I've never been abroad before and I'm planning on travelling alone, help?(23 Posts)
Hi everyone, after a really miserable year with several deaths in my family and my long term partner deciding he didn't want to be with me after working away, I've decided that I would like to treat myself to a holiday in the new year. I', pushing 30 and I have never been abroad before I'm getting really concerned about how check in works and baggage. I've just applied for my passport and don't know where I would like to go yet. I have nobody else to travel with and to be honest, I'd like to just go by myself and do what I want to do for a bit. I'm horribly nervous though, can anybody offer me some advice and talk me through what happens once I get to the airport?
Firstly i'm sorry to hear what a horrible time you have been having, getting away and looking after yourself sounds like a great thing to do.
Airports are big but pretty easy to navigate your way around.
You check in at the desk of your airline and they take your suitcase (lots of airlines do online check in now - you print off your own boarding pass but you still need to queue up if you want to check in a suitcase)
You go through security - they check your boarding pass and x ray your hand luggage
Once through security you buy loads of crap in duty free!
There are big boards that have flight numbers - find your flight number and it will tell you which gate to get on the plane
Where do you live? Would you be able to fly from a small local airport rather than somewhere huge like Heathrow/Gatwick/Manchester. I recently flew to Amsterdam from Humberside. Humberside Airport is minute!! Makes the whole airport process very simple.
I live in nottingham so the closest airport is EMA, but I've found that flights actually tend to be a lot cheaper from luton, I'm guessing that luton airport is huge though?
I'm guessing if I just do what everybody else is doing, and hope to wing it I can't go too far wrong? Are the staff usually reasonably friendly if you get confused?
Ema is nice and small, as is Luton in comparison to heathrow/ gatwick.
Can I recommend Malta for a first trip abroad? It's small, bright and safe and English speaking but exotic.
Don't worry about the airport luggage check in flight protocol. I flew on Sunday and had a miliseconds panic as I misread a flight time, but as long as you get to the airport in time and check in a bag you get guided through- you can't get lost or miss your flight.
Nancy75 has pretty much covered it in her post
Small airport and leave plenty of time and you can't go far wrong
If me as a nervous flyer who has avoided it for 20 years can get myself to Florida and knock on the door where my DW was staying with her parents and the kids after deciding I really should just say fuck it and deal with my fear then I am sure you can
I can really recommend exodus as a good travel company. They do small group holidays with a guide who sorts out everything like hotels, transport etc, all over the world, tends to be couples and singles that go on them. I've done a few trips with them as a single traveller and had a whale of a time.
The checklist i gave my DS (16) when he flew alone to Oman (via switzerland).
1. Check in on line - most flights offer seats at a price when booking tickets, but i would never bother on your own.
2. Get to airport early the first time - c2 hours before take-off
3. look on tellies by entrance for your flight - they will provide a range of check in desk numbers
4. Go to check in luggage (if taking a suitcase) - no need if just taking hand luggage (but check size and weight allowed by airline)
5. Take passport, check in ticket and hand luggage to security
6. Check what is allowed in hand luggage (all liquids, gels etc in less than 100cm bottles, al in sealable plastic see-through bag)
7. Get through security
8. See nearest telly for flight and gate number. Ask/look at signs for time to walk to gate
9. Duty free, sandwich, drink etc - Most stuff is more exoensive if travelling to Europe - booze and fags cheaper is going outside
10. Boarding is normally 30mins before flight time - walk to gate for boarding queue
11. Queue at boarding for a v long time
12. Follow passengers to plane (possibly via a bus) and find seat
13. Hand luggage in overhead locker - ask a crew member if no room
14. have flight
15. Get off flight, head through passport control at destination
16. If you have checked luggage go to the conveyor belts, check which one has your flights luggage
17. Wait for luggage and get off conveyor belt
18. go through nothing to declare exit
Before you go, think how you will get from airport to hotel in destination - bus, taxi, train, hire car and check running times (early or late flight) and
Return is the same but in reverse
caroldecker Thank you so much, that's a really clear explanation. That has helped me understand what to expect a lot better and I feel more confident about the whole process now.
zombiesarecoming I'm really nervous most of the time! I get flustered at the check out in shops
OP - I know it sounds silly but there are a whole load of picture books which explain to little children how airports work. There's a Topsy and Tim one for example. Perhaps you could sneak a peek into one of those?
That's a good idea Mrsmortis.
Either when you book or when you check in online you can choose a seat on the plane.
You will want an aisle seat where you can get in and out easily or a window seat where you can look out of the window. Different people like different things but nobody wants the middle seat really.
I choose a seat in the middle of a block of seats. If you choose one too near the front or back of a block you can end up with the loo queue next to you.
