How to Prepare for Your First International Flight
Even if you've flown before, preparing for an international flight is an entirely separate experience. You will need to secure documents and make preparations at home that you wouldn't need when flying within your country. Some international trips will require weeks or months of planning beforehand to make sure you have everything you need for the flight.
Get a passport.National passports are essential for those traveling out of their country. You will need to gather evidence of citizenship to qualify for a passport, (including your birth certificate, certificate of citizenship, driver's license, or previous passport). Once you have gathered the required documents, apply by mail or at a passport agency.
- Some countries require passports to have at least six months of validity remaining. If your passport is close to expiring, renew it at least one to two months before you travel.
File for a visa, if necessary.To enter a foreign country legally, you may need a travel visa issued by the consulate or embassy of the country where you're traveling to. Depending on why you're entering the country, you may need either a work visa, student visa, or fixed-term visit visa.
- If you're traveling for leisure purposes, verify whether getting a visa is even necessary - many countries have policies for passport-holders of certain countries where the visa requirement is waived if your whole trip is shorter than a certain amount of time, while others have visa-on-arrival policies where a visa can be purchased at the airport you arrive at for a fee just before the immigration checkpoint.
- Depending on the country, you can submit your application via mail or online. After the information has been reviewed, you may need to attend an interview with a consular officer.
- Plan ahead. A visa application can take anywhere from several weeks to a month to fill out.
- If your visa is rejected, ask for an appeal. Check the consular website of your intended country for information on appeals.
Check with your health insurance provider about travel insurance.Ask your health insurance company what injuries or health expenses would be covered internationally. If your insurance company does not provide adequate travel insurance, apply for supplementary insurance from another company for the duration of your trip.
Notify the bank of your trip.Many bank services have fraud-monitoring systems that freeze accounts displaying suspicious activity, like usage in a new location. Traveling to another country may alert these systems if you try to use your credit card. Send a travel notice to your bank via phone or online before you go.
Prepare for money conversion.When travelling internationally, order foreign currency in advance so you have cash while traveling. You'll want to be prepared in case something goes wrong with your credit or debit card. Many banks offer currency exchange options for their clients. Call or email yours before you go to use their services.
- You can also withdraw currency at ATMs all around the world, but this often comes at a high fee.
Complete necessary vaccinations for your trip.Immunizations are often necessary to fly internationally, and you'll need proof of immunization copies. Research what vaccinations are required to visit your specific country. Schedule a visit with your doctor to discuss your travel plans.
- Some immunizations require multiple shots and may need to be started weeks in advance.
- Remember to fill your prescriptions before you pack so you have the medication you need while traveling.
Register with your embassy in case of unexpected emergencies.Most countries encourage travelers to register with their home country before travelling internationally. The embassy will then have a record of your details and be able to offer assistance in unforeseen crises, such as natural disasters or a family emergency while you're overseas. Registration is voluntary but in your best interest.
Packing for Your Flight
Prepare your carry-on with everything you need if you lose your luggage.Bring all necessary documents, medications, electronics, and snacks in your carry-on. Pack a change of clothes and entertainment for the flight as well, especially if your flight is long.
- Put all your valuables in your carry-on to avoid them being damaged or stolen.
- Some passengers like to bring a a first aid kit, just in case any emergencies happen on the plane. Painkillers, anti-nausea medicines, earplugs, and tissues are all great items to bring.
Pack your checked luggage lightly.Your luggage will need to meet weight requirements to avoid extra fees. If you pack lightly, you will have less that could get lost on your trip and plenty of room for souvenirs to bring home.
- Roll your clothes to avoid awkward wrinkling and have more space.
- If you can wear it on the flight, do so instead of wasting luggage space. Dress in layers so you can bring more. Wear your jacket or sweatshirt onto the plane to avoid getting charged for the extra weight.
Omit banned or restricted objects from your luggage.Liquids from outside of the airport and most sharp objects will not be allowed on the plane. Contact the airport your flight's scheduled with to ask which objects are banned. Researching beforehand will help you have a stress-free security experience.
- Different airlines have different allowances or restrictions. Even if you've traveled before, you'll want to contact the specific airline for up-to-date policies.
Pack at least two nights before to avoid rushing.To avoid packing in a rush, finish packing several days in advance. During the last two days, you can double-check to make sure you have everything. Ask yourself preparatory questions: do you have all necessary documents? Did you refill and bring your medications? Is there any necessity you might be forgetting, like credit/debit cards or electronics?
Arriving at the Airport
Wear comfortable clothing to your flight.While you may feel like flying is a special occasion, don't dress up to your international flight. Flights overseas are long, and you'll want to wear loose, comfortable clothes.
- If your flight is especially long, consider packing a pair of sweats for your flight in your carry-on. Change back into your original clothes for the landing.
