By Jon DeMeo,
When traveling internationally, nerves can set in when having to make a plane change or long layover in a country you may not be familiar with at all. Many times, the nerves are just because you are put in an unfamiliar environment, but with proper preparation and the right mindset, it is not too bad at all. You can make the experience fun and take in all the new sights, smells and even tastes while you are in a new country for just a brief period of time. Below you will find some tips when entering a new airport in a different country.
Making it the best experience possible, starts before you arrive at the airport and before you take off. Research the country the airport is in and see how prevalent your most comfortable language is spoken. For many of us, that is English, which can be found in most major airport hubs around the world and many times other small ones as well. Almost all major airports have a website that explains how to get around and can include the airport’s layout, terminals and food options available to you, the traveler. If you have an overnight stay, look into a hotel that is attached to the airport to avoid having to take a taxi or shuttle bus outside of the airport. If you would like to stay in a hotel in the new city you land in, research visa and payment information to leave and return to the airport. Also, check into how much a visa is if it is required. Also, if you are switching airlines to an in-country airline, be sure to research their baggage and weight requirements to be sure you pack all your belongings correctly and you are not stuck paying any expensive overages.
The Right Mindset
You can make it, thousands of people do daily! While it can seem daunting to enter a brand new country and have to coordinate logistics in an airport, it can be accomplished and as long as you remain calm. Others are willing to help and point you in the right direction. Airport personnel want you to get your flight and to make the experience as painless as possible because they want you to consider flying through their airport again someday! They want you to be successful in your travel plans just as much as you do!
When traveling abroad, you should have a binder of all your flight, hotel, important numbers, shuttle information and any other pertinent information handy for the trip. By having all your information in a one-stop spot, others can help you more effectively and efficiently. It is also a good idea to have your paperwork in a digital format as a backup in case you lose or misplace your binder along the way. This also gives you the peace of mind that you have a backup copy of all your important travel plans. In some airports, they require a paper copy of your flight itinerary and do not honor digital copies, so this is something to look into and keep in mind.
Go With the Flow
Airport protocols and procedures are standard in the US, but may differ from other airports you have flown through. Follow the commands and be as easygoing as possible. See it all as part of the experience and don’t try to belittle this airports practices because this could get you in trouble. Especially as a foreigner, they may ask to do a more thorough check of your belongings. Be sure to comply, smile and assist in any way they ask.
Never assume where you are suppose to go. Even if you have a 5 hour layover, find your gate first so you know exactly where it is at and then you can go eat and explore. It is always nice to have a “dry run” of how to get to your gate before it becomes crunch time. Depending on your flight pattern, there may be an extra security check before entering your gate so you will want to allow time for this. Sometimes these can be brief and sometimes the line can be quite long. Once you have located how to get to your gate and if there are any extra steps before boarding, head out to explore the airport and restaurants. If you did good pre-trip preparation, you probably have a good restaurant already picked out and will have a great meal!
Traveling abroad doesn’t have to be intimidating if you follow some of these simple steps. Don’t ever hesitate to ask questions to airport staff and stay calm even if you feel overwhelmed. You can do it, and will have a great time in the process!