Have you ever looked at the globe, marvelled at the miniature and dreamt of leaving a trail across it? No matter how much you have travelled within your country, crossing the borders would be an adventure in itself!
And if it is for the first time that you are travelling to a country unknown, every moment, from planning to executing, will be packed with a plethora of emotions. Feelings of uncertainty and nervousness are normal and for a fact will fuel your excitement levels both pre and post departure.
We have compiled some useful international travel tips right from choosing your destination to packing your bags, so that you don’t miss out on anything critical. Because your first Overseas travel deserves to be special!
Choose Your Destination Wisely
Choosing a destination is undeniably confusing. It requires deep research, else you can end up regretting your much awaited first International travel. You can consider these parameters to decide your perfect destination.
1. How long do you want your vacation to be?
Undoubtedly, the longer you are in a vacation mood, the better it feels, but unfortunately we all are bound by work (except for the lucky‘full time travel influencers’).
Now, if you have fewer days to vacay, choose a destination closeby, else you can consider travelling to a country far off. Moreover, you will be able to calculate your expenses and plan your budget accordingly. You will also be able to give a purpose to your holiday, like if it has to be adventurous, a relaxing break or simply wandering (keeping the ‘time factor’ in mind).
2. What kind of a traveler you are?
Do you want an action packed vacay or are you in search of tranquility? Do you enjoy shopping or would you rather prefer exploring different cultures? Answer to these questions to shortlist some destinations.
3. Which landscape will you enjoy the most?
We live in a beautiful World and the diversity in landscapes adds more to its allure. There are stunning waterfalls, islands, freshwater lakes, wildlife reserves, deserts and the list doesn’t end.
You can narrow down your search by deciding if you would like to spend your vacation in the lap of the mountains or stay by a sea beach, explore the deserts or marvel at nature and wildlife.
4. Do you want to travel to a remote destination or stay close to your homeland?
Spending time commuting to a remote destination can be really hectic, especially if you are not a seasoned traveller. You will experience jet lag when you cross any of the eight time zones. The disorientation, where the mind and body try to adjust to the new time zone, can last upto one week.
So, in case you have limited days, it is advised not to travel to a remote destination, else you will waste your major time in overcoming the bane- jet lag. You can plan to explore far off places once you have a decent travelling experience.
5. What languages do you speak and which culture can you adjust to?
Since you would be traveling abroad for the first time, it is important to consider this parameter. It can be very challenging to explore a place where you do not know the local language.
If you do not speak a foreign language, it would be better to decide on a place where English is the common language. Although exploring different cultures facilitates creating social bridges, adjusting to it for the first time can turn down your experience into a negative one.
6. Do you have climate preferences?
Either you might wish to beat the extreme summers of the tropics and travel somewhere cool, or you might wish to escape the winters and plan a tropical vacation.Taking this parameter into consideration can help you choose one place over the other.
7. Are you travelling solo, with friends or family?
This greatly influences the choice of your destination. You need to consider the choices of family members or friends when it comes to finalising a place, the activities and everything related to the trip. Moreover, you have to keep in mind if the destination is family friendly or not. Whereas you can be liberal about choosing the destination and activities when travelling solo.
8. Is the Country safe to travel?
Since COVID has eclipsed tourism to a great extent, research about the recent COVID conditions in the country you have shortlisted to travel.
2. Get your documents in place!
Photo by Berend van Rossum on Unsplash
You have a destination in mind and you are eager to turn your dream into reality. But, are you legally entitled to cross your borders and travel to a foreign country, even if it's for a few days vacation? You are, if you have these documents. Take note of these five tips to get your documents in place.
1. Passport- ‘The holy book of Travellers’
You cannot travel overseas without a passport. Applying for it well in advance is highly recommended, as the entire process for getting a passport issued can take about four to six weeks. In case you have sudden plans, you can apply for an expedited passport for an extra fee and receive it in two weeks.
You will have to check if your chosen destination grants a visa on arrival or do you need to apply for the visa in advance. To get a tourist visa you need to fill up an e-Tourist Visa Application form, make the payment for the same and schedule an appointment for the Visa interview at the embassy.
Visa requirements vary from country to country, but the basic requirements include the applicant's details and proof of purpose (to visit the country).
3. Air Tickets
Besides the soft copy in your smartphones, you must always have a printed copy of your flight tickets. While travelling to some destinations, you might also require to show your return flight tickets to the immigration authorities.
