A Step-By-Step Guide To Planning An International Trip (For First-Timers)

The most important details begin before a traveler even commits to purchasing plane tickets or booking accommodations.

When travel reopens again, it will be a joyous and thrilling experience. The past year may have been responsible for canceling many a trip, but the years to come are beginning to take on a brighter future, and, with it, a way to see and experience the world once again. If nothing else, it has made many people realize that if they weren’t traveling before, then it’s something they should take advantage of in the future of safer vacations. Many people are even starting to consider international travel, as the overall attitude towards vacations has become far more of the ‘seize the day’ variety.

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However, it can be a challenge to plan a vacation out of the country. Crossing borders and being immersed in a new culture can be overwhelming at first, but the process of getting there doesn’t need to be. There are a few simple steps to do when deciding that it’s time to take the international plunge, and it all happens before you even get around to purchasing plane tickets. Before you plan anything, take the time to do these steps to get the most out of your travel planning.

Figure Out Where You Want To Go And Do Some Smart Research

It goes without saying that the first step to planning any trip is deciding where you want to go. The destination is just as important as the journey in this case, especially when it comes to a person’s first international trip. Picking a destination is only the beginning, though. A person could read one hundred articles on a destination and still only know statistics and facts; the real truth when it comes to visiting any location is in the blog posts, social media photos, and YouTube videos that have been shared by those who have done it prior. By swapping out Pinterest-worthy vacation photos for those that have been taken by travelers just sharing their experience, it’ll provide a more realistic feel.

a couple planning a vacation
via Shutterstock

Searching hashtags on social media and doing a quick Google search on ‘vacation in such-and-such’ place will go a long way. Sometimes, it’s better to get the negative things about a place out of the way before researching everyone’s positive experiences.

Decide How Long You Want To Go For And How Much Vacation Time Is Needed

This past year also taught everyone that perhaps taking that extra day or two is well worth it in terms of self-care. Prior to this, many people were hesitant to use all, or any, of their vacation time, for fear of the separation from work and the large pile of it waiting for them when they returned.

booking a vacation
via Shutterstock

Now, the way of thinking has been altered and many people are ready and willing to take full advantage of their vacation days in order to have the experiences they’ve wanted for so long. Therefore, planning how much time is needed rather than wanted has become more important. If your research says that it takes a week to explore most of the city or country you’re interested in, then take the week! If the consensus says that a weekend is more than enough, then stick with a weekend and maybe an extra day to see some less popular locations.

The First Means Of Commitment Is A Passport

The key to truly following through is ensuring a way out. If your passport is up to date and not expired then this doesn’t apply but if it’s not, then go through with getting it renewed! Or, if you haven’t had one yet, commit to actually obtaining a passport. There’s something about holding such a powerful little book in your hands and knowing that it’s the key to exploring a new country.

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If nothing else, it’ll make you feel committed before any money (aside from purchasing the passport) is even spent on transportation, lodging, and additional travel expenses. It also makes things feel a bit more real, even if your vacation isn’t for another year or so.

Plan Out The Budget And Where Money Should Be Allotted

One of the most important details to avoid neglecting when planning a vacation is money. It does cost money to travel and while there are many places that are very affordable, this all depends on lodging, transportation, and what activities a traveler wants to do once they arrive. These costs add up quickly and the best thing to do is write out what experiences are on the list and then price those out. Then, pick a suitable lodging option whether it’s an Airbnb or hotel, and write out those prices. Lastly, compare plane ticket prices or, if driving, consider how much money needs to be set aside for gas or how much a rental will cost. The sum of all these numbers will be the ‘baseline’ price, plus activities, food, and drink throughout the trip.

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