Tips for First-Time Travelers
Traveling abroad for the first time is exciting but can feel somewhat stressful and scary because you are traveling in a country unfamiliar to you. Knowing what to expect can help you navigate your first experience abroad.
We know this is easier said than done, but if something is going wrong, it will help if you sit down, take a deep breath and collect yourself. Try not to panic; there is no problem that can’t be fixed.
Ask for help
Asking for help is OK, especially at airports and other travel stations. There are people there who are paid to help you. There will be someone who speaks English at virtually all airports and at many train stations. If you have a problem, don’t know where to go, or need something explained, just ask.
Make the trip easier for yourself
Have everything you need ready (passport, photo ID, ticket, etc.). Being ready will make you feel more comfortable, and the people helping you will appreciate your preparedness. Going through security and customs (especially if you have another flight to catch) can be incredibly stressful. If you have a deadline approaching, let someone know. They may have a system in place that can speed you through the process.
Get to know your travel path before you leave
Your Lonely Planet and Program Specific Guides include helpful resources for planning your trip. If you must travel through a city or other area that is between your arrival destination and your final destination where you will be staying, take a look at general and public transportation maps. You will feel better if you aren’t trying to figure out where you’re going the minute you get off the plane in a foreign country.
Study the public transit system at your destination
Your Program Specific Guide may include links to the public transit systems in your destination city. Metro and train ticketing systems vary drastically in other countries. Study the procedures in advance. You will be better prepared to navigate and you may even learn how to receive a discount.
Traveling is part of the cultural experience of studying abroad. It can be a great experience if you don’t let it scare you. Always remember to be safe, but don’t hesitate to use the experience as part of your cultural education.