Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Helpful Instructions for First Time Internationl Travelers

I haven't posted for a while, and looks like I am not going to be posting for some time in future either. However, recently I compiled a set of instructions for my parents, when they were traveling to US for the first time. You are welcome to customize and use it as per your requirements.

Dear Papa and Mammi Jee!

This email has a detailed explanation of things you might expect on your International Travel. Please keep a print out of this email with other documents I have mentioned below.

Some Indian phones work internationally. So, check out if your cell phone will work in US.

Please do read through this mail completely.

Documents to carry (You might know, but please look at it again)

1. Passport - It should have the visa within it.

2. Copy of your ticket. You have an e-ticket or an electronic ticket. You should have a printout of that.

3. Your second identification document - Voter ID Card or driving license. This is very important.

4. Packet of documents I sent you for the visa interview. Keep a copy in big bags and one in carry bag.

5. My contact information and other details. You should have my business cards.

Day of flight.

1. Wear relaxing clothes and have a thin jacket in your carry on baggage.

2. It would be safe to reach airport 2.5-3 hours before the flight.

Now the details about your travel

1. The way you must pack is that you should have a small hand bag like ladies purse for mammi jee, a small hand bag (like school bag) for papa jee and one carry bag for you (Which can have clothes of one day at least, toothbrush, paste, comb, and some vanity things). 

2. Pack everything else in other suitcases. These suitcases will be checked in. Checked in means that the airlines will take these bags from you at the departure airport and deliver at your destination airport.  Do not overload the bags please. They should each be less than 23 kgs. Two bags for each of you means you can have a total of four of these big bags. (These requirements have changed recently)

3. You will be carrying your passport and visa in your hand until you board the aircraft (boarding means sitting at the aircraft). They check it number of times.

4. When you get to Indira Gandhi International Terminal (IGI), you can take a cart for each of you, keep your bags in them and go inside the terminal. A guard will see your papers before letting you in the terminal.

5. Once you get inside the Indira Gandhi Terminal, they will security check your big bags.  After the security check at the entrance at IGI, you will proceed to the ticket counter of American Airlines with ticket and passport in hand. They will check in your big baggage, and give a boarding pass for each of you.  The boarding passes will have your seat number, flight number, boarding time, and boarding gate number.

6. Now you will have just your ladies purse/hand bag, and a carry bag with you.

7. You will have to move through security. There will be people guiding you at all the steps. Don't hesitate to ask if you are confused about anything. Once you move through the security and passport stamping, you will be in the international area.  Now you are out of India.  You will be able to do duty free shopping if you wish.

8. You can wait in the terminal in front of your gate (gate number is written on your boarding pass) for your aircraft boarding to start. They board by the seat numbers and they will call your seat number.

9. You will be sitting in your seat about 11:45 pm. You will be tired and you can take your sleeping pill or a glass of wine (however, they do not serve anything until the plane is in the air) to sleep.

10. Your flight food preference is set as Asian Vegetarian, do make sure to confirm that with air hostess before eating when they serve food.

11. In the aircraft, the toilets are very small and western style, you will have to use tissue paper there only.

12. Try to get as much sleep in the aircraft as you can before you reach Chicago. Make sure to walk around couple of times as well.

13. You might feel cold in the plane, you can ask for blanket from air hostess and wear your jacket.

14. Before you reach Chicago, you will get a Customs clearance form. Just declare that the worth of your things as $200. Also say that you are not carrying any agriculture product.

15. In Chicago, you will have to get through Immigration and they will stamp your passport, take your fingerprints and picture. Just tell them what all they ask.  They are generally very helpful. You can ask them if you have any question.

16. Once you are done at the immigration counter, you will have to collect your baggage that you had checked in at Delhi.  You will see signs of Baggage Claim and you can always ask Airport attendants "where to claim your Baggage". Your Baggage Claim section will show your Flight Number plus same people who were with you in the flight from Delhi.

17. You will pass through the international line and then you will go through the "American Airlines counter" again and check in your bags there. Ask airport attendants if you can't find it.

18. Once you check in with American Airlines you can go and wait in front of your "gate number" or roam around the airport. Remember in US, toilets are referred to as "Restrooms."  There are no waiting rooms at airports for cheap ticket holders like us.

19. You will have enough time to brush your teeth and eat something at the airport.

20. If you are hungry and want to eat anything, safest bet would be french fries, biscuits, cakes, coffee, veggie burger. Make sure to ask if it has no meat, no chicken, no fish, and no shrimp.

21. Chicago to San Jose should be pretty small and easy flight. Once you come out of the aircraft at San Jose you will have to go to baggage claim again as you did at Chicago airport. Keep your baggage in cart.

22.. You will have to come out of airport and you will find us. I will not miss you as you missed me in Delhi.

23. Call us if your phone works in Chicago or we will try to call you as well. In case, your phone do not work, you can request anybody to lend their cell phone and you can call me at xxx-xxx-xxxx, else do not worry about it.



  1. PS -> 22. You will not miss them as they missed you in Delhi and you missed me in DC ;)