Long Haul Flying 101: Emirates & Carry-ons

I hate flying. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. I tolerate flying because I realize it’s the only way I’ll be able to see the whole world like I intend to, but the process of getting to my destination is the worst part of travel for me. Tuesday (and Wednesday) I went on my longest flying journey to date: 13 hours, plus 4 ½ hour layover, plus 3 hours all to India! I started flying at 10:40 a.m. Tuesday morning, finally arriving in Mumbai, India at 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday evening. I’d like to give y’all a little insight on flying on Emirates (highly suggested) and some of what I packed in my carry-on for a pretty smooth flying experience!

My Emirates Airbus 380 outside Dulles Airport

The Emirates flying experience really starts at booking. Their website was extremely easy to navigate, and they even gave the option of looking +/- 3 days of your anticipated travel dates in order to find the best pricing possible. I had no complaints when it came to the booking process, including payment. Since I booked my flights about 3 weeks out, I immediately went in to check-out their meal options and seating procedures.

I cannot stress enough the importance of requesting the appropriate food when you’re flying on a long haul flight like I was. After having a gluten intolerance for the past 4 or 5 years, I wanted to ensure I had appropriate food on the flight because no one wants to be in the air for 13 hours with an ill stomach. 

Lunch from Washington to Dubai
Breakfast prior to arriving in Dubai

Being labeled the best airline in the globe, I had really high expectations for flying Emirates even though I was in the economy class. I can say I have never experienced nicer stewards and stewardesses on a flight than with Emirates; they really went above and beyond to accommodate passengers in whatever requests they had. The in-flight entertainment system ICE, was also very welcome on such a long journey. Filled with movies, podcasts, radio programs, and even gaming options, the ICE system that Emirates had was wonderful.

Even with all the wonderful things Emirates provided for me in my flying experience, I’m convinced that the only way I survived was with what I wore and packed in my carry-on. While they say only one carry-on per person in economy, I saw a lot of people really breaking that rule with TONS of baggage; I managed to keep all my stuff in one large Michael Kors bag. Here are my categories of things I had in my bag and a little about why I opted for what I did, or did not.

Electronics: Laptop and charger, phone charger, headphones. I don’t like a whole lot of technology on my person but I knew I was going to need some entertainment while I was waiting around for 4 ½ hours in Dubai, so that’s why I found it important to keep my laptop with me. The other two are just given items for flying, especially the headphones since I knew I was going to have such good in-flight entertainment.

The ICE system on my Airbus 380.

Cosmetics: Herbalism facial cleanser, Breath of Fresh Air toner water, Celestial moisturizer, eye makeup, Lemony Flutter cuticle cream, toothbrush and tooth tabs for brushing, deodorant, Summer’s Eve cleansing wipes, hand sanitizer, and Tide-to-go pen. Many of these things should be given ones. Flying is rough on your skin, and especially for such long haul flights and changes in climates (for example at 8 a.m. in Dubai it was 97 degrees…). I wanted to try and simulate my evening routine as much as possible to be able to sleep on the flight, so I went through my usual face washing routine, teeth brushing, and the like. Again, once I arrived in Dubai I washed my face and tried to freshen up as much as possible with the Summer’s Eve wipes and deodorant. Surprisingly Dubai had showers in the airport, but I didn’t investigate those too much!

For sleeping: Travel pillow, eye mask and ear plugs. While I pretty much spent my entire first flight watching movies, my headphones weren’t working on the second flight, so the ear plugs proved so valuable in cutting out the noise of the group of 7-12 year old football player that were sitting next to me en route to Mumbai. I found the eye mask most useful when I still wanted to have some noise from my ICE system without actually watching it. I don’t usually use eye masks when I sleep, but definitely useful for your travel arsenal.

Other entertainment:  Books, Moleskine notebook, and a pen. I never really did crack into my books, so those probably could’ve been left for my checked luggage, nor did I use the Moleskine, but I find it important to keep on my person just in case I have something I just need to write down and remember. The pen though was one of the most valuable pieces in my carry-on because when I arrived in Mumbai, I had to fill out a customs form, but there were no pens to be found!! So basically keep a pen on your person if you’re traveling abroad; it’ll be useful on arrival.

The every important passport and boarding passes.

Travel documents: Hello, this seems like a no-brainer but I was double, triple checking that I had everything in order. I’ll talk more about my e-Tourist Visa in another post, but not only did I need my passport, but my e-Tourist Visa paperwork, and other supporting documents in case they were requested. I also included my travel insurance and emergency contacts in India and the USA. Plan smart when you’re traveling, especially if you are traveling solo like I was.

The last and perhaps most important thing that I brought aboard the plane was actually the outfit I was wearing.  Elastic waist-band linen pants from H&M, plain black t-shirt, big pashmina scarf, and a long wrap sweater. When I was ready to take a nap I had my own personal blanket I was wearing in my sweater and scarf, and let me tell you that flight got cold at one point. I also knew that I was traveling to two very different cultures from my own, so I wanted to be presentable despite my travels. And comfort over everything, y’all, hence the elastic waistband.

Flat me for traveling

Overall, I felt like between the ease of flying Emirates and the extent to which I had prepared in my carry-on, I couldn’t have had a better flying experience. The importance of pre-planning is essential to ensuring a safe and happy flight. And learning from others too, like the guy next to me had some saline spray and I definitely wish that I’d had some because my nose became so dry! Definitely something I put in my next carry-on.

So fly on friends, even when the travel time is nearly 20 hours and it gives you so much anxiety, which is so me, because you never know what adventures lie on the other side.

In my own world,

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