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Whether you’re a flying virgin or are about to embark on your first international flight, you’ll probably be interested in our helpful tips for flying for the first time.
At one time or another, we have all the necessary tips for flying for the first time. And even if you have taken a few trips, you probably still have questions.
Our guide to surviving and thriving on your first long flight covers the documents you’ll need and the precautions you should take. We have also included a brief list of the products you might want to get to make your first flight comfortable and problem-free.
After reading our tips, we hope you feel prepared, excited, and ready for your first big flight!!!
The most important matter for international travel is your passport, so check that your passport is still valid and has enough blank pages.
Many countries insist that your passport has at least six months of validity left on arrival at your chosen destination. So if your passport is worn out or due to expire, you should consider applying for a new one.
Our next biggest tip for flying for the first time is to check if you need a visa to visit your intended destination.
It may be as simple as turning up at the embassy in person and getting your visa, but some countries can take weeks/months to give you the necessary travel permit.
It is wise to take digital copies (on your phone) and old-fashioned paper photocopies of your official documents.
This should include your passport, visa, flight ticket, driving license, car park ticket, and possibly credit cards.
Of course, keep these copies in a different place than the originals, or you could lose the whole lot. Should the worst happen and you lose one or all of your documents, it will be much easier to deal with local police or the immigration authorities with your copies in hand.
Ensure that you know the baggage limitations of your chosen airline(s).
You can quickly check the weight restrictions on the airline’s website, but call them if you are still unclear.
You should also remember the items not allowed on airplanes these days. For example, you cannot transport dangerous liquids or any weapon.
Hand luggage is often scrutinized, so check the current guidelines. At the time of writing, liquids up to 100ml are allowed on most airlines, but sharp items such as tweezers or nail scissors are not. Again, If you are unsure of the rules, look at the airline’s website to avoid any potential issues.
Bit of a no-brainer, but many folks don’t allow enough time to get to both the airport and get through the customs procedures.
We advise getting to the airport about 3 hours before international flights. Possible delays can be caused by traffic jams, weather conditions, and many other things that might arise when you’re in a hurry!
Online check-in is the easiest way for passengers to confirm their presence for a flight via the airline’s website.
Depending on the airline and the exact flight, passengers can choose their meals and seating and even print off their boarding passes.
Don’t fall into the trap of changing your cash at the airport! Exchange rates are notoriously bad and can leave you severely out of pocket with travel cash.
Many banks in the United States allow customers to purchase the most common forms of foreign currency, such as euros or pounds. Ask your bank if there’s a fee and compare your bank’s exchange rate to the global exchange rates online. Sometimes, you may have to wait a day or two for the currency to arrive.
It is also worth considering using ATMs which are in abundance at airports and hotels. Foreign ATMs offer easy and convenient access to your cash in the local currency, usually without charging inflated conversion rates. Most foreign ATMs accept U.S/U.K-based credit and debit cards, especially with Mastercard, Visa, or American Express logos.
A smart move is to inform your bank of your travel plans. This will avoid the awful situation of your transaction being flagged and your card being eaten by the cash machine.
Your underwear is probably the most important piece of clothing on a long flight. Choose comfy undies that don’t pinch, slip, or itch.
Get yourself into some comfy pants that stretch slightly when you pull at the fabric. Avoid wearing loose pants at the waist, as wearing a belt on flights can be uncomfortable.
Pick a short-sleeved T-shirt with a layering cotton or wool cardigan or sweatshirt. This item should zip or button up so it’s easy to slip on and off in tight spots like economy seats.
Only wear socks made from natural fibers like cotton or wool. These will wick away moisture to prevent your feet from getting sweaty.
Shoes that slip on are probably the best. You will probably be asked by security to remove them at one point.
One of the best tips for traveling for the first time is to wear your heaviest coat. This frees up room in your suitcase and can be stored in the overhead lockers as soon as you are on board.
Our last clothing tip is for those who feel the cold. A large scarf or pashmina in your carry-on can be a godsend when the cabin crew cranks the air-conditioning.
Vaccines will protect you from the most severe diseases. Depending on where you are going, you could come into contact with rare diseases not present in your home country.
Do some research a few months before your departure, as some countries require proof of vaccination for certain diseases. It’s essential to get vaccinated well ahead of your trip. This gives the vaccines enough time to start working and enough time for any follow-up shots.
Packing for your international trip is as much an art form as making sushi or arranging flowers, so leave yourself enough time.
There’s nothing like feeling your bags being “ready to go” a day or two before your departure, so get yourself organized!
Our top packing technique is to pack large items (such as shoes) first. Then roll up large items of clothing, which can be placed around your footwear. Finally, place smaller items, such as underwear, in the remaining spaces.
If you want to make things easier on yourself, try packing cubes. They are small containers made of fabric that are often rectangular. They zip closed and are sized so you can fit several into a carry-on bag, suitcase, or backpack.
You may think you’re not bothered about where you sit but wait until you’re halfway through a 20-hour flight. You may then regret not booking the perfect seat in advance.
For the safety-conscious, you may want to grab a seat near the back of the aircraft. A 2007 study found that passengers sitting near the back of the plane were 40 percent more likely to survive in the event of a crash than those sitting in the first few rows.
If you want a speedy exit, grab a seat at the front of the aircraft on the left, usually where the exit is.
For those who want to sleep, it’s better to opt for window seats. Here you can control the window shade and have a place to rest your head. It also means you won’t be disturbed whenever the passenger next to you needs the toilet.
And if you are a tall fellow, remember that seats in exit rows have more legroom than most. Such seats, however, are usually in high demand, and lately, some airlines have been charging an extra fee for seats with extra legroom.
Why not make the whole experience less stressful by chilling out in the comfort of a serene airport lounge?
Airport lounges are one of the travel industry’s best-kept secrets. These “fortresses of solitude” can make traveling much less arduous. They will cost you a little cash, but the benefits are often worth it.
These areas are provided mainly by the airlines and offer comfortable chairs, food and drinks, complimentary newspapers and magazines, free Wi-Fi, and, most importantly, a calm and quiet environment to wait for your flight.
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