5 Tips for Planning Your First Trip Abroad

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There’s plenty to see here in the U.S., but if you haven’t traveled much abroad, you’ll probably prefer to do that and see some of the beautiful and breathtaking sights you’ve heard so much about. Although it’s okay to be a little nervous, planning an international trip doesn’t have to be stressful.

Five International Travel Planning Tips

Whether you’re traveling north to Canada or halfway around the world to New Zealand, planning ahead will ensure your trip goes much smoother. Here’s some advice you’ll want to heed.

1. Search for Flights in Advance

Airline tickets are often the most expensive piece of travel abroad. Deals come and go, but the general rule of thumb is that you can get better deals the earlier you start to shop for tickets.

Buying airline tickets is a lot like gambling. There’s no sure bet, but you can usually tell when you’re getting a good deal.

According to research conducted on more than 1.9 million trips by CheapAir.com, the best time to book a flight to Europe is 276 days in advance. The ideal time to buy tickets to Asia, however, is 318 days in advance. In other words, you should start looking nine to ten months in advance.

Once you have your flight nailed down, you’d be wise to book hotel or Airbnb accommodations right away. If they offer a free cancellation policy, there’s no risk in getting an array of several conflicting reservations, then sorting through your options as you get closer to the travel dates.

2. Create a Loose Itinerary

On an international trip, you want to have some idea of what you’re hoping to do and see, but you don’t want to tie yourself down completely. So a “loose” itinerary is the smartest option.

Let’s say, for example, you’re traveling to Rome. There’s a lot to do in Rome, and you don’t want to miss the highlights. The smart thing would be to plan one major item to see or do every day of your trip — such as the Coliseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Roman Forum — while taking note of additional sites and experiences that you might fit into your schedule if time and energy allows.

By keeping your schedule fairly open, you’ll be able to remain flexible and adjust your actions as events unfold.

3. Travel With Someone Else

Even for introverts who love to be on their own, traveling solo can be quite lonely and intimidating (especially for first-timers). Find someone you get along with fairly well and who has some of the same interests, and ask them to join. Two is the perfect travel number and will usually make everything run much smoother.

4. Learn Some Basic Words

One of the great things about speaking English is that you can get around most areas of the world. Whether you’re in South America, Europe, Asia, or any popular tourist destinations, most people know some English.

If you want your trip to go even smoother, though, try learning some basic words in the language of the country you’re visiting. It’ll help you feel more confident and shows respect. Many of the locals will appreciate that you took the trouble.

5. Pack Light

The final tip is to pack light. You don’t want to haul around lots of bags when you travel. If possible, try to fit everything into a carry-on bag and backpack. It may seem tight, but your trip will be a lot more enjoyable.

It’s Time to See the World

There’s so much to experience in the world. There are seven continents, nearly 200 countries, thousands of cities, and billions of people.

If you’ve never explored the amazing landscapes and startling cities of the world, then you’re missing out on a great chance to broaden your horizons and view life through unique perspectives.

It’s time to see the world; start planning today!

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.