Travelling to another country for the first time is an exciting adventure that you will remember for the rest of your life.
Nerves, hiccups and some struggles are always expected, but the benefits and memories will far outweigh the challenges.
You want everything to be perfect, whether it is about your looks, visiting exciting destinations or indulging in adventurous activities.
Packing for the trip includes considerations such as your destination, the purpose for your trip and what season it is.
That said, nothing can ever fully prepare you for seeing the world, but here are some tips to make sure everything is in order before you hop on that international flight.
Getting your first passport
If you’ve never left the country, chances are you don’t have a passport. If you are applying for a passport for the first time, you will need to file in person. First you have to fill out a form from your department of state.
You will also need proof of your citizenship, such as your state identity document. Your department of state will provide you with more information and the right procedures regarding your passport.
Make copies of your travel documents
Having copies of your documents is a huge help. Make copies of your passport and leave one with someone back home and take one with you. Make sure not to store them in the same place as your passport.
The same goes for visas. It is also a good idea to have printed copies of your flight or hotel reservations.
Depending on where you are travelling, connectivity could be an issue and you may not be able to access these documents on your phone when you need them.
Keep it light
Most of us end up over-packing clothes due to excitement or the fear that we will run out of something. So, don’t be overexcited. Pick your best outfits, separate all of them as per the occasion, and keep them in your bag accordingly.
Keep your nightwear, swimwear and casual wear separate from your outerwear. Pack these outfits according to the number of days of travel. Check how much space remains and take out excess clothing as necessary. Pack your bag as light as you can.
Travel insurance – depending on the plan – can protect you against a range of problems, for example if you have to cancel your flight, if something happens to your airline and even if you have a medical issue when you’re abroad.
Of course, travel insurance costs extra, so you may be tempted to skip it if you’re on a budget. However, if you’re leaving the country, it’s a must.
Every insurance plan is different and some won’t cover the circumstances you need, so you should shop around before you choose one. The right plan will be worth it, even if it’s just for peace of mind.
Check in to your flight
If you are flying internationally, you can usually check in to your flight online about 24 hours before your departure.
I highly recommend doing this and am always surprised when I see how many people have waited until they're at the airport to check in.
Most airports have a dedicated queue for bag drops and online checked-in customers, so taking five minutes to check in the night before can save you time at the airport.
Always get to the gate early
Not just at the airport. The actual gate. Gate numbers aren't always arranged in sequence. Sometimes there's an additional security queue or passport check. Being late for your flight is one of the few travel mishaps you can't put right. Arrive early.
Travel in comfortable clothes
Loose, flexible, cosy. Avoid zips, buckles and tights. The more comfortable your clothes are, the more enjoyable your trip will be.
As you have seen, travelling requires a lot of preparation, and that includes your finances.
Knowing beforehand how long you will be abroad and what you are going to do and see is the best strategy for a smooth trip and will help you save money.
I am not talking about having all your expenses settled, but at least try to estimate how much you are going to spend each day. In addition, you might want to stop by your bank a few days before you leave to get foreign cash.
These days you can exchange money at international airports, which comes in handy if your local banks do not have that specific currency. Finally, try to have enough cash wherever you go, as card payment might be unavailable in remote locations.