Going around the world is one of the most exciting and once in a lifetime experiences people can have. With so much to explore, it’s a wonder how you will fit everything in. But even though you have your entire life to experience those things, you have only one first journey abroad.
This guide takes your hand and helps you through the absolute most important (and some not-so important) steps you need to take on your first trip abroad. You’ll learn what you shouldn’t do, what you should do before leaving, and also common mistakes many travellers make when going abroad for the first time.
Making too many plans
When you’re traveling abroad, it’s tempting to want to pack as much as possible into your itinerary. After all, you don’t know when you’ll get the opportunity to visit this place again. But trying to cram too much in can be a mistake, for two reasons. First, you may end up feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Second, rushing from place to place doesn’t give you time to take in the local culture and get a sense of what life is like in the places you’re visiting.
It’s better if you have some plans — even loosely defined ones — but also leave room for spontaneity and serendipity. If your trip is only a few days long, you may want to limit yourself to a single city or region; if it’s longer, select a few key spots and see what happens in between them.
This is particularly true if it’s your first trip abroad. You’re likely to learn a lot while on your trip that will inform later ones. For example, your first time in Europe might result in getting hooked on visiting small towns off the tourist track; on later trips you may be less inclined to schedule stops at major cities that aren’t as interesting for you anymore.
Not understand how crucial budget and time are
- Budget: You don’t need to be rich, but you have to have a tight budget. And if you can’t afford it at all, it is suggested that you save money until you can. Why? Because there are many destinations where you can get by with very little, but some are more expensive than others. Hence, you need to plan your overall budget smartly.
- Time: This is the second most important thing. Traveling abroad requires time and a lot of it! It’s not necessarily about the flight (although it’s agreeable, it’s a bad idea to travel for only a few days). It’s about getting into the atmosphere of the place and enjoying it as much as possible. If you can afford to stay for two weeks, do it!
Not keeping your travel documents organised
When you’re away from home for a long time, your travel documents can get scattered about in your luggage, pockets and so on.
But getting your documents organised isn’t just about keeping everything in one place — it’s also about keeping them safe. You don’t want to be stuck in a foreign country without any identification, or relying on a photocopy of your passport that you keep in your luggage. And if you lose your passport, the hassle of replacing it is only going to make your vacation worse.
That’s why the first thing you should do when you arrive at your destination is find a place to keep all of your important travel documents together. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy — even an envelope will do — but it needs to be kept somewhere that’s both secure and accessible. That way, you’ll always know where everything is when you need it.
Trying to show off your wealth and status
You’re a newbie. You don’t know the city, you don’t know the local etiquette, and you don’t know how to do many of the things that natives can accomplish with their eyes closed.
But that doesn’t mean that you should let your guard down. In fact, it’s even more important to be safe and smart when you’re traveling in a foreign country than it is to do so at home. There are many ways to make sure your important stuff is covered while travelling. The first step is to not be foolish—as blunt as it may sound.
If you’re in a developing country, it’s likely that people will be curious about you and your life. But there’s no need to share information that could make you a target for theft or worse.
In the same vein, don’t openly display your money and valuables. Keep your passport locked up when you’re not using it, carry only a small amount of cash (and don’t flash it around) and wear inexpensive jewellery.
There’s only so much research you can do before you have your first time traveling abroad. But we’re sure this guide will ensure that you have the right expectations, so that when you’re wondering what to do while on your next vacation, this list isn’t left out.