International travel can be quite stressful even for experienced travelers.
What to say about first-timers who lack knowledge of all the pitfalls and nuances of the journey abroad. Arriving in a foreign country after a long flight, navigating different time zones, languages, and currencies can be disorienting. On top of that, unexpected surprises may arise during the journey. However, with careful preparation, first-time travelers can ensure a smoother experience. Does that sound interesting? Keep reading to get ready for your first international trip.
#1 – Check Passport and Visa Requirements
First of all, check visa requirements for your destination and when your passport expires. Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months before the actual travel dates since many countries have this requirement for entry. Research the visa requirements of your destination. Check if you need a visa in advance or if the country offers visa-free entry based on your nationality. Some countries may provide visa-on-arrival.
#2 – Apply for Your Passport Well in Advance
To avoid unnecessary stress and potential delays, apply for or renew your passport well in advance. Processing times for passports can vary. You never know when unexpected issues arise, so it’s best not to wait until the last minute to handle passport-related matters. You can save some time by using the PhotoGov service. It will help you get your passport photo ready in a couple of minutes. You won’t be able to go international travel without a valid passport photo. So take this tip seriously and start preparations for your next journey in advance
#3 – Keep Digital Copies of Important Documents
Make digital copies of your passport, visa, travel insurance, and any identification cards you may need before you leave for your trip. You should always have a back-up. Save these copies in secure cloud storage or email them to yourself. In case of loss or theft, having digital copies can expedite the process of obtaining replacements and serve as valuable backup documentation.
#4 – Research Your Destination
To optimize your travel experience, researching your destination is crucial. While spontaneous travel can be exciting, anticipating some nuances of the country you’ll be visiting can make your journey smoother and more enjoyable. Apart from language and cultural differences, laws and regulations may vary significantly. You should know them well to avoid issues during your journey.
For instance, chewing gum is illegal in Singapore, and feeding pigeons in Venice is also prohibited. In Scotland, riding a cow while intoxicated is not allowed. These are just a few examples of how unfamiliar laws can catch travelers off guard. However, by acquainting yourself with your destination’s laws and customs, you can navigate your travels with confidence.
Before going on your international adventure, we strongly recommend that you research the following questions.
- Currency: What is the local currency, and where can you exchange your money?
- Tap Water: Should you buy bottled water, or is it safe to drink bottled water?
- Religion and dress code: What is the dominant religion, and are there any rules around clothing modesty that you should be aware of?
- Vaccinations: Are there any mandatory or recommended vaccines for travelers to your destination?
- Tourism infrastructure: How catered to tourism is your destination? Are accommodations for tourists widely available?
- Language: What is the country’s main language, and how widely is English spoken?
- Dietary requirements: Does the local food align with your dietary preferences or requirements?
- Traffic laws: Do traffic laws in this location differ from those in your home country? Familiarize yourself with local driving regulations if you plan to rent a vehicle.
Remember, the more prepared you are – the more you can embrace and appreciate the cultural differences and make the most of your journey abroad.
#5 – Check About Local Culture and Customs
Familiarize yourself with the local customs and cultural norms of the country you’re visiting. Respecting local traditions and practices demonstrates cultural sensitivity and appreciation for the host country’s heritage. Learning a few basic phrases in the local language can help you engage with locals and make your travel experience more enjoyable.
#6 – Secure Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is essential for international trips. It provides coverage for medical emergencies, trip cancellations, lost belongings, and other unforeseen situations that may occur during your travels. Ensure your travel insurance policy includes coverage for the activities you plan to engage in during your trip.
#7 – Notify Your Bank and Credit Card Company
Inform your bank and credit card company of your travel dates and destinations to prevent potential card blocks for suspicious activity during international transactions. Check if your destination accepts credit cards and if there are any additional fees for using them abroad. Carry some local currency for small expenses and places where cards may not be accepted.
#8 – Compare Transportation & Accommodation Options
You’ll likely be on the move daily during your trip, so it’s essential to research the most efficient ways to travel. There are different websites and apps that can help you explore route options and determine the quickest and most cost-effective types of transportation, whether it’s by bus, train, or plane.
For budget-conscious and eco-friendly travelers, buses and subway systems are often the best options. They not only save money but also offer a chance to immerse yourself in local sights and interact with residents. Alternatively, rideshare apps can also provide door-to-door service with vetted drivers at fair prices.
When it comes to accommodation, while hotels are a reliable choice, hostels, guesthouses, and Airbnb can be more budget-friendly. Staying in a hostel allows you to meet fellow travelers and create new connections. Consider boutique hostels, which often offer better amenities than budget hotels. If you plan to stay in one place for more than a week or two, explore options that offer monthly discounts.
#9 – Pack Appropriately
Packing appropriately is the key to a smooth and enjoyable trip. Overpacking, underpacking, or having a disorganized suitcase can all negatively impact your travel experience. To ensure hassle-free journeys, here are some helpful tips to consider when it comes to packing:
- Utilize packing cubes – Embrace the magic of packing cubes – they are true game-changers for travelers. These versatile organizers enhance your trip by keeping your belongings neatly arranged, optimizing space, and simplifying unpacking at your destination. Packing cubes are affordable, making them a must-have for any savvy traveler.
- Travel light – Strike a balance between preparedness and carrying unnecessary weight. Pack essentials for warm, cold, and rainy weather, but avoid overloading your luggage. Heavy bags can turn navigating older buildings without elevators into a nightmare. If worried about running out of clean clothes, opt for laundry services or treat yourself to local souvenirs in the form of clothing.
- Keep your possessions safe – Safeguarding your belongings is paramount. Use locks on your rucksack or suitcase to deter potential thieves. Carry valuable items like electronics and jewelry in your carry-on bag while traveling. At the hotel, utilize room safes for added security. In hostels, you can usually find lockers, but remember to bring your lock.
The above tricks will help you simplify your travel experience, avoid unnecessary stress, and focus on enjoying every moment of your journey. A well-organized suitcase can make all the difference and help you enjoy your journey to the maximum with peace of mind.
#10 – Stay Aware of Scams and Safety Precautions
While traveling, be vigilant about common tourist scams and pickpocketing. Stay in well-lit and populated areas, especially at night, and avoid displaying expensive items or large amounts of cash. Keep your belongings secure, and consider using a money belt or anti-theft backpack. Research the safety of your destination and be cautious when exploring unfamiliar areas.
Travel Safely & Enjoy Your International Trips
International travel can be an incredible adventure, full of great experiences and cultural discoveries. Stick to the above tips – make the max out of your trip and stay safe during your journey.