Written by special contributor, Hayley Jennings
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Has the time come for you to head somewhere in the world that’s completely new to you? It may seem daunting, traveling a place you don’t know very well. That’s understandable, and it’s why planning is so important. It is time-consuming and can be confusing, so keep on reading for advice that you can put to use when planning your big trip to a new country.
Do Plenty of Online Research
You need to give yourself time to do research because you don’t want to head to a new country completely blind. There are endless online resources out there to use: You can watch other people’s travel logs on Youtube, read people’s blog posts, and get real-time updates on social platforms like Instagram Stories. You will feel much more relaxed about heading out on your trip when you know more about where you’re going.
Find Out About Visa Requirements
The last thing you want to do is get stranded at the airport because you didn’t realise that you needed a visa to enter the country. You should look into the requirements for entry before you book anything because some countries require you to go through long processes before you’re allowed in. This is the case for countries like Russia, and although you can get a visa easily enough, you need to give yourself time to complete the process, so you can’t leave it until the last minute.
Understand the Currency and Exchange Rate
Don’t forget that different countries have different currencies, and you need to know the basics of the currency and how it works before you get there. You’re going to be using that currency every day during your trip, so you’ll need to know as much about it as you can. You should also track the exchange rate so that you can plan out when the best time is to exchange your cash. That way, you’ll get more for your money and won’t get ripped off at the airport where exchange rates are not the best.
Learn About the Best Spots to Stay
Every city or region has different areas and neighbourhoods that exist within it. It’s up to you to learn about these various spots because some of them will be better for tourists to stay in than others. You should think about what you want from the destination and what you want to be surrounded by when you’re making your decisions. If you’re looking for a more real and authentic experience, you might want to stay in an area inhabited by more locals and fewer tourists.
Buy a Guidebook
It’s always a good idea to invest in at least one guidebook before you head off on your travels. You don’t want to be completely unarmed, and having a small guidebook highlighting the best attractions, a small map and maybe even some basics of the language will help you out a great deal. Most cities in the world have a guidebook made for them, so you shouldn’t have any problems finding one for the location you’re planning on visiting.
Find Out About Affordable Lodging Options
There are plenty of ways to find accommodation, from hostels to hotels and plenty in between. There are standard hotels or you can rent a house in Singapore, for example. The place you’re visiting will dictate your best lodging options. In some places, renting an apartment for a short period of time really is the most cost-effective way of doing things. And if you’re willing to put up with the obvious drawbacks, you can also find a hostel bargain. You’ll need to do the research and find out.
List the Things You Definitely Want to Do
Before your departure, make a list of your must-dos so you can prioritise when you arrive at the destination. It’s easy to miss out on certain things because there are only so many hours in the day, and certain things always get sacrificed as you run out of time on your trip. Just make sure you do the most important things first and don’t return home with huge regrets.
Learn About Customs Restrictions
Each country has customs restrictions that have to be understood and appreciated if you’re going to have a smooth trip. You will want to make sure that you don’t fall foul of customs restrictions on entering or exiting the country. It’s definitely worth looking into this ahead of your tip because many people don’t realise that these restrictions can vary so widely from country to country. And you can get in real trouble if you ignore them.
Attend Events and Festivals to Absorb the Local Culture
Culture should be a big part of any trip you go on, and it’s a good idea to look if there are any events and festivals going on while you’re there. You can then join in the fun and get to understand more about the local culture and what it means to the local people. It’s the perfect way to feel more connected to the place you’re visiting and experiencing, so don’t skip over these experiences. You’ll learn so much and come out the other side feeling enlightened.
Learn a Bit of the Language
You’d be surprised at how useful it can be to speak a few words of the language. Local people appreciate it when the tourists actually go out of their way to make an effort with the language. It’s an act of courtesy and proves to them that you’re not just another rude tourist who expects the local people to speak the same language you speak. After that, translation apps will get you a long way and help you to get by easily enough while you’re there.
Finally, you need to remember to get your insurance sorted before heading out to a new country. You will only make your life harder and more stressful if you arrive without the proper health insurance. You will put yourself at risk and maybe even land yourself a huge medical bill if you do ever end up needing medical attention during your trip.
Visiting a new country can be scary and daunting, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go! The world is there to be explored, and you will only learn about new cultures by experiencing them first hand. So make the most of these tips when planning your first (or next!) international trip.