As a travel blogger, I’ve been on quite a few international flights. I know first hand how horrible 15 hour plane trips are. I despise those tiny seats with horridly little leg room. And plane food makes me wish I had packed a bag full of treats every single time. But that could also be partly because I’m a super picky eater!
Planning your first international trip can be stressful. If you’ve decided to do it yourself instead of going through a travel agent, I’m here to help! I’ve taken everything I know when it comes to planning an international trip and organised it in an easy to read, check-list style article!
Here are the steps you should take when booking and planning your first international trip!
1. Choose your destination
This is the most exciting step! If you’re looking to plan a holiday, you probably have a general idea of where you’d like to visit, right? If not, it’s time to do a little bit of research!
- Would you prefer a hot or cold climate?
- What time of year are you wanting to visit?
- How much are you setting aside for your budget? (more on setting a budget in the next step!
Compile a list of all your preferences, then choose your destination from there! There are so many different choices when it comes to international travel. Unless you’ve had your heart set on a specific destination for many years, it can be quite overwhelming making a decision.
Tip: Given that you’re planning your first international trip, I suggest choosing a destination that is similar to where you are from. For example, if you are Australian, consider visiting the USA, New Zealand, Canada or the UK. Basically, Western countries which won’t give you too much of a culture shock! This is a great way to introduce yourself to international travel, learn what works for you and get a hang of the basics!
Tip #2: If you’re nervous about embarking on your first international trip going solo, consider booking your trip with a company like Contiki! They have a ton of amazing tours available, to places all over the world! I did the Best of USA Contiki tour back in 2015 and it was an amazing experience. You can read more about that, here!
2. Set a budget
Once you’ve chosen your destination, the next step should be to set yourself a budget. Your budget will depend on whether you’re traveling solo, as a couple or with a group of people. If you’re embarking on solo travel, your costs will obviously be higher, as you’ll be paying for everything yourself. If you’re travelling as a couple, splitting the costs is the easiest and cheapest way to do it. Group travel will obviously cut back your costs even more!
Your budget will also depend on where you’re traveling to. If you’re visiting Southeast Asia (Thailand, Vietnam etc), the cost of everything is much cheaper than most Western countries. Staying in a 5 star beachside resort in Thailand is super affordable. Plus, clothing, souvenirs and food are also very budget friendly.
If you’re visiting countries like Australia, New Zealand, the USA or Canada, you’ll most likely need to save more to be able to travel comfortably.
Your budget should include the following:
- Flights – both domestic (if you need to fly to a major airport from your home town) and international.
- Accomodation – more on this later in the post!
- Travel Insurance – super important! More on this further in the post!
- Food – depending on your style of travel, this will vary. If you’re someone who likes to eat out a lot while traveling, budget more for food. If you prefer to eat on the cheap, you won’t need to budget as much!
- Souvenirs – even if you’re not big on souvenirs, it’s always good to put a little bit of money aside. You’ll more than likely find something small that you want to purchase, so you’ll be glad you budgeted extra! Not to mention gifts for family and friends you promised to buy!
- Transport – most major cities around the world will generally have fairly reliable and decent public transport. But it’s best to budget a little bit extra incase you need to catch a taxi or an alternate form of transportation.
- Miscellaneous – you’ll need to be prepared for extra costs such as tipping and taxes, especially in the United States.
3. Choose your travel dates
Now that you have a budget, it’s time to decide what time of year you’d like to travel! This will depend on the destination you’ve settled on (hot or cold climate).
- If you’ve decided you’d like to spend the summer relaxing on the beaches of Australia, you’ll need to choose dates between December and February.
- If you would prefer to sped the summer visiting all of California’s theme parks, you’ll need to plan your holiday in June, July or August!
Do some research about your chosen destination. Learn what their seasons are, the peak times to travel, and what is open and closed during specific times in the year. This is the easiest way to settle on your travel dates!Here are 10 steps to planning your first international trip! Click To Tweet
4. Narrow down your destination plans
By now you should have picked a destination. But have you narrowed down which city you’d like to start your trip in? For example, if you’ve decided to spend a couple of weeks in Australia, where do you want to start?
- If you love theme parks, you may want to begin your holiday in Queensland.
- South Australia is perfect for wine lovers.
- Sydney has the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, as well as some pretty amazing beaches!
- The Northern Territory is great for outdoor lovers, and Uluru is one of Australia’s most popular attractions!
5. Book flights
The next step in planning your first international trip is booking your flights! Now that you’ve narrowed down the time of year and cities you want to start and end your trip in, this next part will be super easy, don’t worry!
- Settle on the exact dates of your trip, the city you’re departing from and the city that you would like to land in.
- Select how many people are going to be traveling (adults and children will be priced differently)
- Generally, flights at the beginning of the week will be cheaper.
- Direct flights will also be cheaper than flights with layovers in multiple cities.
- Select a departure and return flight that you’re happy with and proceed to purchase!
