Do you think you are ready for that once-in-a-lifetime trip? Whether it is for studying abroad, a foreign internship, job experience abroad, or just a well-deserved beach vacation on an exotic island, the amount of planning you do before boarding the plane would make a significant difference in your trip. Take the time now to prepare and organize so that you can get the most out of your time overseas.
Meandering through the local streets, enjoying delicious food and making new friends and amazing memories sounds much more like the experience that you want – not worrying about little things like your phone connecting to the local network.
Here, we look at some of the things that you must do before heading abroad.
Check your passport and other documentation
To leave the country and visit any other country in the world, whether by road, plane or sea, you must have a valid passport. Many countries require you to have six months left on your passport after the date you are due to arrive back. Some countries may also require you to have visas, or if you are planning on going to the United States, an ESTA – electronic system for travel authorization. You can find out more about this on their homepage. The last thing you want is to book everything, get hyped up, turn up and be refused entry because of a problem with your documentation. Do it in plenty of time so that should any issues arrive, you can get it sorted in time.
Pay a visit to your doctor
This is not necessary for every destination but plenty of places around the world require you, or at the very least advise you to have certain vaccinations before entering the country. These include things like malaria, yellow fever, zika, dengue and typhoid fever. Some of these require being done well in advance, others can be done close to your departure, but be aware that you could feel a little under the weather after some of them. As the world starts to move on from the COVID-19 pandemic, it may also become a rule to have tests or period of quarantine or vaccination prior to travel, so again, check online regularly for the most up to date news.
Make sure you have a way to communicate with your loved ones back home
Even if the purpose of your trips is to escape everything and everyone, you still need to make sure that you have a way to get in touch with family and friends back at home should there be a problem, or you begin to feel a little homesick. Your family would probably appreciate knowing that you are safe and sound wherever you are, too.
This is now simpler than ever before thanks to new technology. Try out free services that you can use from anywhere in the world if you have an internet connection, such as Skype, Zoom or WhatsApp. Check your mobile phone plan; some can be used in other countries, but many will not.
Make sure you have travel and health insurance
Hopefully, you will not need to call on this, but you can guarantee if you try skimping and not bothering, it is something that you will need and seriously regret not paying for. Find one that covers any problems with flights or having to miss the trip altogether and the most comprehensive health cover that you can afford. Always make sure that you read the small print to ensure any activities that you are planning on doing are covered. Many, for example, will not cover you for using a jet ski or going scuba diving.
Set a budget
This is especially useful if you will be spending a significant amount of time abroad as part of a study or volunteer programme. Investigate the cost of living in that country and determine where your monthly expenses will be spent: lodging, food, transportation, and entertainment. If you are only going on a personal vacation, estimate how much you will spend on hotels, jaunts, meals, and other expenses.
In any case, be reasonable about your expenses and bring more money than you think you will need. Not just because popping out for one drink and easily become an all nighter but also because emergencies and unforeseen opportunities are often happen. Make sure that you are fully prepared.
For bigger purchases, using a credit card is usually the most-cost effective option but make sure you have local cash on you as well.
Do your research into the location
You will probably experience some degree of culture shock no matter how trendy and open-minded you are. That is something that no amount of research will be able to alter. However, itis always a good idea to plan ahead so that you can spend your time abroad travelling and enjoying rather than scrolling through new guidebooks. Find out about the places you want to go and any events that are taking place during the period you wll be there.
It is also important to red up on particular cultural norms and traditions – are you expected to cover certain parts of your body or greet people in a certain way? Knowing this sort of thing before you get there can decrease your chances of embarrassing yourself and/or causing offence to the locals.
It is also a good idea to try and learn just a few basic words or phrases in the language, if it is different. Even if you do not pronounce it quite right, the fact you have made the effort will not go unnoticed.
If you are going to the middle of the Nevada desert, you probably won’t need that big padded jacket. Conversely, you might want to pack a wooly hat if you are going to New York in December. Look at things that you can easily pick up there and things that you need to take such as prescribed medication (with a note from your doctor) and other essentials.