I will be getting my yoga certification in Fiji this September. I have never flown alone internationally, and I am a bit anxious about finding my way through airports, customs, baggage claims, and all the other logistics involved in traveling out of the country. After researching it for a bit and trying to find advice, I have found that all airports and places are different and not all of the information that I found can be applied to my specific circumstance. I guess all I can do is give my travel details and hope someone can inform me on things I should know and the possible order of procedures that will take place while traveling from airport to airport.
I have 3 connecting flights to get from Chicago, Illinois to Savusavu, Fiji. My first plane leaves out of Chicago and lands in LA, California. Second plane goes from LA to Nadi, Fiji. From the Nadi Airport, I need to get on another smaller plane to fly again and land at the Savusavu airport. I have my passport so that is one thing out of the way. I was told that I don't need to obtain a visa prior to leaving, and instead the airport in Fiji will stamp my passport with a 4-month tourist visa (whatever that means). For the trip back to Chicago, I have 3 connecting flights again all landing and transferring at the same airports.
Alright, that is all of the info I can think of, but now I have specific questions that I would be so grateful to get some answers and insight on. If you could explain and answer in detailed steps I would be even more thankful. I don't have anxiety about flying, just about all of the details and timing and order of what happens when and where. Some of these may seem like stupid questions, but cut me some slack. I'm a newbie.
My first question is regarding checking into my flights. I will arrive at the Chicago Airport 2 hours early to go through security and everything, but I am confused as to where to get my tickets. Do I check in online prior to getting to the airport? When I get my ticket for the plane leaving Chicago, is that where I will give them my bags?
Since I have 3 connecting flights, will I be getting all of those tickets while checking in for my flight leaving Chicago, or will I have to obtain the other tickets for the connecting flights each time I land at a new airport? (not sure if that question made sense).
Will they transfer my bags from flight to flight for me, or do I have to go to the baggage claim after each flight and recheck my bags?
When and where would they check my passport and give me my tourist visa stamp? I am most nervous about this because I would really like to get back into the U.S. I am not sure if I will have to find a specific person to stamp it for me or if it will be part of going through customs.
Some people have said that customs won't happen until I land in Fiji. Is that true, and if so, does that mean that on my trip back I won't have to go through customs again until I land in the U.S.?
I am very nervous about flight cancelations or delays. What would/should I do if I were to land someplace and find out that my next flight is delayed or canceled?
I am also aware that with that many connecting flights involved, my luggage may get lost. What do I do in that circumstance?
Lastly, this has nothing to do with flights, but what would be the best way to convert some of my money into Fijian dollars prior to landing in Fiji. I heard that a lot of the places in Savusavu only accept cash, plus I need cash for the cab ride from the airport to the resort.
I know that I show up for my flight, go through security, find my gate, get on my plane, get off my plane, and then somehow find the next gate for the next plane. I just need help filling in the blanks as far and where and when other procedures need to take place during layovers.
I know this was long and probably confusing at times, but your attempt to help me out and give me some insight would be so greatly appreciated!