8 Important Tips for First-Time Tourists: International Travel Tips
No matter how far you’ve traveled within your country, it’s still thrilling and scary to take your first international trip. My full-time globetrotting experience has taken me to nearly 60 countries over the past four years.
While it is exciting to go somewhere completely different and foreign, it can also be frightening and confusing. But it doesn’t need to be. These are some simple tips that will ensure smooth sailing.
First, get your Passport well in advance
One of the most important tips for first-time travelers to international destinations is: You can avoid unnecessary stress by applying for your passport well in advance of your departure date. You should not make bookings or make changes to arrangements until you have your passport. When you book international flights, you will be required to provide your passport number.
For adults, the U.S. passport application fee is $145 and for those under 16 it’s $115. If you already have booked and paid for your trip, there is an additional fee of $145 for adults and $115 for children under 16. Most often, an expedited passport can be issued within two weeks after your application.
When your passport arrives, you can make both digital and paper copies of the identification page. One copy should be given to your parents for safekeeping and the other one in your wallet. You can take a photo with your smartphone and save a high-quality digital copy to your Google Docs. Also, take a photograph of your visa stamp after you receive it.
Not just for flights, but all throughout your life. A lot of hotels require you to scan your passport identification page. It’s normal, and it shouldn’t alarm you. Some might even keep your passport as collateral while you are away to cover the cost of your accommodation and protect it from theft. Although this isn’t as common today as it was before the advent of online booking, don’t be surprised if you find yourself in some remote places.
Most countries do require that foreigners carry their passports at all times. However, this is not the best thing to do. Pickpockets and bag snatchers are all over the world. The paper copy that you created comes in handy here. It’s a good idea, if you ever have to face foreign law enforcement officers, to show them your passport and visa photo on your phone. Next, explain to them that the paper copy is back at the hotel. If they ask for it, just say so.
Your passport should never be kept in a convenient place on your bag. You should keep your passport in a safe place at a hotel, or in your hostel locker.
Decide where to go on your first international vacation
Perhaps you have dreamed for years about visiting Egypt’s pyramids or seeing elephants on the Thai coast. Perhaps you don’t know where to start, but you are certain you have to go. You may find it difficult to choose the destination for your first international trip after being overwhelmed by all the beautiful places you see.
There are some key things to remember as you narrow down your options.
You can choose to stay in your country or travel further away. You can start your first trip somewhere you are familiar with and then travel further if you feel more at home as an international globetrotter.
Do you speak a foreign language? Or are you more comfortable travelling to a country where the language you speak isn’t your first choice? France was the first country that I visited without knowing any English or Spanish. It was overwhelming.
Do you desire to make new friends? A guided tour is a great way to make friends with other travelers. Many tours also allow you to meet local guides.
What are your most awaited events? Are you drawn to architecture and beautiful places, unique foods, relaxation on the beach or climbing mountains? Or do you want to just party? To help you decide which aspects of your first overseas trip are most appealing, it might be helpful to create a short list.
Is it possible to travel to countries with a different culture and lifestyle than yours without feeling uncomfortable? Are you able to deal with poverty, pollution, and mad traffic? You don’t have to be afraid of visiting countries that you feel secure in.
Once you’ve pondered these questions, you should be able to narrow your choices down to one or more countries depending on how much time and money you have for your first international travel. For first-time travellers, it’s a good idea for you to visit Western Europe or Britain. English is spoken by most people, even if it’s not their national language. There are plenty of transportation options (buses and trains) and many unique cultures to explore. Australia and New Zealand are both easy destinations, but a little more adventurous as they require long-haul flight planning and strategic planning.
Check to see if you require a visa
Check to make sure that you have the right visa for your destination before you book your vacation. A visa is a document issued in advance by the country/countries you’re visiting. This allows you to travel within a set period of time.
U.S. passport holders may travel to most of Europe, Britain, and Latin America with no visa. Or they can get one at their arrival. If you need a visa and show up without it, you will not be allowed to board your plane. Talk about major disappointment and loss of money.
You must ensure you can access your money abroad
You no longer need cash or travelers checks. You can travel internationally. The internet makes it much easier for travelers to travel internationally to manage their money.
You can check with your bank to determine if you have to create a travel alert when you travel abroad. This will let your bank know when and whereabouts you are traveling. Also, inquire about international fees. They may have partner banks that can help you cut down on costly “foreign transaction” ATM fees. Ally or Charles Schwab offer a free checking account. These banks do not charge foreign transaction fees and will reimburse ATM fees even if you are traveling.
