Are you ready to start your YWAM adventure but a bit nervous about traveling for the first time? Don't worry, nearly everyone in YWAM will experience their first time flying sometime or later.
It’s easy to feel anxious or worried about traveling as you start to think about all the details. It happens to the best of us.
Thankfully, we’ve done this once or twice before, so we put together this blog to give you a quick overview of what you can plan to expect when traveling for the first time!
You’re going to be spending a lot of time on your feet, especially if you end up navigating big and busy airports. Make sure you choose footwear that is comfortable for walking. You might even want to consider wearing shoes that you can run in—they may come in handy if you happen to be in a hurry!
Plane rides can be a bit chilly, so bringing something that will keep you warm is a must on the plane (unless you like the cold!).
Every plane ride I’ve been on has felt like the arctic and I’m not the biggest fan, so I’ll bring a sweater that I can wrap around my waist. Temperatures can change a lot. For example, airports can be really cold or really hot, so having a sweater that’s easy to put on or take off can be extra helpful.
Most airlines will give you a complimentary snack and drink depending on how long the flight is. However, 90% of the time you won’t like it, unless of course you thoroughly enjoy peanuts. They also won’t fill you up!
I recommend bringing your own snacks—just make sure they're sealed or you’ll have to throw them away. Another option is to buy food and snacks in the airport, although you should expect prices to be higher than normal.
If you have an overnight flight, most airport restaurants won't be open until the morning, so packing your own food could save you. And if worse comes to worst, the nearest vending machine might end up becoming your best friend!
Pro tip: Chewing gum helps to unclog your ears from the air pressure you’ll experience on the plane during takeoff and landing!
Most airports should have Wi-Fi that you can use before you depart on your flight or during a layover. However, unless you bought an international phone plan before traveling, it’s likely you won’t have any cell service when your plane touches down in another country.
Phone plans here in Mexico are quite affordable, so you might want to consider bringing an unlocked smartphone with you and setting up a local number when you get here.
This is important folks! Sometimes airlines will change your gate number or time of departure, so be on the lookout on your phone for updates.
Your airline will most likely email you at least 24 hours before your flight with a link to check in before you even leave your house. It makes the process much easier and faster!
If you are traveling long distances or you have a long layover, having a comfy change of clothes as well as some travel-sized toiletries in your carry-on will make your first-time traveling experience even better. These things will help you freshen up between flights!
It’s also a good idea to bring an extra change of clothes in the event your luggage gets lost along the way.
No matter how long your travel day(s) will be, a good night's rest or nap before your flight is definitely a good idea! Traveling can feel exhausting at times, so arriving at your destination a little tired is to be expected.
Try as you may however, you might not even sleep because you’re so excited for the journey ahead. In that case, you can always try to sleep on the plane (travel pillow recommended!).
Take it from me, missing your flight is the absolute worst! Make sure you arrive at the airport a full 2-3 hours before your flight takes off to have enough time to get checked in and get through security.
I recommend you pack everything up the night before you travel so you can just grab it and go when it’s time to head to the airport.
Most airlines allow you to bring one carry-on bag and one personal item, like a purse or small backpack. Not every airline has the same policies for luggage, so be sure to check the restrictions online before packing.
It's normal to end up stuffing smaller items into your carry-on. To avoid misplacing your essential travel items you’ll need on the plane, plan ahead by putting them in an easily accessible place in your bag. There’s nothing worse than going through your entire bag looking for your headphones while rushing to your gate to catch your flight.
Let’s put it this way: the fewer things you have on you, the faster you’ll get through security.
Security will make you take off any accessories (think belt, watch, etc) and even your shoes, so wearing easily removable shoes and no jewelry will definitely speed up the process. You’ll also have to put any electronics you have in your carry-on or on your person in a bin to be scanned.
It’s important to stay hydrated when traveling so you don't pass out. Trust me I’ve seen it happen—10 out of 10 would not recommend it.
Make sure to drink water throughout your trip. It’s common for people to have swollen feet after traveling, but staying hydrated can help prevent this from happening to you.
One thing to note is that buying water at the airport can be expensive and security will make you dump your water out if you bring it from home. A pro-tip: Bring an empty water bottle to fill at a water fountain after passing through security.
Having cash with you is always handy to have, I've heard stories of people forgetting their cards at home or losing it along the way. If you are traveling to a different country, I recommend letting your bank know where you are going so they don’t freeze your card!
For more finance-related tips, check out our blog 7 Things All Missionaries Should Know How to Do (Finance Edition).
People often ask me if they can enter Mexico without a passport, and the answer is no. You’re definitely going to need your passport!
This is important folks—you cannot travel internationally without your passport! You’ll have to show it anytime you have to go through an immigration checkpoint. So make sure you apply for your passport ASAP if you don’t already have one!
Write down all your travel information on one sheet of paper. It’s helpful to write down your arrival and departure times, flight numbers, passport number, and reservation code on a piece of paper so all your information is in one place.
Also, don’t forget to write down the address where you’ll be staying and the number of days you’ll be in the country—you might need this for your immigration form!
Don't forget to stay positive during your travel! Traveling makes people nervous, and it even can be a bit stressful. Take a deep breath, pray before traveling, and everything will be okay.
As long as you get to your destination safely, you did it! Good job! Remember that God is with you every step of the way.
Well, there you have it! What we’ve shared here isn’t an extensive list, so keep doing your own research, especially when it comes to official airline and international travel information!
We hope these 15 tips will help you feel more confident and prepared as you get ready to travel for the first time.
You’re going to do great—so buckle up and prepare for take off!