Tips for Not Hating Air Travel, Long Flights,TSA Pre-check & Global Entry: First Class from Chicago to Tokyo

Properly preparing for a long flight is key to enjoying any trip because lets be honest- so many things are going to go wrong that you can’t control, you might as well make absolutely sure you’re controlling everything that IS in your power. From comfort, to necessities, to entertainment, to needs, wishes & wants… sweat those details well in advance and really try to do a mental walk through well before you’re finished packing, so you can be sure to have at least a tolerable travel experience.

waiting for our driver…comfy & ready for the long flight to Tokyo

Parenting Extra: We have traveled extensively with the kiddos & have plenty of tips for that here & here. But on this trip we were sans kids. And like any parent traveling without the kiddos, securing reliable childcare- in our case, the grandparents- and prepping every minute detail of their time helps in easing any worries. Our kids love hanging with their grandparents, so that is never a concern, but stocking the fridge, arranging transportation, having every last doctor, teacher (and lawyer) we could possible need in the event of an emergency takes a bit of thought. We’re crazy, but since we travel a fair amount, we keep a travel file (digital & hardcopy lists) of important names, phone numbers, email addresses, medical authorization letters, (last wishes if we don’t make it…yes, crazy), duplicates of medications and kiddos passports for the grandparents to have in the event anything catastrophic happens. Like I said- WE.ARE.CRAZY…

the first class seat pods… they’re all a bit different, depending on the flight
ginger beer to calm me down

Know Your Limits: And after ALL OF THAT, the obsessing details of the trip planning take flight. Lets hope that by now everyone knows their limits on how they can & want to fly. As someone prone to migraines, I will try my freaking best to not fly too early in the morning because for whatever reason, I am pretty much guaranteed to have a two-day debilitating migraine when I fly super early. I always choose nonstop flights if they’re available. I avoid layovers when possible (especially if traveling with kids) and also try to not get on super small airplanes. And if the flight is long, First Class or Business Class seating is a must. I’m a load, no doubt.

the in flight amenity bag included CO Bigelow goodies
and on to the champagne

TSA Pre-Check & Global Entry Review: I highly recommend going through the whole TSA Pre-check & Global Entry Program if you’re traveling anywhere on a plane, ever.

a.do Pro Tip: TSA Pre-check is for domestic travel and everyone aged 13 years and older needs their own TSA Pre-Check card. The Global Entry Program is separate and for International travel, so EVERYONE (all ages, babies & kiddos included) needs their own Global Entry Card and will not be permitted to use global entry, just because they are traveling with an adult who has a Global Entry Card.

It is a tad annoying that you have to fill out an extremely long application, do an interview, do every application & interview individually- this applies even for each child- plus they don’t make ‘family appointments’ so there is a good chance that everyone will have an interview on a different day at a different time, but it is so worth it in the long run so as to not wait in line in security or in customs on a return flight.

no wifi service here, but some turbulence. good time to meditate.

Know What You’re Getting Into: We find that a thorough obsession over the weather forecast & weather trends, a well thought out review of the trips agenda, identifying any required attire, a thoughtful survey of the electrical ‘plug’ & adaptor situation is helpful right before the packing begins. Know the weather, the outfits, how you will plug in your electronics and if your blowdryer will work. (Most higher end hotels will have either standalone adapters or adapters actually installed into the wall and nice blowdryers, but still.) We like this for Apple Mac products because it works around the world. I honestly just buy a curling or straightening iron when I get to wherever I’m going, so I have a decent little collection, but it may not be a bad idea to just grab one on Amazon if you know what country/ plug you need. I rarely have had success with plugging the US version of these things into an adapter.

in flight dining is pretty constant on these long flights

A Comfy Flight: For long flights, we pack a variety of things from home like dry snacks, gatorade powder so we can get the electrolytes/not dehydrate, a few packs of stevia, protein shake packets & a blender bottle. I packed migraine medication, Ibuprofen, nasal spray for allergies & plenty of ‘wet ones’ to wipe things down. N+ swears by Emergen-C, a huge fancy tote, and a great shawl, kimono or cardi that can double as a blanket. Most first class flights have nice amenity bags, but we still bring our own stuff. Bring your own toothbrush, a change of clothes for long international flights, a great toning mist to refresh your face (like this one) & a few face wipes. Since changing your clothes is pretty desirable at the end of a long overnight flight, we find it best to wear & bring items you can change easily in an airplane bathroom… examples? Try a comfy, chic monochromatic look- like a turtleneck or long sleeve tee paired with a midi length pleated skirt like this or this with an elastic waistband or a great pair of Spanx leggings like these, these or these. I like a little compression from tights or leggings on these longer flights & in the past when I traveled often for work, I wore these.

some flights have healthier options, but don’t eat non stop!

Lounges & Clubs: While some International First & Business Class flights come with admission to the airline’s premier lounges (such as Flagship Lounges or Admirals Clubs) filled with open bars & chef inspired meals ‘on the house’, they are all stocked a bit differently and may or may not be easily accessible to your gate, so buy a big bottled water in the airport just to be safe. We’ve seen a few people trying to get into these clubs without proper credentials and these gatekeepers are no joke. Have your proper identification ready. Our kids are huge fans of these clubs, and so are plenty of others- so be aware these are Kid Friendly environments. Don’t plan to be in an adult only zone. One other tip- keep an eye out, because some of these kids are going to be flying first class right up there with you, and most of them are ‘frequent’ fliers. They know who to ask in order to get the best snacks available mid flight.

this was actually pretty tasty

Wifi in Flight: Two Words- NOT RELIABLE. Bring headphones. Download books, movies, magazines and anything else to keep you occupied or enjoy the inflight entertainment which is usually decent.

Are We There Yet???

Food & Beverage Service: It may be tempting to eat or drink yourself into oblivion out of boredom on these long flights, but be selective. Don’t over do it. You’ll be sorry. Take a few sips of champagne, balance it out with 2 bottles of water. Eat your dry protein snacks. Take your Emergen-C. Don’t give in to free alcohol & endless snacks unless you want to be a bloated mess when you finally land.

love when we can see whats on the ground

One Last Thing: For us bad fliers- Turbulence is Uncomfortable, but it is NOT dangerous. REPEAT. REPEAT. REPEAT.

Best,

N+K

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