Travel – whether for fun or to get to your study destination – can be a hassle. Moving lots of (heavy) possessions; using new forms of public transport; getting to where you need to be at certain times for travel changes....it can all be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re on your own. Plus there’s the emotional aspect of leaving friends and family behind.
So what can you do to ensure you arrive in your new country safely? Here are a few tips...
Plan your journey
Make sure you know each stage of the journey you will be taking. Read your airline itinerary carefully so you know of any layovers you can expect. You can use journey planners such as Google Maps which will tell you how you can get from point A to point B via different routes and modes of transport. Your university will also have information on their website about how to reach their campus once you arrive in the country.
You’ll probably be in the air for several hours so ensure you’re comfortable for the duration of your flight. Wear loose clothing you’ll be comfortable in (jeans or shorts, t-shirts). Keep a jacket, fleece or jumper with you as the cabin can get cold in the air. Because you’ll be sat in the same (tight) place for a long time, take a walk around the cabin every 2 hours to stimulate blood flow in your body, especially in your legs; this will help you avoid serious conditions like Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) (you can also buy special socks to prevent this). If you think you might feel ill while flying, you can buy medication from a chemist to combat any symptoms or to help you sleep on the flight.
Mind your possessions
Always keep an eye on your possessions while travelling, especially at airports and train stations. Thieves are everywhere, especially in public places where there are a lot of distractions. Make sure bags are zipped up and even padlocked in the case of suitcases. However you should also keep all luggage and possessions close by to avoid them being mistaken as lost property or a potential bomb.
Keep spare cash
You might not have immediate access to any funds you have in your bank account when travelling or when you arrive in a new country. Always have a modest sum of money in cash on you in case of emergencies. Keep this in your wallet on you or in a moneybag. This might come in handy if you need to buy a particular item in an emergency (e.g. travel adaptor), or if you need to pay for additional travel or a place to stay if your journey is disrupted. It doesn’t have to be a lot as this can be risky but just enough to get by if in an emergency (around US$300).
Ask for assistance
Don’t be afraid to ask those around you for help, especially staff onboard your public transport such as the air stewards. There will often be information points at airports, train stations and other public places to answer questions and point you in the right direction if you’re lost or have another query. You can always ask security guards, police officers, retail employees or anyone else who appears to be in an official capacity (beware of unlicensed taxi drivers). You might not be accustomed to asking for help from strangers in your own country but you’ll find that people are more than willing to help provided you ask politely and they’re not busy or pre-occupied.
Be aware of your surroundings
You’ve probably packed some devices to play, listen to or watch to help pass the time travelling. However make sure you choose your moments carefully as to when to use these. If you’re waiting for important information such as an announcement on an overhead speaker, it’s probably best not to be distracted by loud music or a computer game. Similarly, read all notices you pass as they may well affect you and your journey.
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