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What to Expect When Flying Economy Internationally

For many, the idea of traveling overseas seems impossible – starting with the flight.

Whether they have never flown before or their experience is limited to traveling economy domestically – the idea of parking their booty in a cramped seat for hours on end seems nothing short of nightmare-ish.

Factor in the one narrow aisle, stale pretzels or lame bag of peanuts and entertainment you’re expected to pay extra for – it’s no surprise domestic travel is enough to turn most people off to international travel.

The truth is though – international flights are miles better than domestic.

Here are a few reasons why:

 

In-Flight Extras

On a domestic flight – you are lucky if you are given a free pair of headphones to accompany the movie you had to pay extra for.

International flights on the other hand… not only is it common to have a blanket, pillow and headphones waiting to greet you at your seat – there is usually a bag or cabinet full of extras to help make the long trip that much more bearable.

 

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Some of the extras that are typically offered are: a travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste to spare you and fellow travelers from any threat of dragon breath, a sleep mask to help catch some Z’s even if your neighbor has got their interrogation (reading) light on full blast and occasionally socks – to help keep your feet clean and toes from turning to ice blocks.

 

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Extra Room to Roam

Being an aisle seat lover, I really hate the narrow aisles on domestic flights – you manage to get hit, bumped, brushed and smacked by everyone and everything thing passing through it during the flight. Not to mention, the seats are cramped and you are expected to stay seated and buckled unless you absolutely have to get up.

Having back and occasional leg problems… domestic flights can be painful.

International flights on the other hand… you can expect two aisles (wider than domestic) and plenty of open spaces to walk around or stretch your legs. Not only that – flight attendants encourage you to get up and move around as much as possible.

Even the seats seem to have a little extra leg room – on my last flight the distance between my knee and the back of the chair in front of me was about the length of my iphone 6S.

Not bad considering – at 5’8″ – I can barely cross my legs on most domestic flights.

 

Legroom

 

Entertainment

In addition to the swag and extra room, there is usually a ton of free entertainment on international flights – none of that nickel and diming like domestic.

Being someone who is unable to sleep on planes and travels regularly – free movies, TV shows, games and music is a real sanity saver. Curling up with my blanket, pillow and headphones – I actually look forward to watching movies back to back with no interruptions.

A new thing on some international flights has been wifi. Although I have had to pay a small fee to use it the handful of times it was offered  – it’s been totally worth it.

Call me weird but I get a complete kick out of bugging people on social media or text while sitting on a plane, miles above the ocean.

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Food

With domestic flights you are lucky to get a free packet of pretzels, peanuts, cookies or some other less than exciting option. If you are hoping for anything more than that – like a cold sandwich or a sad cheese and fruit plate you are usually expected to pay extra.

Not the case on international flights – prepare to gain 10 pounds at no extra cost.

When flying to Australia (14 hour flight), dinner is generally served two hours into the flight and breakfast is served two hours before landing. In between there are snacks. The food is free, the quality is decent and you are fed often.

Here are examples of dinner, snacks and breakfast from my last flight…

 

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Dinner: Given three options to choose from, I went with Penne Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce and Parmesan Cheese. All options came with Herb Bread, White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake and a choice of soda, juices, coffee, tea, beer, cocktails or wine… I went with Merlot!

 

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Snacks: Options vary from flight to flight and between different airlines… Some airlines have given me a goodie bag containing a bottle of water, bag of chips, a chocolate bar and granola bar while others come around during the flight with ice cream, ice cream bars, chocolate, hot/cold sandwiches or cheese and cracker packs. My last flight included a Tomato and Capsicum (bell pepper) Pizza Topped with Feta and Basil, a Kit Kat Bar and Fresh Whole Fruit. Besides what the flight attendants deliver to your seat – all international flights I have been on, have had a snack cabinet of sorts which includes a water refill station… This last flight offered fig granola bars and Tim Tams (an Australian chocolate bar).

 

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Breakfast: On most international flights they offer at least two choices – a hot meal or the standard continental of cereal, yogurt, etc. If I do breakfast, I usually go with the hot. Last flight offered Scrambled Eggs with Bacon, Sausage, Mushrooms, Hash brown and Roasted Tomato. In addition, both hot/cold choices came with a Orange and Cranberry Muffin, Yogurt with Blueberries and the choice of coffee, tea, juice or soda.

Breakfast, snack and dinner. Doesn’t look all that bad – does it?

I have always found the meals to be enjoyable and as I have said to my friends and family – If you really wanted to, you could spend the entire flight eating.

Geeet In MY Bell-ah!

 

Qantas Flight

 

All in All…

With all the extras of international travel I also find it’s helpful to keep these two things in mind…

Treat the flight as part of your adventure!

How often do you get to turn off and read a book? How about reading through that travel guide you bought before getting to your destination? As I said earlier – you could also enjoy the chance to watch movies back to back for hours on end without the need to be any where else! Or – if you are a procrastinator like I am – flights have always been a good place to wrap up work I have been meaning to finish without any interruptions.

Finally…

Remember how lucky we are and how far we have come.

My great grandfather spent two seasick weeks on a boat when moving from Italy to Boston with his family in the early 1900’s. Today you can fly that distance in about 8 hours while curled up with a blanket and pillow, eating like there’s no tomorrow, watching endless movies, playing games and in some cases – surfing the web!

With that said – no excuses. Get dreaming and get doing!

You won’t regret it.

 

 

 

***Do you fly international regularly? Is there anything else you might add to ease the minds of those dreading a long flight? Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on international flights!***

 

Posted on 24 Comments

Australian Food, Sweets and Spreads

Half the fun of traveling can be trying new foods… depending on the location. I can’t say I jump at the chance to eat fried guinea pig in Peru or fried brain in Serbia. In Australia, the craziest thing I have tried so far is Kangaroo. It was weird… and did not taste like chicken. That aside, I am not a huge foodie but I do like my sweets.

