How to Travel Abroad for the First Time

Travel abroad can be a fun and exciting experience, but if you have never done it before, it can also be a confusing and maybe even nerve-wracking thing to anticipate. However, as you do your research and get closer to your departure, you will probably find that travel abroad is not much scarier than any other kind of travel, and you need not have worried. So, to help get you to that place, here are a few tips for someone who is going to travel abroad for the first time.

Tips for Travel Abroad Beginners

Research Your Destination

Long before you go, you need to make sure that you have done some research about your potential destination (or destinations). You should make sure that the place you intend to travel is both safe, and approved for travel for Americans — you can check this travel map to see which countries hold special travel advisories from the US government. You can also check travel guidelines for specific destinations to ensure a safe trip.

Other research that you need to do before you leave includes:

  • What kind of money will you need? Traveling abroad often requires a different currency, which you may need to exchange before you leave. Check if you can use your regular credit and debit cards, as there may be fees attached, and some places in your destination may not even have the capabilities to accept them.
  • What languages are spoken? Don’t just assume that everyone speaks English. You may need to learn a few words or key phrases before you go.
  • Where will you stay? Is there easy, safe, and affordable accommodation close to where you want to be?
  • What are some key attractions you’d like to visit? Think about what you’re most looking forward to doing and seeing. This will help you build you itinerary for your trip

Researching your destination is essential before you go, it will help you know what to expect, and help builds excitement for your trip!

Get Your Documents in Order

For most international destinations you will at the very least need a passport. This is something that you should sort out as soon as you know that you are traveling, as new passports can take some time to process. For a lot of countries, you will also need to research visas or any other documentation that you may need to procure before traveling.

Check Your Phone Plan

Another thing that you may have to sort out before you leave is your phone — and it might be a case of simply leaving it at home, or turning it off except in case of emergency. Some phone carriers offer plans that allow for free browsing while abroad, for example, but if you really need your phone you may consider whether it is worth buying a sim card or prepaid phone after arriving in your destination.

Pack Carefully

Having researched your destination, you should know what kinds of things you need to bring — particularly for what kind of weather there will be, and what kind of activities you are participating in. It may be your first time flying internationally, but try to pack smart. The temptation can be to overpack, as you try to fit extra things in “just in case;” but it’s important to remember that you will have to lug your case around, so you don’t want it to be too big or heavy — especially if you are flying, as there will be weight restrictions to think about. In fact, it is also worth checking TSA restrictions before flying internationally.

Consider Going as Part of a Program

Perhaps the reason why you are going to travel abroad for the first time is because you are visiting as part of an immersion tour such as a gap year program. If not, a gap year application might be something you want to consider. These sorts of programs can help you to immerse yourself more fully in your destination, gain some new skills, and perhaps help launch you on the path to a more successful career.

Travel abroad can be a life-changing experience. All it takes is a little preparation and you’ll be well on your way.

Gap Year Resources