Best Tips to Know Before Traveling Out of the Country for the First Time

International travel can be a stressful experience, even for a more experienced traveler such as myself. However, for the first time, it is scary and confusing. After a long flight, you’ll find yourself in a foreign country, hoping you remember enough language to ask for the bathroom! But even the most seasoned traveler can be caught off guard when traveling out of the country. Preparing for an international travel experience out of the country can help improve the whole experience and make it smoother. Here are my top tips for traveling abroad for the first time.


Best Tips to Know Before Traveling Out of the Country for the First Time


Know your documents like the back of your hand

The most important thing you can have is your documents. Before you even book your flight, you need to make sure your documents are all in order and have a plan if you need to get them. International travel will require having an up-to-date passport, but you’ll also need pages for stamps, and some countries have limitations on the number of pages needed. You may also need a travel visa and more to visit a single country. Do your research beforehand and know exactly what documents you need and how long they’ll last.

Pro Tip: Take a photo of your passport, drivers license and other important documents and create an album in your phone. These won't work in place of your documents, but will be helpful if you do lose your passport or other important documents on a trip.

Some countries will also require proof of vaccinations. And depending on where you are traveling, you may need medication to keep you safe. I often consult my doctor before an international trip to see what the current requirements are.

Don't miss this post: Everything You Need to Know About Passports

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Get access to your money

Do you know what isn’t a first-time travel experience you’ll love? Getting overseas only to realize you can’t access a dime of your own money! Cash or traveler's cheques {yes, people still use them!} can make it easier to spend money abroad, and thanks to the internet, transferring and managing your money has never been easier. You no longer need to call your credit card company to let them know that you are traveling. Just make sure that you do have your mobile number set up in case they need to send you a message if they suspect suspicious activity. This does happen and a quick reply to a text is all that's needed to let them know you are traveling. 

Credit cards are easily accepted, and generally most convenient to use, just make sure you have one that doesn't have lots of international transaction fees.


Pro Tip: You can request foreign currency at most banks state side on-line or through the mobile banking apps. 

You will get jet lag, but you can plan for it

I get the excitement of traveling abroad for the first time. You may only get one shot at seeing all the sights and want to pack in as much as possible. Recovering from jet lag can be tough and sometimes even derail your trip if you don’t plan for it. Take a day or two to adjust for the time change. Stay hydrated, and try to adjust as soon as you get there. Avoid naps when you first arrive, and don’t forget it’s okay to stop by a local cafe for coffee to get you through the first days.

I have only gotten jet lag once, on my very first very long international trip. Since then, I follow these tips, and my body knows what to do! 


Research the country before you go

While you don’t have to learn an entire language before you travel, you should know the norms and traditions and a little about the culture before you go. Know the exchange rate of currencies and learn basic language conversation such as hello or thank you.  Have a general understanding of any cultural norms you need to take into advisement before you pack your bags. I once got a "naughty" slip for wearing a tank top and showing my arms in Dubai. 

The electrical outlets are different internationally, so make sure you have the right power plug adapters. I almost made the rookie mistake of thinking that Ireland and Europe had the same plugs and they do not! Even seasoned travelers have their moments! 

This is my favorite power plug adapter. You'll generally need one per person when you travel. It works well with my curling iron and all my electronics.  Some people will tell you you need a converter for your hair appliances. I've never had an issue using this. I never pack a hair dryer. Every single home rental, hotel, and VRBO I've stayed at has had a hair dryer for me to use. 

Don't miss this post: Favorite Travel Items I Won't Get on a Plane Without

These will help you throughout your trip; a little prep work can go a long way. Knowing more about the place you go before you visit will keep you from accidentally offending someone and help you get your bearings when you first arrive.

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Whether you’re looking for new ways to enjoy visiting somewhere out of the country for the first time, or you’re new and need all the advice you can get, hopefully, you found these tips both inspirational and helpful on your new journey.

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