Now more than ever, we are ready to get back to travel and experience the wonders of the world once again. Flying for the first time ever, or the first time in a while can be very exciting – but also stressful.  

What can be an exhilarating travel experience can quickly turn sour if you find yourself unprepared. In this article, we’ll discuss some dos and don’ts for those of you who are getting back to travel and making the most of your airport experience. 

Cape Town International Airport
© Suné Payne

DO Familiarise yourself with airport procedures  

One of the most important steps when travelling to any airport is to take time to learn the procedures of the airport before travelling.  

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of airport procedures/regulations may have changed. It is important to know if special documentation is required – for example, negative COVID tests and vaccination information, etc. Overall, you’ll be more than prepared in terms of the correct paperwork if you research your airport’s procedures.  

Personal Documentation

Be sure to check the rules of the airline that you will be boarding, along with any travel restrictions of the country that you will be flying to. This will avoid any surprises when you reach the airport and allow you to remain relaxed throughout your experience.  

DON’T Forget the essentials 

This may seem redundant because of course, this is something everyone SHOULD do when travelling. Nevertheless, the stress of travel and rushing around can often lead to forgetfulness and have detrimental effects on our journey.  

Be sure to make a mental – or physical – checklist of all your essentials and make sure you have them before you leave for the airport.  

Due diligence like this will save you time and stress in the long run, and ensure you have everything you need. The last thing you want is to get to the airport and realise you’ve left your passport at home.  

DO Check the luggage requirements of your airline

Overpacked Luggage

There is nothing worse than getting to the airport and realising that you have overpacked. What’s more, this can also be very costly depending on the airline.  

While it is never intentional to overpack, being prepared really makes all the difference. To avoid this unnecessary headache, be sure to inform yourself of the luggage allowance before you fly. Additionally, making sure to weigh your luggage before you fly can also save time and money when at the airport, to give you some peace of mind when you go to check-in. 

For first-time flyers who can be apprehensive, these unexpected issues can totally de-rail your travel experience. Always better to be safe than sorry!   

DON’T Leave too late 

It is often underestimated how long it actually takes to get from arriving at the airport to boarding the plane. This goes for seasoned travellers as well as first-time flyers.  

Security lines at Denver International Airport during the Thanksgiving holiday in 2014
As of June 2022, London Heathrow Airport continues to be the busiest airport in the UK. | © Photo by RJ Sangosti / The Denver Post via Getty Images

If you are travelling for the first time, it is best practice to arrive at the airport approximately 2 hours before your flight is due to board, but earlier may be necessary. Airports are so unpredictable and as we have seen recently, the queues and wait times have been astronomical!

Additionally, there is the added possibility of delays when travelling to the airport; traffic and/or delayed public transport. Give yourself enough time to get through the necessary checks at the airport and then if you still have time before you need to board, you can leisurely browse the Duty-Free section and even grab a bite to eat!  

DO Ask for help if you need it  

SAS Crew Smiling in front of their airline
SAS Crew smiling in front of their airline | (c) SAS Ireland

As aforementioned, travelling can be stressful, airports can be busy and the whole experience can be overwhelming – especially if it’s your first time flying.  

If you are ever unsure about where you’re going or what to do next – ask someone! Fortunately, there are plenty of airport staff members that will be able to direct you and it can save you a lot of hassle. It’s best to look for someone who is wearing a uniform or possibly a high-visibility vest. 

DON’T Forget to relax

Passenger Relaxing

In first-time travel, it is so easy to get swept up in the chaos, but the most important thing is to be as relaxed as possible. Remaining calm in these circumstances will allow your travels to go smoothly and if you’ve prepared beforehand, you will have more time to enjoy your time in the airport and get excited about your flight.  

If you have plenty of time, don’t rush! Don’t be pressured into being fast if you don’t have to be – this will create unnecessary stress and leave you flustered. Travelling is exciting and you don’t want the experience to be soured by small things that can be avoided.  

If you enjoyed these helpful dos and don’ts for first-time travel, you can also find more tips on our site here. Let us know in the comments below if you have your own dos and don’ts for first-time travel!  

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