Your debit card will likely work anywhere on your first trip. However, it is important that you have a back-up plan. You should take $100, a card and a debit/credit card on your first international trip. Keep one card in your room, in case your wallet is stolen. I’ve had this happen to me too many times. Your wallet may be stolen, but it won’t mean you are without money.
You can save money by comparing transportation and accommodation options
You will need to fly to most international destinations. However, you can use buses and trains to get around. Rio2Rome allows you to search for all routes and find the cheapest and fastest way to get there.
Bus rides are the most eco-friendly and cost-efficient mode of transportation. You can also enjoy the views and interact with locals. BlaBlaCar is an app that allows you to share rides with other people. It’s popular in Germany and Spain.
Be sure to look at all options before you make a booking for accommodation. Hotels are always a good option. However, you should also research guesthouses and Airbnb options near your destination. This will allow you to make connections with locals and other travelers. Boutique hostels have become more popular, and they often offer better amenities than hotels.
Book Everything In Advance
When is the best time to start booking your trip ahead of time? It is difficult to predict with Covid still being in operation. According to a recent survey, last-minute deals can be found if you book close to your departure date. Airlines struggle to fill planes. Another survey found that the best time for booking cheap flights to Europe was 180-days before departure.
Flight discounts are available to anyone under 26. For a youth discount, check out StudentUniverse and other flight search engines. It doesn’t matter what, it is best to book when you have the money and can commit to your first international vacation. As many airlines won’t allow you on a one way flight, make sure you have exit tickets for each country.
Even though I travel long-term, I always reserve accommodation in advance. Some people find this exciting, but I am anxious about the idea of arriving in a new location after a long day of traveling. It is a good idea to have somewhere to stay for your arrival day. You will almost always be required to indicate where you are staying on customs forms. You should always have a business card with your accommodation in case your phone fails or you need to find your way back.
Take the time to get over your jetlag
When you begin booking your first international vacation, it is important to pack everything. How many cities are you able to fit into one trip? What can you see each day? My advice? Slow down!
Long-haul flights are difficult enough. Add a time difference to the mix and you’ll be feeling a little jet lagged. Each eighteen time zone change can cause it to take up to a week for the body to adjust. You can expect several days of adjustment for your brain and body when you fly from Los Angeles or London.
You can beat jet lag by getting enough sleep before your trip, and slightly changing your schedule. For example, you might stay up an hour later to prepare your body for the journey. Make sure you do the same for meals. Take plenty of water both before, during, & after your flight.
After you have arrived, avoid naps. Even if your body wants one. You can take a walk through your neighborhood and stop by a cafe to enjoy a cup of coffee. It doesn’t matter what, you should consider whether your schedule needs to be adjusted by adding a day or two. These rules are broken every time I fly between Asia and the U.S.
It may seem frightening to plan your first international trip, but once you are on the road, it is almost always more terrifying than it will be in your head. Here are some safety tips for traveling abroad.
Pickpocketing and petty theft are serious crimes. To avoid being a victim, keep an eye on what you have and make sure your bag is secure. Pickpockets will be deterred by a crossbody bag and fanny pack. Don’t carry a backpack over your shoulder. Avoid putting wallets or cellphones in the back pockets. Money belts, which you can wear underneath your clothes, and theft-proof wallets may be an option if you are really worried.
Stay in touch: You can register for the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. The U.S. Embassy in your area will be able to reach you in the event of a disaster, political unrest or other emergency. You can share your details with relatives back home, especially if you live in a homestay or are a landlord.
Travel insurance: Every seasoned traveler knows the importance of having travel insurance. You should get one that covers both your health and your property. You are more at risk for disease and other injuries when you travel. There are many horror stories about travelers who fell ill with parasites, staph infections, malaria and other diseases. Travel insurance can save you money on everything, from emergency evacuations to reimbursements for lost luggage.
Use common sense. Talk to locals about the areas you should avoid. Go out with a friend to explore, drink responsibly if you’re alone, or in a group you trust. Meet new people in public places. Don’t make the date public if you use a dating app. Always follow your gut when you are feeling uneasy about someone or a situation.
Although you should not dwell on what could go wrong, staying alert to your surroundings and taking simple steps for safety will help you enjoy your new adventure.