Travelling for the first time is usually one of the most daunting and exciting experiences at the same time, especially if you’re travelling abroad. To help calm the nerves, I’ve put together a list of everything you need to know to have the holiday of a lifetime.
1. Preparation Is Key:
Do your research and decide on your destination. Once you’ve done that, determine your budget and start saving up early. Research the local customs so that you’ll be prepared for when you arrive. Make sure you visit your doctor and let them know your plans, find out whether you’ll need any vaccinations.
2. Get Your Paperwork In Order:
Always remember to purchase travel insurance, you don’t want to regret not having it. Plan a flexible itinerary, make copies and leave one with family and one with a close friend. Inform your bank that you’ll be heading off abroad to make sure that they don’t cancel your credit card when they see foreign transactions.
3. Pack Smartly:
The most important thing you can take with you is a comfortable pair of shoes to walk in. Any prescription medication needs to be clearly labelled and accompanied by a doctor’s note. Always take a good book with you, an international adapter, small medical aid kit and little toiletry bottles to save on space. Before packing and heading off, do a practice run and tie an easily identifiable tag of sorts to your bag, you won’t believe the number of similar bags on a luggage carousel.
4. Preparation For The Flight:
Pack an extra change of clothes from head to toe in your carry-on luggage, not only will it help if the climate of your destination is different from the climate at home but you’ll step off the plane feeling brand new. Weigh your luggage at home to avoid extra fees and make photocopies of all essential documents.
5. The Flight:
To beat the jet lag, eat and sleep according to your destination’s time. Avoid alcohol and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Walk around the cabin to maintain healthy circulation. Invest in a neck pillow, eye mask and ear plugs for a more comfortable sleep and remember, turbulence is normal.
Remember that you are a guest in the country that you’re visiting. You need to respect the local customs. Go with your gut instinct, protect your money and your documents and don’t be afraid to say no, politely. Turn off your cell phone roaming to avoid a scary phone bill when you get home.
7. The Experience:
When you start your experience, try to absorb as much as possible, eat the local food, take photographs of famous land marks from different angles (never use an iPad as a camera), don’t be critical of things that are different from back home, just enjoy it all.
8. The Language Barrier:
Before heading off, learn any and all phrases you think you may need. Buy yourself a phrase book and don’t be scared to ask locals for help or to “please speak slower”.
While travelling abroad, many friends and relatives like to think that you’re thinking of them and know that you are when you bring them back gifts from far away, don’t get tricked into buying over-priced key rings and t-shirts. If there is something you see for yourself that you absolutely need to have, get it.
10. Coming home:
When packing to travel back home, follow steps one through four and check every nook and cranny to ensure you haven’t left anything behind.