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I am 25 and I've never been abroad or been on a plane, but I really want to. Have a few questions for mumsnetters

(18 Posts)
NeverBeenAbroad Fri 09-Oct-15 13:46:24

I have actually never traveled outside of England in my life and I have only been outside my town of birth a handful of times. I didn't grow up in poverty or anything but we just never went on holiday abroad. I remember being a bit jealous of friends who seemed to be going on holiday every year, and going on trips to Disneyland, etc. I have several questions about going abroad.

How hard is it to get a passport? Do you need a visa to travel to places outside the UK? How do you access money abroad? Can you book plane seats in advance or do you just get assigned a random seat at the airport? What are the most important things to know that someone who has never been abroad before, should know? Lastly, can anyone post a brief summary of what steps they took in between taking the decision to go on holiday and stepping onto the plane? I have no idea what the whole process involves. It all seems complicated to me - is it?

exexpat Fri 09-Oct-15 13:54:20

It's not hard, but if you have never been before I would say the best thing would be to try a long weekend somewhere with a friend or family member who has been abroad before, rather than planning a solo trip so you have to work everything out for yourself.

To answer basic questions: getting a passport is easy, but unfortunately since you have not had one before and are applying as an adult, you will need to go for an interview - details here.

If you are staying within Europe on your first trip, you won't need a visa. Many other countries also have visa-free arrangements with the UK for holidaymakers, but with some you will have to fill in an online form before you leave (e.g. USA).

You can exchange UK cash for foreign currency at banks etc here, or buy a pre-paid currency card to use overseas, or just use your normal UK debit/credit cards to withdraw cash or pay for things overseas (there will be extra charges, though).

Prebooking airline seats depends on the airline - with budget ones you may pay more to pick a seat in advance, with more expensive airlines it is often included.

Apart from passport, plane tickets and foreign currency, the other two most important things are accommodation and travel insurance. You might also want to apply for a European health insurance card (EHIC).

3littlefrogs Fri 09-Oct-15 13:59:07

You can get the forms you need to apply for a passport from the post office.
My local one will take the photos for you and elp you with advice about what to do.
You will need to find someone to sign your photo tough, which can be tricky as most GPs won't do it now, so you need to find a priest or a solicitor and possibly pay a fee. It can take several weeks to get a passport.

You can book flights on line and usually you have the option of booking your seat, sometimes with the cheaper airlines it is pot luck.

You don't need visas for Europe, but you usually do for USA, Asia, Africa, Australia.

You might want to consider using a travel agent, or reading trip-advisor online.

You could always go to Disneyland Paris on Eurostar - easier and less complicated than flying for a first trip.

I do hope you will be able to arrange a trip and have a lovely time. Try a weekend in Paris and book a guided tour - that would be an easy first step.

3littlefrogs Fri 09-Oct-15 13:59:36

Xposts with exexpat.

MrsCaecilius Fri 09-Oct-15 13:59:58

Neverbeenabroad - go for it! I applaud your desire to spread your wings. It might seem intimidating, but it doesn't have to be.

Where do you want to go?

1st, get a passport. It isn't difficult, Google UK passport office, applying for a passport and follow the instructions. If you want extra help, pop along to a Post Office and they can walk you through the process.

Regarding visas, it all depends on where you are going. If you are a UK national then you will be able to travel to countries in Europe without a visa. For countries outside Europe the visa regulations differ country to country. Again, have a look at the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) website and search for visa regs by the country you want to visit.

Money: again depends on the country. Most places in Europe and the majority of developed countries you will be able to withdraw local money from their cash points just like you'd do at hope. But be aware that you will incur a charge for doing this. If you'd prefer to have some cash in your pocket before you go you can buy foreign currency at the UK, again the Post Office or your bank is a good starting point. I'd say that having a little bit of the currency when you arrive is always a good idea.

Plane seats - depends on the airline. Most budget airlines (EasyJet etc) will not assign you a seat if you buy the cheapest tickets, you just have to pick one when you get onboard. Although you can usually pay extra to chose a seat. Most other traditional airlines, such as BA, will assign you a seat when they issue the ticket.

As for the process - enjoy it! Pick where you want to go depending on the sort of trip you fancy (sun, culture, adventure etc) - and do some reading around the place. Work out eh best time of year (do you like the heat or the snow?) and start looking at flights.

