A Guide To Travelling Abroad For The First Time

Jane Wardle

Written by Jane Wardle on January 29, 2019

Updated January 29, 2019

couple first time travelling abroad

Jetting off on your first overseas adventure is an exciting experience that you will never forget, but it can also be a daunting prospect. If you have never been on a plane or stayed in a foreign country, it can all be a bit overwhelming knowing where to start and what to do.

Whether you are off for a bit of sun, sea and sand with your friends, heading for an inspiring city break with the family, or adventuring some far-flung corner of the world alone, there a few things you should know if you are travelling abroad for the first time. This guide covers everything you need to know for your first trip abroad, and some handy tips to make the whole experience a little easier.

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Prepare your paperwork and documents

Travelling abroad often requires various documents that you will need to organise before setting off for the airport. If you don’t have a passport yet, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to apply for one. The processing time is four to six weeks, so give yourself about two months to be one the safe side.

As well as your passport, you will also need your boarding pass if you’re flying. Boarding passes can be either e-tickets or need printing before you head off, so check the type you have first. Most airlines will allow you to check in online 24 hours before your flight time, and you will then be issued a boarding pass. If you aren’t sure if your boarding pass is an e-ticket, then print out a hard copy just to be on the safe side.

If you do have an e-ticket, make sure your phone or tablet has plenty of charge so that you can access it at the airport.

Other bits of paperwork that you may need are hotel or accommodation details, car hire details, and insurance policy documents. It is often worth printing off a map to where you are staying, just in case you can’t access the internet when you arrive.

If you haven’t arranged your passport yet and are flying sooner than six weeks, you can pay extra for faster processing. If you are on a really short timescale, you can often make an appointment at the passport office to get one within days, but make sure you check the costs beforehand as this isn’t a cheap option.

Staying safe and healthy

When you are visiting a foreign land, it can be nerve-wracking knowing how to properly look after yourself. Be sensible, and if you are travelling in a group try to stay together as much as possible. Do some research on the place you are visiting before setting off and find out a bit about how safe the area is.

Some places are safe enough to walk around alone at night, while others will advise you to stay with others and in well-populated areas. If you are heading to a popular tourist location, you won’t have much to worry about but use your common sense to keep yourself safe.

It can be tempting to pack every medicine you might possibly need for your time away, but instead you only really need to pack the essentials. Bring sun cream, plasters, painkillers and any medication you require. Remember most tourist locations will have plenty of local pharmacies, so you will likely be able to get hold of most common medicines while you are away should you need them.

Depending on where you are travelling to, you may need specific vaccinations before you go. Check well in advance if you need any jabs for your holiday as there is often a waiting list to get them.

Plan your packing

Knowing what to bring with you for your first trip abroad can be difficult, and it will depend greatly on where you are heading and the type of trip you’ve planned. Before you begin packing, check your airline’s baggage allowances for both size and weight, as if you go over you will be charged a hefty fine. There are a few essentials that you should pack for any abroad trip:

  • Appropriate clothing: Think about the weather for your destination. If it is hot, then opt for shorts, t shirts and swimwear. Wherever you are going, bring a lightweight, waterproof jacket – just in case!
  • Baby wipes and hand sanitiser: When you travel you come into contact with loads of public spaces. Keep germs at bay with hand sanitiser and wipes.
  • Earplugs and eye mask: Not only are these perfect for long flights but if you find yourself in a noisy hotel, you will appreciate having these items on hand.
  • Photocopy of important documents: All those important documents that we mentioned earlier should also be photocopied to be on the safe side. Keep a photocopy of your passport, insurance documents and even credit cards somewhere separate from your other documents.

Make sure you have travel adaptors that work in your destination. A great way of saving on travel adaptors and dealing with hotel rooms with limited plugs is to bring a four-plug extension lead with you. That way you need just one adaptor and get four outlets.

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