10 Tips for Beginners Travelling Abroad
Travelling – It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller – Ibn Battuta
Travelling abroad for first timers can be intimidating, especially when you are heading to a country that is completely different from the one you are leaving.
Being fully prepared before you step onto the plane is key to having a smooth trip. I have put together a list of things you should consider bringing with you on your vacation.
Things you absolutely need to consider/bring with you:
Passport – Make sure it is updated. Some countries won’t let you travel into, or return to, if there are less than 6 months left on your passport. Also make sure it is signed.
Visa – Do you need a Visa for the country you are entering? This is something you will have to research and potentially apply for before you leave. Some countries allow you to obtain the visa while entering the country, such as Cambodia, while others have a lengthy process you need to complete beforehand. It also depends on how long you intend on staying in a country. If you are going to be in a country for a long period of time, you might require a visa.
Sharing your documents with someone at home – This is a good practice to get into, because then someone at home knows where you are at all times should something go wrong. We tend to share a Google Doc folder with a family member, or physically print everything and leave it with them before the trip. Also leave a copy of your passport.
Bring a copy of these documents with you – These documents include accommodation reservation receipts, tour receipts, maps, phone numbers, etc. Sometimes tour companies ask you if you have a copy of the receipt as proof of purchase before you can go on the tour, so it is always good to carry that with you. Also bring a copy of your passport.
Money – Before you leave, find out if you need to bring cash with you or if a credit card will work. Some countries operate on a total cash basis, while others have an almost cashless society. It is good however to bring a little bit of cash for tipping purposes.
Vaccinations – Check if you need them! Some countries require certain vaccinations to enter, while others do not. It is important to talk to a health care professional on the side effects of these vaccinations as well. For instance, we did not take Malaria pills when we went to Thailand because the side effects were so severe. If we had gone to a different country, we might not have had a choice because Malaria medication might have been necessary.
The right gear – Do a bit of research on what kind of clothing you will need. Some countries, like Iceland, will require you to layer up, while others will be hot and won’t require you to bring as much. This also includes sunscreen, aloe vera gel, proper footwear, etc.
Adapters – If you plan on bringing electronics, such as your phone or tablet, you may need to get an adapter. You can usually get an adapter from the airport, however it might be cost effective to check Amazon beforehand.
Check safety hazards – You should check if there are any travel safety hazards for the country you are travelling to online. This way you can tell if there are any risks to be aware of ahead of time. Some countries are more dangerous than others, therefore it is important to know what kind of situation you could be putting yourself in, and how to prepare for that.
Lastly, bring a pen! This is something that you might not think is important, but when you are returning to your home country, you will be required to fill out a declaration card. Having this filled out before you get off the plane (the flight attendants will pass it out during the flight) will make getting through customs much quicker. This is something that I have forgotten a number of times, and it is always frustrating to have to wait until you get off to find a pen and fill out the card. Learn from my mistakes!
Travelling is one of the only things that you spend money on that makes you richer. I believe everyone should get out there and see the world for themselves. There is a lot out there that we don’t know, and travelling is a great way to learn! Don’t let your lack of experience prevent you from going!
Checking out forums such as TripAdvisor or Viator can help you get a sense of what activities are worth experiencing. I usually try to create a list of activities that I potentially want to do on a trip, and then will research which ones are the best (or most highly rated). This also helps me stay within budget, as I can compare the prices for each activities, and factor that in when deciding which ones to do.
Keeping the above tips in mind when getting ready for your first experience abroad will help you have an amazing experience. Enjoying yourself is the purpose of the trip, so it is important to do just that!