8 Tips for Your First International Trip Abroad

Planning for your first international trip abroad can feel overwhelming as it is such a monumental life experience. Traveling abroad broadens perspectives, immerses you in a new culture, and often presents the opportunity to practice another language. While this opportunity ultimately is very rewarding, it’s important that you plan properly, both before you departure and upon your arrival, to have the best trip. The following tips and suggestions will help guide any neophyte traveler towards having a fulfilling first time abroad.

1. Prepare for Everything Early 
Make sure that all necessities for traveling are taken care of well in advance. This includes packing, passports, potential visas, booking your flight, and confirming lodging. Passports can take over six weeks for processing and some countries may even require a visa if planning an extended stay. For additional support, Forbes offers an extended list of tips to help beginning travelers prepare.

2. Visit the Doctor 
Before you depart, make sure you visit your doctor for a clean bill of health. Trips to other climates can trigger new sensitivities for allergy sufferers. Make sure that all of your shots and vaccinations are updated. Also, if you are anxious about being a nervous flier, your doctor can provide you with additional medications to ensure a restful flight.

3. Prepare for Jet Lag 
Many trips abroad usually require a shift in time zone. Acclimating to this time difference can make you feel groggy throughout the day and have difficulty sleeping at night. Your body eventually will adapt to the time difference within three to five days.

4. Explore Your Surroundings 
Once you arrive to your destination, take the time to get out and familiarize yourself with your new environment. Navigating another country can be disorienting on its own, and you have to quickly find routes and landmarks that will help you get around efficiently.

5. Learn the Language 
Although English is spoken in many countries, it’s helpful to be mindful of any linguistic differences when visiting another culture. Brush up on some basic words and phrases, and don’t hesitate to interact with the locals. Downloading a free app like Duolingo could be worth your while.

6. Understand the Culture 
Similar to different languages, cultures have their own unique style of doing things. Learn the norms of your host culture and embrace the differences as a learning experience.

7. Try the Food 
Even for picky eaters, part of the experience of traveling abroad is at least attempting to try the food of a host culture. Although you might not like everything, you may find some new flavors and dishes to bring back to your own kitchen.

8. Be Respectful 
It’s important when traveling to another country to understand that you are a guest. Do not be egocentric about where you come from. Always remain courteous and polite with the natives in your destination, and try not to stick out as an entitled tourist.

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