This can all be done using Google as your friend. But if you want some extra help, why not go to a high street travel agent and sit with them as they talk you through it. They can show you what is possible for your budget and advise you on your options.

Talk to your friend, where have they enjoyed going? Most people will love to talk about their travels!

Sorry - massive question and I could write essays here. If you want any more specific advice just shout.

R0nJ0n Fri 09-Oct-15 14:07:38

I won't attemp to answer your questions as others have already done so much better than I could. I do have a suggestion though, how about making your first trip abroad to Ireland? You'll get the experience of flying but the flight is a short one, they use the Euro so you can get used to changing and using different money but there's no language barrier to contend with.

TotalConfucius Fri 09-Oct-15 14:21:57

Another suggestion regarding your first trip abroad - why not take a long weekend on an organised coach trip?
I don't know where you are in the UK, but two firms spring to mind - Crusader and Leger. I use them fairly often for little jaunts. They both have websites.
The pick up point is about 20 minutes from me. You can join in as little and as much as you like, you are escorted much of the time so the processes of actually getting abroad, booking in at the hotel etc, some sightseeing is sorted for you. It enables you to get a bit of experience whilst having a safety net.
There are some lovely European sightseeing trips.
I am away on my own again in December for a long weekend, to the Xmas markets in Holland and Germany, including one which is held in a cave!
You could go to Paris, or to Bruges, or walking along the Rhine, or to see a chateau in the Dordogne, or - next on my bucket list - the bulb fields next Spring! For not too much money they are a great opportunity to get about. And before anyone says they're for old people, last time the age range on the coach was 82yrs down to 4yrs!

NotCitrus Fri 09-Oct-15 14:29:05

Get the passport first - do you have a teacher you are still in touch with, know any public sector workers, have neighbours who have their own company - any of those who have known you for 2 years can countersign your passport application.

If you book tickets and the passport doesn't arrive in time, then you're stuffed and insurance wouldn't pay up. Do get a EHIC card which is free online - despite lots of scam sites suggesting you need to pay. This gets you the same medical care as the locals in EU countries but isn't a substitute for travel insurance (which can g et you and your stuff back home if needed).

Take a phrasebook if going to a country with a foreign language - just a few phrases to show effort makes people be really nice to you!
Many sites that sell flights have deals with hotels - if you want reliable and clean, call Trailfinders who have excellent hotels on their books, and can tell you what you need to know.

WorktoLive Fri 09-Oct-15 15:17:53

I was over 30 before I went on a plane (and that was only to the Isle of Man) and I'd only been on two foreign holidays before that which were coach trips to France and Spain.

I was desperate to go abroad as a child, everyone else seemed to and we only ever went to caravan parks or Butlins, which was considered to be extremely naff and got you laughed at at school.

You could also try a package holiday, where the booking includes the flight, transfer to your resort and hotel. This can be self catering, Bed and breakfast, half board, or All Inclusive. I would recommend B&B so you can go out for lunches and evening meals.

Do you have anyone in mind to go with? Can you speak any foreign languages? Where do you fancy going? Once you get a bit of experience, it is really easy to book everything yourself on the internet - you can go anywhere you can imagine - near or far.

Sansoora Fri 09-Oct-15 15:23:20

If you are planning on going alone then a company specialising in Solo travel might be of interest to you.

I go off on my own a couple of times a year and this time two weeks ago I was on an Alaskan cruise.

Earlier on in the year I had 10 days in the Med.

Up to now I havent used a tour company but I am planning on doing so next year.

LisbethSalandersLaptop Fri 09-Oct-15 15:27:52

top tip - you can money from cashpoints abroad, but let your bank know where and when you are going first, or your card might get blocked due to 'suspicious activity'.

curiousc88t Mon 12-Oct-15 23:43:01

If you are going abroad make sure you buy some travel insurance, even if you are only going for a couple of days. It is not expensive, look at some comparison websites like Go Compare

Take a little cash with you of the currency that you are going to visit. You can buy from Post Office or banks or online, ask for small notes

Have a source of emergency money that you can access

If you are taking a mobile phone take your charger. You will need to buy a universal plug adapter (the bit that plugs into the wall) because other countries have different shape wall sockets

If you have a smart mobile phone that has data access eg it connects to the internet. Ensure that you turn the data roaming off before you get on the plane. Otherwise you will run up huge bills. Use free wi fi access at hotel or local cafes. Some hotels charge extra to use the internet per day if you take a PC.
There was a post on here where someone had run up a bill on their mobile phone for £28k for watching a few films whilst on holiday for a week in Turkey. Turkey is outside EU.

