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Surviving an international flight

Karen and are I traveling to Thailand today to meet our World Race squad.    We just flew the first leg to South Korea. When we checked in, we were overjoyed to hear that Korean Air assigned us a couple of middle seats, but we traded places with some people who wanted to sit together…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Karen and are I traveling to Thailand today to meet our World Race squad. 
We just flew the first leg to South Korea. When we checked in, we were overjoyed to hear that Korean Air assigned us a couple of middle seats, but we traded places with some people who wanted to sit together.
Next it’s on to Bangkok, arriving around midnight (noon according to our body clocks). We’ll try to squeeze in some sleep before traveling with our racers three hours to the island of Koh Samet for a debrief.
Having a great destination makes the overseas flight more bearable.
What do those of you who fly internationally do to survive?  These long flights can occasionally be trips from hell if you run into delays or get a bad seat next to a crying baby. 
Here’s what I do:
The main thing is where you sit.  Upgrades or even exit rows are hard to come by on long flights, so Karen and I go for a couple of seats together (or with an empty one in between us if we can swing it) next to a window.  She likes the aisle and uses one of those wrap-around pillows.  And on this last flight, she chose to sit next to a baby just to get a bulkhead seat.  As for me, If I’m going to try to sleep, I like to lean my head against the window.  This is the one occasion where I praise God for not being a tall person. 
Airplane seats are kind of hard, so I like to sit on the little pillows they give you.  My doctor dad advises getting up frequently so you don’t develop blood clots in your legs.  And of course, you’re supposed to drink lots of water to keep from dehydrating.
Lately, most of the flights have got little TV sets built into the seat in front of you.   They offer a selection of movies and TV shows.  Having a comfortable headset is key.  I’m too cheap to splurge on Bose earphones, but those are awesome. Mostly we just go into zombie mode. I get tired of the movies.
Food on Korean Air is OK.  You can get some interesting kimchee kind of stuff and maybe a few pieces of dried seaweed to play with.
When you disembark at Inchon airport, if you’re a frequent flyer, they give you free passes to their first class lounge. That’s where we’re sitting now – catching up on email and eating stuff from their little buffet doesn’t smell like pickled cabbage. Karen likes to break up the long flights (14 hours so far and five more to go).
Occasionally there will be a screw-up with the party who is supposed to meet us upon arrival.  Once we were left waiting in Manila for two or three hours. Having a backup plan in advance is always a good idea.  Nothing like arriving, not having showered in a day, feeling slimy and then just sitting there with no idea what to do.  
The hardest part about leaving is that we leave Leah and Whimsy behind in a quiet house.  Emily and Casey take care of things, but its hard leaving all the time. 
OK, that’s my inventory.  Anybody have some other travel tips?

Comments (16)

  • Sounds like you’re nearly there then! I remember trying all my usual techniques and thinking I had used up all the time when we moved to Australia, only to find that a mere 2 hours had gone by when I checked my watch! Although the highlight of that flight was flying over the Himalayas by moonlight on a clear night – never seen anything so majestic in my life. A God’s-eye view.

    You have a good set of techniques there anyway, seasoned travellers that you are! The one thing I do from setting off is to eat and sleep within the new time zone immediately on the plane, however cuckoo it feels. Makes it easier to settle on arrival.

    Walking up and down and doing some stretching is great – makes you feel less like a slug when you land as your muscles have done some work. Not natural to sit for so many hours! Water’s good too, not just to drink but over your face and your wrists. Something very refreshing about cool water on your wrists – don’t ask me why!!

    Have yourself a great time with the squad – be blessed as I know they will be for seeing you and Karen. Andrew said he’s joining you too, so I know you’ll have fun! Koh Samet looks so beautiful too. Enjoy!

  • I am heading to the airport in just over an hour. To start my long flight(s) from Russia back to Canada!

    Techniques… I defently prefer the window seat. I put my bag at my feet,(I am short) so I have everything within easy reach! I like to have gum… keeps me occupied and away from snacking.
    I defently work with the whole time change thing… if I am able I will even start preparing my body for that a day or two in advance… makes life easier on arrival.

    I always have my camera, writing and drawing pad and a book within wasy reach to help with long layovers or an exceedingly boring plane ride!

    Overall… i love flying!!

  • Koh Samet, Now that is debreifing, I loved that site. Have a wonderfull time and I pray that the squad is doing awsome and that they are being stretched to the MAX !!! Are you at the same site we used for A/B & C Squads?

  • Sorry I got so excited about where you were going I forgot to answer your question. Invest $40.00US in a seat pillow at the airport, they are VERY VERY Comfy and have a slot cut out to releive the pressure on you A-Bone and beleive me one flight paid for them. And being 6’3″ and 250 lbs. (unlike you Seth) I’ll fight for exit rows or bulkheads!!!

  • Kamusta Ka! It’s a great time to learn other languages from the people around you, get insights and see what oppurtunities God brings up! Last time I went international I actually met some nice Filipinos and shared the love of Jesus with a cool Muslim teen. Passes time, free learning and “fresh fruit” 😉

  • Bahaha- I’ve got a great mental pic of you playing with your seaweed – ha!

    I can tell you one thing NOT to do, and that’s take 2 dramamines. Had a sweet kid do that this summer on the flight to Africa…oh wow do I have some funny stories from that one! She was so loopy after that, she entertained the whole plane. haha!

  • I jam the little airplane pillow in the small of my back. It seems to work much better as a lumbar support than as a pillow. And being on the taller side, I always ask for a bulkhead once I get to the gate, unless I’ve already got good seats.
    And I always make a point to be super nice to the gate attendants. I’ve traveled enough to know what they go through all day long. Plus, it doesn’t hurt when asking for better seats!

  • The only time I took a long international flight I was the one with the baby – my 19-month granddaugter. That kept the trip from getting boring! She was great, really – slept for hours and hours. I figured out how to eat, drink, and go to the tiny airplane bathroom with a sleeping toddler on my shoulder!!

    Blessings to you, your wife, and the team during these days together, and to your girls at home.

  • Thank you for being willing! Willing to push seaweed around and willing to show up in obscure airports without airtight connections and willing to sit for hours and hours on those little pillows and with no elbow room-all for the Kingdom of God. You and Karen are precious. And may God bless Leah over and over!

    -Debi Ferrarello

  • thanks for the encouragement Debi (and others). right now i can’t say this too much of a hardship. we are on the beach AND have internet connectivity!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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