by Adam Farfan
Holidays are something that many people look forward to for weeks, months, or even a year in advance. Having that opportunity to escape everyday life and its stresses is a wonderful thing, and a trip can provide you with memories that last a lifetime. If you’ve only had experience in planning holidays within your own home country and you’re ready to go all out and travel outside your country, then there’s no doubt that there is an extra level of excitement surrounding your trip.
A trip outside your home country means you’re in store for sights, attractions, cuisine, and even culture that you’ve never experienced before. With that said, you want to make sure you make the very best of your time away so that it’s both memorable and successful. Typically, a trip to a foreign country involves a bit more in terms of planning and organizing. To help make the trip great, here’s a look at eight tips meant for first-time travelers such as yourself.
Start Researching Flights Well in Advance
Many people have a specific time that they can be away on their holidays. There’s a good chance you have to book time off at work well in advance, which means you can’t exactly be flexible where your travel dates are concerned. This is why it pays off to start researching your flight(s) well in advance. This will give you an idea of pricing and scheduling.
Often people like to wait until the last minute to book a flight in the hopes of saving a little money, and while that may work out, you are certainly taking a big chance waiting until the last minute. In doing this you may not get the departure and return time and dates that you want or need.
As an added tip, if you’re not used to flying, then you probably aren’t aware of flight delay compensation. Because flights can be canceled or delayed, they can end up messing with your plans especially if you’ve got connections to make. When this happens it’s a good idea to be aware of your protection as a consumer.
Flight delay compensation is available if your flight has been delayed for more than three hours, or if it’s been canceled altogether. You can file a claim and may be eligible for up to €600 in compensation. Again, this is just part of being an informed traveler.
Don’t Overbook Yourself on Your Trip
It’s normal to want to see and do everything possible in the country you plan to visit, but this can often lead to overbooking yourself. Trying to pack too much into your trip will leave you feeling drained, and doesn’t give you a real opportunity to relax and enjoy your surroundings. While there is nothing wrong with making an itinerary and plans to do/see certain things, it’s usually a good idea to keep this as a loose idea of what you plan on doing. When you actually get to your destination and start to look around and discover the sights, you may find there are things you want to take part in that you hadn’t been aware of.
Take Online Reviews with a Grain of Salt
Reading online reviews regarding accommodation, restaurants, shows, and sights can certainly help you to narrow down your options, but it’s also important you take them with a grain of salt. Yes, they can offer helpful advice, but one person’s opinion may not be the same as yours. It doesn’t mean they are wrong, it just means that was their own personal experience, and you could have a very different one.
Speak to Friends and Family Who Have Visited the Destination
It can also be very helpful to speak to friends and family members who have been to the destination before. Ask them what their must-see and do list would be, and what they would skip. Again, it’s only their opinion so you may feel different, but at the very least it can offer new ideas as you work on your itinerary.
Here’s a tip that first-time travelers and seasoned travelers can use. Over-packing is something that many people are guilty of as it can be a real art form to learn to pack like a pro. There’s always going to be those items you want to throw in your suitcase “just in case”, and chances are you will never even use them. It’s also quite normal to figure you’ll need more shoes and clothing than is actually required.
A good way to approach packing is to start with a list of the essentials. From there you can do a mock pack. Once your suitcase is packed, look at it with a critical eye and take out at least 25% if possible. Remember, the more you pack the heavier the bag will be to lug around, and the less space you’ll have for bringing home souvenirs and shopping items.
Give Yourself a Realistic Budget
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to travel on a budget and not spend a fortune, but at the same time you need to be realistic. If you set a modest budget but expect to stay in first-class hotels and enjoy fine-dining for every meal, then there’s a good chance you’re going to be disappointed.
It can be helpful to do research in advance in terms of pricing. We advise you to take a note of the costs for accommodation, dining, activities, attractions, transportation, etc. From there you can then set a budget that you feel comfortable with and that will still allow you to have a great holiday. Experts also suggest that you over-estimate how much you’ll need rather than under-estimate. It may just mean that you need a bit more time to save before going on that holiday.
Learn a Few Common Phrases
If you plan on traveling to a country that speaks a different language it’s also a good idea to take the time to learn a few common phrases in advance. You can also pick up a traveler’s translation book/guide, or even look for apps that you can use.
Don’t Forget to Take Photos
Of course, you want to be able to look back on memories and re-live your trip, which means you’ll want to take photos while you’re away. You can keep them interesting by mixing candid with posed shots, and use an actual camera rather than the one on your mobile device. A camera will provide you with more functions and options that will help ensure that your photos look great in each and every shot. Depending on the camera you are taking with you, you may also want to pack lenses, an extra battery, and a travel-sized tripod.
Become an Expert Traveler Before You Depart
By keeping each of these tips in mind, you’ll become an expert traveler before you even leave for your holiday. What this means is that you’ll enjoy your trip that much more since you won’t have the same amount of stress and worries. Advanced planning, a realistic budget, smart packing, and a basic itinerary can make a massive difference in the quality of your holiday.