A month ago I booked a client to Jamaica. As she shared with me that this will be her first time leaving the country, I realized that there are others preparing to take their first trip abroad.  Well, this is for you!

FIRST…

Congrats for stepping out…

Now, lets get you ready.

You know people who’ve traveled before, and  you’ve seen pictures…. you’re hype. Now what exactly do you need to do and take?  Before you go overboard let me just give you some tips.

Mentally preparing to pack:

Unless you are a professional model, beauty professional, or a Real Housewife of insert City here… then you do not need to take a lot of stuff on vacation with you.   Here’s your immediate invitation for Team carry-on and the Carry-on Club.  In other words you do not need to check a bag. (Exceptions: parents traveling with kids and going on a winter vacation where more clothes and equipment are necessary.)

Professionals including real housewives  who live life in photo-shoot-mode are welcome to take as many changes in outfits, shoes and beauty necessities as you require.  Just be clear about the airline/cruise baggage policy regarding, size, weight, and quantity. Most airlines allow a carry-on that can be place in overhead bins, plus a personal item that can go under the seat in front of you. Many ailines charge to check bags and waiting for your bags at bagged claim is no fun and can take an hour or more.  Also make sure that your transfers from the transport hub to your choice of temp residence can accomodate all of your baggage. Not even an Uber XL will fit 4 people and 10 bags, just saying.

Be fly. Do it, and tag us #ETAflylife in your pictures. Just make sure your logistics  matches your fly.

Stay Fly Tips for packing:

1 The temperature in the sun does not always match the evening temperatures. Bring something slightly warmer for the evening that matches your theme.

2 Many vacations usually include a celebratory night of fancy dresssing. Bring that evening clutch that fits your cute backup flats.

Airport Logistics:

Make sure you know which terminal your flight is departing from.  Some airport terminals are dedicated to international or domestic flights. Some terminals are dedicated to only 1 airline and others are shared. You don’t want to get dropped off at the wrong terminal. KNOW BEFORE GO.

Arrive at the airport 3 hours before an international flight is scheduled to depart  or 2 hours before a domestic flight.

Going through security,  you’ll have to remove shoes, belts,  jewlery,  jackets/coats and everything from your pockets. Anything metal will sound the alarm. Be cute without the accessories in this day.

You want to make sure you get through security and as little time as possible.  Keep your laptop accessible to take out of your bag, it needs to go through the screening belt alone. And have your liquids together in a size appropriate bag. Make sure that you print your flight itinerary so you know your flight going and can prove you have a return flight (coming back). This is a requirement to etter some countries.  They’ll let you visit,  but don’t want you setting up shop to stay.

Stay Fly Tips for airport security:

1 The law limits liquid/gel items. Buy refillable travel size smell good, cleansing and hair products.  Target or Walmart makes travel-size easy. Items to large go in the garbage…

2 Wear socks.  Leaving or coming into the United States requires you take off your shoes unless you have TSA PreCheck

3 Do wear long pants,  you don’t want your skin on those seats.  Opt for an outfit that doesn’t require a belt.

4 Leave the clothing with studs and designs home.  You dont want a pat down.  Not fun…

Time Zones:

Your destination may not be in the same  time zone that you live in. This is important to note when you want to call home. More important when you’re feeling a little tired or aggravated (it’s called jetlag). Many cell phones adjust automatically  once you land,  but I recommend using the clock app on your phone to add your destinations time to the phone.  It’s important to eat and sleep on the destinations time. This will reduce the jetlag that you experience.  Super important when going to a continent east or west of yours. Traveling North or south presents less jetlag concerns.

If you can sleep in a chair,  schedule your trips to land as early as possible during the day to enjoy as much of the city you land in as possible.  Then you won’t have to navigate a new place at night.  My first trip to Europe, I flew during the day and landed after night fall.  Now I take over night flights,  sleep the entire way. I wake up mostly refreshed, and ready to enjoy a full day.  Many airlines offer lay flat seating in business class and first class (not all)

Stay Fly Tips for Time Zone management:

1 Drink plenty of water and skip the alcohol even if it is free.  Your body’s recovery will take longer and adjusting to your destinations time zone will take longer with alcohol.  If you don’t care about being awake during day time hours, proceed and enjoy!!

2 The bigger the difference in time zone,  the longer your trip should be.  Give your self enough time to get over the jetlag and enjoy the destination.
US<->Europe min of 5 days
US <-> Asia min of 10 days

Customs:

If you’ve booked your destination you should already have a passport. If not,  do not pass go,  do not collect $200, go directly to a passport center. The process can take up to 8 weeks, the expedited process can be shortened to 2 weeks but adds a fee of $135. AND your destination may require a visa which requires extra processing time.

If your passport has been sitting around collecting dust,  be sure it has enough time left before it expires as per your destinations regulations.  Check with the Department of State for your visa requirements.

Once your on that flight,  flight attendants may pass out customs forms. If they do,  read it carefully and thoroughly on the flight.  The flight attendant may or may not be able to answer your questions.  Don’t be angry if they can’t help,  it’s not their job.

The forms usually ask for the vessel number of the flight coming into the country which is in your ticket (ex: AB 123) and some ask for the address your staying in their country.  Be prepared. They also ask for your passport ID#,  if you have loads of money or items for sale,  food and what countries you visited in this trip.  Ideally they don’t want you introducing new germs  or infestations into their country so they avoid importing fruit and animal products.   Most countries also require a picture,  finger print scans and additional questioning at a second point before exiting the airport.

Stay fly tips for customs:

1 Fill in customs forms on the plane. It saves times and allows you to think.

2 Follow directions not people. Most  countries have a line for citizens and a separate line for foreigners.

3 Be courteous, kind and patient. Lines may be long.  Accents and smells may differ from what you’re used to. No loud out bursts for these reasons, this is not the attention you want in the customs area.

Taxis:

In almost every place around the world, the airport is a place to make money.  People offering to help you with your bags want a tip. In some cases they want your bag.  Be aware that you are not in Kansas any more… you get it… not home.

People,  usually men sometimes stand inside the airport and ask if you need a taxi. Say no.  Make sure your agent organizes a pickup service,  you order an Uber if they operate there, or go to the official taxi stand.   These people will pressure you and sometimes take your bag to their car, which will be a trek through the parking lot because they are not official taxis.  Tell them no loudly if they persist. TAKE OFFICIAL TAXIS,  unless you are very very comfortable and or know the person picking you up.  You might be safe with a stranger just hustling to feed his family and you may not.  Don’t risk it.

Stay Fly taxi tips:

1 Organize your airport pickup before you arrive.

2 Google Uber or Lyft for your destination before you arrive.  If they operate with good reviews, order 1 as soon as you leave customs.

Phones and Service:

Your phone may not work at your destination. If it does, it may not be free.  ROAMING costs can be scary $1/minute $5/mb of data.  Those add up 😕 but you have options

1- Contact your mobile company to see if they have an international plan you can add temporarily.  This will likely be cheaper than just using the first signal you find

2- Get a second phone you can add a local chip to.  Buy a local chip in the airport,  they usually come with minutes and data options. Great o option if you plan to travel internationally often.

3. Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi!!
Research the airports Wi-Fi so you can use it before you leave the airport.  use Wi-Fi calling to let your family know that you’ve landed safely. And use apps like What’s app or Facebook messenger to send pictures,  texts and app to app calls for free. Also most hotels and resorts have Wi-Fi, if not in your room then at least in a designated area for guests.

Note: this article can be used as general advice and dues not apply to every possible country there is to visit.  Please know the local laws and regulations specific for your trip before you go.

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