As a first-time traveler, the biggest hurdle you will face is your own state-of-mind.
Most international travel is fairly straight-forward and is not really all that
difficult. Every year there are millions and millions of tourists that travel
overseas. You will find families with babies and children, single women on their
own, people 80+ years old, people with disabilities and tons of average, everyday-normal
people traversing the globe. If they can do it, so can you!
If you haven't traveled internationally before, then the first thing you will
want to do is make sure that you give yourself some time to prepare. As with
anything, being prepared and knowledgeable about what you are doing makes everything
go easier - especially if the unexpected happens and something goes wrong. Good
pre-departure planning and preparation can do wonders for your confidence. That
is what this guide is for - to help you prepare and provide you with all the
information you need so you can travel with ease and peace of mind and know
what to do when the unexpected does happen.
Deciding on a Vacation
If you haven't yet made the decision to travel or are still unsure about it
all, then you can check out our inspirations section.
If you have already decided to travel, then here are the basics of what you
will want to know before setting out on an International Journey.
- Give Yourself Time. While most international travel is fairly straightforward,
for some countries you will need anywhere from 1 week to several months to
receive a Visa. Also, depending on what type of travel you are planning on
doing, and where you will be going, you may want to get some inoculations
to protect yourself from diseases - most of these can be completed in a week
or two, but some of these may take up to 6 months to complete the full series.
- Decide if you are going to travel with some friends,
go with other people either on a group-tour
or if you like having the freedom and flexibility of traveling solo.
Also decide if you want the safety of pre-arranging everything on your trip
- possibly working with a travel agent, or just planning and arranging everything
yourself. Even if you use a travel agent to help, you will still want to do
some preliminary research so you at least know the basics.
- Before you research and plan the rest of your trip you need to answer two
basic questions: Where are you going and when
are you going to go, realize that weather will play a factor on what you can
- Plan based on type of traveler you are - are you going for a short holiday,
a business trip or a long-term traveler. We have information for business
travelers, students, women travelers, traveling with children and even for
preparing for a trip around the world!
"Be Prepared" is the Boy Scout motto and it is very apropos for travel.
What you need to know, and what you need to do before setting out on the road
is covered in our Before You Go section. Here are the major points to keep in
- All international travelers are required to have a passport. If you don't
have one you will have to get one. In addition some countries require that
you have a Visa before entering their country. You will also want to check
into getting an International Health Certificate (also known as the "Yellow
Card"), and you will want to check that your Insurance covers you while
you are overseas. This is all covered in our Before
You Go documentation section, and if you aren't even sure what a Passport
and Visa are, you can
find that out as well.
- Do some research into the places you are traveling to; not only the travel
essentials but also learn about the country's history and culture. Find out
if there are any special safety or health issues - including any vaccinations
that may be required, Visa requirement and climate and travel conditions.
Learning about the culture and history of your destination will lead to a
much more rewarding and fulfilling trip.
- Learn about diseases and health issues that you can encounter internationally
- it may just save your life. While most people know about making sure they
eat at clean places and only drink bottled or purified water in foreign countries,
there are several other health issues to be aware of. Malaria can occur up
to six months after the initial exposure, is easily mistaken for the flu and
the worst form of it can kill you. If you are going to do any climbing or
going to be at high altitudes you also need to know about Acute Altitude Sickness.
You can find out more in our health
- How much a vacation costs is a major concern of many travelers, however
there are many strategies for saving money especially if you create a budget
up-front. You will also need to decide on a strategy for dealing with money
while on the road. Your money options include cash, ATM cards (Automated Teller
Machine), credit cards and traveler's checks, each of these payment methods
having pros and cons. Most countries are now hooked up to the major ATM network,
so traveling with an ATM card is one of the best ways to deal with money while
on the road.
- Pack light!!!
Getting There and Around
You've decided on a vacation, picked the place to go and learned about the
ins-and-outs of travel; now all you need to do is actually get there. But, are
you going to go by land, sea or air? The various forms of transportation are
covered in our Getting There section. In general, traveling by air is the quickest
and most-convenient form of international travel however it is usually more
costly then other forms of transportation. Going overland, whether by car, bus
or bicycle will also give you much more chance to enjoy the scenery and give
you a true sense of the size of our world.
Life on the Road
How to deal with life on the road, finding a place to sleep and eat, shopping
and bargaining overseas and dealing with local customs and culture are dealt
with in our On The Road section. There are however, some basic tips which help
when dealing with the great out-there:
Talk to locals and your fellow travelers - Meeting fellow travelers
and locals is one of the great pleasures of any trip and are also the best
source of information and tips. They can keep you informed of the latest news,
tell you what to see and what to avoid.
Be Patient and understanding - things don't always work the same way
as you are used to at home, customs and ways of doing things are different.
You won't get far by demanding western standards, it is best to be persistent,
patient and most of all polite. A smile will many times work wonders.
Trust your instincts - Always take your security seriously and if
something seems wrong to you, or unnerving - then get out of there. Also remember
the old adage; "if something seems to good to be true
your wits about you and learn to judge people and situations out there. There
are thieves and con-men in all countries and you need to be careful.
Enjoy Yourself! - Let yourself enjoy the wonder of the world, laugh,
be happy and enjoy life! Don't take everything too seriously; you are supposed
to be having a good time after all.