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First trip ever...

Travel Forums North America First trip ever...

1. Posted by LovelyDenial (First Time Poster, 1 posts) 9 Apr '13 16:43

So...
I have a few traveling questions. But to start off, I'm 19, so I am a traveling newb.

I am going to Canada in a month, and it's my first time out of the country. I know I need a passport, so I filled out the papers, without signing. I now need a copy of my birth certificate. Leading to question 1.

Where do I get that?
Which leads into question 2:
Where do I go to get my passport finished?

Then, when I go to the airport, what do I do? Lol. I have no clue what I'm doing, and I will be traveling alone. Who do I talk to to board the plane? And what about layovers? Because it says I'll have 3 of them...

I am so lost on all of this. Can someone please help me? Thanks!

2. Posted by KellieBarnes (Admin, 462 posts) 9 Apr '13 22:13

You'll have to tell people where you are from, etc...

Post 3 was removed by a moderator
4. Posted by Sander (Moderator, 4280 posts) 10 Apr '13 04:10

Airport-wise: When you arrive at the airport, you find a monitor showing "departures". Find your flight on there (have the flight number handy to check, but generally departure time and destination city (for that specific _flight_, not the eventual destination) should be everything you need to locate it). It'll list which check-in counters are serving your flight (sometimes only a number, sometimes a letter and a number). Go to those checkin counters - they'll be one of two types:
1) regular counters with someone sitting behind it who you give your passport and tell that you're flying to [eventual destination] via [cities], and put your luggage on the belt next to the person (where it'll be automatically weighed, and the person helping you will put an identifying tag on it to route it to the right flights, so it'll meet you at your final destination), after which you'll get your boarding passes (one for each flight), be told which gate your flight leaves from (also printed on the boarding pass) and at which time your flight will start boarding (also printed on the boarding pass)
2) lots of small "self-service check-in" machines where you can either a) scan your passport, b) enter your last name and flight number, or c) enter your reservation code (generally six letters/numbers, something like "3EX56Y") to identify yourself, then pick your seat, then print your boarding passes. Then you take your boarding passes and luggage to a regular counter where they scan your boarding pass, put a tag on your luggage, etc, same as in option 1).
With both options, there'll be people there to assist you if you have any questions, and to point you in the right direction. And there'll generally also be a reasonably long line of other people waiting to check-in, so you just stand in line and wait your turn.

After you've received your boarding passes and dropped off your luggage, you head to passport control / security (which of those comes first varies from airport to airport). At passport control you present your passport and boarding pass (only the one for the first flight), and they should generally wave you through swiftly. (Depending on which country you're coming from, you might also need to fill out a "departure card" before going here - if so, then they'll give you one at the check-in counter and tell you about this. I don't think this happens in Europe / North America, but does in Australia / New Zealand and some other places.)
At security, you empty your pockets (I generally put everything from them into my coat pocket or hand luggage), remove your coat and belt if you're wearing one, put them in a small tray together with any liquids you're carrying (in clear plastic bag), take your laptop out from your luggage if you're bringing one and put it in a separate tray, put it all onto the belt to go through the x-ray machine, and walk through the metal detector. (Or if it's a new-fangled body scanner, walk in, stand on the footprint marks and raise your arms as indicated, wait for the door to open, and walk out.)

Then you walk to your gate (again, printed on your boarding pass), where you find a place to sit until they announce that your flight is boarding. (At a few airports they put security at each individual gate rather than together with passport control, so you'll only go through after reaching the gate.) Listen carefully for the boarding instructions. Generally the first boarding call is for families with small children and people in wheelchairs. Then business class, and then economy class - but economy class frequently boards in "zones"; either explicitly called zones (in which case your zone will be printed on your boarding pass), or done by seat number; so seat numbers 36-51 board first, then 21-35, and then 5-20 or somesuch. In which case, wait until they call your seat number before going to stand in line. When you reach the front of the line, present your boarding pass (which they'll scan; again, only for the first flight) and generally your passport (which they sometimes only glance at, and sometimes compare the name on the passport to the name on the boarding pass, and your photo from passport with your face).

In the plane, walk to your row (row numbers are indicated above the seats, and if you have trouble seeing them, just ask someone from the airline for help - that's what they're there for), put your hand luggage and coat into the overhead compartment as swiftly as you can (there'll be people standing behind you who want to walk further into the plane), and sit down in your seat. (If you have an aisle seat, you can try standing in front of your seat while putting your luggage away so that you don't block the aisle for people behind you.)