Tip: Generally you’ll be given the option to purchase travel insurance when booking flights. You can opt to do this whilst booking your flights, otherwise keep reading – I’m going to be giving more tips about insurance later in the article!
6. Search for and book accomodation
This is where things get a bit confusing – finding the perfect accomodation to suit your preferences.
There are a few different types of accomodation:
Hotels are always going to be easy to find, regardless of your budget. Depending on the city you’re staying in, you’ll almost always be able to find something that suits you, is in your budget and in a good location. It all comes down to whether you’re willing to sacrifice luxury and comfort!
This is a good option for families or groups of people traveling together. Airbnb’s are independently owned houses or apartments, that are essentially ‘rented’ for someone during their visit to the area. Airbnb’s are similar to hotels, but generally a cheaper and more home-like option.
If you’re looking for super budget friendly accommodation, research hostels in the area you’re planning on staying. In most hostels, you have a choice between private rooms, female only dorms and mixed dorms. The larger the mixed dorm is (the more beds the room can fit), the cheaper your nightly fee will be.
d) CAMPER VANS
Some countries around the world are perfect for road tripping. Australia, America, Canada, New Zealand and Europe are some examples. So depending on where you’re headed, hitting the road may be the perfect choice! There are lots of different types of camper vans. From super small (not much bigger than a regular sized car), to the huge, can-fit-an-entire-family style RV.
Camper vans are generally priced by the day, so the longer you plan on renting one, the more expensive it will be. But in the end, choosing a camper van can save a lot of money on accomodation. Given that you’re literally driving your accomodation with you, there are a ton of cheap or even free places to set up camp for the night!
Choose the style of accomodation that is suited to you, and begin your search! The closer you are to the CBD, the more costly hotels will generally be. But you can also score some pretty amazing deals from shopping around. Do some research and read reviews about popular hotels, hostels or Airbnbs in the area.
7. Purchase travel insurance
This is probably the most imporant step in planning your first international trip. Or any holiday for that matter! You should never travel anywhere without insurance, because there are so many things that could go wrong while traveling. From small but very frustrating issues such as lost luggage, to a bad physical injury that requires medical attention. It’s always best to include travel insurance into your budget.
There are a lot of different travel insurance companies around, and this will depend on the country you live in. But generally, if the option is available, fully comprehensive travel insurance is the best way to go.
Tip: Compare travel insurance companies in your home country to find one that suits your requirements and needs. Most travel insurance companies are fairly similar when it comes to coverage, it will mainly be the price that varies.Travel insurance is a must when traveling. Click to read more first-time international travel… Click To Tweet
8. Start writing your must-see list
I’m sure you already have an idea about what you absolutely cannot miss. After all, those places or attractions are probably the reason you chose your destination to begin with! But once you dig a little deeper into a city or country, you’ll find that there are an endless amount of things to see and do. What you consider a must-see, varies greatly on your interests. So do some research, talk to your travel buddy (or buddies!) and start compiling your bucket list!
Tip: If you’re traveling with family or a group of people, compromises will need to be made when it comes to visiting attractions. But there’s a positive outcome to this situation: you’ll have the chance to experience amazing places or things that you never would have considered otherwise!
9. Write a packing list to make your life easier!
Packing lists are essential for me when I travel. I’m a severe over-packer, and have still to this day, not learnt my lesson. Maybe one day I’ll learn. But if I didn’t have a packing list, I would probably pack even more than I already do. Having the items you need to take with you on an international holiday, makes for a much easier and faster packing experience.
Tip: Make sure you include important documents and your passport on your packing list. It’s all well and good that you’ve packed 12 pairs of underwear, but that won’t mean anything if you’ve left your passport at home! Lucky I’ve never done this, but I know there are a LOT of people who have. It’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared!
10. Save, save, save!
If you’re planning long-term travel, it’s best to save as much as you can before heading off on your adventure.
For short term travel, how much money you’ll need to save depends on the location you’ve chosen and your budget! As a general rule, however, always save and bring more money than you think you’ll need. It’s better to have extra money when you arrive home, than be struggling to pay for food and general everyday items half way through your trip!
From this point on, it’s all pretty much excitement and as little or as much planning as you’d like to do! Some people like to plan their trip down to the last second, others like to totally wing it. The choice is yours, and ultimately whatever you decide, you can always change things up! That’s the beauty about planning your own holiday: everything is up to you!
Planning your first international trip will most likely be a combination of uncertainty, a small amount of stress and maybe a bit of nerves and anxiety. But both the planning stage and actually embarking on your overseas adventure, will be one of the best experiences of your life, no matter where you decide to go! There’s something so exciting and life-changing about embarking on your first international holiday, so enjoy every single second of it!First time international traveler? Here are 10 awesome tips to get started! Click To Tweet
Where are you planning your first international trip for? Tell me in the comments below! If there is anything you would like to know, that isn’t included in this post, I’m happy to answer any questions!
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