Heading overseas for the first time is one of life’s most exciting moments – you don’t want to ruin it, so take heed, and learn from our mistakes.
First things first. You’re not going anywhere without a valid passport. That doesn’t mean just owning one, you’ve got to have six months or more left on it. Once that’s sorted, you need to check if the country you’re visiting requires a visa. You’re going to need one for places like Brazil or China (for example) and they can take up to a few weeks, so get the process rolling early.
Taking your phone? Make sure you get the right plan happening. Depending on how much data you like to use, the difference in what you can end up paying is massive. To avoid getting charged thousands of dollars in roaming fees, hook into free wi-fi whenever possible, use free apps like “Whatsapp” or “Skype,” or considering buying a SIM card locally.
Getting a bit of local currency for when you arrive is a great idea, but don’t get it at the airport before flying out. Airport exchanges are famous for crappy rates and high fees. Better to grab your Pesos, Pounds or Pula from a bank or exchange anywhere else beforehand.
it’s a tough urge to resist, but packing too much stuff is a classic rookie mistake.
Take whatever you’ve packed in your bag and halve it. Seriously. We understand, it’s a tough urge to resist, but packing too much stuff is a classic rookie mistake. Instead of taking your entire wardrobe, only pack a few essential items of clothing that are light and versatile. Better to shop overseas and bring new stuff home. And definitely don’t pack any books. Invest in a Kindle or download some reading onto your iPad.
Planning which cities to visit is fun, but make sure you do a little cultural research while you’re looking around. The deeper you get into a country and its culture, the better your experience. So do yourself a favour and find out what the local customs are, learn a phrase or two of the local language, and double check that the things you do back home aren’t considered offensive elsewhere. Basically, don’t be a doofus.