Preparing for an epic travel adventure can be both exciting and overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time to visit a foreign land. You’ve booked your flight, got your passport and visa ready, and bought your luggage. But before you embark on your first journey outside your comfort zone, you have to know the other essentials for a smooth-sailing trip. Here are some important tips to help you prepare wisely for your very first international travel.
Secure All Your Travel Documents
Your travel documents (e.g., tickets, boarding pass, passport, visa, hotel reservation, etc.) will serve as your pass when you go through different airports. Just one missing copy will cause you so much hassle, with some immigration officers asking for copies of your travel details. So don’t leave without making sure that you have your complete documents with you.
Bring your own travel organizer that will hold and secure your passport and other docs. Also, create backup copies so that you can still access your travel docs in case you lose the original copies. You can back up travel documents as password-protected PDF files that you can access from anywhere with internet connection.
Bring Only the Essentials
Don’t bring your entire wardrobe on your trip! Research the weather and customs of the country you’re going to visit. If it’s going to be summer at the time of your visit you’ll only need to bring light and comfortable clothes which makes an easy pack. If the weather is going be cooler then opt for layers rather than big bulky clothing. Also make sure you bring appropriate attire for more conservative countries where long pants and sleeves may be required.
Once you know what you’re bringing you can then decide on the best suitcase for your travel needs. Bigger is not always better! It’s usually best to go as small and light as possible and keep in mind where and how you will be transporting it. Will you need wheels or would a backpack be better? Will you be checking your luggage or taking carry on? Do you need an expandable case for purchased items on your trip?
Since this will be your first time to travel internationally, you’ll want to document your adventures well, of course. The right type of camera to use depends on the nature of your travel. If your itinerary is packed with adrenaline-pumping adventures, your best bet is a durable, waterproof action camera that’s as lightweight as a smartphone but can shoot high-quality videos like a DSLR camera. Also decide what other electronics you need. Is a smartphone enough or do you need a laptop, tablet or e-reader?
Prepare an Itinerary
Planning an itinerary for your upcoming trip will save you time in finding and deciding where to go next. Google search the “things to do” in the country you’ll explore, and from there, build your own itinerary. If you’re having a hard time, there are smartphone apps and tools that can help you make your itineraries. Ready-made itineraries are also available online if you don’t have time to create one for yourself.
Budget Your Pocket Money Carefully
With your chosen itinerary, set the budget for the rest of your trip. Identify how much money you’re going to spend. Divide your overall budget to every destination you’re going to visit. Consider the admission fee (if there’s any), accommodation, transportation, and food. Don’t forget to allocate a little extra for emergencies.
Book an Affordable Accommodation
As you research your way through the place, make sure to find the perfect yet affordable accommodation. You don’t need to book a five-star hotel to fully experience a place! You can always stay at pension houses or hostels and meet new friends. Go for accommodations in the heart of the city for easier access to dining spots, shopping areas, and attractions.
Inform Your Bank About Your Travel
Give your bank a heads-up that you’ll be out of the country. If you purchase something abroad using your credit card without informing the bank about your travel beforehand, the bank will assume that your account got hacked and will freeze it. A frozen account with limited cash is the last thing you want to happen on your first international trip, right? Save yourself from misery and just call the bank before you leave.
Know the Exchange Rate
Find out the average exchange rate of the country you’re going to visit with your local currency. Also, research on where and when it’s best to have your money changed. The exchange rate at the airport often differs from those on the mall or in other establishments.
Prepare Your Phone
Call your carrier and inquire about its roaming rates. If it’s reasonable, go ahead and use it. But if it’s too much for you, you can just activate your mobile phone’s airplane mode and buy a prepaid SIM card that’s available in the country you’re going to visit. If you don’t make time to inquire with your carrier, you might be charged for using roaming data without you knowing it.
Review Your Travel Details
You don’t want to be left behind, do you? Always check your flight details: departure time, arrival time, and terminal where you’ll be arriving. Make sure to arrive at the airport at least four hours before you check in so that you don’t have to worry about being late. Grab a snack before you board in the plane, especially if it’s going to be a long flight. It’s best to bring some, too, so if you get hungry, you have something to munch because in-flight food is pretty expensive.
Preparing for your first ever international travel can be a lot of work, but it’ll definitely build up your excitement a few days or weeks before your flight. The key to a successful first trip is thorough research about the country you’ll visit to ensure you’ve covered everything.
Born in England, Sarah developed her wanderlust at a young age as she traveled around Europe with her parents. As a young adult she spent every penny she could on experiences as opposed to possessions. Eventually she found a way to earn a living doing what she loved: traveling, writing and capturing images of the wondrous world we live in. When not on the go Sarah enjoys time in her “sometimes home” of Vancouver.