10 Things to Know Before Your First Trip Overseas

By caitkontalis | Mar 7, 2021

You did it! You got the time-off, ticket in your inbox – and now the anxiety is kicking-in. Traveling is supposed to be a bit uncomfortable, that's why it grows us. Here are ten tips to help you be as prepared as possible for your upcoming adventure!

1. Plan a Day of Rest


Right now – you probably can't wait to start visiting the landmarks you've dreamed about seeing. But – you're going to be tired. If your schedule allows, build in an extra day on your arrival to give you time to catch up on sleep and get your bearings. I've learned the hard way that visiting these sights when you're cranky and jetlagged is not the way to go.

2. Plan Your Airport Transfer


Did you hire a ride? Are you taking public transit? Can you get a rideshare or cab? Something that gives me great peace of mind after a 7-hour plane ride is that I can get through customs and be on my way. Have a plan for how you're getting to your accommodations before you leave. It will save you some crabby fights and eye-rolls with your travel partner!

3. Pack Only a Carry-On


If you're a regular visitor of my site you know I live by this statement. No stress at baggage claim and less to carry around. Trust me – you don't need two suitcases for your 10-day vacation.

4. Set Realistic Expectations


A common mistake I see in new travelers is this need to jampack their days, I get it – you've waited your entire life to be here and who knows when you'll visit again. However, if you live each day like your last you aren't going to enjoy your trip. Things are going to go wrong. Have you heard of “The Paris Effect”? It's where tourists hyper-fantasize Paris and are inherently disappointed when their Parisian vacation doesn't meet the vision in their head. Part of travel is accepting the unknown, the things that go wrong, and embracing it. You want to leave time for the things that come up and aren't part of your travel plans. The good and the bad.

5. Don't Eat By Major Attractions


Restaurants stationed outside the Vatican, across from the Colusseum, next to the Acropolis – are tourist traps. They're overpriced and expensive. When abroad, I use tools such as Timeout, Instagram, and TripAdvisor to help weed out the tourist spots and hunt down a local haunt. Also – blogs (like this one!) are great tools to find places to eat by experienced travelers.

6. Don't Exchange Money at the Airport


Airport fees are hefty. Do some research on the common currency at your destination. If you're going somewhere like Iceland, they are almost exclusively card-based. If you go somewhere like Egypt, you're looking at lots of cash. It's always good to have a few bucks handy in the local currency- but do it at your local currency exchange before you get in the air. There is less room for scams and one less thing you have to think about.

7. Consider Travel Insurance


Some countries, especially after COVID-19, require travelers to have travel insurance that covers the duration of their stay. When a hurricane hit Florida and I had to get out asap, my travel insurance reimbursed me for the $500 I had to pay to get a one-way flight home. Had I not gotten insurance – I'd be out of luck. World Nomads is a reliable option for travelers under age 70.

My Airbnb in Scottsdale, AZ

My Airbnb in Scottsdale, AZ

8. Book an Airbnb


This is a personal preference, but I travel almost exclusively with Airbnb these days. I love how much more space you can get for the same (or less) price of a hotel. Plus, the host often leaves suggestions and special treats. When abroad, I enjoy the “local” feel it gives.

9. Don't Live Through Your Camara


You have to put the phone down. I try and schedule “photo time” at a new place and then the phone goes away. This can be challenging, especially as a travel blogger, but you have to remember why you're doing this – not for Instagram. Get your photos out of the way first, then force yourself to keep your phone in your pocket for at least thirty minutes and take photos with your memory.

10. Say “See You Later” Not “Goodbye”


Whenever I leave a place I never think of it as my last visit. The pressure you put on yourself to “do it all” o your trip is unrealistic and anxiety-inducing. Plus – you never know what may happen in the future. You may be back.

Planning Packing Money Exchange Accommodation Transportation

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Written by cait_kontalis
Hi, I'm Cait Kontalis. Greek-American. Believer that the more people travel, the better global citizens we become.

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