If you’re leaving the country for the first time, there are a few things you should know. Here’s how to plan an international trip for the first time.
Laying on a golden beach in St. Barths. Skiing the snow-capped mountains in Switzerland. Soaking up culture and ancient civilization in Peru.
Need a vacation…far far away from your daily routine? Traveling abroad offers a change of scenery, culture, and customs. This is why most Americans put 10% of their income towards vacations…because they are well worth it.
Yet, planning your first trip abroad can be stressful, frustrating, and confusing. Especially when you throw in language barriers and travel documents.
Here’s how to plan an international trip like a world-class traveler.
Before any planning begins, you most likely have a destination in mind. You’ll be entering uncharted territory. So, it’s important to first do some research about the country you plan to visit.
Timing is an important factor in how to plan a trip. For example, Hawaii vacations are best experienced in the Spring and Summer months.
If you’re going somewhere tropical, pay attention to the offseason schedule. You’ll get cheaper prices but may have to risk hurricane season.
You also want to make sure there are no government or safety issues during your planned time of travel. If you’re pregnant or planning to be soon, read up on countries that still have Zika threats.
It’s also important to familiarize yourself with other cultural norms and customs. This will help with any language barriers and allow you to fit in better.
For example, many countries in Europe give cheek kisses in greeting. Indonesians use their thumbs to point in a direction. You’re also expected to ride in the front seat of a taxi in countries like Austraila.
Arriving late in Germany gets considered as rude behavior. Tipping is also less or non-existent in some other countries.
Planning an international trip cannot happen without a valid passport. Make sure yours is up to date and will not be expiring anytime soon.
If you don’t have a passport, get this taken care of as early as possible. After applying, it can take longer than a month to get your new passport mailed to you. You may be able to speed up the process for an extra fee.
You’ll need to bring your own photo, in a 2×2 inch size. Discover more about the best places to get your passport picture taken. An updated passport is an important step in how to plan an international trip to the top vacation spots in the world.
Some countries also need other documentation, like travel visas. You’ll need one if you’re planning to visit China, Russia, Brazil, or Egypt.
If you plan traveling to India or South Africa, you’ll need proper vaccinations. Most vaccinations should happen about a month before you travel.
Your budget is the most important factor in planning a trip. It will determine if you will live in luxury or backpack through hostels.
Take flights, accommodations, transportation, food, nightlife, and activities into account. This is also how you will decide how long of a vacation you can afford.
Make a rough list of must-see attractions. Like museums, sporting events, boating excursions. If you need to tighten the budget, consider local cheap eats. It also helps to travel with friends and split accommodations.
All-inclusive resorts keep things easy, offering package pricing for food and beverages. Be sure to give yourself enough time to save up so you can have the best experience possible.
Don’t forget to take exchange rates into account. Use this helpful currency calculator to check on ever-changing exchange rates.
It’s also a good idea to travel with extra cash. Most major airports will have stations for exchanging your currency once you arrive.
You’ll also want to sign up for a travel credit card. Capital One and Chase are great overseas options and offer perks like free flying miles. Be sure to notify your bank of your travel dates so they don’t freeze your account.
Redeye flights are great for traveling abroad. You get to rest and wake up in your new destination feeling refreshed.
Select a hotel based on a personal recommendation or online reputation. Check out their reviews on Tripadvisor for honest feedback.
Make sure WiFi gets included with your hotel. You likely won’t be using your mobile phone for international calling.
Airbnb is another option, where you can live like a local. You may even find cheaper rates than major hotels in the area.
Determine your main mode of transportation from the airport to your city center. Be sure you have cash and the right currency for taxi rides. Uber is not in every country so check this out beforehand.
Or you can use the train or subway. It helps to download public transportation schedules in advance if you can.
This tip is so that you can have an uninterrupted and stress-free vacation.
Determine how much time you can take off from work and make sure your boss is on board. Try your best to get important projects completed before you leave. Don’t forget to ask your team to support your role while away.
Set up your out-of-office with a note that you’ll be out of the country. You can also mention that you’ll have limited access to email. This way people won’t expect a response right away.
Another tip to plan an international trip is to have your bills paid ahead of time. Or you can automate them while away.
Make a copy of your house key in case of any emergencies. Have a friend or neighbor take care of pets and plants. Be sure to back up all important documents and tickets in both email and print form.
Check with your airline on any regulations for baggage. They should have a list of items that you can and cannot bring aboard.
Hotels will likely have an adapter for your electronics. So no need to stress about packing one.
You’ll also want to drink plenty of water on your flight. This will help you to stay hydrated and battle jet lag.
Now you’re a pro in knowing how to plan an international trip. You’re ready to see the world and explore new countries, cultures, and cuisine.
In need of more inspiration to cure your wanderlust? Here are 6 must-see travel destinations to add to your bucket list.