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Going abroad for the first time (airport anxiety)

Mary Terry

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Every country's security protocol is different so do some online investigation of the rules for the countries you are visiting. We travel a lot and are certified by the US State Department as pre-screened and entitled to expedited security clearance which gets less scrutiny and is a lot faster than typical travelers. Sometimes security just waves us through without any review of what we're carrying. I don't know if the UK or other European countries provide for pre-screening status but it's worth checking out.

I always carry a purse which contains my phone, money, passport, plane tickets/boarding pass, etc. Just put the purse in one of the plastic bins provided by security. They will tell you if they want your phone or other electronic devices put into separate bins for screening. I always bring a laptop which needs to be removed from the carrying case and placed in a bin by itself. All liquids and gels need to be placed in a clear plastic bag and placed in a bin, and there are limits on the amounts you can bring in your carry-on bag. Don't bring food or drink because you will have to throw it away. Buy stuff like that at the airport after you are cleared by security. Do not bring anything with lithium batteries.

I like to wear shoes like clogs which are easy to slip on and off, comfortable pants with no belt, and I carry a sweater or jacket or a shawl in case the plane is cold.

My husband brings a small ziploc plastic bag for all his coins, keys, and anything else that is metal which makes it easy for him to grab his stuff after it goes through the x-ray machine.

We download apps on our phones for our boarding passes for each airline carrier so all you have to do is swipe your phone rather than keeping up with paper boarding passes which I tend to lose.

Customs protocol varies by country, too. You will have to fill out a document for customs to declare certain information they want to know - usually whether you have a large sum of money on you and whether you are carrying agricultural products. Flight attendants usually hand out those forms so you can fill them out before you land at your destination. Always bring a pen with you to fill out the forms because there is no guarantee that pens will be available in customs.

I'm jealous! I'd love to go to Amsterdam! Hope you have a great trip.
 

Fay Jones Day

New Member
Hi,

I'm going abroad for the first time in 2 weeks from the UK to Europe. I have been to an airport to drop someone off but I've never been through airport security. I am scared of flying but I think I could deal with it in the moment. My biggest anxiety is of the actual airport, mainly security. It seems like such an overwhelming process and like it'd be easy to have a meltdown or shutdown.

I'm already planning to pack light, not take any electronics or liquids. Literally just planning to take my clothes, money and my phone. But I was just wondering if anyone had any experiences going through the airport, flying, going to a different country or anything else that you think might be useful as an autistic person.

Thanks in advance!
 

Fay Jones Day

New Member
Hi,

I'm going abroad for the first time in 2 weeks from the UK to Europe. I have been to an airport to drop someone off but I've never been through airport security. I am scared of flying but I think I could deal with it in the moment. My biggest anxiety is of the actual airport, mainly security. It seems like such an overwhelming process and like it'd be easy to have a meltdown or shutdown.

I'm already planning to pack light, not take any electronics or liquids. Literally just planning to take my clothes, money and my phone. But I was just wondering if anyone had any experiences going through the airport, flying, going to a different country or anything else that you think might be useful as an autistic person.

Thanks in advance!
I sure understand. Airports are a bit overwhelming. Go early. I'm going to be flying to see my grandchildren in a week as well. I feel best if I don't have too much to carry. I pay to check my bags, because I just can't manage a carry on bag on an escalator. Actually, I'm scared of escalators. The best trip ever had was when I had hurt my foot and the pushed me in a wheelchair.
 

As sweet as-pie

Well-Known Member
Invisible Disabilities | Manchester Airport I recommend seeing if your air port has a scheme like this so it will be easier to get help if needed and you won’t have to go in the big question. Some airports will also send you out booklets of the airport and what will happen to make it less stressful for you. If your worried you can request assistance for someone to take you through the airport. I would also ask if their was an autism/ disability area at the airport so you don’t have to wait amongest the chaos. Bring things which will comfort you through the airport i.e fiddle toys and head phones.

That's my airport! I have looked into that but still undecided as to whether I'd partake. Thanks though :)
 

Aspergers_Aspie

Well-Known Member
I have always wanted to go abroad. I live in Scotland. I have been to Northern Ireland on the ferry which was a good experience. I haven't been on a plane. I went to Belfast with someone on my own I would have really struggled. I have travelled to Nottingham on my own and struggled, so obviously abroad would be more difficult and stressful. Does anyone know please if travel agents in the UK can chat to and help autistic people with regards going abroad?
 

VictorR

Random Member
V.I.P Member
I have always wanted to go abroad. I live in Scotland. I have been to Northern Ireland on the ferry which was a good experience. I haven't been on a plane. I went to Belfast with someone on my own I would have really struggled. I have travelled to Nottingham on my own and struggled, so obviously abroad would be more difficult and stressful. Does anyone know please if travel agents in the UK can chat to and help autistic people with regards going abroad?

I'm sure that travel agents can talk to you, though if you're taking more than a cursory amount of time they may need to charge for their time.

Many of us here have traveled, and I'm sure some have done so extensively.

Perhaps if you have any specific questions, you can post them and fellow community members can try to answer them.

Of note, reading travel guides (Rick Steve's, Fodor's, Lonely Planet) will be helpful in identifying how to prepare, things to anticipate, and possible cultural differences that you may encounter. Some also include sections on short phrases that may come in handy.
 

Aspergers_Aspie

Well-Known Member
I'm sure that travel agents can talk to you, though if you're taking more than a cursory amount of time they may need to charge for their time.

Many of us here have traveled, and I'm sure some have done so extensively.

Perhaps if you have any specific questions, you can post them and fellow community members can try to answer them.

