You’re off on your grand adventure! You look great, you feel great, your bags are packed and your passport’s in hand. You’re on such a high, there ain’t nothing that can bring you down!
Except maybe baggage check… then that long line at airport security… Oh and that little thing called a 10+ hour flight across the world… IN THE MIDDLE SEAT.
There’s an art to arriving and traveling well from the airport to your destination. Here’s our best advice for how to survive the airport and your flight to start (or end, le sad) your TEFL internship abroad!
1. Good power bank to recharge phone/laptop.
Let’s be real: 0% battery life is the ultimate pits. This is your source for info, entertainment, communication. It’s essential that you keep your device charged and ready to snap that next amazing photo. That’s why a high capacity power bank, like these recommended in the Independent, is as essential to your travels as your passport.
My best advice? Don’t skimp on the cost or rely on a freebie from that last trade show. You want a portable charger that is durable and rugged. Power banks that can sustain multiple charges.
2. Download movies/books before leaving home.
There’s nothing more frustrating than the download status bar *almost* reaching complete but never quite getting there—and this outcome happens more often than not when you’re relying on free airport wifi. The connections suck there relatively to home, so be sure to spend a little time in your Netflix, Kindle, Audible, & Overcast apps to queue a lineup of non-stop on-demand flight entertainment.
3. Wear comfy clothes to travel in.
Leave your robe and slippers at home, but don’t be afraid to wear an outfit that’s comfy. No one wants their jeans cutting into their waistline or the need to pull up their low-cut shirt every time someone walks by. Keep it casual—but not sloppy—and settle in for the long haul.
4. Bring travel-sized toiletries to freshen up on the way.
Toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, oh my! Having these fresheners handy in your carry-on pack means that you disembark the plane feeling 100x better (and less disgusting) than most of your plane peers. Bring some face wipes if you’re really on the ball!
5. Get there early, the language barrier may take a while.
Moreso when you’re returning home after your TEFL internship (I know I know, we don’t want to think about the *end* yet, but it’s always good to plan ahead!), make sure you arrive at your airport with plenty of time to spare. Language barriers and unfamiliar systems may get the best of you, and you don’t want to add more stress to an already emotionally-charged situation. After all, your terminal may take five minutes to get to, but could also be 35 minutes…
6. Bring food/snacks.
Whatever your travel food of choice — we personally love chocolate covered pretzels and Keogh’s Salt & Vinegar chips—PACK IT! You don’t want to increase the likelihood of feeling impatient and hangry in a situation where everyone’s a little on edge already. Feeling hungry and snackless is unbearable. Plan ahead.
7. Don’t forget a travel pillow
You’ll want to try to get a little bit of shut eye on the plane when you can. There are a variety of styles to choose from, and you can opt for one that you blow up on-the-go or one that is already soft and cozy (these tend to be more bulky, but more comfortable). If you really want to get sound(ish) sleep mid flight, one of our best survival tips for the flight is to also bring an eye mask!
8. Organize your hand luggage.
No one wants to be *that guy* scrambling by digging into their pack for their passport and boarding passes. Stay organized, mate! This can be an excuse to buy a cute travel wallet or to make a mental note to place your important travel documents into the outside pocket of your pack. Oh, and bring a pen, too.
9. Drink up! Water, duh.
Don’t get overly excited about the free booze on the flight. You lose up to a liter and a half of water on a long haul flight. Make sure to replenish your H2O stores often! Don’t be afraid to hit the call button and ask the flight attendant for another glass of water.
10. Don’t panic! If you get lost, ask for help.
Even if a lot of airport staff aren’t smiling, they ARE there to help you and make your travels go smoothly. Simply ask some staff members any questions you have or any worries/concerns you are feeling. They’re your best resource to get you to the right terminal, the right seat, the right pre-departure snack stop.
11. Be security friendly.
Loose clothing, do you really need to wear your heels/belts/all of your jewelry? Forget the belt, go for a sting drawn pants (we recommend elastic waist. We know what you’re thinking but Kim K is rocking them so why can’t you?), easy to slip on/off shoes (Birkenstock’s are a dream). Be able to take out your laptop and liquids quickly and easily from your hand luggage. Don’t hold up the line—it screams *amateur*—by being prepared in advance.
12. Don’t talk to your mid-flight neighbors too soon.
We recommend holding off on the small talk until you’re taxiing on the runway in your destination. This can save you from a potentially awkward multi-hour conversation with a stranger. It can get awkward fast, trust us. (Or maybe it’s the love of your life?)
13. When you land abroad, get $$ at the airport.
For those headed abroad, take cash out at the airport from an ATM machine as soon as you land. The equivalent of around 100 units of your homeland currency should be enough to cover incidentals from the airport to your hotel/hostel. It’ll also give you some wiggle room to go to the bank to exchange cash a few days later (or to find the nearest ATM to your new home address).
Bonus: A packing list for your hand luggage
Here’s our go-to list of what to pack in your hand luggage for your TEFL internship. Check off each of these items and you’ll be sitting pretty at 35,000 feet in no time.
- Cabin bag – something like a school bag would be ideal
- Purse / money / bank cards
- Print of travel itinerary
- Toothbrush & paste
- Mini deodorant
- Lip balm
- Imodium / motilium
- 1 full change of clothes
- Neck pillow
- Sucky sweets
- Chewing gum / mints
You can add/alter/edit this list per your needs, but this generally covers the basics.
You’re ready to survive the flight!
Now that you’ve nailed your transportation, it’s time to kick butt at your TEFL internship abroad! Or maybe returning to life back home (whichever way you’re headed!). You’ll be a suave, confident, fashionable traveler before you know it. First class upgrade, anyone?