Perhaps you are planning for an adventure trip, your honeymoon, or even embarking on your first solo trip. Regardless, the limited time and seemingly endless number of opportunities available for exploration on a trip is probably one of the biggest sources of stress when planning and packing for it. If you’re feeling lost while planning for your trip, here are some tips for travelling abroad for the first time, including things to look out for while planning and things you should keep in mind during your trip.

Do your packing research

travel packing flatlay

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Don’t follow blindly the rule “Less is more”, or that “Overpacking is better than under-packing”. Search up packing list templates for Depending on Remember to bring items specific to you that may not be found on online packing list templates, like medicine, or pack snacks if you have food allergies.

Internet Matters

free wifi data roaming

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Make sure you have a plan on how to get internet connection. Some local telecomm providers offer Data Roaming deals, so you can consider them before planning to buy a local SIM. If communication is absolutely key for you and your destination is not known to have the most stable network systems, consider getting a portable router.

If you’re travelling to China, accessing your email or social networking sites won’t be possible without a third-party app, so remember to download them and figure out how to use them properly before your trip. It will become considerably difficult to troubleshoot past the firewall, so try to familiarise yourself with using them before you embark on your trip.

For reference, here are a few local telecomm providers who provide short-term data roaming plans with a small top-up:

  1. SingTel: Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc
  2. StarHub: Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia, etc.
  3. M1: Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, UK, USA, etc
  5. TPG: Unlimited roaming in Indonesia & India

Print flashcards of foreign phrases

 flashcards of foreign phrases

tantrum_dan CC BY NC-ND 2.0

For example, the address of your hotel or a destination you know you’ll want to visit. Instead of struggling to type out your request on your phone or in emergency cases when you run out of battery or misplace your phone, you’ll be able to find your way around.

It helps to run your phrases, if they are more complicated, through a native speaker. Sites such as Lang-8 and iTalki allow you to ask for translation correction from experts, and allow for your intended message to be communicated better.

Power outlets

three pin electrical outlet

Tony Webster CC BY 2.0

Your charger will be rendered useless if you can’t plug it into the hotel outlets. Check if your destination uses 2-pin or 3-pin plugs and buy the respective adapters. Just in case – bring a hefty portable charger that will be able to last you at least a week without recharging. Alternatively, you could consider purchasing adapters with multiple types of outlets if you’re planning to travel often. They usually cost about, and you can find them on Amazon or Shopee.

Get travel insurance

snowboarding adventure travel

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Safety always comes first, even more so if it’s your first time travelling aboard. Loss of personal belongings, delay of your baggage claim, or getting injured during your trip are all possible scenarios. In order to protect yourself, getting travel insurance before your trip is highly recommended. Begin applying for it as soon as possible, since some of them require you to renew your Visa or get vaccinations, which can require up to months of prep.

Common travel insurance plans include:

  1. Basic
  2. Adventurous travelling
  3. NS men

Vaccines and immunisation jabs

vaccination injection travel insurance

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Check out travel immunisation and any contagious illnesses which may be present at your destinations. For instance, vaccination for Hepatitis B or rabies when visiting places such as Cambodia or Vietnam is crucial. Here’s a list of common destinations and their respective vaccination recommendations:

Thailand: Hepatitis A, Cholera, Yellow fever

China, Hong Kong, Taiwan & Korea: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid

Japan: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis

Europe: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, Rabies

Money matters

 withdrawing money from atm credit cards

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Check out on which credit and debit cards are supported at your destination. Of course, cash should always be at hand: keep them in several places to minimise the risk of losing money as well as keeping them accessible. Check with your travelling companions on how to settle the costs for group activities. Easy methods include having a common pool and appointing a treasurer, or have one person pay and settling the fees after the trip is over. Money can be a sensitive topic especially when travelling in a group, so make sure you set a reliable method of money control and expense recording at the end of the day to avoid complications.

Safety first

cycling on the road safety helmet

By Victor Xok via Unsplash

Read up on common tourist traps and firsthand accounts of scams occurring in the area. Keeping your belongings close to you and always being vigilante seems like a no-brainer, but first-time tourists sometimes have no idea the great deal they think they’re getting is actually going to cost them a lot later on. For example, some hotels offer to pay for your taxi ride from the airport to your hotel with certain conditions in place. The general consensus is: If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t put your time and money on the line just to save a few dollars.

Google Reviews, as well as travel blogs, provide ample advice and comments from previous travellers for tourist attractions. Before planning, it would be good to search for these and take note of any activities which may be better off forgoing.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do

tourists walking along the seaside

By Oscar Bonilla via Unsplash

One of the best possible things you can do for yourself and your travelling companions is to exercise the basic etiquette of respecting the local culture. While your voice can be lost in the loud train system in Singapore, trains in Thailand and Japan are relatively quiet, so it’s important to keep your volume down. Even better, learn the proper technique of asking and thanking locals for their help, and it will leave a lasting impression on them. By showing the initiative to do your research on their culture, it makes them more inclined to help you as well improves the rapport of your country. Remember, you’re representing the country when you travel abroad, so always be mindful of your manners!

Keeping your loved ones informed

woman using laptop and mobile phone

By William Iven via Unsplash

Unless you’re travelling with all your loved ones, it’s important to keep at least your family in the loop. Send them a copy of your travel itinerary and the address of your hotels and their extension numbers. That way, should you lose contact with them, they can contact you through other means.

Here are some details you should include in your copy:

  1. Hotel address
  2. Hotel extension number
  3. Travel details (take a picture of the license plate of any taxi you take)
  4. Times you should be contactable, and times you probably wouldn’t be

That about wraps it up. Good job for reading this article to improve your travelling experience! It’s almost always intimidating to prep for your travels the first few times, but seeing as you are taking the initiative to prepare for it properly, there shouldn’t be any problems. Wishing you the best of luck, happy travels, and a safe flight ahead!