International Air Travel Tips and Advice

Here are some international air travel tips and guidelines that can make the international air portion of your trip more enjoyable. Once again, thanks to Mr. Tom Ogg of the Travel Professional Community for the content of this article and his great contributions to our industry.

Baggage claim

Baggage claim (Photo credit: gorbould)

Planning Your Trip:

  1. Always use a Travel Professional! If you run into problems such as a delayed or cancelled flight, overbooked hotels, medical emergency, or other situations, your travel professional can act as your backstop to make things right and get you back on track. This is just one of the reasons that using a travel professional is the way to plan international travel.
  2. Plan on arriving in your destination at least a day before you need to be there. Arriving the day you intend to begin a cruise, could get risky should your flight be delayed or cancelled.
  3. Reconfirm everything before you depart on your vacation. If you are traveling over the International Dateline, make sure that the arrival dates are correct. Ditto for overnight flights with connections.

Packing For Your Trip:

  1. Be sure to carry your passport, medication, medical emergency data, contact information, and othercritical information with you at all times. Never pack your important documents and medication in your suitcase
  2. Pack your itinerary, travel professional’s contact information, and your contact information while traveling in each piece of luggage.  (If you have purchased Travel Guard Insurance, be sure to attach their “BAG TRACK” labels on your luggage.)
  3. Also, pack one carry-on bag with everything that is absolutely necessary to still enjoy your vacation should your luggage get delayed or lost. Pack items that are not readily available in stores at the destination and that you deem mandatory to the success of your trip.

At The Airport:

  1. Make sure to reconfirm your flight 24-hours in advance before going to the airport.
  2. Arrive at the airport with plenty of time to relax after checking in for your flight. Allow [up to 3 hours] prior to your departure time.
  3. Upon check-in for your flight you will need
    Boarding pass

    Boarding pass (Photo credit: Simon Aughton)


    • Your Passport and any Visas required for your final destination in your passport
    • All necessary documents for minors traveling with you (make sure that your travel professional has all of the details so that they can advise you of exactly what you need).
    • Your flight confirmation
    • Proof of immunization (if required by the country that you are visiting)
    • Personally check in each piece of luggage with the counter agent and confirm that they are checked through to their final destination or if you have to claim them along the way and recheck them. Do not allow anyone else to check them for you.
    • Present the necessary documents for your flight(s) and reconfirm the boarding passes with the counter agent making sure that you have received all  boarding passes for your flight.
    • If you are boarding in a country outside of the United States, you will need to clear immigrations on the way to the departure gates. You will need to present your passport and boarding passes. In some countries you may be required to go through an interview with immigration officials, or if you are singled out for a secondary inspection, as well.  This is just a precaution.
    • Once you have your luggage receipts and boarding passes returned by immigration, proceed to the security check point and be prepared to present your passport, and boarding pass to be processed through the security checkpoint. Again, you may be singled out for a secondary search that may include being manually searched and your carry-ons completely inspected.
    • NEVER act in a defensive or aggressive manner during any of the above processes. NEVER joke or give any of the people in charge of the processes a reason to single you out.

Arriving At Your Destination:

  1. Once you arrive at your destination you will be get routed into Immigration. You will need to present your passport to enter the country.
  2. You will then proceed to luggage claim where you can then claim your luggage. Make sure that your luggage has not been tampered with and if you have placed anything of value in your luggage, be sure that it is still there.
  3. You will then be required to go through customs to exit the baggage claim area. You will be provided with a customs declaration form on your flight. You will be required to submit this form to the customs official.
  4. NEVER try to take undeclared items through customs. If you are singled out for a secondary search and they are found you may be deported right then and there, or worse.

Staying Safe:

  1. Once you enter the main terminal at your destination, do not respond to people asking if you need a taxi, transfer, tour guide or any other service. If you are being met for a transfer to your hotel, follow the instruction on your transfer voucher/documents.  NEVER respond to someone offering you a service after approaching you.
  2. LEAVE Your Expensive JEWELRY at HOME! Unless you absolutely need your jewelry for some reason essential to your trip, leave it at home.
  3. Only carry what is absolutely necessary while traveling.  Your “travel wallet” should contain a copy of your passport and driver’s license, an ATM card, your insurance information, your contact information and some cash. Most important is to carry an “In Case of Emergency Contact” card with critical contact information on it.
  4. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and remember that as a tourist, you make the most desirable target for crime that there is. By not wearing or carrying anything valuable worth stealing, you have mitigated the risk.

Important Links for International Travelers: – Great information on staying healthy and safe while traveling internationally. – Tips for Traveling Abroad is an excellent site for preparing for your vacation. – This is the State Departments travel warnings site. Be sure to visit this site right before your vacation to see if anything has changed that might affect your trip. – Center for Disease Control list of vaccinations needed by country. – Detailed information regarding health and disease information by country for more than 200 countries. This will help you understand what you should prepare for.

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