travel tips

What to Expect on Your First Time Out of the Country

Whether you are heading off on a short family vacation or planning a massive trip around the world, vacations abroad can be amazing. Traveling to other countries gives you a chance to explore new cultures, learn about different ways of life and civilizations. It gives you a chance to meet new people, gain new experiences and see some truly breath-taking sights. It can be nothing short of amazing.

Seasoned travelers think nothing of hopping on a plane and taking their next great trip. Excited about what lies ahead and exhilarated by the mere idea of taking their next journey. But, even for these people, that first time out of the country may have been daunting. Leaving the country can be scary. You don’t know what to expect, you may be afraid of the flying or overwhelmed by the idea of navigating airport security. Simply the idea of traveling to a new country can terrify people that much that they put off even posting their passport application for years, missing out on what the world has to offer.

If you are planning to leave the country for the first time in the new year, here is what you can expect from your trip.

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Getting a Passport Might be Harder Than You Think

If you’ve never had a passport before, you may not realize how hard they can be to get. Over the last 20 years, international security has become much tighter, and valid passports are our first line of defense. There are strict rules on how your photo must look and what supporting documents you must send. If you don’t have the right ID, you may have to jump through a few hoops to prove you are who you say you are, perhaps even having to attend an interview. You should check online for current wait times, but it can take up to 12 weeks, and that’s if you fill the form incorrectly on your first try. If you’ve left it a little late or need to make an unplanned trip, read up on how to get a passport fast to hurry your application.

Airport Security is Tough

Airport security can be intimidating if you’ve never seen it before. You’ll see police patrols, sniffer dogs, security officers and maybe even armed force officers and they will all be armed. You’ll also have to pass through scans and multiple security checks.

It’s important to remember that this is all for your own safety and that as long as you stick to the rules, you have nothing to worry about.  

You Won’t Feel the Plane Move

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During take-off, you can feel the plane moving and the pressure changing quite dramatically. When it comes to landing, you’ll feel large drops, and you may feel some turbulence along the way. But, if your flight is smooth and the weather conditions are good, while you are in the air you won’t feel a thing. You’ll be able to sleep, read a book, watch a movie or even go for a walk in relative comfort.

Foreign Airports Aren’t That Different

Many first-time travelers expect to leave the airplane and immediately find themselves in a totally different world. However, unless you are traveling to somewhere incredibly remote, the airport won’t be too different. Security and checks will be similar, the layout will be similar, and it may even have some of the same shops and displays.

But They Are Hot

One thing you may notice the second you step off the plane is the temperature. If you are traveling to somewhere with a different climate and have just spend a few hours in a pressurized plane with an artificial atmosphere, you will be met by a wall of heat. Traveling in thin, light layers is a great way to be prepared for anything.

It’s Ok to Trust the Locals

You can always tell a first-time traveler from the way they walk around clutching their belongings and avoiding eye contact with anyone. We’ve all heard horror stories about things that have happened to travelers and foreign scams that people have fell victim to. But, to be fair, the same dangers surround us at home.

Keep your belongings safe by keeping your bag close and close and trust your instincts. But, don’t panic. Make eye contact, say hello and ask the locals for advice on places to eat or sights to visit. Chat with people and get to know them. You’ll probably be very pleased to find that places all around the world are filled with friendly local’s keen to show off their businesses or hometowns to equally friendly travelers.

Guidebooks Aren’t Always Right

In the day of the internet and TripAdvisor, we rely on guidebooks much less than previous generations may have. But it’s still important to realize that they’re not always right. Things change and move, businesses close down, people move away, and sometimes the author of the book may just have a differing opinion to you. Read books, look at guides online to prepare, but don’t take it as gospel. Leave room for change and spontaneity.

Not Everyone Speaks English

In the modern world, it’s fair to say that a lot of people speak English. You can probably find someone that knows at least basic English somewhere. But, that doesn’t mean everyone will speak fluent English, as much as we often arrogantly assume they will. It’s always a good idea to learn a little language for anywhere you go.

Money is Different

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That one might sound obvious. Different places have different currency. You know that, right? But, it’s not that simple. There are also exchange rates and rates of inflation to think about. You may find that something that’s worth $10 at home may be vastly more or less in another country. This can make it hard to know how much money you need before you arrive and you could easily find yourself hugely overspending.

Do some research online before you go, and try to set yourself a strict budget, remembering that travel doesn’t need to be expensive. If prices are different when you arrive, take another look at your budget and make some changes.

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