Tips for First Time International Travelers

Tips for First Time International Travelers //

Ah, vacation season… it’s here. I’ve mentioned it before that in June I’ll be traveling to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and I couldn’t be more excited. This is my second time flying out of the country but I know my first time, back in college for study abroad, I was so nervous. Of course being Type A, I Googled every tip I could. I also talked to my Dad almost every single day about it since he travels out of the country constantly – he’s a pro.

For those of you who can’t be bothered by Googling anything, I’ve got you covered. Here’s some tips for first time International travelers!

Tips for First Time International Travelers //

* Make copies of everything. Especially if you’re checking a bag, make copies of your passport, visas (if you need any), license/identification and trip itinerary and place a bundle of the copies in each bag you have. Knock on wood, I’ve never lost a bag before but you’re better safe than sorry. Plus, I’ve heard stories of people who end up losing their passport and/or ID and those extra copies of identification help them fast forward the process of getting them replaced and back home.

Check to see if you need a visa. This is super important. I didn’t think we needed anything besides ID and passport for going to the Dominican Republic, until I Googled. Turns out, the DR charges $10 for a tourist visa that everyone needs when coming into the country. It’s not an actual visa, but a card that lets customs/the government know you’re in fact, a tourist and staying a short while. Every country is different. Some countries you need a visa and you need to apply for it 4-8 weeks in advance of your trip. Google is your friend here – “*Insert Country Name* visa requirements”.

* Get organized. “Organized” is such a subjective term. My organize is totally different than yours, but the same principles apply. Whether this means carrying less onto the plane so you have less stuff to search through to get your passport or buying those fancy purse organizers and basically planning out a treasure map of each of your bags. Flying is stressful enough, but when you have more than 2 things to worry about having readily available, it can be a nightmare.

Keep Calm & Follow Wheaton’s Law. I know, the first part of that statement is probably falling on deaf ears. Going through customs your first time, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to want to cry. It’s scary because you hear horror stories and see people being detained in the movies. But I promise you it isn’t that bad. Also, follow Wil Wheaton’s law (don’t be a dick). Be kind to everyone. From your fellow passengers on the plane who will also be going through the same customs line as you, to the customs agents, to the people handling your checked bag (that you’ll have to recheck when you’re back in your home country). You won’t get expedited service, but you definitely won’t get detained!

Do you have any tips for newbie international travelers? Are you going anywhere awesome this summer? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

  • Where was this post when I was traveling to Italy?! I was totally unprepared, but these are really great tips, now that I’ve done it myself (and mostly survived).

  • Kimiko

    Great tips! I also like to carry a map of where i’m going so that I know where we have to get to… Sometimes a phrase book is helpful (I know it was for our trip to Italy!), and of course, I try to always pack a carry-on only. I’m getting married abroad and will have a carry on suitcase and a garment bag… still trying to figure out the best way to handle that because i don’t want to check my dress.

  • Thanks for this. These past two years I’ve traveled out of the country for the first time and I’m slowing picking up important tips like this. Totally agree about making copies of things, so important!