Loose Advice From a Rookie International Traveler

Torin Anderson
September 18, 2016

So getting on the plane and leaving everything I’ve ever known behind was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Not only was this the first time I had ever been to Europe, but it was also the first time I had flown without my parents. There were a lot of things I wish I had known about flying alone, and I learned the hard way.

Hopefully these tips will save some stress:

  • Sleeping pills
    When you’re stuck on a plane for 8 hours straight and your legs are locked at a 90-degree angle, it is very difficult to get comfortable. I had gotten no sleep the night before because of my nerves, and being on a plane alone for the first time wasn’t exactly relaxing. If I had been able to get some sleep, keeping a level head with positive energy would have been much easier
  • Snacks
    Although international flights will almost always supply you with a meal, snacks are essential. My lovely mother packed me some snacks from home. Not only did I use them on the plane, but I also found them very useful when I didn’t know where to get food during the first few days of my program.
  • Travel Lightly
    Dragging a giant bag full of cosmetic items and 52 different outfits for 4 months is not ideal. You do not need all these things. It is easy to have the mindset that you are packing for a whole semester of college. It is also easy to forget that there are stores in countries other than the United States. In Barcelona, I was able to find all I needed for personal care items with one trip to a supermarket/pharmacy. As far as clothing goes, I only brought about a week’s worth of clothing and allocated a certain amount of money towards buying clothes here. Not only does this save space in the luggage, but it also allows you to embrace the local style.
  • Money Pouch
    Carrying your passport, three different credit cards, your student ID, drivers license, boarding passes, and a fat stack of euros, can be very overwhelming. Losing any one of these things would cause issues you really don’t want to deal with, especially when travelling alone. Using a money pouch will allow you to keep everything in one place, and keep it safe from thieves. The one I used hangs around my neck, and was large enough to keep everything I needed in it. All I needed to do was tuck it under my shirt and all my resources were secure. It was also easy to access when I needed to show someone my passport or boarding pass. The pouch has also been useful when going out in a city notorious for its pickpockets.

Independent travel is an amazing adventure that is often disguised with stress, as well as emotional and physical challenges. Everyone handles it differently, but hopefully these tips help you to focus less on the stress part and more on the adventure.

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Torin Anderson

<p>My name is Torin Anderson and I am a junior English major at Gustavus Adolphus College. I am involved in hockey and ultimate frisbee as well as the Gustavus Choir. Aside from making various painful puns, I enjoy writing just about anything, and will take any excuse to travel.</p>

2016 Fall
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Gustavus Adolphus College
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