International Flights and Long Layovers

Tessa Rendina University of Cape Town, South Africa


February 10, 2020
Currently Studying At: University of Cape Town, South Africa
Homeschool: Susquehanna University

Between Dulles and Cape Town stood thirty hours of layover and flights. I departed from Dulles International Airport late at night, so I slept a majority of the way to Germany. Luckily I met up with two girls from my program whose layovers overlapped mine. With ten hours till our next flight, we decided to explore Frankfurt!

After figuring out the train system, we went out through security, got our passports stamped, and found a storage locker for our carry on bags. Getting around required asking a lot of locals questions and hoping for good cell service. Eventually, we found a bakery and a pub to recharge in.

Getting fresh air and good food and drinks made us dread the second and longer flight less. With three hours left till check-in, we headed back to the train station, went through security again, and got another Frankfurt, Germany passport stamp. When we settled in, we took turns napping at the airport gate and connecting with family back home through FaceTime.

Flight number two! I sat next to a German woman who spoke a little English. We often were mistaken as mother and daughter by the crew. Exhausted from the day before, I sobbed while watching Mama Mia: Here We Go Again (embarrassing I know, not even a sad movie), attempted another movie, and eventually fell asleep.

Upon arrival, our residence assistant collected us, and we headed to our dorms.

Some tips for traveling:

  1. Your plane’s gate number could change. Keep up with your flight by downloading your airline’s app and listening to the loudspeaker. If your gate changes and you are unaware, you will miss your flight. If you do miss it, stay calm and follow the instructions from the Arcadia Program. 
  2. Get up and walk around every couple of hours while flying. Even if it’s just a trip to the bathroom.
  3. Bring earplugs, headphones, eye-drops, nose spray…whatever you need to be comfortable. If you’re coming from the United States, the flight or flights will be LONG. Our flight to Cape Town had at least ten crying babies, if not more. While very cute, they were also very loud. Earplugs and nose spray were my best friend since I was a bit stuffy and tired by the second flight. 
  4. If the layover is long...explore! Research the closest city and how to get there. Plan to get back to the airport at least three hours before check-in just in case security lines are long or other complications arise. While in Frankfurt, our train on the way back was delayed about a half-hour, so expect some hiccups along the way. 
  5. Communicate with the people in your program! Who knows, you might get lucky and have the same flight or layover!

Most importantly, while traveling alone or anywhere new stay alert and be aware of your surroundings. Watch your voice level and look confident, as well. Traveling is exciting and incredibly educational. The last thing anyone wants is to get super lost in an unfamiliar city with no service and only a couple hours till the next flight. 

Start looking forward to the semester-long trip ahead of you full of adventure and growth. Safe travels!