First-timer’s Guide to Traveling Abroad


Are you preparing for your first international vacation? Follow these handy tips to make the journey memorable in the best ways.

Going abroad can be intimidating, especially for the first-time traveler. The predictability of your home country—its habits, its culture, whether the trains run on time—simply can’t be counted on elsewhere. However, with just a bit of planning and knowledge, that nervous feeling about what you don’t know can become excitement about what you’re about to learn.

What Do I Need to Do Before I Go?

There are a few extremely basic bases to cover before you travel, matters of paperwork and logistics that it’s imperative to prepare before you leave.

  • Make sure your passport is up to date: Your passport must have at least six months of validity. If it’s set to expire six months or fewer from the date you arrive, most countries will not allow you to enter. If you need to update your passport, start the process at least 6 weeks before your departure date to avoid spending a lot more money on expedited service.
  • Have your visa: If your destination requires a visa, be sure to apply well before your departure date. Visa processing times vary by country, with some countries requiring visa interviews, extensive documentation, or other more thorough steps.
  • Get cash, and let your credit card company know where you’ll be: Be aware of the local exchange rate to determine how far your money will go; the higher the exchange rate of the Canadian dollar, the better for you. Speaking of which, be sure to have at least $60 in local currency on hand, which you can get at home or from a local ATM. Finally, alert your bank or credit card company where you are going so that you can use your card abroad. If not, you risk your account being frozen.

What Should I Pack in my Carry-On?

First, keep your power adapter on your carry-on luggage. Unless you’re in North America or Japan, you will need one to use your electronic devices. We recommend universal adapters for their ease of use and ability to work in a wide variety of places. Keep this in your carry-on instead of checking it so that you’re able to use your electronics when you land.

Next, carry on at least one spare change of clothes, travel deodorant, and a toothbrush, so that even if your checked bag gets lost, you still have clean clothes and basic hygiene items.

Finally, if you can’t function without something, or it’s extremely valuable or difficult to replace, carry it with you. Never check your passport, expensive jewelry, medication or medical devices, valuable electronics, or any essential paperwork. Fewer than 1 percent of luggage gets lost by major airlines, but for these items, it’s better not to risk it.

Can I Use My Phone?

Most modern cellphones will allow you to call, text, and use the internet around the world. However, be sure to contact your mobile provider to see if there are extra charges for using your device in the countries you are visiting, or if you will be hit with massive roaming bill. If you have Wi-Fi at your accommodations, you can simply turn off your cellular data and only connect to the net while lounging in your room.

Travel is the Only Thing You Buy that Makes You Richer

Your first trip abroad is sure to be unforgettable, and with this information we hope you’ll feel prepared to enjoy the journey!

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