Do not sign up to any timeshare scams or people who say you have won a prize come along to a three hour seminar to win a free holiday.

Stay safe and be aware.

Planes are just like going on buses - buses in the air

If you fly, you need to be at the airport at least 2 hours before your flight to check in. So if you are driving to an airport suggest allowing plenty of extra time for road accidents, delays etc. If you miss the flight you will have to buy a new ticket.

If you fly, do not take your full weight going. Leave some room in your luggage to bring things back so that you are still under the allowed weight.
Some airlines are very strict with weight, if you are only slightly over they will charge you 10kg which could be £30+

The best thing is doing new things, going to new places, meeting new people


rosy71 Thu 29-Oct-15 22:29:52

Will you be going alone? If you're going for the first time, try a coach trip, like others have said, or get the Eurostar to Lille or Paris. That way there'll be no travel worries at all.

Get the passport first (forms in Post Office, ask the staff what to do) then book a holiday once it arrives. It might make it easier if you went to a travel agent and explained to them what you're looking for.


GlitteryRollerGirl Sat 31-Oct-15 20:01:13

If you've never been on a plane before, maybe go short haul to begin with? Somewhere like Spain or the Balerics (Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza) are only about two hours away by plane. Greece, Cyprus and the Canaries are a little bit further, about four hours or but still classed as short haul. Anything under five hours is classed as short haul, long haul is anything over that.

Ive only ever done Long Haul once, seven hours to New York. I'll admit the idea of a very long flight freaks me out a bit, but I really want to go to Australia one day and so I need to get over that quick!

Dowser Fri 13-Nov-15 15:10:55

My cousin came with us to Tenerife in september. First time on a p,ane. First time abroad.

Her face was a picture. She was totally, totally blown away. Omg, look at this she said in her lovely welsh accent. Look at the palm trees, how blue the sea is, the mountains.

All those years we holidayed in holiday camps and there was all this.

With 4 kids and a mum in tow, they just never pushed the boat out and went abroad. Even when the kids were older.

She was only home for one day and her new man whisked her off to Italy. They are off to Norway at the end of the year and Malta in January. By the end of the year she will have packed a couple of years worth of foreign holidays into three months.

So go for it. You have nothing to lose.

Dowser Fri 13-Nov-15 15:12:31

You could try breaking the flight and having a few days in Dubai, glittery. That's only about 7 hours.

Dowser Fri 13-Nov-15 15:23:01

Tenerife would be an ideal location for a lone traveller. Very safe in Los cris and las Americas. Lots of exurb ions, don't book through the rep go to the local guys on the seafront. Excursions Jesus are a reputable company. They are often cheaper. Very safe walking the streets at night. I came home along about midnight to my hotel . No problem. La siesta in las Americas is a nice friendly hotel that does half board with decent food if you don't fancy going to restaurants on your own. It's five mins from the beach and has a lovely pool area. You can go up the teide for €20 fora half day and it's magnificent.

There's long walks along the prom into Los cris. Lots of bars, heladerias ( ice cream parlours, shops restaurants plenty to look at and see. The trips are amazing though. We went to Masca last week which is breathtakingly stunning. We've also done the whale and dolphin cruise and saw loads of these magnificent creatures right up close. In fact I think we might do it again in march, haven't done it for a while.

If you're sporty you can try the jet skis or paraglides from a boat. My husband andorher male relatives did this in September and all agreed it was fantastic. If you're into jogging you have mile after mile of seafront all the way from Los cris right up to la caleta and probably beyond.

The big thing is , it's friendly and safe.

UnGoogleable Sat 21-Nov-15 22:22:25

I have nothing to add to the excellent advice on here, but I just wanted to say well done OP. Good on you for wanting to broaden your horizons - it's a wonderful world out there, so much to see, so much to learn.

Do you have the option of travelling with someone else who has been before? If so, I'd say do that because sometimes there is a lot to figure out e.g. getting around the airport etc, and having a friend with you would help. But if you're going it alone, you can totally do it and feel free to ask here for help!

I'm excited for you, where do you fancy going?

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