No matter how much you’ve travelled in your home country, the experience of travelling internationally for the first time is something totally different. Going through the discovery of foreign places, so new and different from yours, is endlessly exciting but it can also be a bit scary and confusing. Don’t worry, by following these simple tips, your first international trip will be a success!
1. Get your Passport in advance
The most important tip for people travelling for the first time abroad? Avoid unnecessary stress and apply for a passport long in advance than your expected departure date. Don’t book a flight or make any practical arrangement that cannot be changed before to have the passport in your hand.
2. Choose your destination
Perhaps you’ve been dreaming for a long time about some places you’d love to visit; maybe you just know you want to go but you don’t know exactly where. Here are some important things you can ask yourself to make your choice:
- Do I want to stay close to your home country or go far away?
- Do I speak any foreign language?
- Am I eager to make new friends and connecting with local people?
- Do I feel comfortable about travelling to countries with a culture and a lifestyle greatly different from mine?
Once you’ve thought about these questions, you should be able to narrow down your choices to one or two countries, depending on how much time and budget you’ve allocated for your first international trip.
3. Check if your destination requires a Visa
As you book your trip, make sure to verify whether or not you’ll need a visa to travel to that country. For most of Europe, the U.K., and many countries in Asia and Latin America, U.S. or EU passport holders can travel without a visa or receive one on arrival. Do not misestimate this point: if your destination country requires a Visa and you don’t have one, you won’t be allowed to board the plane!
4. Make sure to have access to your money overseas
Ask your bank if you need to set up a travel alert while you’re abroad, about international fees and about partner banks in the destination that will help you save money on ATM fees. Even if your debit card will probably work everywhere, it’s important to have a good back-up plan. Try to take at least 100€-200€ cash, a debit card and a credit card with you on your first international trip to be prepared for any eventuality. Additional trick: always leave one card in your hotel room in case your wallet gets stolen!
5. Stay safe and careful
Any seasoned traveller knows that travel insurance is a must–get one that covers both health and property. When you are travelling, you may be susceptible to disease and other injuries: if you have a travel insurance, you can rest assured that if something goes wrong, you’ll be able to get the medical help you need.
Your first trip abroad may seem scary, but it’s almost always scarier in your mind than it will ever be once you’re travelling. Usually, the most you’ll have to worry about is pickpockets and petty theft. Always keep an eye on your belongings and hold your bag tight, never carry a backpack on just one shoulder or leave your bag on the ground or on the back of a chair. A cross body bag or fanny pack are the most effective way to deter pickpockets.
6. Save money with transportation & accommodation
Most international trips require you to take a flight, but for closer destination destination you can consider other options such as buses or trains. Thanks to Rio2Rome, for example, you can seek all the options available to travel from point A to point B with many means of transportation. Some countries have good car sharing options (like BlaBlaCar) that allow you to share the costs and company with other people going to the same destination.
Also, take a look at your options before booking your accommodations. Hotels are always a good option, sure, but don’t forget to do check out also hostel, guest-house, and Airbnb options – these offer you the chance to connect with other travellers and locals – even if hostels tend to be more cost-friendly.
7. Book everything in advance
Experts say that booking your flight ticket between 56-62 days before the departure date grows the chances to get a good deal. Also, booking on a Tuesday usually yields the best rates, while flying on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday will often be cheaper. Moreover, if you’re under 26 years old, you can get flight discounts: have a look at flight search engines like StudentUniverse to obtain a youth discount.
8. Manage your jet lag
As you start booking your first international trip, you may want to do as much as possible in one trip or in one day. Our advice: slow down, at least for the first day or two, to recover from the jet lag. Fight the jet lag by getting plenty of rest before your trip and try to slightly adjust your schedule — think staying up an hour or two later , in order to get your body prepared. Once you arrive, do your best to avoid naps: take a stroll around your neighbourhood to get a sense of local life and relax in a cafe for a bit.
TOP TIP FOR FIRST-TIME INTERNATIONALLY TRAVELLERS: PREPARE YOURSELF MENTALLY AND ENJOY YOUR TRIP!
You’re about to go on your first international travel adventure! You hold your passport in the end, your destination is decided, flights and accommodation have been booked and you can’t wait to depart. Now what? As your departure gets closer, it’s quite normal to feel a combination of nerves and excitement. It is the first time you leave the comfort and familiarity of your own country: it’s a bit scary, but eases with time.
Here some quick tips that you can remind yourself of before an international trip somewhere new:
- People normally like connecting with people from other cultures. A good suggestion is to book tours led by locals or community-based tourism organizations and you’re guaranteed to have a warm host.
- When you’re afraid, it means you really care about something and you’re worried it might not go well. Travelling is an opportunity for you to learn that you can handle when things go wrong and still have a good time.
- The world is amazing and so are the different cultures, people and landscapes of our planet. Your inspiration for start this trip was probably to discover more of this world and, hopefully, it will live up to your dreams or even exceed your wildest expectations.
- When you’re travelling, it’s really easy to meet other people. Don’t stress! Participate in events, introduce yourself to someone standing nearby, and join in on group day trips.