The Ultimate Guide to Your First Trip Abroad

Planning

Planning for a first time traveling overseas may seem like a daunting task, but it’s not, once you break it all down to a few very basic questions and possible answers. Here are all the essentials you will need to consider:

Where do you want to go?

·         Africa

Great for: wildlife tours, the most ancient cultural heritage in the world (think ‘cradle of civilization’), incredibly rich cultural diversity.

Watch out for: endemic violence, horrible infrastructure, diseases.

·         Asia

Great for: awesome exotic food, spectacular landscapes, rich and diverse cultures, shopping for affordable electronics, great prices, friendly locals.

Watch out for: cultural clashes, remote areas, energy consumption (there’s a lot of walking and general traveling you’ll need to be doing in Asia).

·         Europe hostel in europe

Great for: cultural, historical, and nightlife attractions; some remote areas of untouched natural beauty.

Watch out for: the poorer areas in the East, complex infrastructure, expensive ‘tourist traps’ in the West.

·         The Middle East

Great for: superbly exotic landscapes and cultures; beautiful historic sites in countries like Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine; great beaches.

Watch out for: cultural clashes, misconceptions on your part, areas with international conflicts.

·         Australia

Great for: nature explorations and very diverse flora and fauna; friendly and relaxed atmosphere; perfect beaches and beach-weather.

Watch out for: expensive bigger cities, very remote areas in the Outback.

·         North America

Great for: urban explorations, once-in-a-lifetime cultural experiences, rich diversity of cultures and landscapes from one end to the next.

Watch out for: expensive cities, remoter areas with exclusive communities, some violence and risk.

·         South AmericaRio de Janeiro

Great for: ancient historical sites, incredibly diverse cultures, spectacular virgin landscapes, friendly locals.

Watch out for: violence, language barriers (do learn a spot of Spanish before you travel), poverty.

How much are you willing to spend?

·         Budget trip

If this is your first time overseas and you’re still in school, early on in your career, or simply a bit strapped for cash, you can still travel abroad, provided you pick the right destination. Some parts of Asia (especially India and China) are great for spending up to $50 per day, as are South America and the Middle East, for the most part. You can even spring for the more affordable destinations in Europe, like the central and eastern parts.

·         Mid-range

Having access to a mid-sized budgets basically opens up the entire world for you, from the whole of Europe (including its more expensive northern part) to North America, popular destinations in Asia and South America, as well as Australia.

·         Full-on luxury

If you have a budget of $100 to $500 per day at your disposal, well… lucky you. In some parts of the world, like South America, parts of Europe and North America, as well as Asia, $100 per day will provide a stay in the lap of luxury. If you’re looking for luxury in expensive places, like Australia, New York, or Switzerland, you can expect to spend $500 per day, or even far more.

How will you get there?

·         By plane

PROS: It will get you anywhere in the world fast. If you’re traveling overseas, it’s unavoidable to fly (unless you’re considering a cruise). Book well in advance for cheaper tickets and try out a service like Skyscanner, which provides access to all the flights in the world.

CONS: Internal flights are not recommended, since they’re expensive – in fact all air travel is expensive and it’s also the least flexible solution.

·         By public transport

PROS: It’s a cheap and flexible option for your first international trip and will get you almost anywhere in your country of choice.

CONS: It does require some planning in advance, like purchasing a map of the local mass transit system and being informed on schedules, pricing, and purchase options. It can be slow and unreliable in some parts of the world.

·         By car

PROS: It’s by far the most flexible traveling option, which allows you the most autonomy. You can bring your own car or rent as you go along.

CONS: It’s highly expensive, requires an international driving license, and a lot of experience and versatility in many areas of the world with different rules. Also, it’s entirely not recommended in areas with poor road infrastructure, such as Africa, parts of Asia and some areas in South America.

Where do you want to stay?

·         Hostel

No, hostels don’t have to be like that horror movie we’ve all seen. On the upside, they’re incredibly affordable and can even be booked at the last minute nowadays. They usually boast great locations and are always filled with likeminded travelers from around the world.

How to book: HostelWorld

·         Hotel

There’s a very wide range of options at your disposal, from regular hotels to quaint little B&Bs, to luxury hotels and resorts. They’re more expensive, but are diverse and flexible enough to be the recommended option for most first-time travelers.

How to book: Booking

·         Rental

It’s usually cheaper to rent out a studio, apartment or home at your destination of choice (though not always). But by far the biggest boon of choosing rentals is that you get a very authentic local experience, unmatched by that of any hotel or resort.

How to book: Airbnb airbnb

Preparing

Packing

Know thy luggage weight limit. The point is not to meet it, but stay below it. If you can’t carry your own luggage up the stairs, time to start unpacking some things.

More socks and underwear, less shoes. It’s a golden rule.

Earplugs and sleep masks are lifesavers. Especially if you’ll be flying for 10+ hours.

More memory for your camera. Yes, you will be taking lots of pictures – bring an extra card.

Some health precautions are advisable. Nothing too fancy: Imodium, aspirin and Band-Aids are perfect.

For safety

  • Get a medical checkup and see if you require any vaccines before heading out to a remote corner of the world.
  • Have several copies of your identification documents handy (passport and/or ID), but keep them in different locations.
  • Register with your embassy on arrival, especially when traveling to riskier areas.

Traveling

Planes and airports

Arrive early. Yes, airports are boring, but missing flights isn’t that much fun either.

Eat at home. We can’t decide if the worst thing about airport food is the taste or the price.

Don’t get drunk. Yes, it’s fun to travel a bit buzzed, but hangovers on arrival are hell.

Entertain yourself. iPad, book, portable music player – anything that can divert your attention for a few hours is a god-send in flight.

When in…

  • Money

Know the local conversion rate.

Always have local currency in cash.

Find out before you travel if you can use your credit card.

  • Electronics

Bring a travel adapter.

Check and double check that you have your charger.

Activate roaming services if you can afford them, or purchase a pre-paid international calling card.

  • Fun

Research events for your first trip, like local festivals or special performances before departure.

Leave your comfort zone: stray off the beaten paths, make local friends, ask for guidance, try out local cuisines and street food.

Be polite and respectful of local cultures. Don’t scoff, struggle to know at least a few words in the local language, and learn a bit about local customs in terms of traveling, dining, and socializing.