So you’re embarking on your first trip outside your home country! You’re in luck—I’ve got some great tips to help you get started.
First things first: you need a passport. This is essential for traveling internationally and is one of the first steps to take when planning your trip. You can apply for one online here if you’re an American citizen.
Once you have that in order, it’s time to start thinking about where you want to go! There are so many wonderful places around the world, but if you’re just getting started with traveling, we recommend starting with somewhere close by that’s easy to find accommodation for. That way, if anything goes wrong, you can be back home in no time.
Make a list of things you’ll need:
- international passport
- travel insurance if you’re a nomad and going overseas: I use SafetyWing at the moment
- covid vaccination documents (digital screenshots and hard copies)
- a sturdy luggage with a travel tag in case it gets lost
- empty water bottle (water not allowed)
- travel bag
- airtag to put in your luggage in case it gets lost
- medicine bag (for headaches, period cramps, sickness, etc)
- masks for traveling
- appropriate clothes for the weather
- good shoes for walking on your feet and for leisure
- cash or cards (remember to let your card provider know you’re traveling abroad)
- download all the apps you might need beforehand, such as google translate
- battery pack (only carry on), chargers, cords, etc.
Create a shared google doc with the people you’re traveling with
I’m big on sharing my travel documents with my friends, so I can get the best recommendations and get their insight on where I should be headed or planning. All of my plans are generally fluid, but I like to have a rough idea of where I’ll be, and where I’m at. Below is an example of what mine looks like, but everyone’s document can be done differently.
If you’re not a fan of itinerary planning, you could also go with tour groups, with Intrepid or tours on Expedia, Booking.com, or TripAdvisor.
I like to browse through my friend’s travel itineraries, get recommendations from local friends, or even peruse websites online. I am also part of a few travel communities, including the one I founded: Asian Wander Women and Subtle Asian Travel. I would also recommend checking on Meetup.com, co-working spaces that host events, and even being part of remote communities on LinkedIn. Remote Workers Worldwide is on LinkedIn and is a great community for remote workers and digital nomads.
I recently found out about The World’s 50 Best, which is a website on exploring the best restaurants and bars around the world. I’ll definitely be planning on using it when I go abroad and want to find a great meal.
Set Up Google Flight Alerts
I really like booking my flights in advance because it’s generally cheaper and google flights will alert me when there’s a good deal. It helps me catch good prices, but that’s also case by case.
- Go to Google Flights.
- At the top, choose the number of stops, cabin class, and how many tickets you need.
- Choose your departure airport and destination.
- To track prices for this route, turn on Track prices.
- You can track prices for your searched dates or, if your travel dates are flexible, “Any dates.”
- Optional: To track prices for a specific flight, choose your flights, then turn on Track prices.
When you track “Any dates,” you get an email when the route’s minimum price drops significantly over a month. If there isn’t a large enough price drop, you get a regular email with the best available flight prices.
If you’re not ready to book a trip, you can use Google Flights to track prices based on specific flights, routes, and dates.
Take a Deep Breathe! Pre-departure Time
I generally like to know how I’ll get to and from the airport to the hotel before i get there, ie ride hailing apps, metro, etc. I’ll route out my path there and back, and intentionally book a flight that isn’t too late when I land so there’s still transportation and I feel safer traveling.
When to get there: Regardless of domestic or international, I go at least 3 hours earlier to the airport. That means, when I get to the airport, I still have 3 hours left. I’m weird about this, but I enjoy going early, taking my time, and just not stressing about 1000 details.
A lot of things can happen, so it’s best to go earlier for your first flight.
Water stations: I bring an empty water bottle with me to travel so I can fill it up at the water stations. Hell no, I’m not paying for $10 bottles of water!
Lounges: if you have a travel credit card or program you’re part of, check if you have access to any of these lounges. I have Chase Sapphire Reserve and AMEX Platinum, which allows you to gain access to TSA Pre-check and certain Priority pass lounges.
You’ve landed—now what?
You’ll need to gather your belongings and prepare to exit out of customs. Sometimes, exiting out and into a new airport is exhilarating and frightening at the same time. I remember the first time traveling internationally to Taiwan and the humidity just hit me in the face when I stepped out. It’s a core memory that I’ll never forget.
- get a pre-paid sim card
- pocket wifi if you prefer that instead
- find the help center desk if you need to ask questions
Traveling has been the best investment for myself over and over again. I hope you enjoy your first time traveling as well, and share your experiences below. If you have questions, comment below!
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