International travel is one thing that everyone should aspire to. It enriches the mind, body and soul and allows you to taste new foods, interact with different cultures and literally see places where important historical events took place. International travel opens your eyes to so many beautiful and amazing things you could only dream of if you hadn’t ventured abroad. But taking your first international trip with your significant other can be a scary and nerve wrecking experience that requires careful research and preparation to pull off.
Even just crossing the Atlantic Ocean means spending at least a day in an airplane each way and taking an even longer period to recover from jet lag. While some travel-related stress is unavoidable – even for seasoned travelers, smart planning can really help prevent your dream vacation from becoming a nightmare. In this article, we will outline a few tips to help guide beginners streamline their trips abroad to ensure they run smooth and incident free.
1. Get A Passport
Nearly every country requires that travelers hand over a passport on arrival. Passports are also a form of personal identification. Cruise lines and hotels will also want to see your passport upon checking in. If you have never applied for a passport you’ll understand the importance of doing this in advance to avoid any last minute disappointments. Currently, passport applications are processed in 6 weeks in the United States, but you should give yourself as much time as possible just in case.
Make sure to guard your passport while traveling, but if you happen to lose it while traveling you can get a replacement by visiting the US embassy in the country you are visiting
Apart from applying for a passport on time, it may also be a good idea to enroll into the Global Entry program if you are a frequent traveler. For the low cost of only $100, you will get fast tracked through customs processes, skip paperwork, avoid long lines and generally get where you were headed faster.
2. Create a Travel Folder
Before commencing any trip, prepare a manila folder containing all your travel documents (notes reservations, important e-mails, flight and hotel documents, copies of passports, birth certificates, etc.). After compiling this folder, write reminders of the most important things you’ll need to do at least one week before departure.
If you are on a roaming plan, you should download an app for your airline. This will make it easy to contact the airline’s reservations system in case of any delays or complications. If you can’t download an app, then record the airlines, international and 1-800 numbers in your cell phone or travel folder.
3. Research Your Travel Destination
Have some time off but are you not quite sure which country to visit? This happens often and considering that each destination has a different experience, culture, cuisine and landscape, we recommend doing your research beforehand. For example, if you’re looking to wander into the ancient Roman Empire, you should visit Rome and Italy as opposed to Fiji.
Research any place that catches your fancy and read about other traveler’s experiences. It won’t take long before you develop a list of the top places to visit.
4. Ensure That Your Visas and Other Travel Requirements Are Correct
Check the travel requirements for each country before you commence booking flights and accommodation. While you can show up at a hotel without a reservation and still get a room, you won’t be able to get through customs if you do fulfill the travel requirements.
Ask about the recommended vaccines. To make this easy, visit the Centre for Disease Control’s website to confirm which vaccinations are required.
5. Consider Your Appropriate Budget
International travel is not cheap, so prepare a budget for you and your significant other that will limit you to spending cash on what you love. Resist the urge to visit those over-hyped tourist destinations that will leave a dent in your budget, rather, save your money so that you can indulge in those things you’ll always remember.
6. Plan Your Itinerary
Do you want to make your trip memorable and incident free? Then you should definitely create an itinerary beforehand. While it understandable that you may want some wiggle room for spontaneous adventures, it is always good to have a list of things to see.
Since you’ll probably want to visit a variety of places, plan the itinerary in a way that makes it easy to get from one place to the next.
7. Book your flight and accommodation
This is an important step where you can also save money if you get the timing right. Not all travel websites charge the same fee, so do your homework before paying for your ticket otherwise you may find yourself sitting next to a person who paid half the price for the same seat!
While it is important to make reservation for accommodations, this may not be necessary in some locations. It is however recommended that you at least book for the first night in advance and leave the rest of the nights open. It is usually easy to find a good spot to spend the night if you are visiting a new city.
Remember, things like local holidays, events, festivals and business conferences can greatly affect your ability to get the type of accommodation you need. So take some time to research them before you go.
9. Learn some of the language
Don’t fret if you aren’t fluent in the destination country’s language. You should learn keywords and phrases such as “hello,” “how are you,” “thank you” and “please.”
If you’re not fluent in the language, we recommend downloading a translation app on your Smartphone that allows you to type a phrase and let the app translate it to the language of your desire. Fortunately, English is spoken in many places around the globe fluently.
10. Choose The Right Company
If you’re reading this, chances are you’ll be traveling with your significant other. If you’re not traveling with them, make sure to choose the right companion as traveling can test even the most solid relationships. We recommend choosing a good communicator who is also enthusiastic about your trip rather than one who simply wants to tag along.
Well, there you have it, practically everything a beginner should know before commencing international travel but was afraid to ask. Remember keeping your head on your shoulders will go a long way in ensuring a safe trip.