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International Flight Snacks for First-Time Fliers

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Fiends are flying to Italy next week to pick up a cruise ship. I haven't flown international in so long that I'm not sure if they even get a meal these days. Don't know their airline. I'd like to send along some snack items and a healthy breakfast cookie/bar for arrival. Any ideas regarding what to eat to lessen jet lag and/or help with flying jitters? High carbs, low carbs? Ginger tea bags, ginger candy? I was thinking of low salt trail mix with dried blueberries and dried cherries for the flight, and an oatmeal cookie/bar with applesauce and bacon and raisins and maybe even cheddar cheese for breakfast.

Neither has been on a plane in his/her entire life. Ever.

I'm also thinking of sending chewing gum for the ear pressure thing, hand wipes (are the inividually wrapped wipes legal?). Maybe a note to suggest getting up and walking the aisles and other first-time hints (do they make disposable footies/socks?) Could really use some first-time hints.

I've been to the federal Web site for restrictions. They're not taking cattle prods or anything pointy, so that's covered.

If there is a blog that covers this question, please post a link. Thanks for your thoughts!

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  1. you're so sweet to do this for them! it would really help to find out which airline they're using, as the amenities vary widely. some will provide quite a few creature comforts, even in economy class. Qantas, for one, has better coach service than anything i've ever experienced in domestic First Class - socks, eye mask for sleeping, toothbrush & toothpaste, a *selection* of full meals...all complimentary.

    one note on those snacks - careful with the bacon because of the sodium content.

    oh, and LOL at the cattle prod comment ;)

    1. Your ideas of, "...ginger candy...low salt trail mix with dried blueberries and dried cherries...and an oatmeal cookie/bar with applesauce and bacon and raisins" are very thoughtful. On the other hand, people get plenty of food on trans-Atlantic flights. No real need to send food.

      Please suggest to them to drink plenty of water during the flight - at least a full glass per hour. Water is readily available. And they should make sure that they have access to the aisle so that they can get rid of that water as needed and so they can walk about every once and a while. Business class will provide disposable socks; take your own for economy. Wear comfortable, adjustable shoes: feet usually swell over long flights. Take a tiny bottle of skin moisturizer if in economy. Tell them how the sliding lav door locks work. Now and then I see first time passengers enter the lavs without locking the door - clearly not knowing how: that can be embarrasing.

      Which airport are they leaving from? They should allow plenty of time for security. Again wear shoes that you can pop on and off. Pack all you metalic things in your carry-ons prior to security (watches, coins, ...).

      Could comment further if you have other specific questions.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        Amen, Bro Sam! Along w/ water stretching and isometric exercises while in the seat help a lot.

      2. Applesauce will not make it through security.

        1. Ditto what everyone says about your thoughtfulness.

          As others have noted, transatlantic flights offer food (at least, everyone I take does, and I travel back and forth on a fairly regular basis) but nibbles are a kind gesture.

          Handiwipes are fine to bring on board. Melatonin is supposed to be good for jetlag. I used to use it and think I only don't any more because I keep forgetting to buy it. Socks are good, compression socks may be even nicer (although they are pricy).

          Assuming they are travelling from the states on an overnight flight, I'd recommend they aim to sleep on the flight over and hit the ground running the next morning. There will be time to rest, but keeping oneself going can be the best way to adjust. Of course, each has his or her own way.

          1. Thanks, everyone!

            I wasn't sure if a meal was included in an overnight trans-Atlantic flight these days, let alone snacks. I figure they'll watch a movie, talk to each other and seatmates, walk around, read, but I'm not sure how relaxed they'll be on their first flight (they picked a long one for their inaugural) to just settle down and sleep. My thinking was if they each got nothing but a bag of 6 honey-roasted peanuts compliments of the airline, I needed to send something!

            I'm ditching the idea of breakfast bars. They land in Venice and have plenty of time to get to the ship. I'll post over on the International boards to ask for a recommendation where they can stop for a pastry and cup of tea.

            Okay, Sam, what's the deal with the bathroom door lock? They might find your hint infinitely more valuable than a bag of granola!

            I'm still going with chewing gum, wet wipes, ginger candy, a small jigsaw puzzle.

            12 Replies
            1. re: nemo

              Enter the lav, pull the door shut with the door knob, look for the little handle and knob in the little slot to the side of the actual door knob and slide that firmly. A light will go on, telling you that the door is locked.

