Whether it’s experiencing new cultures and locales or taking momentary respite from all the cares of daily life, it’s easy to see the appeal of traveling. However, it can be as daunting and intimidating as it is exhilarating, especially for beginners. After all, going on a trip to a different country takes a considerable amount of preparation — from what you should pack and how much your budget should be, to securing the right insurance coverage, there are many things to consider before you start booking any flights.
While it does require a fair bit of work, it isn’t as complicated as it appears. In this guide, we’ll talk about everything you need to know if you’re traveling outside the country for the first time. So, keep reading if you want to know more.
Nobody learns to swim by immediately diving into the deeper areas of a pool, and you mustn’t start traveling to the most challenging destinations as a first-timer. Instead, try to get used to going on trips before you begin visiting exotic places or countries that have unstable political systems. Limit your travels to domestic flights. Only once you’ve become familiar with traveling within your country should you expand your horizons should you go abroad and arrange the tours you’ve always wanted.
Don’t forget your mobile devices
Thanks to mobile devices, you no longer need to bring a lot of equipment with you. Even professional photographers can rely on their smartphones or tablets to take excellent pictures. Not only do these devices take up far less space than laptops, but they also offer similar functionalities, whether you’re playing games online like , watching movies using your preferred video streaming service, or listening to some music. So don’t forget to bring your phone or tablet, some chargers, cables, and an additional battery pack on your trip. As simple as it sounds, bringing the essentials will make a difference.
Do your homework
Spontaneous traveling might sound like fun, but it’s usually a good idea to carefully plan any trips, especially outside of your country. Doing a bit of homework on your intended destination before you leave will go a long way in enhancing the experience and preventing any trouble or unwanted surprises. Begin conducting research by looking into travel guides and blogs, specifically on the place you want to visit and how you plan to travel.
Read up on accommodations, dining, local laws, culture, activities, and places to avoid. Make sure you check the weather so you can choose the appropriate clothing to pack. If you’re working under a budget, consider going in the off-season instead of the peak season. The sun may not be shining as bright as it would be, and you’re likely to have limited access to events and activities, but you could significantly drive down the trip’s costs.
Travel time is another reason to research, so let it guide you to the ideal time you’ll spend at the destination. It might sound weird, but you’ll be surprised at how much of an impact the time spent will make on the overall experience.
Choose the proper luggage
Many first-time travelers take luggage for granted, but it’s more important than you might think. And choosing which one to bring will depend on several factors, from the duration of your travels, the people you’ll be going with, and any souvenirs you plan to bring home. It’s a general rule of thumb to overestimate your luggage needs and opt for reasonably sizable carry-on rollers or a backpack. While it might be a little bulky, it’ll be big enough for you to carry everything you might need on your trip.
The same rule applies to clothing and any other items you pack. Always bring more than you expect to use. You may end up carrying many things you might not use during your trip, but it’ll help you save money by purchasing items that you already have at your destination.
Pack the right clothing
Many travel tips tend to overemphasize packing light. This can make the process a kind of balancing act as a result. Ideally, you’ll only want to have no more than the clothes you’ll be using on your trip. However, understanding what you should bring will take some time and can be determined by personal preferences and the destination. For example, some people may be fine with matching and mixing a couple of pairs of shoes, shirts, and jeans, while others may not be comfortable with the idea of doing so.
As a rule for week-long trips, be sure to pack at least three tops that are seasonally appropriate. A couple of skirts or shorts and a single dress or pants should be sufficient. For places with colder climates, don’t forget to include extra socks, a jacket, a pair of appropriate shoes, and nice tops for the evening. You won’t need to bring more than one week’s worth of clothes because there’s bound to be a place where you can do the laundry.
Bring a carry-on
Having the right luggage is undoubtedly essential when traveling. First, however, you mustn’t forget to pack a carry-on with you. Lost and delayed baggage isn’t uncommon when going on a trip, and it can cause a lot of problems if you have everything in them. With a carry-on, you can have all items that aren’t easily replaceable on your hands, such as identifying documentation like your passport and driver’s license, your smartphone, cash, and other things. Doing so will ensure that you won’t be utterly helpless in case you lose your luggage.
Notify your bank
Many people forget to notify their banks before they leave, only to have their accounts frozen when they try to use their credit cards abroad. Most banks will immediately freeze an account if they feel that it’s being used in fraudulent activities. For this reason, it would be best if you gave them a heads up before you leave on your trip. After all, a quick phone call or email won’t take you too much time, and you’ll avoid a lot of trouble by doing so.
