In case you’re new here, well first of all: welcome! Hi, happy to have you here. But also, just know that I’m a big travel girlie. I lived out of a backpack on and off for about a decade, traipsing across most of Asia, Africa, and Australia.
That being said, I know a thing or two about both living and traveling internationally. And, just because it’s like second nature to me, doesn’t mean I don’t remember how intimidating and overwhelming it was the first time I left the country alone.
While traveling abroad can certainly feel daunting, it’s something that I urge anyone and everyone to do. If you have the ability, the means, and resources please travel. Travel will be your greatest teacher if you allow it to be, and it’s an investment that keeps on paying back.
This post will share with you exactly how to prepare for your next international travel experience, so that you can easily check off the lists provided below, rather than having a million and one thoughts rushing through your head.
How To Prepare For International Travel
I’m so excited that you’re about to go on a big trip. It’s truly a very exciting time! While it can also be stressful in trying to get a bunch of loose ends tied up, try to stay as present as possible, because this is the kind of rush that you can’t get just anywhere.
I’ve created a super simple list of things to keep in mind as you’re preparing for your first international trip. All of these to-do’s will ensure you have a smooth, safe, and comfortable travel.
First and foremost, you have to book a flight. This is typically the biggest cost of the whole experience, so I’d suggest that you set some travel alerts on a variety of flight search engines. These travel alerts will send you emails when the exact flight route you’re interested in is going up or down. This way, you can try to strike while the iron is hot, and get the cheapest flight.
If you’re coming from a smaller town or airport, remember that you’ll probably get a much cheaper deal if you fly out of a major international airport, instead. This means, it’s usually worth the investment to drive, or take a domestic flight, to the larger international airport- instead of trying to fly out of your smaller town.
If you do end up buying a domestic flight in order to get a better deal on your big international flight, just remember those are two separate tickets! So, allow enough of a time buffer between landing and boarding for those just in case moments that come along with traveling.
Next up, you’ll want to look into the visa requirements for where you’re going. Visa requirements vary for every single country of entry, and for every single country of origin. This is why it’s extremely important to have a solid grasp on exactly what you need to do for a visa well before you travel.
While you’re looking into visas for your destination, remember that some transit countries require you to have a visa just to pass through their airport, too. If you’re not a United States citizen, and you’re passing through a US airport in transit- you still need a visa. What a pain in the butt, I know. All the more reason to understand this beforehand.
The visa situation is super important, because you will be denied entry into the country without the correct visa. Truthfully, most airlines make you show proof of the visa before you even board the flight- so you’re usually not able to enter the country at all without it.
I know I said usually the flight is the most expensive part of the trip, but for some people, they prefer to bail out on a room rather than a pricey ticket. The good news is that most places have a variety of options with everything from budget hostels to bougie resorts and spas.
In order to book the best place for you, think about what you want to achieve from this trip. If you want to meet people, perhaps a hostel is best for you. If you need to work, but also want to relax and explore, then a hotel could be better. And if you want to cook your own food, then Airbnb it up. Once you know what you want out of the trip, choosing the lodging will be easy.
As soon as you buy the flight, you’ll want to arrange transport to your accommodation. This is super simple to do when you’re staying at a hostel or a hotel, as there’s usually a manager or front desk concierge to coordinate with via email. Send them your exact flight details, and they’ll send one of their trusted drivers.
If you’re staying in an Airbnb, you can always try asking the host if they have any local taxi numbers. Most of the time, they do. And of course, if you’re going to a place with Uber, then you can always book one on arrival at the airport.
I like to arrange my transport in advance through a trusted source like a hotel, because as a solo female traveler, this makes me feel safer.
Okay, packing has to be one of my favorite activities. Is that weird? Oh well, I don’t care, because it gives me so much joy. The reason it’s fun is that it gets you excited for the trip! And, you can get creative and expressive with how you want to dress there, which is a bonus.
Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you need to spend a bajillion dollars on new clothes in order to look Insta-perfect. My personal favorite is scoring a few fun items on Poshmark (Code ALMEMDRARIMBY gives you 10$ off). If you’re new to buying second-hand, I can help you in this post, don’t worry.
A few things to remember when you’re packing for an international trip:
- Functional clothing
- Clothes that can be worn in more than one way
- Laundry accessibility
- Electronics (including converters!)
I’m no stranger to health issues when traveling. So, please for the love of god take it from me, you don’t want to be sick in another country. I mean, being sick isn’t fun at all. But it’s even worse with language barriers, and lack of technology and care.
The best thing you can do for yourself before you travel is to make sure you’re still getting plenty of sleep, staying hydrated (bonus when you add LMNT), and keeping your digestion on track. These three areas tend to be the ones that get all messed up when traveling, so making sure they’re good beforehand will often help with mishaps.
That being said, food poisoning happens! Even when you’re careful, and especially with new cuisines. Make sure to pack activated charcoal, LMNT to rehydrate, and Armra to restore. These are my go-to supplements for digestion and belly problems, and they don’t take up a lot of space at all. Totally worth it.
Since you’re traveling internationally, there’s a good chance you’re going to be traveling far. In that case, make sure you have your entertainment all downloaded and ready to go. Whether you’re a movie or series person, or perhaps you’re a podcast or book person- just make sure that you can watch/listen/read whatever it is you need without Wifi.
Even though a lot of planes have Wifi nowadays, it’s still not that consistent. And wherever you’re traveling to might have spotty service, too. Get more than enough downloaded to carry you through the trip, and the trip as a whole.
I love reading from a Kindle or iPad (with red light only, duh), because it allows me to bring a lot of books with only a little weight. Electronic readers are also great for guidebooks for your destination country, which can be super helpful if you’re going more remote and won’t have the best service.
Last thing to think about is food. I’ll admit, I have an irrational fear of going hungry, so my snack bag for trips is literally my entire carryon. I’m not saying you need to be as excessive as me, but I’m just saying be prepared in whatever way feels right to you.
Especially for those of you who are like me and have allergies causing dietary requirements, you’ll want to make sure you have food with you in case the airport can’t cater to your needs. Yes, the airplane often has food, but again- with dietary requirements, this can get tricky.
I like to pack something heavy and grounding, like a warm bowl (think quinoa, lentils, sweet potatoes, and carrots with tahini). This helps me to feel a little more grounded, than when I snack too hard. Also, make sure to pack something with fiber to aid with digestion changes that come with travel. Apples are great for this, and can be found at most airports, too.
There you have it, my friends. You’re all ready for your next international trip. I’m so excited for you!
I hope you have the best time…ever.