              The flight will serve breakfast as well, so no worries adout that. If they're air traveling for the first time, they may have new suitcases that look like everyone else's - best to tie a short colored ribbon to each handle.

              Wet wipes are OK; but most airlines recently switched from liquid soap to disinfecting soap foams in the lavs.

              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                Yes, definately do something to identify their luggage. Most airlines have individual
                tvs for each passenger. So they can watch any number of movies, play games, or keep track of where the plane is. On our last few international flights, we got a flight bag even in coach (mask, toothbrush/paste, socks, etc.), and yes, Qantas was the best; they even kept a bowl of fruit and bottles of water out all the time. There will be plenty of food and snacks on the flight. They will need to drink lots of water and walk around every now and then. We're heading to Italy Monday. It'll be our fourth trip there.
                Hope they'll love it as much as we do!

                1. re: bayoucook

                  Not all the airlines are to that point yet. When I last flew Continental, not all the flights had the screens yet on the trans-atlantic routes (they were still getting installed). Northwest didn't have them on the Asian routes as of December, so I wouldn't be surprised if they had nothing on the trans-atlantic yet. Air India (often a cheap choice to Europe) doesn't have anything either.

                  As for US Airways- definitely bring a snack because "plenty of food and snacks" is not a term I'd used to describe its Trans-Atlantic offerings.

                  1. re: queencru

                    Thanks for letting me know. I went to their website and it looks pretty dismal for the flight....oh well - it's just a means of transportation!

                2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  Thanks, Sam! Wet wipes I was thinking more for face and arms for freshening up before deplaning. When I find out what airline they're on, I'll be able to match up the great info posted here. Luggage identification, good point. They've traveled, just not flown.

                  Thanks again, everyone.

                  1. re: nemo

                    I always take the wipes to give myself a litte "bath" at the end of the night. Also my antiperspirant which is within the legal 3oz. limit, toothbrush, travel size toothpaste. Considering the pre-flight hours, the flight itself and then how long it will be before you have a real bathroom to use, "one" can get a little ripe :)

                    Emtpy water bottle is a great idea. We travel Continental to Rio because it has GREAT connections but they only give you cups of water, not whole bottles. It's a 10 hour flight overnight from Houston to Rio and I NEED that water in my seat pocket.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      Bottles of water always a good idea and a chowhound provided the suggestion that you ask the flight attendant to fill the bottle should it empty. Having now travelled a few times that way, I'll say that may times an attendant will be kind enough to refill, but almost as many times they will refuse, opting instead to give a few glasses of water (which I then poured into the bottle myself trying to ignore the waste that was otherwise evident).

                      I suppose I say that so a person can be prepared for the more resistant flight attendant. It happens and frankly, logic is not something that works in these cases so don't even try.

                      1. re: Lizard

                        I've generally found if I go to the galley when it's quiet that they've been quite accommodating but there are always exceptions, aren't there?

                        1. re: Lizard

                          I don't kinow of any trans-Atlantic to Europe that is reluctant about water.

                  2. re: nemo

                    I would include Purell, and a small notebook and pen for each of them. I always bring a pocket size notebook and pen when I travel.. you never know what kind of tips and recommendations you're going to run into.

                    You can also send along a refillable water thermos for each of them- I've seen some cool ones recently. They can take it thru security, fill it up at the airport, and use it the whole trip. Fill it up before leaving the ship for the day... and not have to worry about purchasing bottles of water at the port.

                    1. re: cheesecake17

                      For the flight back, they should find out what the regulations are, regarding bringing a beverage onboard. From Costa Rica (not the same as Europe, I know) we were not allowed to bring any beverages on board - they searched AT THE GATE, and we were not allowed more than the usual security screening 3 oz amt of liquid. We had been warned, though, ahead of time, so it wasn't a surprise.

                  3. My favorite snack for a long flight? Lots of Benadryl. Serve with a drool bib.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      You're such a lightweight. I'm down with an Ambien and two bottles of red wine. But seriously, I would NOT recomend sleeping pills for first time fliers.

                      I find the dinner has too much food. So I keep the pack of cheese and crackers or the cookie or whatever is individually wrapped for a snack if I want something before they bring through food in the morning. So any (better) version of those would be great. I'd go for savory rather than sweet.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        Maybe sedation isn't a good first line of defense for first-time fliers, but especially if the space starts to feel too tight, it's a viable alternative to the claustrophobic heebiejeebies.

