Tips for Your First Time Traveling Abroad
Are you taking your very first trip abroad in the near future? Perhaps you’re taking a journey throwing the glowing cliffs and castles in Scotland, or maybe you’re stepping foot towards the incredible Swiss Alps. No matter where your destination is, your first trip abroad can be a bit daunting, even when it’s all planned and organized by seasoned travel agents. Let’s talk about the key tips we have to ease your mind for your adventure overseas:
Thankfully, the big factors such as accommodations and travel means (airfare and/or cruise ship) are already planned out for you! This means that if your flight is delayed, you can count on us to monitor it and keep you posted on the status whilst we make any necessary rebookings. The same goes for accommodations. Typically our trips run smoothly, but the weather is always unpredictable, so use us as a crutch for any hiccups along the way. We can almost hear you sighing of relief. Here’s what YOU need to do:
If you haven’t already, apply for a passport. If this is your first time purchasing a passport, you’ll need to allow 6-8 weeks for documents to be accepted so you can receive your passport. If you’re in a rush, you can expedite the process for about $60 and receive your passport in around 3 weeks. First-time passport purchasers can expect to pay $145 while those renewing their passports can expect to pay $110. You’ll need proof of citizenship (a state-issued birth certificate), a valid form of ID, photocopies of both, and a DS11 form in order to receive your passport.
Place a travel alert on your credit and debit card(s) by calling the credit card company or going on their website and verifying the dates that you will be out of the country. This will ensure that your card won’t deny that delicious mojito you ordered at the bar and you won’t have to leave without taking the tropical snorkeling excursion you’ve been planning for months. Along these lines, make sure your credit card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, and if they do, consider applying for a credit card without foreign transaction fees. Conversely, you can convert your dollars to the foreign currency of the country you’re traveling to before going abroad. The same goes for bank fees. Be sure to learn your bank’s fees and policies for withdrawing cash at foreign ATMs. Again, if your bank does charge fees, use a credit card with no transaction fees or convert your USD to foreign currency before leaving the States.
Recalibrate your body’s internal clock to a routine similar to the one you’ll be following abroad. For example, if you’re traveling to Switzerland, you’ll be 6 hours ahead of EST time. So, around 4 pm EST, you’ll want to start winding down for the “night” so you can wake up at a decent morning hour abroad. We know, this seems challenging. But, it’s definitely worth it when you arrive in Switzerland and are already somewhat adjusted to the new time zone. This way, you’ll fit in a full day of adventures, taste testings, and of course, minimal jet lag.
Travel smart just as you would in any place in the United States, and make sure you lock up your valuables in a safe in the hotel room while you’re out and about. If you’re taking your purse, wallet, and/or a small backpack with you, keep a close eye and hand on it. Again, these are most likely protocols you follow when going to and from work and traveling within the United States, so just keep up the same measures when you’re abroad. Although it’s easy to get excited and drop your bag down to snap a picture, don’t wander off from it.
Although no one really wants to throw money into travel insurance, having it gives you peace of mind. Not only does it assure you that you’ll get the medical help you need if you become ill or injured, but it even covers flight cancellation and lost luggage. You can’t put a price on peace of mind, and it’s best to be safe rather than sorry. With travel insurance, you’ll be able to go about your vacation without worrying, and that’s priceless.
Last, but certainly not least, enjoy yourself! You’ll come across a variety of seasoned locals who want to tell you about their hometown and recommend the best cafes to you, so be open to their suggestions. Although Thomas Hogan Travels offers a well-organized trip itinerary, there’s typically downtime for you to do your own exploring, so check out as many local-recommend places as you can.
There you have it! Those are the essential travel tips we have to prepare you for your first trip abroad. Now, if you don’t already have an overseas adventure planned, check out our many upcoming trips to beautiful destinations around the world!