At the next airport, when coming out of the plane, find the monitors that'll list "transfers" or "departures" and find your next flight on there so you know which gate to go to. (Sometimes, especially with tight connections, they announce the gates for connecting flights on the plane already, right after you've landed.)
If you don't see such monitors, just follow overhead signs to "domestic transfers" (if staying in the same country), or "international transfers" (if flying on to another country; in that case you will almost always have to go through security again before you reach your gate). If you don't see any signs, ask one of the people at the gate you just came out of - again, they're there to help, and should be able to direct you exactly on where to go. (Also, on the plane there should be an in flight magazine, which has a good chance of showing the layout of the airport you're flying to, so it can help you feeling more confident if you look at that before you land.)

If you're transferring via the USA (and not coming from the USA originally), you'll have to shortly pick up your luggage when arriving, walk through customs with it, and then put it on a belt again for it to go to your next flight. This should be clearly signposted, and explained on your flight before you land. I think that in that case you'll also have to go through immigration, where you'll be fingerprinted and have your photo taken. You might have to fill in an ESTA online before your flight, too? I don't know for certain about this if you're only transferring through. If this case applies to you, say so, and I'm sure someone else will be able to confirm or deny what you need to do specifically for this.

When you're finally arriving at your destination airport, follow the overhead signs to "baggage hall" / "arrivals" / "immigration". Go through passport control, look on the monitors in the baggage hall for the flight number / departure city of your final flight to find the belt on which your luggage will appear. Stand around there until you see your luggage (keep some distance from the belt so other people can step forward and pick up their luggage; try not to be annoyed at the people standing right next to the belt and blocking the way for everyone else), pick up your luggage, walk to customs, taking the green "nothing to declare" line. You have now arrived. There'll be signs for public transport or taxi's into the city - follow them, and good luck!

Also, with three layovers (so four flights?! yikes!) there's unfortunately a not entirely negligible chance of mishap along the way. This can either mean 1) a delayed flight, causing you to miss a connection, or 2) you arriving just fine, but your luggage having missed one of the flights.

In the first case, find someone in the uniform of your airline to direct you to a booking desk where you explain that you missed your flight to [next city] en route to [final destination], after which they'll book you onto the next possible flight. This might involve having to stay somewhere overnight, in which case they'll put you into a hotel.
In the second case, there'll be a counter somewhere in the baggage hall signposted "missing luggage" or somesuch. Go there once you've realized that your luggage isn't coming anymore (the monitor above the baggage belt will show "all baggage unloaded", the feeder belt will have stopped moving, and most people who arrived at the same time as you will have left with their luggage). They'll do some checking up for 10-20 minutes to make certain your luggage really isn't in the building, then apologize profusely, take down the address where you'll be staying, track down your luggage wherever in the world it is, and deliver it to you one or two days later. (Because of this possibility, you should always have some clean underwear in your hand luggage.)

5. Posted by jeanie99 (Full Member, 117 posts) 11 Apr '13 18:13

You don't say what nationality you are. If you are from the UK apply to the passport office, I believe you can get the forms to apply from the Post Office, send the form with passport photographs the money to pay for the passport and if you want additional pages the extra money for these together with the documents asked for like your birth certificate, marriage certificate. If you don't yours birth certificate you can get a copy for about £8 from the register of births in your country.

I would suggest you check out the cost and days of flights before you start booking hotels/hostels, flights don't always depart on the days you want.
Hostels will provide you with other travelers who have the same interests as yourself so is a good bet for first time travelers.
Whatever country you are traveling to check out if you need a Visa, there will be a cost for this.
Airport, for international flights arrive 2 hours before, domestic flights 1 hour before, 3hrs for flights to some countries like Israel.
Your e-ticket will show your flights details, on entering the airport check the screens for the flight number.
When it comes up it will inform you which desk to check in at, Present your case and hand luggage together with your flight ticket and passport. YOu will be given boarding passes and you checked in luggage will be weighed and taken from you. You'll be given tabs as a reciept for the luggage, keep with safe in case of loss.
Proceed to the security control, you will go thru security, show a laptop etc these will go thru the x-ray machine then make your way into the waiting area.
Check the screens for the gate details from where the flight leaves and proceed to this area. Show your passport and boarding pass to get thru to the plane.