4. Proof of Immunizations
You must get yourself vaccinated and carry proof of the same while travelling overseas. This document can be mandatory for some destinations because of two reasons
First, to prevent the International spread of any disease via the traveller. Second, to protect individual travellers exposed to the diseases common in the country where he/she is travelling.
5. Proof of Accomodation
The immigration authorities ask tourists to produce their accommodation proof or hotel bookings especially in countries which grant visa on arrival.
It is advised to keep the originals and the printed copies of all the mentioned documents. You should also have a digital copy of every important document which you can present to the authorities in case the hard copies are lost or stolen.
Be extra cautious if your fellow traveller is an elderly, pregnant woman or a child. You must carry their medical statuses and prescriptions to address an unexpected emergency.
3. Plan your vacation like a Pro!
Photo by Leo Perspective on Unsplash
Now that you have chosen your dream destination and you are desperately waiting to make it there, go ahead and make a foolproof plan. The best part is, planning a vacation comes with an unexplainable feeling of joy and excitement. Done wisely, it can elevate this first experience of yours to a great extent. You can let a travel agency do the job or handle it yourself. Keep these five things in mind to plan your vacation like a pro
1. Book your flights
Booking your flights well in advance can help you escape from the spike in prices later which occurs in the preceding days of the flight. Skyscanner, Kayak, Momondo and Travelzoo are some of the popular and trustworthy booking websites, where you can avail decent discounts and deals.
2. Book your accommodation
This step requires extensive research. Location, amenities and budget are the basic parameters which would give a direction to your search.
You can browse through hotel booking websites and get decent information about the hotels/ resorts/ hostels/ apartments through ratings and customer reviews. Assure that comforts like cleanliness, laundry, Wi-Fi access, Breakfast are covered in your package, so that you have a comfortable stay.
You can look up the hotel in google maps to know the exact location and nearby places. Accommodation central to all the tourist attractions can save your time and money on transportation (until you are on a relaxing break and wish to stay somewhere serene and beautiful, far from the crowd).
Your choice of accommodation will also be driven by the fact you are travelling solo, with family or friends. You can choose hostels over hotels and resorts, if you are travelling alone, to make your trip budget friendly and to get an insight into the culture and lifestyle of the locals.
When travelling with family and children you have to assure safety and confirm if the place is kids friendly. You would also prefer a decent view, private pool, beach access or maybe a game zone so that you don’t leave your children with a grumpy face for the entire trip.
Be very careful about the arrival and departure dates, while booking accommodation online, especially if you will be crossing the International Date Line during transit.
3. Explore about local transportation
Commuting in an unknown city can be daunting. Exploring commuting options and booking them in advance can save you from unnecessary stress.
If you really intend to explore your destination and dig deeper into their lifestyle and culture, go for local transport options like bus rides, trains and ferries. And in case you are seeking privacy, you can book yourself a car with a chauffeur or rent a car to drive on your own. Rome2Rio is an excellent app offering ridesharing services globally.
PS- In case you plan a self-drive holiday, you will be required to hold an International Driving Permit (IDP). Also you will have to tune into their driving system in case it is opposite to what you follow in your country, like the USA follows the right hand side driving system and vice versa is the case for the UK.
4. Make your To-Do list
Your vacation has a purpose, limited days and a limited budget. Deep dive the internet to explore your destination’s tourist attractions, popular streets, dining places, activities to do, and events to attend, so that you do not miss out on anything incredible.
5. Prepare yourself for a leap into the unknown
Study the culture, the people and the local food before making it to your destination, so that you are mentally and physically prepared to handle your first time International trip.
Although food adventure is an essential part of an International trip, there can be times when the food doesn't appeal to your paletes. You can always carry some homemade snacks as a backup to meet this situation, (which doesn’t sound but can be really frustrating).
In case you don’t know the local language of the place, you can consider booking a travel guide. You can also take up a short language course a month before your departure. And since we belong to the digital era, we can always look up our smartphones for translating any language.
4. Some Important Money Tips
It is always advised to make your payments in cash, to escape foreign exchange charges or markup fees when you are using digital payment options. Besides carrying cash you can consider these digital payment options to make your travel convenient. Consider these top three money tips for a hassle free vacation abroad.
1. International Travel Card
The travel card is a better and a cheaper option than the credit and debit cards. It has a prepaid amount which you can use to make withdrawals and purchases. The International Travel Card or the Forex Card can carry more than one currency.
