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!
Table of Contents
- 1 The 10 steps you should take when booking and planning your first international trip!
- 2 Choose Your Destination
- 3 Set A Realistic Budget
- 4 Choose Your Travel Dates
- 5 Narrow Down Your Destination Plans
- 6 Book Flights
- 7 Search For & Book Accomodation
- 8 Purchase Travel Insurance
- 9 Start Writing Your Must-See List
- 10 Write A Packing List
- 11 Save, Save, Save!
- 12 Did you like this post? Pin it for later or share it with your friends!
The 10 steps you should take when booking and planning your first international trip!
Choose Your Destination
This is the most exciting step when planning your first international trip! If you’ve come this far and ready to learn how to plan your first international trip, you probably already have a general idea already about where you’d like to visit. Right? If not, it’s time to do a little bit of research!
There are some questions you need to answer, before beginning your Google search:
- Would you prefer a hot or cold climate?
- What time of year are you wanting to visit? Are you hoping to spend the Christmas and New Years season in a different country? Dreaming of a snowy holiday?
- How much are you setting aside for your budget? (we’ll talk more about setting a budget later in the post!)
Compile a list of all your preferences from the above dot points, then begin your search. If you’re wanting to spend December in a warm climate, Google ‘summer destinations in December’. This is a great place to start, and you’ll generally come across places you didn’t even knew existed!
There are so many different options when it comes to international travel. Unless you’ve got your heart set on a specific location, it can be quite overwhelming trying to make a decision. Narrowing down your options to a specific season or time of year, can make things a lot easier!
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 that 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! Of course, this is only a suggestion.
Tip: If you’re booking your first international trip as a solo traveler, the idea of heading overseas alone can be a bit nerve-wracking. 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!
Set A Realistic Budget
Once you’ve chosen your destination, the next step will generally 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 a solo adventure, 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 almost everything is much cheaper than most Western countries. Staying in a 5 star beachside resort in Thailand is super affordable. Not to mention clothing, souvenirs and food are also very budget friendly in Southeast Asia.
If you’re visiting countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the USA or Canada, you’ll 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 – This is super important! More on travel insurance further in the post.
- Food – Dpending 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 those 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.
Choose Your Travel Dates
Now that you’ve set yourself a budget, it’s time to decide exactly what time of year you’d like to travel! Remember back in step one, where I had you decide which time of year you wanted to travel, to help you settle on a destination? Well now is the time we get a bit more specific!
Let’s say for example, you have chosen to spend the summer in my lovely country of Australia. By this I mean you would be in Australia during our summer, which is the months of December, January and February. Naturally, December is going to be a peak time of year. It’s Christmas and New Years season, which draws crowds no matter where you are in the world. But with Australia’s gorgeous beaches, you’re in for quite a busy holiday. Unless you specifically want to spend Christmas in Australia, I suggest traveling towards the end of January, early February. There will be much less crowds, but you’ll still be able to enjoy a warm Australian summer!
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
Narrow Down Your Destination Plans
By now you’ve chosen your destination, and locked in your travel dates. 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. There are over 5 incredibly popular vineyards and wineries in the Adelaide Hills. Plenty to choose from, especially during the summer months!
- 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!
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! We like to use a website such as Webjet to book our flights. It compares prices across all the major airlines, and allows us to choose a specific time that works for us.
If you’re not sure whether there’s a flight comparison website available in your country, simply do a quick Google search for ‘flight comparison websites in ______’. This should make it easy to find the most popular and commonly used! You can also head to each airline’s website individually, and search for flights that way.
When you’re ready to start searching for flights, have this information ready to go:
- The exact dates of departure and return
- Time of day you would prefer to fly (if you’re not too fussed about this, you can generally score some good deals early in the morning or late at night)
- How many people are going to be traveling (adults and children will be priced differently)
- Whether or not you’re bringing checked baggage (this means a suitcase or bag that will be put underneath the plane, instead of taking it on with you. This option costs extra)
- Whether you would prefer a direct flight, or a flight that has stopovers in one or more cities on the way to your final destination
You’ll need this information to choose a flight that’s best for you!
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 sharing more tips about insurance later in the article!
Search For & 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! We personally always stay in hotels. It’s something that we’re willing to spend a bit extra on, for comfort and security.
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’ to someone during their stay in the area. Airbnb’s are similar to hotels, but generally cheaper and a 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.
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.
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
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!
Write A Packing List
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!
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!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. That means, if you click in certain links in this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I will always only share my 100% honest opinion, and will never endorse a company or product that I wouldn’t use myself!