake) then again during my layovers.
3. Dress comfy. Seems logical, right? WRONG. In Asia, its all about the airport fashion. Ok, fine... do that, but pack sweats. If you're doing the 12 hour trip between SanFran and Seoul, you will definitely regret wearing a miniskirt or tight jeans.
I usually wear
-long shirt or dress
-2 scarves (one I wear and 1 in my bag)
I usually bring (to change):
-shirt or dress
Wear something comfortable and easy so you can....
4. Change your clothes. Bring an alternate outfit for layovers. If you will be traveling on more than 1 plane, you may want to change your clothes. Sometimes you can feel really gross after a flight, especially if its over 6 hours; and even more so if you have multiple long flights. Changing your clothes makes you feel better so you can.....
5. Stay sharp. There are so many different kinds of people in airports so you want to make sure that you have your eyes open and you're minding your belongings.
6. Eat the food. Even if it doesn't look very good, eat something. It's easy to pass, and something about the dehydration on the planes-- it makes me feel less hungry, and then I end up paying for it later when I'm trying to get through an airport and I'm totally dragging. It's ok to pack a snack or grab one through security.
7. Map it. If you have a layover that is less than 2 hours, you may not have the luxury of time if there is a delay with the first flight. I was lucky because this happened to me (deicing in Philly made me late to SFO for my flight to Seoul) ad I had 25 mins from arrival to the next departure time... I happen to know SFO pretty well (especially the routes between the Domestic to Int'l terminal. Know where you need to go, and approximately how to get there-- because you may have less time than you originally planned!
Next up....... whats in my bag?!