Here are just a few common Australian food, sweets and spreads I have tried on my travels…


 

SconesScone: Australians say scone… Americans say biscuit. Australians eat these things for dessert… while Americans eat them for breakfast. Either way… they are far from healthy.

So how do Australians eat scones (biscuits)? They cut them in half then put a layer of jam on each piece followed by a layer of whipped cream. Sounds pretty weird if you’ve never tried them that way but it’s actually pretty good!

For our Australian readers…how do Americans eat scones (biscuits)? We make a breakfast sandwich out of them! We’d cut it in half then throw on any combination of cheese, egg, sausage, bacon or ham… if you live in the south you could even eat them with gravy…

I’d say we beat the Aussies in making them more fattening.


 

VegemiteVegemite: Holy hell-can it be disgusting. Let me give you a little heads up so you avoid the mistake most people make when trying it for the first time… It is NOT peanut butter, jam or butter.

The more you throw on your toast, it will not-I repeat-it WILL NOT taste better.

Less is more with this evil salty spread unless you want your face to turn inside out. If you avoid the mistake of slathering it on-it’s really not all that bad but I’d still say it’s an acquired taste. You either grow up with it and love it or you wonder what the heck is wrong with some people’s taste buds.

Still interested in trying Vegemite? When the Captain made toast for me he threw some margarine on first then a THIN layer of vegemite on top.

Key word-thin.

I have just learned there is something called a cheesymite scroll, that is a spiraled baked bread with vegemite and cheese.

I have never had it-but now that I know it exists I may have to try it on the next trip!


 

Meat Pie: Yep. It sounds gross doesn’t it? Apple pie, yum. Pumpkin pie, yum. MEAT pie? Let’s say I was more than skeptical on this one.

So what is it?

You’ll find them mainly in cafes and bakeries; they are a great takeaway (takeout) option if you’re on the go. Meat pies are hand-sized and are filled with all sorts of good stuff, usually minced meat and gravy but there are many filling combinations. Once you get past the name-they are pretty damn good! Warm, flaky, meaty, gravy filled pies… yum.

A common condiment paired with meat pies is ketchup… but if you ask for ketchup you’ll be looked at funny. Ask for tomato sauce and you’ll avoid sounding like a tourist… minus the accent of course.


 

BeetRootBeetroot: I’m not sure I’ll ever understand the beetroot obsession. I can’t say I had ever tried it before visiting Australia either. Australians will throw it on burgers, salads and sandwiches… Usually when I find it in my burger or sandwich, I’ll get a few bites in then find myself picking it out of my sandwich. I don’t hate it… it’s just strange, not sure how else to describe it.

The added bonus… it can stain your clothes and fingers purple. Sexy stuff.


 

LamingtonLamington: These things are weird but the Captain has told me they are a pretty standard Australian dessert, one that makes an expected appearance at most holidays or get togethers. He bought them on my last trip and he insisted that we freeze them-he swears they taste better that way.

So what the heck are they? They are little square, two layer cakes made from what I think is sponge cake. Between the two layers was a layer of jam and the entire outside was covered in a very thin layer of chocolate sprinkled with coconut. He did tell me that some have a layer of cream in the center rather than jam.

They were pretty good but they weren’t my favorite. For a sweet tooth… I would have been happier if there was a thicker layer of chocolate!


 

MaltesersMaltesers: I must confess. I am a Malteser monster.

Although I have heard you can find them in Canada and parts of the U.S. they are not easy to find. In Australia they are about as common as Reeses Peanut Buttercup are in the U.S. They are every where.

Maltesers are made by Mars, Incorporated and are small, round, bite sized chocolates that have a center made of malt honeycomb. Love them.

For those who are thinking it… They are NOT Whoppers. Whoppers are disgusting… Maltesers not so much. If you are lucky enough to find them in the U.S.-grab ‘em!


 

tim-tamsTim Tam: I am a fan of Tim Tams. The Captain tries to stay away from sweets but this is one of the first he wanted me to try. They are a biscuit (or cookie as we’d say) and they are made up of two chocolate biscuits, separated by a layer of chocolate filling and coated with chocolate.

 

They are very common and easy to find. Tim Tams can be found in several different flavors too. I’ve seen white chocolate, dark, caramel, orange, original… My favorite is the chocolate/orange combo.


 

caramel Slice 2Caramel Slice: Evil layers of yum. I was first introduced to these in Townsville, Australia by the Captain. They are hands down my favorite.

If you have a sweet tooth, these things will destroy it. Layer of soft chocolate, caramel and a shortbread base. Sometimes the base will have coconut in it… which just makes it that much more evil.

These are not the type of dessert you could sit and eat several of in one sitting-they are heavy. I have made them several times at home now and have introduced my family to them in the states… they curse me every time I bring them to a family holiday but the plate always comes home empty!

And we all leave 10 pounds heavier.

Interested in making them? The recipe I use can be found here on Taste.com.au. There are a couple of things I do different though since some of ingredients are hard to find in the states.

If you are unable to find golden syrup you can use honey (although it will change the taste slightly).

For the top chocolate layer, copha might not be so easy to find in the U.S. so I substituted it with a recipe I use to make the center of my truffles. I’ll take a half cup of heavy cream and add a teaspoon of vanilla extract, bringing it just to the point of boiling I then remove it from the heat. Then I add a cup of chocolate chips, mixing until it is melted. Once it is melted, I pour it on top of the other two layers then place it in the fridge to harden.

These things are so worth the effort. If you give them a go, let me know how they turned out!

If you have any suggestions on other Aussie foods I should try, let me know in the comments below. I will be adding new foods as I try them, so keep looking back for updates!