Megan Bryant is a passionate writer and traveler who has combined her two loves to help others fulfill their traveling dreams. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually curled up with her 3 Dachshunds and a good book or planning her next adventure—wherever that may be.
Traveling can be extremely stressful—especially if it’s your first time navigating an airport and a country far different from your own. But traveling is also incredibly rewarding, opening your mind to new cultures, cuisines, and ways of life.
If you’re planning your first trip abroad, keep in mind these useful tips, as they’re guaranteed to make your journey run as smoothly as possible.
Prepare Your Travel Documents
One way to avoid an unnecessarily stressful situation is to ensure that your travel documents are valid and free from any damage. Most countries, for example, require you to have at least 6 months of validity on your passport; otherwise, they have the right to refuse entry. Other countries may also turn you away if your passport has any tears or water damage on any of its pages.
Depending on your passport and the particular country you’re flying to, you may also need to apply for a visa. Some destinations have the option of applying for the visa in the airport, but if you can do it prior to departure, it’s a good idea to do so as that way, you have one less thing to think about when landing.
Research Your Destination
It can be fun to jet off to a country with no knowledge or a particular plan in place. But if it is your first time heading overseas, it’s recommended that you do some research into things like the native language, the laws, whether you can drink tap water, and if you need any vaccines. Remember that no two countries are the same, so by doing some research, you’ll be well-equipped to keep yourself out of trouble.
Learn the Currency
One way not to get ripped off when you’re traveling abroad is to learn the currency. In Indonesia, for example, $1 USD equates to around 15,000 rupiah, so it’s easy to get confused when you arrive at your destination.
Before setting off, study the notes and get a rough idea of the exchange rate so you know how much you’re spending and whether or not someone is offering you an unfair price—sadly, it happens.
Join Facebook Travel Groups
One of the best ways to learn information about a country or city you’re visiting is to join Facebook groups. Simply type in the country followed by the words “travel group,” and join as many groups as you feel necessary. Typically, group members will post useful tips and tricks, as well as answer any questions you may have.
Purchase a Universal Plug Adapter
Something that doesn’t even cross most first-time travelers’ minds is whether their destination uses the same type of plug system as their home country. To avoid confusion, it’s best to purchase a universal plug adapter so you can plug in your devices no matter where you are.
Invest in Travel Insurance
Whenever you’re traveling abroad, you should always purchase travel insurance as you never know what could happen. Some countries don’t have the same level of medical care as the United States, and if something were to happen, your travel insurance could ensure that you’re well taken care of.
Inform Your Bank That You’re Traveling
To avoid your card getting blocked while you’re overseas, inform your bank before you travel of when and where you’ll be heading. Most banks have the option to set a notification via internet or mobile banking, but you can always call them up if you’d prefer.
Compare Transportation and Accommodation Options
To get the best deal—whether that’s on accommodation or transportation—you need to shop around. For accommodation, check various sites like Agoda, Booking.com, and Airbnb to see if one has a lower price for your chosen hotel or villa.
For flights, check price comparison websites like Skyscanner. And even compare bus, train, and plane ticket prices as sometimes you’ll find they’re roughly the same price.
Book Things in Advance
Booking things in advance, like your hotel, airport transfer, and any activities you wish to do, can help reduce stress when you reach your destination. Not only will booking in advance save you the hassle, but you can usually get better deals, and it ensures that you don’t miss out on all of your must-do activities.
Read Airport Travel Tips
For most people, navigating the airport is one of the most stressful parts of travel—even for seasoned travelers. And I get it, airports are large and often confusing, plus there are so many checks you need to go through before you even board your plane.
But despite how stressful airports may seem, they’re a fairly straightforward process—if you know what you’re doing. Before even heading to the airport, see if you can check-in online and download or print your boarding pass. You’ll also want to check which terminal you’re flying from, any necessary documents you’ll need, and your total weight allowance so that way it’s smooth sailing when you enter through those airport doors.
Sim Cards, E-Sims, and Pocket Wifi
One of the biggest tips for first-time travelers is to purchase a sim card, E-sim, or pocket wifi so that way you have the internet on hand at all times. Internet comes in handy for things like Google Translate, exchange rates, and directions, so having a constant connection on your phone can really make all the difference.
E-sims are a fantastic option for travelers as you can purchase them online, set them up on your phone, and have an instant connection the moment your plane touches down on the runway. Alternatively, you can purchase sim cards or pocket wifis in the arrivals hall once you land.
Travel With Carry On Only if Possible
If you can, take only carry-on luggage so you don’t have to wait around for your bag to appear on the carousel. Sometimes—if things are really slow—you can be stood waiting for over an hour for your bags, which after a long flight is not ideal.
Take Photos of Passport, Visas, and Travel Insurance
Once you have all your important documents, like your passport, visa, and travel insurance, take photos of them so you have a digital copy in case they’re lost or stolen.
Stash Away Extra Cash/Debit Card Incase You Lose Your Wallet
No matter how safe you think a destination is, it’s never wise to carry all of your travel money around with you. Instead, place some money or a debit card in your hotel safe, so if you do happen to get pickpocketed, you have something to fall back on.
Download Google Translate To Your Phone
If you don’t speak the language of the country you’re visiting, download Google Translate to your phone so it can help you communicate with locals, understand bookings, and even read menus.
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