After months of staying at home or maybe venturing out of the city for short trips, many of us now look at travel as a distant memory, but also hope to be able to resume it soon. Travelling abroad is wonderful and exciting, but sometimes it can also be stressful and tiring. Here I am sharing tips that will help you to travel internationally and make the most out of your travel experience.
If this is your very first time going abroad, then you need to make sure that you prepare well in advance for a stress-free holiday. The first things to look at are booking your transportation (flight or train tickets, car rental, etc.) and accommodation. To avoid disappointment during your trip, I recommend pre-booking tours and activities like theatre, concert or museum tickets. I also recommend reserving tables at top restaurants, especially in cities known for their cuisine and Michelin starred chefs like Paris, Copenhagen, London and New York.
Another important thing to check well ahead of time is all your documents. For example, your passport should have at least six months of validity if you’re traveling internationally. You may also need to apply for a tourist visa (either in person at a local visa office or online), though some countries allow tourists to obtain a visa on arrival. If you have travelled abroad before, but feel like you need a refresher about what you need to do in order to plan the perfect holiday, then this guide is for you too.
1. Check in with your Doctor
One of the first things to do when planning a trip abroad is checking in with your doctor or your health insurance company. You have to make sure that you have all of the right vaccinations and that you have the right prescriptions too. Ask your insurance provider for a policy that will cover any overseas emergencies that you might end up having when travelling abroad. If you need some help with your vaccinations or anything else of the sort, then your doctor should be able to advise you on what you do and don’t have. If you live in Europe, it’s worth applying for EHIC, which is free to all European citizens and will allow you to get first-aid assistance and other medical assistance free of cost. Depending on the destination you’re going to, then you may want to get a Covid test done as well. When it comes to coronavirus requirements for travellers, these vary for every country and might also be changed regularly. It is important to check the foreign travel advice of your own country as well as the entry requirements of the destination you are visiting.
2. Copies of your Passport
Another tip to avoid finding yourself in frustrating, difficult and costly situations when travelling abroad is to always carry a copy of your passport. If you are someone who often loses things, then having a backup is always a good thing. This could happen to anyone in a moment of distractions or bad luck, so it’s essential to always carry a copy of your most important document. It will help you to get back into the country and it will also help you to prove your citizenship, if you ever need to do this. Of course, there are many things that you can do to try and make sure that you don’t end up losing documents, such as keeping a digital copy of them and also forwarding any important emails to another email account in case you’re ever locked out. This is something I’d highly recommend.
3. Do your Research
After many years of travelling internationally, I have learnt how beneficial it is to do research the destination you are visiting before your trip. With a bit of research, you can plan itineraries for each day of your trip, book the best guided tours, plan which museums to visit and even which restaurants to eat at. With a bit of planning, you will be able to maximise your time abroad and see / do more things. Nowadays, you can find unlimited resources and tips about any destination in the world online and for free. Though I still really love to buy guidebooks to carry around with me, read on the plane, consult on the spot when I’m need of guidance and informations.
4. Speak the Language
I’m not suggesting that you should learn a foreign language every time you travel abroad to a new destination. Memorising a few important words and sentences in the language of the country you’ll be travelling to is not only polite, but it can often prove very useful. Install a translation app on your smartphone, which you can use to translate text, images or even vocal messages. Look up to see if there are any conversation points that you can learn in advance. It may be that you need to learn some very basic and simple words to help you to make the most out of your trip. I’ve done this before, and it has paid off. If you’re travelling for an extended period of time, it might be worth attending a short language conversation course, even if just for half day. I did that when I lived in Ubud, Bali and in just 3 hours I learn some basic Balinese that turned out very helpful in the weeks to come. Besides, anyone will treat you better and more kindly when they hear you speak their language. You will soon find that you are able to really connect with the locals. It’s a small kindness that goes a long way when travelling to foreign countries.
5. Money Matters
Money matters. There is literally nothing worst than being stuck abroad without any money, whether it’s because you lost your wallet, or you’ve been robbed, or your credit cards have been cloned and you are out of money, or they simply don’t work because your bank blocked them. I’ve been through these different scenarios and let me tell you it sucks. It can be very scary, especially when you are travelling alone. It is essential to be prepared for this worst case scenario and have a backup plan. Before you travel, make sure that your debit and credit cards are going to work in the country that you are visiting. If you do then you will soon find that you can give yourself a back-up option if something should ever go wrong and this will help you out far more than you realise. You also need to make sure that you seek out a bank or an ATM in the country that you are choosing to visit. Remember that the conversion rate in the airport or in the hotel will likely be a rip-off. I have found that connecting with local expats (Facebook groups are great for that) and asking them which of the local exchange shops offer the best rates is always a great idea.
6. Be Open to Unplanned Adventures
Being spontaneous and travelling without a plan can often be a good thing. Not only does it give you incredible flexibility, it also opens the doors to all kinds of unexpected encounters and situations. Not having a plan often means interacting more with locals or expats, getting to know people when travelling and building new connections that you wouldn’t otherwise have made. I love being surprised when I travel and the freedom to make decisions on the go, which is why I never plan my days down to the minute. But I really believe that a bit of research into the main sights, the culture, the language and traditions of the country you are about to visit will greatly improve your trip. Like anything else, the best travels happen when you strike the perfect balance between having a plan and not having one!
I hope these tips to plan your international holidays will be useful. Now it’s time for you to start planning your next adventure around the world!
Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post.