When all you want to do during your free time is to look for Pinterest-worthy travel photos, it’s official—you are infected with the incurable travel bug.
But slow down, planning an international trip is more than just looking at photos and finding ways on how to achieve that exact same pose and outfit. There are a lot of factors to consider when traveling out of the country. It can be a bit overwhelming sometimes, but it makes the whole process even more exciting.
Whether you’re a frequent flyer or a first-timer looking for their first excursion out of their native land, this list deserves your attention.
Choose your destination
Before anything else, you have to determine where you are going. Once you’ve identified your destination, all else will follow after. It’s easier to set your budget and your expectations when you have a specific plan in mind.
Do you wish to cross borders? Do you want to hop from one city to another? If yes, is that possible?
Those are some of the questions you have to address when you’re thinking of a place to visit.
Aside from that, you will also have to ask yourself what exactly you are looking for. Is it a tropical paradise? A countryside? Or a bustling city?
That way, you’ll also know what particular requirements the country expects from you once you set foot on their soil. It can be a visa, a lanspecial vaccine certificate, or a certain travel document mandated explicitly by their government.
Determine the length of your stay
Once you have set your destination, the next thing you have to consider is the length of your stay.
Depending on how much you are willing to take a leave from work or be away from your usual activities, the duration of your stay will likely determine how much you need to save.
It’s easy to say that you’re visiting a particular city. Let’s say, for example, London. Sure, that is one specific location. But do you intend to stay for a week or a month?
Living expenses in cities like London can be a bit high because it belongs to a first world country. You have to decide whether to stay longer to immerse yourself in their culture and visit as many cities you like or just enough days to have a taste of their lifestyle.
According to research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, travelers would usually feel their happiest during an 8-day vacation. It’s not too short and not too long, just enough time to relax and detach ourselves from the stress of our day-to-day living.
Set up your travel budget
Now that you know where you want to go and how long you intend to stay there, the next question would be: how much is your budget for this entire trip?
To be able to pin down the cost of your trip, you have to do some research first. Each country is different from one another, so knowing precisely what you want to do in a certain city can help you plan efficiently.
There is readily available help like blogs and guidebooks all over the internet and at bookshops anywhere around you. It’s also good to ask your friends and family for more practical tips, especially those who have already visited the country you want to see.
Knowing what you want can also help you narrow down your options. Would you instead spend more on accommodation or on tour packages? Is the city you are visiting perfect for shopping? You can easily identify all these things based on your travel preferences.
Arrange the necessary documents
Traveling abroad means more travel documents. It doesn’t end with a boarding pass and a passport.
Some countries require visas—which, in all honesty, can be a cause of worry for some people. Others might also need an international driver’s license, especially in a country where renting a car is more convenient than taking public transport.
For you to be able to make sure that this trip will happen, prepare your documents a couple of months in advance before your travel date. It pays to be mindful of these important travel requirements.
Make several copies if you must. This will ensure that you have a safety net once one copy gets lost somewhere.
Create your itinerary
An itinerary is as essential as your boarding pass. Why? This will serve as your guiding light once you step out of the airplane, into a foreign city.
Unless you prefer to go as spontaneous as possible, itineraries can save you from spending more than intended.
At least prepare the list places you want to visit and the restaurants you want to try to help you set your focus straight. It can also help you manage your time wisely, thus helping you make the most out of your trip.
Once you know what you want to see and visit, plan out your day according to proximity. Don’t forget to consider operating hours, especially when you want to visit establishments like museums, galleries, parks, and restaurants.
You can, of course, add more items on your list once you arrive there. Having an overview of what will happen on your trip can help you sleep at night better.
Book your accommodations in advance
For accommodations, you can book them in advance. It ticks one item off on your list of things to think about for this trip.
Sometimes, booking accommodation in advance gives you a better deal than booking it days before. Some hotels offer special early bird discounts.
Another thing to note when picking for a temporary place to stay is the location. Since you already have your itinerary, you can now identify which hotel or hostel is close to the places you want to visit.
Getting around a foreign city can be a bit overwhelming. You have several options. You can take a bus, ride a train, hire a driver or rent a car, or you can also walk as long as you know your way around.
For you to manage your time well, you have to identify which of them works best for you and your itinerary. To save you the stress of figuring out how to go from point A to point B, you can book your transportation in advance.
Expedia offers rental car services. There are also cities around the world with a special train pass for tourists that you can take advantage of.
If you’re the type to always rely on their phones, you can download transportation apps as well, which can help you find your way around.
Figure out what to pack
Now that you have the important details of your trip, your documents are laid out; you’re ready to fly out—except that you haven’t packed your stuff yet.
There’s a very thin line between overpacking and packing too light. You must find the balance between the two. You don’t want to stress about not being able to bring enough shirts when you’re already halfway across the world from your hometown.
Identify the essentials—clothes, toiletries, and travel equipment if necessary. That’s the first part.
When you have already identified them and your international carry-on luggage can still accommodate some more items, pack the “just-in-case” stuff. You’ll never know when you’ll need a sewing kit, an extra pair of sandals for extreme walking, or a formal dress for a fine dining restaurant, right?
These are just some of the helpful tips that you can learn from before you decide to travel abroad. What you need to remember is that don’t overdo it. Travelling is supposed to be fun. Don’t stress yourself too much if something didn’t go as planned. What’s important is that you got the bang for your buck and you’ll come home armed with memories and stories you’ll treasure for a lifetime.
About the Author – Geraldine Mills is a self-confessed wanderlust from the land down under, Australia! She funds her adventures by working as a travel writer. She loves sharing the allure of backpacking and being one with nature. Check out her other previously published articles.