6 Handy Tips for Traveling Abroad for the First Time

Planning an international trip can be both exciting and daunting, especially if that’s something you’ve never done before. You want everything to go as smoothly and stress-free as possible.

For that to happen, there are simple rules and tips to follow. Here’s what you need to know when you’re traveling overseas for the very first time.

Get there at least two hours earlier

Traveling abroad for the first time can be a bit stressful, and surely, you wouldn’t want to add to that stress by being late for your flight. Checking in, going through the security screening, and passing through the immigration channels doesn’t always take the same amount of time.

Sometimes, it can be a breeze and everything can be done in 20 minutes or so. Other times, you’ll have to wait in long queues and there’s nothing that the passengers can do about it.

Aim to arrive at least two (or even better, three) hours to the airport to avoid that unnecessary stress. If you happen to be late and you’re still waiting in line while other passengers are already boarding, try to talk to the immigration. They’ll help you out and make the process go faster.

Photocopy and double-check your documents

Losing a wallet or documents while abroad is every traveler’s nightmare. Prevent this by photocopying your official documents and keeping them in a safe place. It’s best to have both digital and physical copies as proof of identification if the originals get lost or stolen. Remember to double-check everything when boarding. 

Keep in mind that your passport needs to be valid (at least for the next six months). If yours is about to expire in that period, you’ll need to apply for a new one. Whether you’ll need a visa depends on the country you’re visiting, so be sure to check for the visa and immigration requirements in advance.

Make sure you have the access to your money overseas

Carrying cash around with you while abroad is a thing of the past. Nowadays, you can easily access your money overseas, all thanks to technology and the Internet.

However, traveling with just your debit card may be risky in case your wallet gets lost or stolen, so getting an overseas credit card and bringing some cash (at least $100) is your safest bet while traveling abroad. These cards come with lower foreign exchange fees and the overseas transactions cost less with them.

It’s important that you don’t carry both cards with you. Leave one at your hotel so that you can still access your money in case something unexpected happens.

Stay safe when you’re sightseeing

Once you get to your destination, it’s important that you take the necessary precautions in order to prevent having your things stolen. Pickpockets lurk at every corner regardless of the destination, and inexperienced tourists and solo female travelers make for easy targets for someone who knows every trick in the book.

Stay safe by keeping your most important documents and money in an inside pocket that’s hard to reach and being extra careful and aware of your surroundings.

Flashy jewelry and expensive electronics are better left at home. If not, they should at least be replaced with inexpensive versions such as fake engagement rings and the like.

Stay connected with your family and friends

Traveling abroad on your own for the first time is kind of a big deal. New place, new people, new culture and surroundings, and so many delicious foods to try – it’s hard not to get excited! As such, it’s understandable that you’d like to capture and share every moment of your day there, so staying connected with your friends and family is a must.

There are different options to choose from – you could get a prepaid card for around $20 or you can look for international travel plans so you can call and text unlimitedly for around $10 a day.

You can also rent a Wi-Fi router ($50 a week) at an airport kiosk which you can carry around in a pocket and have a strong Wi-Fi signal wherever you go.

Use translation apps to get by in a foreign country

Not speaking French while visiting Paris might have been scary for first-time travelers back in the day. They had to be creative when trying to explain something or ask for directions, and pocket dictionaries were invaluable. Things changed over time, and nowadays, overcoming a language barrier is as easy as opening apps like Google Translate or Microsoft Translator.

While they’re very convenient and handy, you should still aim to learn to say at least a couple of essential travel phrases in a foreign language.

When you’re new to traveling abroad, it pays to learn a thing or two from people who have “been there, done that”. Traveling is definitely one of the best ways to get out of the comfort zone and try something exciting and new, and by following these simple traveling tips above, you’ll ensure your first trip abroad goes smoothly and stress-free.

About the author

Lana Hawkins is a stay-at-home mom by day and author by night. She enjoys playing in the kitchen and cooking for her friends and family, spending time in nature and learning about other cultures by travelling. She is regular contributor to smoothdecorator.com

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