2. Credit Cards with zero foreign transaction fees
It is wise to use a credit card but a fee is incurred (usually 3%) for every transaction. Get yourself a credit card which waives off the entire foreign transaction fees. To avail the facility you can open a credit card account which includes travel benefits. You should always try paying in local currency to avoid the conversion charges while using your Credit Cards.
3. Local Banks
Prefer getting your currency exchanged at local banks rather than at airports to avoid hefty charges.
Follow these tips for spending wisely in a foreign country
- Though digital payment options are comfortable, paying in cash can help you escape exchange rates. Carry some cash (US dollars or your home currency) as a backup currency, to address an emergency.
- Try getting the destination’s local currency before your travel. You can do this by asking anyone in your circle if they have that currency (in case they have been to that place before). You can escape exchange rates this way!
- You can also visit your home bank for common foreign currencies. Being equipped with the local currency before you land your destination is always helpful. Plan your expenses so that you don’t disturb your budget.
5. Get Travel Insurance
By availing travel insurance you arm yourself against several risks of travelling internationally (especially if it is for the first time). It provides coverage against
1. Medical treatments and accidents
Depending upon the insurance policy you can claim compensation in case of a medical treatment, an accident and even a dental treatment. You can search for insurance companies which have collaborations with a network of hospitals across different countries to avail the benefits of cashless treatments.
2. Losses during travel
Loss of checked in luggage, passport etc can make your first trip daunting, but you can escape from additional expenses caused by these losses if you are insured.
3. Changes to the travel Itinerary
The Travel Insurance compensates against unforeseen changes in the travel itinerary like cancellation of airline or hotel bookings at the end of the seller, unexpected health problems, or financial bankruptcy of the travel company offering the trip.
6. Pack Smart!
Photo by Damir Bosnjak on Unsplash
- The truth is, to pack without missing essentials requires practice and a lot of travel experience. First time travelers can research how to pack a suitcase by reading packing strategies of globetrotters. You can also follow these packing tips for a hassle free trip.
- Pack light and pack smart. Carry a comfortable handbag for essentials like your wallet, documents, mobile charger, Power bank, earphones, your air travel kit, medication(if any), sanitizer, wet wipes and any other thing which you feel needs to be kept handy.
- Try not to carry more than one luggage. Keep things organised and use every inch of your suitcase. Keep your clothes in sync with the climate of your destination, your swimsuit, footwears, a copy of your documents, and some cash.
- Do check the dimensions and weight limit of luggage (which varies for Economy, Business and First Class) that you can carry. The number of suitcases you can carry on an International trip is two. To avoid wasting your time and time at the airport, adhere to the luggage rules.
- Keep a pouch of unpacked toiletries so that there is no chance of spillage. Do not miss your sunscreen.
7. Be Safe!
Your safety should be your priority. You need not get nervous, instead be extra careful and bingo! you are all set to have a beautiful experience. Follow these tips to keep yourself safe.
- Inform your family and friends of your destination, keep sharing your locations with them.
- Inform your country’s embassy before leaving for your destination.
- Get acquainted with the laws of the country you are visiting and obey them.
- Keep yourself safe from pickpockets and thefts.
- Keep copies of your documents back in the hotel, so that you can access them in case you lose any of the originals. Report the authorities promptly in case you lose your passport.
- Stay connected! You always need to carry a phone which has both calling and internet facilities. You can either activate International roaming on your smartphone or buy an International data package. For an in-depth insight you can contact your service provider to get a plan that suits your needs at a not so offensive rate.
- Trust your instincts as you will be meeting new people and making friends during your trip. Take care of yourself.
- Wear your mask (especially when you are in a crowded place). Keep sanitizer handy.
Create Moments for a Lifetime!
With the departure date getting closer, you might experience nervousness and excitement which is pretty natural. After all, you are about to leap into the mysteries of a new place far from your homeland.
Do not forget to get your moments captured, because the photos you click are like a return ticket to the places you have once been too. They allow you to time travel to the exact moment, the exact time, and the exact place you’ve explored.
What if we told you that there is an exclusive platform dedicated to preserve your precious travel memories, chronologically?
Experience Voyapic, the one of a kind, traveller’s app, where you can create your travel logs, keep them private or share them with the world. Create new memories here or upload moments from the past scattered in your phones and laptops, all in one place at- Voyapic: Your Travel Showcase.