1. Research your country of destination.
This is clearly a very broad statement but it’s the truth. Before embarking on an international adventure (or ANY trip) you need to do basic research on the country you plan to visit. There will always be a ton of information; there will never be enough time to research, so start as early as possible. Even if you haven’t booked or finalized any travel details. Besides, it will give you a chance to come up with a game plan and to get so incredibly hyped for your trip!
2. Get a passport.
To even be able to leave the country you will need one of these. You might even need a visa, depending on your country of origin and your country of destination. Processing a passport can take anywhere from 4-8 weeks so don’t procrastinate on this! Also, if you have a passport, make sure it doesn’t expire before you take off! And more importantly, you know where it is. Nothing would suck more than the blind panic of trying to find your passport, only to realize it’s lost or expired.
3. Find out the time difference and be prepared for jetlag.
Jetlag can take away valuable time from your precious vacation. No one wants to waste their time sleeping during the wrong hours of the day. Being a little tired during travel is inevitable, but you can try to get a leg up. I try to get myself prepped a few days ahead by researching the new time zone I will be in and trying to slowly adjust my schedule. I also utilize my plane ride the best I can by trying to figure out when I should sleep. Also, get a travel pillow for better sleep.
4. Prepare your money.
Research the currency exchange. More often than not, when traveling to a different country, there will be a drastic change in the value of your money. It’s important to find out far in advance what the exchange rate is so you can budget accordingly. Be sure to also try and research the average cost of some of your travel expenses in the country of destination. Even more importantly, call your bank and let them know you are travelling outside of the country. This way they won’t freeze your funds when you need it most.
5. Learn the language.
What is the local language? Do you know it? Do you need to know it? Some countries also speak English (Like Canada, The United Kingdom and even the Philippines!) while many do not. If the prominent language is something you are not familiar with, better brush up before you get there. Try to be familiar with a few catch phrases. My favorites to learn before visiting any country are “Hello”, “Thank you” “Do you speak English?” 🙂 Bring a guide book and translator just in case!
6. Check the weather.
Not everywhere in the world is going through the same seasons at the same time, so check the weather and pack appropriately. Definitely check more than one city too! If you are traveling all over a particular country, then check the weather in all of those cities.
7. Do you need any immunizations?
You don’t want to get sick on vacation. It’s a waste of time and is the worst way to experience a city. Ask your doctor what you need and be sure to get it done a few weeks in advance. In general, just try to stay super healthy before your trip. Flying while sick is terrible and vacationing while sick is even worse. Stock up on those immunizations and vitamin C.
8. Bring an adaptor for your electronics.
Let’s face it. We are addicted to our electronics. To help us not feel so archaic, be sure to pack an adaptor and bring extra batteries if needed. Heaven forbid you miss the chance for the perfect selfie or you can’t curl your hair.
9. Become familiar with local customs and dress styles.
This may be my inner fashionista talking, but it matters what you wear. You don’t want to offend anyone or necessarily stick out like a sore tourist thumb. If you pack correctly, it will also help you avoid awkward moments and spending unnecessary money on having to buy clothing on the fly.
10. Have a communication plan for your friends and family at home.
Know how you plan to get a hold of your family just in case of an emergency.Traveling to a foreign country can be dangerous. Anything could happen at home or abroad. It’s important that people know where you will be and how to get in contact with you. Maybe get a calling card before you go if you don’t plan on bringing a cell phone. Or, if you have one, download apps like viber or what’s up so you can contact people at home via wifi. If nothing else, share your travel itinerary and flight information so people at home know when and where to expect you to be.
11. Be observant and create memories!
Be aware of your surroundings. This won’t only help you to stay safe, but it will help you to embrace and remember every aspect of the country that you are visiting. The time there is fleeting, so be sure to enjoy it to its fullest.