Does planning an international trip seem like a daunting task to you? It doesn’t have to be! I have 10 International Travel Tips to help you plan your next trip. These tips will make your travel planning easy by breaking it down into easy and actionable steps. Give yourself enough time so that you won’t be overwhelmed, and weigh all of your options so that you can make an informed decision. If even the thought of international travel overwhelms you, hire me to do the planning for you! Click here to have me plan your international travel for you.
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Use these 10 International Travel Tips to plan your international trip and you’ll be just fine!
- Choose where you want to go
- Have the correct documents
- Determine your budget
- Determine what type of experience you want
- Book your airfare
- Book your accommodations
- Research the culture and customs of your destination
- Figure out how you’re getting from the airport to your accommodations
- Get some local currency before you hop on the plane
- Get Travel Insurance
Plan your international trip in 10 easy steps!
1. Choose where you want to go
This isn’t always an easy decision. There are so many countries to choose from. I have a globe on my desk that I look at because it is easy to only think of the countries that you are familiar with. Having a globe or a map handy can give you a better idea of your options. It can also help you get a visual of how far it is from your home.
Gather inspiration from TV shows, movies, hearing people talk about a destination, seeing other friend’s pictures from their travels, and your own general curiosity.
Pictures on a friend’s FB feed inspired me to go to Ghana. I hopped in the car and drove to Charleston after the church shooting because I knew Charleston was much more than what was being portrayed on TV. My trips to Senegal and Slovakia were booked because I found amazing flight deals before I knew anything about either destination.
Don’t limit the places you are willing to go and don’t let language or culture stop you. Learn to be ok with being different and learn how to be ok with not understanding everything.
PRO TIP: Find a great flight deal and plan your trip around the deal. let the destination be wherever the best deal takes you!
2. Have the correct documents
You wouldn’t believe how many people don’t do this. They buy plane tickets, book a hotel and excursions and have everything planned out. Then they get to the airport or their destination, and realize one of the following:
- their passport has expired
- their passport doesn’t have enough validity
- the country they are entering requires a Visa
- the country they are entering requires vaccinations
You must have a passport to enter into another country. Get your application started here. Most countries require that a passport be valid for at least six months beyond the completion of a trip so please make sure of the validity of your passport before you travel.
Depending on your country of origin, you may be required to have a visa to enter another country. Please check the requirements BEFORE you book anything as the Visa process can be unpredictable.
3. Determine your budget
This is very important because money can determine the type of trip you have. You must be honest with yourself and plan the type of trip you want that your budget will allow.
I am not a big fan of people putting vacations on credit cards and then worrying about paying for it later. However, if that is something you do (but seriously, don’t do that) make sure you factor in the interest fees that will occur on the amount you spend.
And if it’s possible, pay off your credit card as soon as you get home so you won’t still be paying for a trip you took months ago.
4. Determine what type of experience you want
This is very important and something many people never think about. Before you go to your destination, think about the type of trip you want to take. Do you want to relax and just chill? Are you interested in going nonstop from morning until night? Do you want to be in a resort and have everything taken care of for you or would you rather rent an apartment and be more independent?
Many times people will hop on great deals and spend their money before figuring out if the experience the trip is offering is something they would be interested in. Slow down and really think about what you want your trip to be and then book.
For instance, let’s say there was a fabulous deal to a country you’ve always wanted to go to but you have to stay in a hostel and share a room with 3 other people. If hostels aren’t your thing, would this be the experience you want? Is sharing a room with strangers something that doesn’t interest you at all? Is having to walk down the hall and wear shower shoes something that would appeal to you?
Many people don’t take the time to figure out if the trip they are taking is truly something they would want to do. Instead, they are lured by the fabulous destination and end up not enjoying the trip because they didn’t get the experience they wanted.
5. Book your airfare
Once you’ve done all of the above, you should now know what country you want to visit and you can start finding your airfare. When I have to pay for tickets, here are the sites I check first:
Between these three sites, I have been able to find excellent deals on destinations all over the world, not just in Europe. NOTE: The google site doesn’t allow you to book but it does give you the lowest prices ticket options for your destination.
I am a big fan of finding a deal first and then book everything around the deal. This way, you can take advantage of any error fares or discounts that may be happening in a European destination you never thought of visiting. However, if you are set on a particular destination, these sites are great for getting you the best deal possible.
6. Book your accommodations
Everyone has different needs and wants when booking a place to stay. You need to decide what type of traveler you are and the experiences you want so you will know what type of accommodations you require. These all go hand in hand because your comfort level depends on what you are willing and able to deal with on your trip.
If you know that you want luxury accommodations with room service, then a hotel is what you need. If you want luxury but you are ok with not having room service or maid service, then a vacation rental may be something you can deal with.
When I am booking hotels, Agoda is my go-to. I have gotten several wonderful deals by using their site in countries around the world.
7. Research the culture and customs of your destination
This is absolutely crucial as it can also help you’d decide if you are going to a place you will feel comfortable. There are some countries where the differences in how men and women are treated are palpable and you may not appreciate that. You can do research online, join travel groups on Facebook, and look at documentaries.
It’s also good to understand some of the differences you may encounter in your destination of choice. For instance, in Paris, you can’t expect the same level of customer service you are accustomed to (if you are accustomed to it, it seems to be bad all over now).
In other countries, you may see women selling items in markets that are very different than what you have seen, and selling them in ways you aren’t familiar with.
8. Figure out how you’re getting from the airport to your accommodations
This tip will save yourself lots of time and frustration, especially if you are going to a place you aren’t familiar with or you don’t speak the language. Here are a few questions you need to answer to figure out which option is best for you:
- Are you renting a car?
- Is there public transportation (metro, bus, train) from the airport to your accommodations?
- If you have a hotel, do they have a shuttle?
- Is a ride sharing service available (think Uber or Lyft)
- Is it possible to have a driver pick you up?
Depending on where you are traveling to, you may have several options to choose from. Either way, make sure you have some idea of what you can do and what you want to do BEFORE you land.
9. Get some local currency before you hop on the plane
There are many people who wait until they get in their destination to get their cash yet I urge you not to do this. Why? Because in my almost 30 years of travel I have seen too many people get to an airport in their foreign destination and for one reason or another, not be able to get their money from the ATM. It doesn’t happen often, I know, but I’ve seen it happen enough to know that it’s not fun when it does happen.
There are some countries that you won’t be able to get currency before you go. For instance, I couldn’t get money for Ethiopia or Zambia before I got to my destination. However, I did have American dollars on me in case my ATM card wasn’t working for some reason.
10. Get Travel Insurance
This should be something you get. Period. There really should be no question as to getting travel insurance when you are leaving the country. I’ve written about why travel insurance is so crucial and it’s something I buy before every international trip.
Remember, traveling internationally can be a great experience if you take the time to plan. Use our 10 international travel tips to make sure your trip goes without a hiccup.