For first time travelers, going for a trip to a foreign country may seem daunting and might be a stressful experience – especially if you’ve never set foot on an airplane before! Here are some tips that I personally write based on my own experience that I think might help.
#1 Make your own drinks
Foods and drinks at the airport are always a rip off. Imagine paying almost 10bucks just for a cup of coffee or tea. Well, to save money, I would usually bring my own teabag or instant coffee packets (most of the time I would ‘steal’ from my accommodation). I would then ask for hot water from any cafes/ restaurants, in which it costs me less than a dollar, and make my own drink. I always believe that; saving money on drinks means spending more money on souvenirs!
#2 Four wheel is better than two
Don’t you agree that travelling by planes involves a lot of queuing? I have been travelling for quite a lot of times to know that 4 wheel bag is easier to go through the horrible queue at the airport. This is for some reasons;
a) easier to manoeuvre through the sharp corners and turns (you know, airport queue usually has this snake-like sharp turns instead of one long straight line)
b) easier to pull beside and parallel to you, and hence
c) avoid hitting other people who queuing behind you (or in my case, avoid hitting anyone anywhere arounddddd me in 1m radius)
#3 Avoid belt! Avoid watch! Avoid stainless-steel!
If you have travelled by a plane before, then you will know that the most annoying thing in the airport is that beeping sound that body screening machine makes when you innocently walk through it. What is worst for men is when the officer asks you to take off your belt.. or watch. So, to ease your way through the annoying beeping sound, avoid wearing anything that make it beeps; in which usually the cases are belts and stainless steel watch. I would ALWAYS be belt-less and watch-less for any of my flights. (Though, be sure that your pants are tight enough without a belt or oppsie!)
#4 No water bottle!
Do not bring your own water bottle. All airports (with international flights) have the Liquid Rule where any liquid more than 100ml is NOT ALLOWED. So if you have any drink that is more than 100ml, you will need to throw it away. However, if the drink is in your own water bottle/container which you don’t want to throw away, you will need to chug and drink it all up! I see a lot of cases where travelers struggle to finish their drinks and sprint their way to the toilet soon after. My advice is to bring only disposable water bottle, so that you can easily throw it away. The liquid rule leads us to my next point.
#5 Go tiny
The Liquid Rule states that you are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, gels, creams and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. So, always pack your stuff in tiny amount. I could never forget that wretched feeling when the security officer confiscated my favourite branded perfume once. Since then, I NEVER bring any of my favorite toiletries (or perfume or lotion) in full size. I would pack them in the travel-sized kit. Or if I am lazy, I would usually bring any free samples or tester units of toiletries I have. (The ones you would usually get when you buy certain stuff).
#6 Toilet before departing
This is actually my Mom’s tip. She always reminds everyone to use the toilet before getting on the plane. You would never know who sits beside you and how the toilet has been. There was this one time when I sat at the window seat next to these two huge European guys who slept all the way through the flight. I wanted to pee so badly but had to hold it in because I couldn’t pass through the huge guys’ long legs. Then, when I ultimately managed to escape from my seat, there was a longgggg queue. What’s even worst is when I FINALLY got my foot in the toilet, it smelled like someone just dropped a terrible fart explosion. (Cry)
#7 Comfort comes first
If you are flying on a long haul flight, always make sure that you make yourself comfortable. If you don’t have money for Business Class (like me) and fly with a low-budget airline, bring your own neck pillow, blanket, sock and etc as they won’t provide them for you. Comfort is very important, especially to elderly and little children. If they are uncomfortable throughout the long hours in the flight, they will most probably feel crappy, grumpy and moody for the rest of the day ahead. I always bring my own neck pillow and eye mask whenever I travel far. (But usually I will not be the one using them because my parents are too lazy to bring their own and I end up sacrificing my own comfort for their comfort).
#8 Keep EVERYTHING in place
Always be aware and alert of where you put your important stuff, like the passport and boarding ticket. My aunt once lost hers and her husband’s passports because she unconsciously put the passports somewhere. When I asked ‘Where did you put last?’, she couldn’t remember and nothing jogged her memory. She just wasn’t alert and attentive to where she put her stuff. They frantically searched for it, and finally we found it… in her jacket.
My tip: I always keep my 3P’s (passport, phone, and boarding pass) at the SAME place EVERY time, and constantly check on them from time to time (even sometimes chanting while I’m at it).
#9 Take photo of everyone at the airport
I always take a photo of everyone (in my group) beforehand. So if anyone is missing or anything bad happens, I will have the latest photo of them and it would be easy for anyone (like the police) to make face recognition. When I was in Auckland Airport, my mother’s friends went missing. We went separate ways after we landed, and promised to wait for each other at the arrival gate. Minutes after minutes passed by, and they didn’t show up. We waited for an hour, and thank goodness that I had a photo of them, so our tour guide and me teamed up to find them. It was easy to search and aim through the big crowd when we know how they look like and what colour they are wearing (by referring to the photo I’d taken at the KLIA before we flew).
#10 Know the different airport rules / culture
Some international airports have their own rules or culture that are different from others. Make sure that you know that beforehand, so it would not trouble you. For example (I am writing this based on my own experience), Australia and New Zealand are quite strict with outsider’s food products. You can’t simply bring your sambal tumis your Mom made you or your kampung serunding or any Malaysian self-packed meals into these countries. They will check your bags, ask you to open it, ask you bunch of questions, ask you to declare them and whatnot and yada yada yada… My mother’s tip is; if you bring your own food, make sure it is labelled and the ingredients are listed. If will ease the checking process. Another shocking rule I just found out recently from my NZ trip is that pepper spray is illegal in New Zealand! Heck, I didn’t know that. My bag was detained when the security officer found my pepper spray in it. They confiscated the pepper spray, asked me to fill up some forms, and let me off with a warning. It took a while and it was nerve wracking I tell youuuuuuuuuu. How I wish someone could have told me about it
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