                        Good point about keeping little snacks throughout the flight. Also, wandering back to the galley when things are quiet and asking the flight attendants for munchies will usually produce even more goodies.

                        Same with water. Don't wait for it to be offered. Go ask for more. Your body will thank you.

                        1. re: alanbarnes

                          I definitely walk back to the galley - when they're not busy. I "establish rapport" which will frequently generate PLENTY of goodies :) I love Virgin America/Atlantic. You have a touch screen where you can order food and beverages any time.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            As far as snacks between dinner and breakfast, lots of trans-Atlantic overnight flights will put out trays of sandwiches, juices, and other goodies right next to the galleys. Often quite good stuff. Air France has had Haagan Daaz ice cream bars.

                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                              US Airways had zippo between the meal and a tiny sandwich at the end of the flight when I went last year. The meal was also of the smaller I've seen. The American airlines often tend to be a little skimpier than what's on other ones, although I can't say I've flown any flight recently that had a snack bar. The European airlines definitely have much better offerings.

                              1. re: queencru

                                Oooh - we're flying US Airways for the first time this Monday to Rome.
                                I was hoping for the best....may take snacks on this one!

                    2. I encourage them to pre-order a special meal by contacting the airline. Special-order meals always look nicer than regular meals. I personally always get Asian Vegetarian meals, and I ALWAYS get comments from other passengers about how much better my food looks.

                      1. There is a homeopathic medicine (pills) sold in GNC's and other health food stores called No Jet Lag. It works very well!!! We flew to London and on to Italy and never missed a beat quite unlike previous flights. I took a benadryl to sleep (ambien can have serious side affects) but DH sleeps easily on a plane. Got the No Jet Lag from flyertalk.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Linda VH

                          I was just reading about that and wondering if it works. Gonna get some today.

                        2. One other thing to be aware of as you're packing snacks is that int'l carry on restrictions can be quite different than domestic. My experience is that carry ons are highly restricted - I think Virgin Atlantic limits you to something like 10kg, which is easy to exceed with books, much less snacks. It's not like flying domestic, where everyone has a roller bag packed to the gills.

                          My other experience is that on the one flight where we did bring a lot of snacks because BA was having a catering strike, we didn't end up eating them. Granted, they weren't particularly great snacks, just whatever we could put together at the airport, but we hardly touched them.

                          On my next flight, I'm considering fasting - there's a new study that fasting until breakfast on your first day will alleviate jetlag.

                          It's a really nice idea, though.

                          1. Give them a goody bag with ear plugs, sleeping mask, sleeptime extra tea bags (airline will provide hot water), a travel pillow (they sometimes run out) and some Ambien or even Benadryl. Tell them to buy a big bottle of water after security.

                            Or at least most of those things were nice on a recent 16 hour flight to Brazil.

                            C Oliver: Ambien and two bottles of wine? I hope you didn't mean two 750 ml bottles ...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Dax

                              Oh, god, no :) The little airline bottles!!! Although I mentioned Ambien, I don't really recommend it for inexperienced intl. travellers. I really do get a little amnesia but have a non-medicated husband along who won't let me make too many mistakes. But, yes, to benedryl. A pharmacist first recommended it to me.

                            2. Having traveled transpacific last month, last fall and last spring and suffered GREATLY from a paucity of snacks [and those that were present consisted of pretzels] I think your idea rocks.

                              Yes you get "food" on the plane but honestly its worse and worse. And socks! ---perhaps it is just because I am in the cheap seats but we have gotten neither socks nor eyeshades the last 3 transpacific flights.

                              So unless your friends are flying a European carrier, I would continue with all of your ideas.

                              A travel store will have nice footie socks as well as a small container to carry it in. I personally am fond of hand lotion because my hands dry out so much on flights. Just make sure it is small enough. Also a tooth brush and minitube of toothpaste---for me, being able to brush my teeth in the airport when I arrive is essential.

                              Snackwise, this last time, I brought granola bars that were made in our local bakery and they were quite tasty. Gum is an excellent idea. I would also consider a personal water bottle that can be filled once on the plane and then kept seat side. We have found on some flights that attendants will get testy about people getting up and walking around. If your friends have never flown before, they may feel intimidated to ask the attendants for stuff.