Prepare for the unexpected
Let’s face it: it’s unreasonable to prepare for everything. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to gear yourself for the unexpected. With that in mind, here are a few things you can do for when your trip isn’t going smoothly.
- Keep in touch. Technology has made it much easier and more convenient to keep in touch with friends and family no matter where you go. From messaging applications to social media, there are many ways to share news and photos with loved ones. If you find yourself in a pickle, you can contact people, be it due to delayed flights or any other unexpected events during your trip.
- Get travel insurance. Having travel insurance will give you peace of mind that you’re financially covered, whether it’s from lost luggage, medical emergencies, or flight cancellations. However, always read and understand the policies you choose to get before making any commitments. Also, ask questions to the provider if you don’t understand something. In this way, you’ll be certain of exactly what you’re getting.
- Budget in extra cash. Ask any seasoned traveler and they’ll tell you the same thing: always have some extra cash when going on trips. When you get right down to it, you’ll never know when you’ll need to spend a little more, be it on a souvenir, a nice restaurant that only caught your attention when you arrived at your hotel, or a specific activity that costs more than you were initially expecting. In other words, a financial cushion on top of your budget can make things easier for you.
- Get a VPN. We all depend on the internet more than we give it credit for, and it’s easy to see why. It does make everything simple and more convenient, after all. However, unsecured public WiFi connections can also make it easier for hackers to gain unauthorized access and steal your information. Don’t let this happen, and make sure you get a VPN or a virtual private network as it will help keep your devices secure when you go online.
Travel as a group
Traveling alone for the first time can be a daunting experience. Therefore, it makes sense to go at it with other people. Having family and friends with you on a trip can elevate its fun factor. Moreover, it can also help you keep your costs low because you can share the expense, from your accommodations to your food. So if possible, try to encourage your loved ones to travel with you. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much easier it will all be by having people you know around you.
Avoid hidden fees
Another way you can drive down your expenditure further is by avoiding fees in communication and accommodations. For example, before you book a hotel, inquire whether you can forgo paying extra for the amenities that you probably won’t get to use during your stay, like an in-room safe or the gym. If you do, you could get them to remove the charges that you’re likely to incur before arriving. For communication, international and roaming charges could potentially accumulate quickly. The good news is that you can effectively avoid them by using messaging services through an internet connection.
Finally, a considerable portion of many new travelers’ budgets usually ends up being spent in restaurants. While dining out can be enjoyable, doing it all the time is expensive. If you want to save more money, try to avoid restaurants that are located in tourist hotspots as they usually have high prices. Instead, look for places that the locals go to as there’s a good chance they’ll be much cheaper. It’s also better to try and cook your meals instead.
Avoid standing out
One mistake many inexperienced travelers make is standing out from the crowd. You might ask yourself why this can be a problem, and the reason is that tourists make easy targets for unsavory individuals. As such, you must try to blend in as much as possible. From choosing the kind of outfits that many of the locals wear to being discreet when using your map or asking people for directions, a low-key approach will only benefit you during your travels.
Create copies of essential documentation
When traveling, you won’t know when copies of your license, passport, or any other piece of identification will be necessary. Because of this, it’s crucial that you keep your documentation saved online. If possible, try to have multiple hard copies printed out. That way, you’ll avoid having to scramble just to find the documents you require.
Safeguard the hotel room
It’s ill-advised to take security measures for granted, even if your chosen hotel appears to be safe. So always keep everything secure, be it shutting down windows or locking the doors. If you’re not inside your room, give people the impression that you are anyway with the use of do-not-disturb signs to dissuade anyone from trying to break in. Finally, never leave expensive or essential belongings in the hotel room whenever you go out. This might be a little extreme, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution rather than regret the outcome later.
Create an itinerary
Given the chance, many would rather opt for spontaneity over sticking to a schedule. However, that also leaves a greater margin for error. So, create an itinerary for your trip. You don’t have to plan everything to the hour, but having an itinerary will enable you to make the most out of your time.
When all’s said and done, the best way to get good at traveling is to do it. However, you’ll have a much easier and more enjoyable time by following the tips listed above. Not only will you avoid mistakes that can ruin the experience and cost you more money, but it’ll make the experience smoother.