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Travelling abroad for the first time, alone and in pursuit of a degree, can be a daunting task. Here are a few tips to help you through the first flight on your own.
I had lived with my parents all my life before I moved to the United States for higher education three years ago. It was the first time I traveled on a plane. My feelings were a mixture of excitement and fear. Trust me, I did not even know how to adjust my seat when I got on the plane the first time and I took in everything as a new learning experience. With so many kids going abroad for higher studies, here are my two cents for those girls (and boys) who are getting ready to travel abroad for the first time.
Book tickets in such a way that you have a few hours to transfer between flights. Many airports are huge and in case you go to the wrong terminal it might take at least 30 minutes to come back. So do not cut it close. If possible, look for non-stop flights.
Ask the air-hostess/help desk in the plane or airports if you do not understand something. Do not hesitate. They encounter first-time travelers everyday and it is their responsibility to help you, especially when you have to transfer flights, double-check the gate number and terminal after you get off the first flight.
With all the technology we have now, make sure you do a mock rehearsal of your travel. Look into the airport’s website to check how you can get to other terminals. For example in London Heathrow airport I had to take an air-train that goes from one terminal to another. They will be on both sides, so make sure you get on the right one. Similarly, make note of distance and ways to get to your destination from the airport. Even though you might have someone picking you up, it is good to know how to go on your own in case of any unplanned situations. So ask your point of contact for details like how much a taxi would cost and how long it would take etc.
This is very very important. Buy a cross-body bag or a hip-pouch in which you have your important documents like I-20, passport, tickets and make sure you have it on you at all times. It should be easily accessible i.e. no digging or dropping anything. Keep a copy of all these documents in all your bags.
Skim through online forums/groups of your University or city to see if some other student is traveling on the same day to the same city or university. If you haven’t booked your tickets you might even be able to do it with other you find in these groups. On the same note, keep a look out for unwanted travelers as well. Do not trust anyone and do not nap in airports if you have a long lay-over. Make sure you are awake and active at all times when you aren’t on the plane.
I hate lists but my mom forced to me write a list of things I needed and divided them into most essential and others. I had a set of ‘most essential’ things in my hand luggage. It consisted of everything you need to survive for a few days in case there is a delay in getting your baggage when you reach. Make sure to have travel-sized cosmetics in your hand-luggage as any liquid above 8 oz is not allowed. In my case I had a couple of bottles higher than 8 oz which got through Indian security but got thrown out at London where I had to transfer (I had overlooked this when I was preparing to travel).
Image via Shutterstock.
In my mid-twenties , a safety specialist by profession in US. A free thinker, equalist
First time flyers….please wear deodorant or anti-perspirant! Body odor is a biggest turn off in the U.S.! People actually will avoid helping you if you smell bad.
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