This post contains affiliate links.  We decided in the spring that we would take a trip to Japan.  My husband and I haven’t been there since 2002, and our three kids (19, 14, and 13) had never been.  In addition, our two youngest kids had never flown before!   Here’s how we decided what to bring on an international flight.

About the Flight

We left Grand Rapids, Michigan and flew to Minneapolis.  That flight was only 1.5 hours.  Then, after what was supposed to be a three-hour layover, we flew from Minneapolis to Tokyo (a 13-hour flight).

How the Adults Prepared for the Flight

I hadn’t flown in 10 years and hadn’t flown internationally since our trip to Japan 21 years ago.  Since we’re quite a bit older now, we planned for the trip differently than when we were younger.  Here’s what I bought for the flight:

Compression Socks

Several members of my family have had blood clots, so I wanted to err on the side of caution and wear compression socks.  My husband chose not to as he thought they were unnecessary.  I found them oh so comfortable, and my legs weren’t uncomfortable or achy during the long flights.

Airplane Footrest

Someone recommended this to me.  I had no idea if I’d use an airplane footrest, but I bought two in case one of the kids wanted to try it.  I figured, worst case scenario, I could always return it.  (In the end, I did not use this because the space in the plane cabin was so tight!)


I brought along Lisey’s Story by Stephen King and Buffalo Gal: A Memoir by Laura Pedersen.  I read that it’s easier to read on the plane if you’re already engrossed in the book, so I started both before we left.  However, I only was 25 pages into the Stephen King book; I found it weird, and never picked that book up for the entire vacation.  I did make good progress on Buffalo Gal.


I love listening to mellow, relaxing music when there is turbulence.  (I’m not the best flyer and really hate bouncing around in the plane.)  We already have Amazon Prime, so I used a free 30 day trial of Amazon Music Unlimited to download my favorite albums.


Blueberry and Vanilla RxBars in their packages.

Because of my continuing stomach issues, I ordered a bland meal on the plane.  Just in case, I also wanted to have lots of snacks available.  I brought Nick’s Sticks Beef Jerky (I only brought what I could eat on the plane because I couldn’t bring it into Japan) and Rx Bars.  Unfortunately, the bland meal had dairy in it, so I only ate the beef jerky, Rx Bars and some fruit that I had brought on the plane.

On the way home, I switched to a gluten free meal.  That meal looked much more appetizing, but it didn’t have the ingredients listed, so once again I skipped it because I was afraid it had dairy in it.

How the Teens Prepared

Our kids brought several items on the plane with them:


One of our kids is prone to motion-sickness, so we brought two containers of Dramamine with her.  Between the plane rides, the train and bus rides in Japan as well as the roads that were winding and mountainous, she used up almost all of the Dramimine.

Ear Buds

I had read that you needed wired earbuds for use in the plane, so I bought 10 pairs.  However, the flight attendants gave these out, so I didn’t need to buy them.

Downloaded Music

All the kids used Spotify to download their music.


The girls also downloaded several audiobooks from Amazon’s Audible to listen to on the plane.


Blueberry Kind bars, Peanut Butter Kind bars, and Larabars

For the kids, we brought Larabars and Kind Bars, but no one ate them, not even Bookworm who has a large appetite.  They feed us well on the plane–one dinner, one breakfast, and one snack, so the kids didn’t need the bars we brought.

Final Thoughts

We were well-prepared for our 12.5 hour flight to Japan.  What I wasn’t prepared for was how the flight attendants would turn off all the lights immediately after dinner was served.  We were in darkness about 10 hours of the 12.5 hour flight, which made reading difficult.  In the end, most of us either watched the many movies that were available, or listened to music or audiobooks, or cat napped.  How do you decide what to bring on an international flight?

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Traveling to Japan: August 2023 Day 1

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