International travel is widely accessible to people in the modern times. With flights becoming cheaper and airlines offering deals more people are able to travel the globe. During my travel I have come up with a few tips that I would give to other travelers during their first international trip. Although some may be personal preference, others are definite rules of thumb.
1. Arrive 2 hours early to the airport. Due to security checkpoints at airports there may be long lines at both airline check ins as well as the airport security line. In order to ensure that you make your flight on time, many airlines recommend that you arrive two hours early to the airport in case of any delays. Depending on your area, you may want to consider adding a little more time, especially if you live in an area that has a lot of traffic that could delay you even further.
2. Avoid sleeping on flights. This may be a personal preference, but I have found that not sleeping on the flights allows me to ensure that I am able to adjust to the local time of where I will be traveling very easy. This has enabled me to avoid jet lag on all my trips. Although it is a bit of a struggle on the plane, it is something that I have not regretted and it allows me to make the most of the time in the country I am visiting. Clearly this is not meant for flights more than 6-8 hours as it would not be healthy to do to your body, but for longer flights I would suggest at least being awake the last one to two hours of the flight and then not sleeping until it would be normal to do so at the location you are traveling too, once you arrive.
3. Pack smart. Packing smart means avoiding checked baggage if possible. Depending on weather conditions and the length of your travel it is possible to have only two carry on bags, and enough clothes for your trip, plus extra if you prefer. Although this does limit the amount of personal items such as shampoo, shaving cream, or razors that you can bring with you. This will help you avoid any bag fees (although most international flights offer the first checked bag free), as well as prevent there from being any lost luggage. No one wants to start their vacation off trying to track down a lost bag.
4. Use Wi-Fi for your phone. With smartphones being as amazing as they are, there is no reason to spend money on an international calling plan, or anything of that matter, to enable you to call home from the country you are visiting. Although different parts of the world may have differences in how much Wi-Fi is available to you while roaming around, most hotels do offer free Wi-Fi. Along with the apps you can download, iPhones offer iMessage, FaceTime, and email to help you communicate with the people at home. During a trip to Costa Rica, I found that almost all restaurants, bars, and hotels offered free Wi-Fi to the public, while in Paris we only had Wi-Fi in our hotel (although we were not searching for it much at the time), and are finding that most restaurants in Paris do offer free Wi-Fi.
5. Leave copies behind, and take some with you. It is a smart idea to always carry a copy of your passport on you while traveling abroad, and to keep a copy with someone at home that has your itinerary. If you ever lose your passport abroad you are going to want to have a copy to ensure that you had identification. It's also better to carry the copy on you, or in your pack, during the day than it is to carry your real passport, which is better locked up at wherever you may be staying.
6. Make sure to get up and walk around on the plane. Unless you are asleep, it is a good idea for your own safety to get up and walk around a bit on the plane. Sitting for long periods of time can allow blood clots in your legs to form. Simply ensuring that you get up and walk around a little during flights can help prevent this from happening.
As a traveler, these are tips that have been given to me, or that I have come up with personally for traveling abroad. I encourage everyone to get out and travel the world we live in. Lay back and relax on a tropical beach, or explore the beautiful cities of Europe to learn about the history that helped to build the world we live in.