Of note, reading travel guides (Rick Steve's, Fodor's, Lonely Planet) will be helpful in identifying how to prepare, things to anticipate, and possible cultural differences that you may encounter. Some also include sections on short phrases that may come in handy.

Thanks for your very helpful reply. I would be happy to pay for their time if need be.
 

VictorR

Random Member
V.I.P Member
Some airports participate in programs where there may be an identifier (e.g. sunflower lanyard) for those with hidden disabilities / special needs
Some airports also have "social stories" available to provide a preview of the process.

Edinburgh airport has both.

By the way, Edinburgh - Belfast is a pretty straight forward flight - just about an hour or so, and both airports have public transport buses to/from downtown. I also like that both airports are pretty small, and so for someone less used to airports, may be more comfortable and easier to navigate, as compared to a major hub like London Heathrow.

Something that most travel books cover but I'll mention here is to try to have some small notes and/or coins of the country you're visiting - and if you were unable to obtain some before departing and only have large denomination notes, to perhaps make a small purchase (e.g. a bottle of water, chocolate bar) on arriving to ensure you have some change.

I remember arriving at Edinburgh airport, boarding the bus, and handing over £3 in coin to pay the fare to go downtown. A group of four German tourists then boarded and seemed shocked when the €50 note they proffered was declined by the driver on the basis that he 1) Only accepts Scottish pounds, 2) Does not accept large denomination notes anyways, and when they then proffered cards, were also advised that 3) cash only, no cards. (The driver directed them to disembark and go back inside, and if possible, to have the exact amount £12.)
 

ZebraAspie

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Ring about assistance . I know in Manchester they can fast pass you through and send you a social pre flight about what to expect. Look up rules and be prepared. Bring your comfort items
 

Captain Jigglypuff

Leader of the Jigglypuff Army
V.I.P Member
What I tend to do when traveling by air and am in an airport is I first look at the airport info screen to make sure my flight isn’t delayed or cancelled and if the gate has changed. Then I look at the signs that show which direction each gate is in and follow the signs. I also look to see exactly where the closest bathroom, restaurant/food service, and store that sells last minute items you might need and forgot to pack such as batteries or sunscreen to my gate and then I just wait there and only leave to go to the places I mentioned. To pass the time, I either use my iPad, listen to music on my iPod, or play a game on my Nintendo Switch. Having some to do especially with ear phones help pass time quickly while waiting for a flight. You can also ask anyone at the gate counter any questions you have or if you need something. They will help direct you to what you need.
 

Judge

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I am wondering, I know to get the countries your visiting currency but can I also use an ATM in the country I am visiting?

It doesn't look promising. You may be able use an ATM, but expect it to cost much more.

No surprise. I said at the time of the Brexit to expect the EU to treat Britons as "bastard stepchildren". And it seems they are following through accordingly. Hopefully this won't last forever. Not because the EU will relent in such treatment, but that Scotland eventually gains its independence from Britain and is welcomed back into the EU with open arms.

Brits to Face More Hurdles When Travelling to EU as Banks Impose Extra Charges on Them - SchengenVisaInfo.com
 

Mary Terry

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I have some travelling anxiety too, I realized that I need a visa to enter the US. I haven't thought about that because I don't need a visa to travel between the countries in my area. But I must apply for a tourist visa or something like that. And a horrible thought hit me. What if the US rejects me. I read that it is more difficult to get a visa now. They could said no, I won't be allowed to visit.

That would completely screw up everything I want to do. This is a huge deal for me for several different reasons. And now I don't want to find out, I'm worried about the answer I'll get. Darnit, I should have thought about this a long time ago. I get more worried the more I think about it. Stupid visa, this is so worrying.

Getting a visa will be easy. Since I'm American, I have never done it, but believe you just need to go to the US Department of State website and follow the directions to apply for a visa.
 

VictorR

Random Member
V.I.P Member
I am wondering, I know to get the countries your visiting currency but can I also use an ATM in the country I am visiting?

Generally speaking, yes.

There are a couple of things of note:

1. Your bank may charge a fee for using an ATM abroad, even if it's the same bank. Some banks may waive this fee altogether depending on your banking package, or may have exceptions for ATMs of their own or a partner bank. Check with your bank to be sure.

2. ATMs can charge their own fees for non-local customer use as @Judge noted. When traveling in the UK, I sometimes noticed free-fee ATMs advertised, and did not incur ATM fees when using them.

3. When using ATMs abroad, and also when making purchases using a card denominated in a different currency (e.g. using a USD denominated card in the Euro bloc), sometimes the machine may present you with the option of dynamic currency conversion ("DCC") - offering to charge you in your own currency. Always decline this option as usually it is at a very unfavourable rate - often at a 5-10% markup whereas if you process the transaction in the local currency, the exchange will be processed by your own bank, usually for a modest percentage (2.5% is common).

An example of DCC would be:
You use an ATM in France to withdraw 100 Euros.
The current mid-rate is £86.13
The ATM offers you the choice of withdrawing in Euros (€100) or Pounds Sterling (£92).
If you choose to withdraw in Euros, you will get a receipt for withdrawing 100 euros, and your bank will likely charge you about £88, which is less than using DCC.

4. Some ATMs may (usually at the top) have a sign indicating what denominations are available. I recall being in Switzerland and encountering a machine that was stocked only with CHF200 notes (?!). Even if a variety of denominations are available, the machine might not let you select the denominations, and so you may choose to try withdrawing an odd amount (e.g. €95 or €90 instead of €100) to ensure you get some smaller denomination notes.
 

Nick12

Active Member
please don't be afraid of airports i have been traveling with the best mom ever for a very very very very long time on airplanes and every thing will be a ok for you
 

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