Travel essentials – a guide for the first time traveller

If you have never been abroad before, either on a holiday or for business, your first experience of foreign travel can be daunting, from organising your travel arrangements to getting to the airport, not to mention the new experience of the flight itself and entering the unknown when you take your first steps into a new country. But whether you are a seasoned or an inexperienced traveller, there are a few essential preparations you can make to ensure that your trip goes as smoothly as possible and that you are covered in the unlikely event of something going wrong.
When booking your flight, it is important to remember that prices can fluctuate significantly, particularly with the “low cost” airlines that today dominate routes to many leading European destinations. As a general rule, it’s better to book early to get cheaper seats before the flight fills up but if you can be flexible about when you travel, you stand to save more. Look out for promotional offers and try to avoid booking a holiday during school holiday periods. You should also be wary of hidden costs when booking – many budget airlines will charge extra if you want to check in at the airport, put luggage in the hold or wish to pay with certain credit and debit cards.

Once your flight is booked, you will want to start thinking about what you should pack for your trip. While it is tempting to simply take everything you think you might possibly need, most airlines today place a limit on the weight of your luggage – usually around 10kg for hand luggage and 15-20kg for cases that go in plane’s hold. This means cutting down on unnecessary or heavy items or you run the risk of paying excess baggage fees, which are rarely cheap and add extra stress when you need it least. Try carrying as much as you can in your hand luggage to free up space for clothes and other items in your hold bag. If you will be going on a long trip, consider leaving cosmetics behind and buying them at your destination to cut down on weight.
When travelling to the airport, make sure to leave enough time to check in, drop off your bags and get through the security gate. It’s better to be early and have time to relax and get used to the hectic airport environment than be late and rushed. There are restrictions on the items you can take through security and on to the plane so place large quantities of liquid, electrical items and anything sharp, like scissors or a corkscrew, into your hold bag or risk having them confiscated. When you do get through security, find out which departure gate you are boarding the plane from and leave yourself enough time to get there.
As a final tip, before you set off it is a very good idea to invest in travel insurance. This will cover you in the event of something going wrong, like your bags being lost by your airline, your holiday being cancelled or requiring medical care while abroad. Travel insurance policies are usually very reasonable and can be the difference between a mild setback and your holiday being totally ruined by unforeseen circumstances.
Jennifer is a part of the digital blogging team at who work with a growing number of travel brands.