First-Time Traveler Tips

Artwork by DIS Student Illustrator Malini Basu

Your first time traveling – whether it be domestically or internationally – can feel both exciting and overwhelming.

To prepare yourself for your journey to Scandinavia, it is helpful to get acquainted with common travel scenarios and terminology.

Don’t forget that DIS staff are available to help, via phone and email, to discuss preparing to fly for the first time to arriving on-site in an unfamiliar airport. Refer to our contact information with any questions or concerns.

Common Terminology

Booking Flight

  • Non-stop: A flight that travels directly from its origin to final destination. Also referred to as a direct flight
  • Layover: A stopping point between two connecting flights; make sure your layover allows for enough time to transfer from your first flight to your following flight (typically an hour or more)
  • Connecting flight: A flight that stops at a midway point during a traveler’s journey, allowing travelers to switch planes between their original and final destination. A connecting flight would occur after a layover
  • Red-eye flight: An overnight flight in which the traveler departs in the evening and arrives in their destination during the daytime on the following day
  • Round trip: Refers to a travel itinerary that includes a departing and return flight. It is often more cost-effective to book a round trip, though when a return date is unclear, travelers will sometimes book a one-way flight (which would be a departing or arriving flight, but not both)
  • Baggage allowance: The number of suitcases a passenger may bring on their journey without paying extra charges (determined by the airline). Note: Most airlines also include a weight limit for each piece of baggage; make sure to check on your airline’s website to review their specific policies
  • Carry on vs. Checked baggage: A carry on is a small piece of luggage carried onto a plane with a passenger. A checked bag is a larger piece of luggage that must be dropped off at an airline counter when checking into a flight and before going through airport security. A checked bag will be retrieved after the flight at baggage claim. There will be signage in the airport directing travelers toward baggage claim
    • If not on a direct flight, check your flight details to make sure your baggage will travel to your final destination without having to be retrieved and re-checked at your layover airport
  • Personal item: A bag that a passenger carries onto a flight with them, typically small enough to fit under the seat in front of them (usually the size of a small handbag, backpack, or briefcase) This can often, but not always, be brought on board in addition to a carry on
  • Add-on: An addition to a traveler’s flight reservation, such as priority seat selection, in-flight Wi-Fi, extra baggage. Note: Add-ons will typically incur an additional cost
  • Electronic ticket (E-ticket): Airplane boarding passes sent to mobile devices. Many airlines will send passengers the option of downloading an E-ticket within 24 hours of boarding time. Note: If you plan to check a bag, despite having downloaded an E-ticket, you will still need to check in in-person at your airline counter upon arrival at the airport. If you do not plan to check a bag, you can use an E-ticket to go directly to security upon arrival at the airport
  • Boarding pass: A ticket issued at an airline counter or kiosk that allows a traveler to proceed to security and board a flight. Make sure to hold onto your boarding pass throughout your journey, as you will need it to board your flight
  • Boarding vs. Departure time: Note: Some boarding passes will list a flight’s boarding time, while others will just show the departure time. Make sure to be ready to board your flight at the boarding time, which is typically 30-60 minutes before the departure time


  • Check-in: When checking a bag or flying internationally, passengers will typically need to see an airline representative at their airline’s check-in counter. It is helpful to print your boarding pass at the kiosks located near your airline’s counter
  • Security: After checking into your flight and dropping off your checked baggage, you will proceed to security. Make sure to check any prohibited items in advance (such as liquids)
  • Gate: This is the area of the airport (after security) where you will wait to board your flight. Your gate will be noted on your boarding pass. Make sure to be at your gate no later than your flight’s boarding time


  • Arrival hall: The area of the airport where incoming passengers arrive
  • Baggage claim: Where to go to retrieve your suitcase once you arrive in your destination
  • Lost luggage office: Stationed at baggage claim – this is where you would report lost luggage

Helpful Tips

  • Create a frequent flyer miles account to accrue rewards points
  • When booking your flight, check in advance to see if meals are provided – if you have dietary restrictions, update your flight with the correct information (this usually must be done at least 24 hours before the flight)

Looking for other pre-departure resources? Refer to our Packing List here.

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