Stepping off the plane at your destination can sometimes be the most daunting part of the trip, particularly if you’re arriving in a place you’ve never been before and when you’re travelling solo. Arriving at Kyoto airport recently on my own, being confronted with a million signs in Japanese and not really able to get my hands on someone who spoke English could have been a scary disaster, but with a few steps before leaving Hong Kong I was able to make sure that everything went smoothly and to plan – even when it didn’t go to plan at first!
DO YOU HAVE?
1. Currency of your destination
About 5 years ago when I was living in London I went to meet friends in New York, and after arriving at a deserted JFK airport at 2am, I realised I didn’t have any US dollars, and when I tried to get money out of the ATM my cards all got blocked by the bank, and when I tried to use my phone I found it wasn’t on the right band and it didn’t work either. If it wasn’t for the kindness of a shuttle bus driver who let me get on and pay him when I got to my hotel (lucky my friends were there!) it would have been one cold, creepy night on the steps of the arrivals hall. Needless to say since then I always always get the currency of my destination out at home, and fair amount so I have options in case on an emergency. I also always carry a few hundred US dollars in my passport wallet, as most people recognise that currency if you’re really in a bind.
2. Printed Hotel information
Ok so this is probably an obviously one to but printing your hotel/accommodation information (address, phone etc) prior to leaving home is key to piece of mind, and you’ll use it way more than you think. Don’t rely on your phone to show you the way, phones get lost/lose battery/stop working.
3. Options for getting to your accommodation
Naturally most of us take a look at the best way to get from the airport to our accommodation, but researching for a few different options, such as which shuttle, train, or car to take in case your first choice isn’t available. Even though hotel transfers can be expensive, if you’re particularly concerned about the place you’re going or how you will handle getting to the hotel, they’re not a bad thing to splurge on. You can always cut costs later on in the trip once you have your bearings.
4. Charged Devices
Arriving with a phone that works (and with a good amount of charge) is key in the event something happens and you need to check in with your hotel, friends or family (hopefully not but, the emergency services). One way is to keep your phone/laptop charger in your bag instead of your luggage, as some planes have plugs you can use (but you’ll need an adaptor if the airline isn’t based in your region). If not, make sure your phone is turned off completely while you’re on the plane. I also like to make sure my laptop is fully charged and then switch off when I get on the plane, because worst comes to worst I can charge my phone using my laptop.
5. The right Visas
There’s nothing worse than getting to your destination only to find that you’ve forgotten to get the right Visa. Sometimes you’ll be able to get a visa on arrival, however this is rarely an efficient undertaking when it comes to time. Always make sure to check what Visas you need before you travel!
6. Let your bank know you’re travelling
Ok so this can be annoying and tedious, but everytime I don’t let my bank know I’m travelling they inevitably block all my cards, so that I’m stuck in the middle of a city without access to money. Not such a major issue when you’re travelling with friends, but if you’re on your own you really can’t risk it. Once quick call has saved me mountains of time in the past!
Anything else you guys think is essential to a stress free (and safe) flight arrival?