If you book at a travel agent they will most likely be able to choose your seat with you when you book. It depends on the airline.
Everyone has said it better than I could, so I won't go over the basics again.. I just came on to say that I get how you feel. The first time I went abroad I was 28, had just got my first passport, and flew on my own to Kenya, via Schipol airport.
I was terrified - I had no idea how to check in, where to go, how it all worked. My diary from that flight goes: London City airport - found the bar and smoking area, all good. Schipol - found the gate I'm flying from, found the bar and the smoking area, all is good. Nairobi - the whole airport seems to be a bar and smoking area, all is good.
It was fine, and all airports (with the exception of bloody Charles de Gaul in France) are easy to negotiate, clearly signed, and designed for people who don't know what they're doing. And with helpful people all over the place that you can ask if you need to.
You'll be fine, you'll have a great time, and you'll be proud of yourself for having done it on your own
Can't add to what everyone else has said, but I want to say that I think you're great for doing this. So many people would play it safe. And I'm sorry you've had a shitty time recently. Here's to 2016 - your year of adventure!
Hi OP, do you know whereabouts you're going yet? People might be able to give you some useful location specific advice.
And travelling alone came be brilliant or horrible or both together, but really it is much better than travelling in company as you are more open to adventure.
get your passport. Apply for an EHIC, it is FREE online.
pick and book your holiday - do some research with travel books (library) or online, not just the brochure.
buy your travel insurance immediately you book.
tell your bank/credit card people where you are going and when so cards will work.
read up on the airport website about packing. In brief; hand luggage is liquids gels and pastes only in the limited quantities, no sharps, all valuables and documents. Hold luggage is everything that isn't valuable or fragile.
the airport and airline staff are there to help and keen to do so, and an airport is a) a very safe place due to security and b) ALWAYS has someone who speaks English.
Sorry to hear you have had an unhappy year
My top tips
1) Travel to airport with plenty of spare time, incase of road accidents, train delays
You need to be at the airport atleast 2 hours before take off to check in with the airline
2) If your baggage allowance is 20kg take 10-15kg, this means that you can buy souvenirs on holiday & bring them back
3) If you are unsure of where to go or what to do at the airport ask someone who works there. Everyone will help you
4) Buy travel insurance before you go
6) Plane ticket or print info from internet or some tickets are on smart phone
7) Get an E111 card if travelling in Europe
8) Travel money www.moneysavingexpert.com/
You can buy cash before you go
Have a source of emergency money
Notify your bank before you travel if you have credit or debit card otherwise they may bar your card
9) If you are taking electronic gadgets eg mobile phone, laptop you will need a universal plug that plugs into the wall socket (other countries have different shaped plugs (eg 2 pins not 3)
10) If you have a smart mobile phone that has access to the internet turn the data roaming off before you get on the plane. When you are abroad you can run up huge bills for using data. Suggest use free wi fi at hotel or cafes if you must use the internet. If you are abroad phone calls & text messages are also more expensive.
When I travel my phone company sends a text to my mobile saying "welcome to x country, phone calls cost x per minute, texts cost x per minute, data costs x per meg..."
You can check with your mobile company before you travel about costs
11) Choose somewhere you have always wanted to go, with something you have always wanted to visit
12) Drink bottled water & no ice
13) There are some TV programmes about airports that you can probably find on the internet filmed at Heathrow, Gatwick, Ireland, Stanstead, Bangkok, USA, New Zealand if you are interested.
Some programmes about airports, some about customs
14) Planes are like going on a bus, but in the air
15) If you forget something, most places have small super markets
16) Stay safe, be aware of everyone
Good luck I hope you enjoy your travels
For a first holiday abroad choosing a package that includes airport transfers might be a good idea. You get to do your own thing once you get to your destination but you have the back up of the rep from the tour operator who will answer questions, no matter how daft you might think they are.
bike we flew from Humberside in February. It is tiny. I loved watching the helicopters coming in and out for flights to the oil platforms. It is very much a working airport with the odd holiday charter.
East Midlands is ready to negotiate around as well.
The E111 card is now called EHIC and is free online - any web page asking for money just sends your details off and gets money for nothing.
Get travel insurance as well. The Post Office does it, among others.
Take foreign cash with you - get it ordered a week or two in advance for best rates - and a couple cards.
Take a phrasebook and learn hello/bye/please/thankyou/yes/no - those plus a big smile will resolve pretty much any problem anywhere in the world.
Allow lots of time to get anywhere, and enjoy!
Using your phone abroad might not be as bad as you think, especially in Europe, I would phone up my phone company and ask them about it.
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