                              Do your friends have particular likes/dislikes of tea? Selection on planes is usually quite limited so you could through in some individual tea bags. having something to drink that you like really helps keep up the water consumption.

                              Cost plus has lots of small individually wrapped cookies and things in small portions.

                              Lastly, perhaps you want to tuck a $20 in the bag and tell them to launch their journey with a glass of champagne on you. While drinking alcohol all the way isn' t very good, its fun to start a trip with a bit of bubbles.

                              Hope they have a great time!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: jenn

                                Nemo, you're a great friend! Whenever I take long flights my physical comfort matters more than having enough munchies. The biggest problem with long flights is dehydration, which can have a signficant impact on jet lag. Help your friends avoid drying out by not giving them snacks that have a lot of salt. Advise them to drink a lot of water before, during, and after the flight and to avoid alcohol and sleep aids (both of which are very dehydrating, especially the antihistamine-based ones, not to mention the lingering drowsiness they induce). I like to take chapstick, eyedrops, and moisturizer on board to counteract the drying effects of airplane air. Socks are wonderful (so they can wander around without shoes, which they should do frequently) and so are travel neck pillows (the semi-circular kind; memory foam interior is the best). Add toothbrushes and toothpaste for freshening up before landing and they'll arrive bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for their wonderful cruise.

                              2. While you are nice in thinking of them, it's probably not something you can do easily. Off hand I would suggest something that's not liquid, for example, mixed nuts. But you need to give it to them in a package that's not wrapped tight, so that it can be opened for inspection. My experienc has been that they feed you pretty much the first thing you are on board (within a couple of hours). And with many of the airports these days there are usually a good number of restaurants air side, so they can pick up a sandwich if they really need it. That's better than trying to juggle luggage and whatever you pack for them before check in.

                                One thing, bring an empty water bottle so they can fill it with water AFTER they get through security check.

                                1. A quick note as everyone gives security instructions: To date I have seem some differences depending on the nation, so be prepared if your engaging in international travel. Just the past week, I was faced with three different sets of rules. I shrug and learn, the only way to treat what can be the sometimes ridiculous aspects of flying.

                                  Also: I don't necessarily recommend that people become 'galley friends' with the attendants as some hounds have suggested. Awesome for them, but depending on the circumstances of the flight, attitudes can vary widely. Some are nice while others get very pissy. I was just on a flight where a group of us (previously unknown to one another but seated together) could not help but joke about the attendant attitudes which were nasty at best. The flightcraft had changed and the delays were ridiculous. Sure, some of them may have been working late but others of us wondered if we would miss our connecting flights. Sometimes, the flight staff will be rude, especially in American carriers. I don't know what kind of advice that is, but your friends shouldn't take it personally if the attendants behave as if they are carrying sticks in uncomfortable places. That can happen with the most experienced and easy-going of travellers.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Lizard

                                    I agree with Lizard. Sad to say but I have had the rudest flight attendants on US carriers. Add to that so many seem to be impatient with people who haven't flown very often. Its to the point that if I can avoid an American carrier, I will.

                                    1. re: jenn

                                      Amen! We flew Northwest to Seoul and felt the flight attendants were over the hill women of the night! What "witches".
                                      Tell you friends that when they feel "antsy" to be thankful it is not a trans-pacifiic flight!

                                      1. re: jenn

                                        This is definitely true. I remember on one trans-Pacific flight I took, a flight attendant was asking one of the Japanese passengers if she wanted tea. I'd assume that this many times on the flight, you'd know the word for tea, but she just yelled it a second and third time in English as if that would magically help the Japanese passenger understand.

                                    2. Our kids were misbehaving on a transatlantic flight, so the stewardess made them go outside and play!
                                      Seriously, if these folks are not traveling 1st class and are in the cattle car and have any kind of medical training, request an emergency exit seat; much more leg room; more important than all of the above. I do it and it makes a big diff. Flew NH to Seoul in June.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                        You don' have to have medical training, but most of the carriers I've traveled won't assign emergency exit row seats until you arrive at the airport. They have to verify that you're at least a tiny bit able-bodied. Although I did wonder about that when we traveled with an 80 y.o. friend who is perhaps 5'2" on a tall day and they seated her in one of those most coveted. seats. And you DON'T want to be in the rows in front or behind the emergency exit rows because they don't recline.