- Lines may be nonexistent.
In the U.S., it’s widely known accepted that lines are the way we are to keep order. In other places, however, this may not necessarily be the case. Instead of making single filed lines in order to know who’s next, you may experience people standing around or grouping themselves in a free-for-all attempt for whomever is next. As an American who is used to lines, this could be quite frustrating, especially when you’ve been waiting and others feel free to get in front of you.
2. Prepare to show your boarding pass… a lot
When flying domestically, we usually show our boarding pass once at security and again when we’re about to board, and then we’re done with it for good. However, when traveling abroad and boarding flights to other countries from a foreign country, you may find that you need your boarding pass multiple times. Of course you’ll need it when going through security- but you may go through a couple of security checkpoints, so you’ll need it for all of them. Then you’ll need it to go through immigration or a passport check. Then you’ll of course need it to go through the gate to the plane. BUT you may even need to show it as you’re entering your plane. Don’t throw it away just yet, because, while it’s rare, you may even need to show it when exiting the plane. Showing your boarding pass so many times can certainly be a hassle, but just be sure to keep it in an easily accessible place and you’ll have no problems.
3. “Personal space” isn’t as widely an accepted concept.
As Americans, we are careful not to encroach on others’ personal space. We function in the world with imaginary bubbles around us that we don’t let other into unless they are well known and welcomed. When navigating foreign airports, prepare for your personal bubble to be burst. Regular bumps and brushes may be experienced with very little acknowledgement, let alone an “excuse me.” You may find that people stand uncomfortably close, which to us is an unpleasant sensation, but to others, is just normal.
4. Hygiene practices differ around the world
Speaking of people standing too close, one thing that you may notice about some of your fellow passengers is that hygiene norms in other places differ from what we’re accustomed to in the U.S. Unsavory whiffs of BO may be something you’ll be surprised to experience. While this may be unpleasant and surprising at first, the good thing about our noses is that they adjust quickly! So try to understand that different people do things differently and it’s just one of those things that come with traveling abroad.
5. Baggage policies are not the same
When traveling domestically, you have a few options for your luggage. With most American airlines, you are able to carry on one carry-on size bag, along with a personal item, such as a laptop bag or purse. What’s in your carry on bag is your perogative (as long as it fits the liquid restrictions and can’t be used as a weapon), and unlike your checked bag, is not weighed. However, most international airlines have specific guidelines for the size of your carry on bag. In addition to it having to be within the size limits, your bag has to be within the weight limits as well. This usually ranges from 7kg-12kg (15-26lbs). When preparing to travel with a foreign airline, it is very important to make sure that you read the baggage policies, so you’re not hit with unexpected fees.
Bonus Tip: You’ll need extra time during layovers
If you’re doing a multi-country trip, you must remember that many times, you’ll be required to claim your bag at your layover and recheck it. This means going through customs/passport check, sometimes going back to the ticketing counter, going through security again, and finding your new gate. Navigating through all of those stops while having language barrier is plenty of reason to give yourself a generous amount of time to make it to your next flight.