Hey guys! This post will be a little bit lengthy, but has been requested by several people. Being a young woman, one of my continuing ambitions is to travel the world. And with a career that affords this particular plan of travel that I hope to accomplish, I am able to do so.
This post will be dedicated to all that you need to know in order to successfully plan your international trip–whether it’s your first or one of many:
- Pick a destination. Many people say that they want to travel, but don’t say where they want to travel to. Be as specific as you can about where you want to go. Instead of saying, “I want to go to Asia”, say, “I want to go to Tokyo, Japan”; it creates a more concrete goal to work towards.
- Decide on length of stay (LOS). You won’t know how much your trip costs unless you decide how long you’re going to be vacationing for. Being a nurse allows for a certain amount of flexibility since I am able to self-schedule. However, if you’re a 9-to-5 worker, it’s still possible to plan ahead of time. Check your calendar and cut out a section of time that won’t be too hectic for you to leave the country. Keep in mind, the further you travel, the longer you will likely want to stay. Personally, if I’m traveling internationally, I stay for a minimum of 5 days.
- Research cost. This is perhaps the biggest deterrent for young travelers. You don’t need a six-figure salary to be able to travel the world–I promise. Style of travel is usually the deciding factor in determining how much you’re going to pay. Do you want to go backpacking or live in a luxury hotel? Do you want to stay in a hotel vs a hostel? What attractions do you want to see? Or excursions? Will you be eating out or cooking at your place? There is a ton to consider when dealing with cost. I found a perfect travel guide that will assist you in trying to decide cost in traveling to various regions worldwide; click here. I’ve booked using several different methods, from all-inclusive packages to using AirBnB. Ultimately, the choice is based upon how much you’re willing to pay and personal preference.
- Start saving. Now that you’ve calculated how much you need for the trip, it’s time to start saving up for it. In my opinion, 6-8 months is ample time to save up for a international vacation. If I’m saving up for a trip, I like to set aside money from every paycheck, maybe a couple hundred dollars, and put it into my savings account. Aside from having a savings account, there are other ways to save money, like cooking instead of eating out or signing up for travel newsletters to learn about new discounts. It’s really not difficult to save if you’re serious about international travel. Just think of it this way: if you need $2000 for a trip to London that you’re taking in 6 months, that’s about $11/day that you should be saving; that probably equals the amount of money you’re spending on eating out! Remember, buying plane tickets for international flights can be very expensive, so start saving as soon as you can!
- Stay Focused. Traveling can be one of the most inspiring parts of your life. Always remember the reason why you want to see the world, and that feeling will carry you through to reaching your goal. Read inspiring stories or watch travel vlogs to keep you interesting.
- Check for Last-Minute Deals. Sometimes, the cheapest places to travel aren’t always the places that you want to go or planned on going to. Before you book your flight, check out other cities that may be having better deals. If you’re flexible with locations, this option can be a win-win for you–you can save money and see another beautiful part of the world that you never thought you’d want to experience.
- Book your flight. Booking your flight is pretty simple, and there are ways to find the best deals. If you have sky miles, you can also use those to avoid being that person who paid the most to fly. Here are some great sites to search for great deals on flights:
- Book Your Accommodation. If you have a set schedule, feel free to book accommodation for the duration of your trip, but if you are going to be traveling long-term, book just the first few days. Once you know the dates you’ll be in your destination, there is no real reason not to find a place to stay. Alternatively, you can contact people on hospitality websites like Couchsurfing or Be Welcome and ask if they would be willing to host you. You want to do this in advance so people have time to rearrange their schedule and plan for your visit. Moreover, you can also consider apartment rental sites like Wimdu or Airbnb. The following booking sites offer the best rates for accommodation:
- Plan Your Activities. Sketch out the major activities you want to enjoy and how much they cost. Make any last-minute adjustments to your savings so you can ensure you have enough money. This will also help you figure out if you need any reservations for your chosen tours or activities. For example, when my friend and I went to the Dominican Republic, we had a very general idea of what activities we wanted to do; therefore, we set aside enough money to do the excursions once we got there.
- Automate Your Bills. There’s nothing worse than leaving the country with unfinished business back at home. Skip the paper and automate your bills. That way, there’s no worries about what needs to be paid at what time. Just make sure that your credit card information is updated upon time of travel.
- Pack. The less you pack, the better (because those overweight baggage fees can add up quickly). Only pack the essentials. Need a packing list? Click here.
- Buy Travel Insurance. I cannot stress this enough. While a lot of people think “I’m healthy, I don’t need travel insurance. I won’t get sick,” travel insurance is much more than just medical protection. It covers you when your camera breaks, your flight is canceled, a family member dies and you have to come home, or something is stolen. Travel insurance is something you will need on the road. You never know what might happen, and most health plans won’t cover you overseas. Travel insurance is only a few dollars a day and is one of the best safety nets you can invest in when traveling internationally. When booking your flight, you can sometimes buy travel insurance during the same payment process. Other times, you will have to buy it separately.
- Enjoy Your Trip. Now that you’ve planned and saved and planned some more, it’s finally time for you to enjoy the world. There are so many beautiful places to experience, so go experience them today!
Here are a few other tips for international travel:
- Don’t forget your passport. Get this as soon as you have the idea in your head to travel. Though it only takes about 4 to 6 weeks to arrive in the mail, it’s always best to get it done ahead of time. Stop by your local post office for this service. Once you get your passport, it’s always best of immediately make a copies of them (one for home and another to keep with you abraod), as well as all of your other important documents (driver’s license, visa, birth certificate, etc.) so that if they get lost, you have an extra copy. Some countries require that you have a visa, of which can be obtained online or at the airport the day of departure.
- Set up your cell phone to avoid international data roaming. Many business travelers have an international calling and data plan. But infrequent travelers don’t. The biggest costs can come from transmitting data overseas.
- Look up the monetary conversion before you go. Make sure you do your math before you travel to get a sense of where the conversion rate is at.
- Bring snacks. Traveling abroad is fun, but eating in a foreign country can sometimes become a task. Bring small snacks that will tide you over until you find that perfect restaurant or food cart.
I hope you guys enjoyed this post! I will be updating it as a continue to travel in the next few months. If you want to keep up with my excursions (naturally, I will be blogging as I go), check out a few of the places that I will be heading to next:
July 6-12 – New Orleans, Louisiana
September 1 – 7 – Havana, Cuba
November 17 – 25 – Bangkok, Thailand; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Phuket, Thailand