You’ve been waiting to travel to a different country for the longest time, and that moment has finally come. You know this is a journey you’ve been working up to. From city to city and state to state, your travel experiences have been accumulating for your first major trip overseas for your study abroad. While there may be similar aspects to the type of travel you’ve accomplished back home, getting on your first international flight will be quite the experience.
1. Be Prepared
Start your preparations early on--both mentally and packing-wise. Whether you’re an experienced or last-minute packer, it helps to go through 1 or 2 rounds of asking yourself whether you really need what you’re packing. Keep all your important documents together in a safe and handy manner. Unsure about the airport you’ll be stopping over and arriving at? Do some research to see what amenities are available during your travel.
Also, be mentally prepared--be it for a short-term or long-term basis. This can mean different things to different people. It can be about scheduling out more time for rest, play, and just some quiet time alone, or even thinking of solutions beforehand to certain situations that could arise.
2. Be Early
It helps to get to the airport early when you’re flying internationally. Checking in baggage, making sure it’s tagged to the correct destination, finding out whether you’ll have to transfer your bags during your layover or at a different port of entry, verifying your seat and meals...the list goes on and on, but you get the gist! Make a plan to arrive at your departure gate early as well. It’s a good way for you to find out directly about any flight or gate changes. Give yourself some time to breathe and not to stress yourself.
3. Be Aware
You may encounter certain situations for the first time, so it helps to know how to deal with certain worst case scenarios. Be cognizant of your surroundings and don’t just stay glued to your phone. Look at the different signs above, ahead, and around you. It’ll point you to the right gate, the right restroom, and even the right restaurants! Not only that, but if you are in need of help, find out who the right person is to help you with your issue.
4. Be Open
Getting through an airport to your flight is not necessarily a comfortable process at times. However, be open and present in the moment. Need help putting your carry on bag in the overhead compartment? Be open and ask the flight attendant or someone who sits by you. Maybe you weren’t expecting the airport at your final destination to be confusing. It could be a good way to observe cultural norms and see how people figure out how to flow in that airport’s system. Sometimes it’s all these little lessons that jog you out of your element to reveal how you can grow as a person and as a traveler!
Look forward to treasuring the journey to your study abroad destination. Remember, be prepared, be early, be aware, and most of all be open.
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