After months of restrictions, you’re probably ready to get away from it all right now. Once things have normalized, traveling abroad is an exciting idea for any vacation and a wonderful way to expand your horizons.
If you’ve never done it before though, you might be viewing your first trip to distant shores with growing trepidation.
Don’t let inexperience get you down, in an ordinary year, around 44 million US citizens vacation abroad – and they love every minute of it.
Here are some top traveling tips from seasoned travelers.
1. Plan a Little
Before jetting off into the unknown, it’s a good idea to put pen to paper and plan your trip. Book your tickets early and reserve your accommodation as soon as you can.
You can’t afford uncertainties when it comes to these vital vacation elements.
As far as possible, you should book tickets for major attractions in advance too. You might not get in at the last minute.
However, it’s vitally important to avoid overplanning. Allow some time for spontaneity, for getting lost in your new surroundings, and for relaxation.
First-time travelers often exhaust themselves rushing from one tourist hotspot to the next. Take time to refresh, regroup, and immerse yourself fully in your surroundings.
2. Embrace Adventure
Museums, historic sites, and long walks on the beach are great ways to spend your time on vacation. Yet, you also want to get your adrenalin pumping a little, don’t you?
Many destinations offer heart-thumping adventures to thrill any soul. Consider stepping out of your comfort zone with bungee jumping, rafting, and other exciting activities.
3. Enjoy Local for Local’s Sake
Tourist attractions, swish hotels, and pristine beaches are wonderful additions to any vacation. Yet, you should also take some time to experience the true local culture.
Enjoy a meal at small family-run restaurants instead of five-star eateries now and again.
Learn some local phrases and strike up a conversation with friendly local folks. You’ll learn much more than you will from the perfectly polished tourist hotspots.
4. Money Matters
There are a lot of things that money can’t buy, but you’ll be high and dry if you find yourself in a foreign country without it. Be sure to speak to your credit card company about your trip and any charges related to international travel.
It’s important to exchange some currency for cash before you leave, you don’t want to arrive at the airport only to discover your taxi only accepts cash. Airports are notorious for having the worst exchange rates.
Keep a few dollars and cents on you for emergencies. Many tourist destinations accept US dollars.
Research the cheapest way to send money abroad before you pay for any of your pre-booked activities and accommodation.
5. Know the Law
Other countries do things differently. Brush up on local laws and taboos before you leave. The last thing you want is to offend or alienate your hosts.
Learn the finer details about your destination before you leave. You should find out about things like appropriate dress, good manners, customs, and traditions before you leave.
Not only will this prepare you for your trip and smooth the way for a more enjoyable time abroad, but it also makes for interesting reading.
6. Pack Wisely
When you’re heading abroad for the first time, it’s tempting to pack for every eventuality. That mindset will only result in extra baggage charges.
If you’ve planned carefully and booked as much as possible in advance, it’s easier to pack light.
Making provision for a few hours spend in the laundromat’s the best way to cut down on your luggage. That way, you can get wear your clothes more than once.
Pack so that you can layer clothing for warm weather and include as many mix-and-match pieces as possible. You’ll only need one smart outfit for evening entertainment, especially if you’re traveling to many destinations.
Where you’re going, nobody knows who you are and they’re unlikely to keep tabs on how many times you wear the same outfit.
Take the climate into account, weather patterns can vary widely from destination to destination, even within the same country.
7. Paperwork’s Important Too
All the admin involved in traveling overseas might be the most boring part, but it’s also one of the most important.
Make sure your passport’s up to scratch and that you have the necessary visas for your trip long in advance. Sometimes administrative delays can wreak havoc with your trip.
Keep copies of all your bookings and receipts on you and leave an extra set of copies with a friend so they can email or fax them to you if your batch goes astray.
One of the best tips for first-time international travel is to keep one folder containing all your important documents in your travel bag. Luggage can go astray from time to time, so don’t let this important paperwork out of your sight.
Make sure to chat to your doctor about any necessary vaccinations and keep the certificates in your folder.
8. Account For Jet Lag
Most travelers don’t give jet lag a second thought until it happens to them. How bad can it be, right?
No matter how tough you are, you can’t enjoy yourself when you’re exhausted. Apart from holing up in your hotel for a few days to recover, there’s only one way to adjust your internal clock for jet lag – practice.
Start switching over to the time-zone of your destination a few days before the time, a few hours at a time. When you eventually arrive, you won’t have to adjust quite as much.
9. Take Advantage of Tech
There are so many ways that tech can make your travels easier. Not only can you do all your planning and bookings online nowadays, but you can also check-in for your flight before you arrive at the airport.
Download a good book and some of your favorite tunes onto your phone before you arrive, they’ll keep you company on long trips, or while relaxing between sights. Apps can help you find your way and discover all the best tourist sites.