Last Updated on February 21, 2023
A first trip abroad can be both daunting and exciting. On the one hand, you can’t help but anticipate all the things you will see at your destination. The excitement comes in waves, getting you giddy for D-day. But on the other hand, you might feel a bit lost considering all the boxes you must tick. If you need some help navigating this fantastic experience that awaits you, below are some tips to help you out:
Tips to Ease Your First Trip Abroad
You may have heard a lot about what you must do to have a successful trip abroad. But most of those tips are not written in stone, and you don’t need to adhere to each one. So, below we have listed the information that can make or break your trip:
1 Make sure you have the right travel documents
You may need two travel documents for your trip abroad – the passport and visa. Also, remember to carry copies of your identification documents, as they can help you process lost or stolen passports.
The passport serves as an identification document when you are crossing borders. You must show this at immigration to prove your American citizenship. Please note that your passport must:
- Be in good condition,
- Have enough validity to meet the entry requirements at your destination, and
- Be in your possession.
If this is not the case, you must apply for a new passport before leaving the country. Some countries may not require passports if you’re traveling by road or water e.g., Canada and Mexico. Even so, having a valid passport enables you to embark on emergency departures if necessary.
A visa is a permit to enter another country. For example, a tourist visa enables you to tour a host destination for a given period, e.g., 90 days. Visas differ based on their purpose and application methods. Some countries require that Americans apply for visas before arrival, others issue visas on arrival, and others don’t need visas for tourist or business visits. You must understand the visa requirements in your destination country to ensure you don’t break the law.
2 Check Your Financials
Most countries have limits on how much money you can carry across borders. Besides, most countries require you to change your dollars into local currencies to ease transactions. Thus, you must figure out how you will access money while abroad. Consider the following:
- Get a debit card with zero international fees. There’s no need to pay extra while transacting abroad if you can get a bank with minimal to no charges,
- Ensure your card can work internationally. Most banks require you to inform them that you plan to travel so they can unlock your card for that region. Else, your card could have money and still be of no use, leaving you in quite a fix.
Also, carrying money in the destination country’s local currency will help you sort your bills as you find a bank.
3 Plan Your Trip
Even with a visa and a passport, you may still encounter questions at the immigration office. It’s best to prepare for these questions by:
- Having a return or onward flight ticket: Such a ticket shows your flight itinerary, proving that you plan on returning to your country or moving to another destination. Lack of such an itinerary can have you sent back upon arrival or even before you leave the U.S.,
- Booking accommodation for the entirety of your trip: You don’t need to pay for the accommodation, but having the booking proof can show you have a place to stay. It’s best not to pay in full as you might not like the place once you see it, and
- Having proof of sufficient funds: Most immigration officers pay attention to how much money you have and if it can support your stay. It’s best to have more than the minimum amount required.
If you’re unsure when you will leave, it’s best to organize a refundable return ticket with your airline. Then once you have arrived at your destination and cleared with immigration, you can decide the way forward.
4 Pack Enough Clothes
It’s natural to want to pack a few things so you can buy more when you get to your destination. And this method works great when you’re planning to shop abroad. Even so, consider the following:
- Pack light – as much as you may want to carry all your curling irons and extra shoes, you won’t need all these items. Carry what you must and leave what you can live without,
- Ensure you pack enough clothes to last you until you can shop. And if you’re not planning to go shopping, pack enough clothes to last the trip.
- Are your clothes weather-appropriate? Remember to check the weather and pack accordingly. You don’t want to pack light clothes and realize the weather is cold and windy.
- Are your clothes acceptable? As shocking as this may or may not be, you cannot dress how you please in all parts of the world. Some places require you to dress modestly, while others don’t have dress codes. It’s best to pack accordingly instead of arriving with a suitcase of clothes you cannot wear.
Also, it does not help to research the shopping options in the country to decide if you’ll want to purchase clothes when you arrive.
5 Get Acquainted
Navigating a new region is not always easy. But here are some ways you can avoid feeling lost when you get there:
- Get the directions on your phone: Figure out how to get to your accommodation from the airport. It’s best that you download the map, find a contact for a taxi or hotel transfer, and schedule your transfer,
- Learn the norms, e.g., is tipping acceptable?
- Carry enough currency to meet your small bills,
- Learn some of the words if traveling to a non-English speaking country. For example, learning greetings in a foreign language can be helpful.
You can also keep abreast of the news in the host country to help you plan accordingly. For example, if there’s a festival, you may want to carry some costumes!
Traveling abroad does not have to be an exhausting task – you can have fun planning and implementing your trip with just these five tips!