Check with your airport about car parking rules for international flights.Some airports offer long-term parking rates for your car while you're away. Call or email about the long-term car storage options and the costs of each choice.
- If car storage isn't an affordable option for you, use a shuttle service, hire a taxi, or ask a friend/family member to drive you there.
Arrive at the airport two to three hours before your flight.Check in for your flight as early as possible to go through security and board on time. You'll also have time to use the bathroom or grab something to eat before you depart. While you're waiting for your flight, bring something to relieve boredom: keep a book, journal, or game in your carry-on to entertain you while waiting.
Stay hydrated.Dehydration is a common problem on long flights, which can lead to exhaustion or irritability. Buy a large water bottle to fill up before you board the flight so you can take it in your carry-on.
- Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine before and during your flight, as both can lead to dehydration.
Declare your items for customs.Most nations require you to mark on an official form what goods you bring with you to their country. Which items you must declare depends on the country. You will likely receive your customs form at the airport and during the flight. Fill it out while on the plane so you are prepared for landing.
- Some countries require a customs form for each person traveling while others require one per family. Check beforehand to know which forms you must fill out.
- Most countries require declaration of: alcoholic drinks, tobacco, animals, seeds, soils, medication, and animal products.
Prepare for jet lag.International flights involve crossing time zones and long, uncomfortable plane rides. Both can disrupt your sleep schedule. Bring a sleeping mask and earplugs with you, and consider taking an over-the-counter sleep aid to help you adjust to the new time zone.
QuestionI am only 13. Will I need someone to help me board the plane?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you're traveling alone you should call the airline to check their requirements. If an adult is traveling with you, they can help you board the plane.Thanks!
QuestionWhat's the first thing I should do when I get to the airport?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerI would recommend going through security as soon as you get there since it often takes the most time.Thanks!
QuestionHow many pieces of luggage can I bring on an airplane other than two carry on bags?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThis will vary between airlines. You can always call or check your airline's website for more information.Thanks!
QuestionMy ears always bother me when I fly. What can I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you are describing the discomfort during taking off and landing, it is perfectly normal. The pressure differences will often cause such pains in your ears, but chewing gum or simply holding your mouth open (like you are yawning) sometimes helps alleviate the pain.Thanks!
QuestionIs travel insurance necessary for flying to Dubai?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt is always better to have travel insurance.You never know when you need it. With insurance, you won't go out of your budget, allowing you to remain some what comfortable financially and mentally. While choosing a insurance company, you need to be sure that you are compensated for the exact things you want covered and that you will get the support needed if in trouble in a foreign country.Thanks!
QuestionWhat do I do with my carry on bag if I have to change planes or have a layover at an airport on the way to my destination?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf it is counted as a carry on bag, that usually means you need to take it with you when you exit the plane.Thanks!
QuestionI don't have much time between flights. Will my checked bags make it to my destination with me?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMost of the time the bags get there at the same time as you, even with tight layovers. This doesn't take every situation into account, though. Pack things like a toothbrush, travel toothpaste and a change of clothes in your carry-on just in case.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I determine layovers in international flights?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerWhen booking the flight online, usually your layover time is shown, there should be a space of 3 hours at minimum, as it can get rather tight catching the next plane if your first flight happens to catch a headwind and arrives late.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I carry medications on an international flight?Top AnswererOnly carry the minimum amount required for your journey and a small contingency quantity in your hand luggage. If requested to, declare you are carrying medication. Leave ALL medications in their original packaging. If you have a prescription liquid medication, ensure you don't carry more of that liquid than is permitted. It's best to keep all medications together, ideally in a ziplock bag in your carry-on.Thanks!
QuestionCan I take medication in my carry-on baggage?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, you can carry prescription medication in the pharmacy bottle.Thanks!
I am afraid of fraudsters. I have not traveled before, and I want to travel to Israel. How do I find a good agent who will assist me?
I take vitamins, but do not want to take the large bottles. Can I put them a different container?
If I am a preteen, is an adult required to come with me on an international flight or can I travel alone with the documents I need?
My child has epilepsy. His medication is liquid which must be taken twice a day. How do I pack it?
- Be courteous to flight attendants while you board the plan. You are going to be sharing space with them for a long time on board, and they deserve your respect no matter how fatigued you are.
- Make arrangements for a house or pet sitter if you'll be out of the country for more than a few days.
- If you have trouble with tinnitus or don't like noise, bring a pair of air-cancelling earphones. During long international flights, you'll appreciate the silence.
- Be very serious when dealing with airport security and staff. Jokes about terrorism or explosives are not tolerated, and they can lead to your arrest.
- Avoid advertising your international trip publicly on social media. Strangers may find your house and rob it while you're gone.
Video: How to prepare for the FIRST FOREIGN TRIP (visa, immigration formalities, etc)
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