Essential travel tips for first-time travellers

Are you travelling abroad for the first time for work or leisure? Hopefully, this article will be helpful as you plan feverishly for that long-awaited trip outside the UK. Indeed, you wouldn’t be the first as reported that one-third of 93.1 million international visits outside the UK were first-time travellers. That makes it quite comforting to know that you aren’t the only one who may be uncertain about what to do before the maiden trip. For more information on this topic, please read further to prepare yourself for this adventure.

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Have ample time to apply for your passport

Having a valid passport is a prerequisite for travelling outside the country. Without this legal booklet or document, it is virtually impossible to leave your country to another. Moreover, the passport application process may be lengthy and wrought with unforeseen hitches, depending on where you are. This makes it imperative to apply for it in advance and not when your trip date is just about a month away.

The ideal time to allow is a maximum of six months, but it is better to apply for a passport longer than this maximum period. Even though the UK government website gives ten weeks to apply for a passport, you’re better off planning to give room for any eventuality. Moreover, you will be avoiding issues with the law. Although some people are first-time travellers, it may not be the first time they apply for a passport. In a scenario like this, ensure the expiration date for your passport is not due. Even better, you should have more than three months left before renewal for the best experience.


Search for visa requirements

Your visa is a legal permit that grants you the right to enter a country that you’re not a national of. It’s worth knowing that each visa class has a specific number of days, months, or years it’s valid for, depending on what type you opt for. It’s prudent to acquire this information to avoid overstaying beyond the legally mandated period. Moreover, flouting this rule may impact your future international travels, as countries can refuse you entry into their jurisdiction. In other instances, you will be granted a short-term visa upon arrival into the country, but that depends on the jurisdiction.


You should also know that you do not require a visa to travel to certain countries as you only need your valid passport. This is especially true for British nationals travelling to Canada. If your trip is a short one, all you need is an Electronic Travel Authorisation to travel. However, you should be ready to answer some ETA background questions to determine your credibility. Canada’s ETA involves some personal questions about any history of travel, visa denial, criminal experiences, etc. You are advised to answer these questions truthfully as any dishonesty on the electronic forms will go against you when discovered.


Health preparations

Does your medical insurance provider offer packages while you’re overseas? This is one vital piece of information you should find out before travelling for the first time. You can never be too sure when an illness will strike, but you don’t want to be caught unawares when that happens. If your current policy package does not extend overseas, you have an option to include extra coverage. Indeed, that will come at an additional cost, but it will be worth the decision.

Furthermore, you should ensure to take all necessary vaccinations before travelling abroad to prevent any illness from ruining your experience. Additionally, if you’re already on essential prescription meds, inform your doctor, renew or add on for the period you are away.


Security preparations

Apart from your health, it would help if you made crucial security decisions as well. For example, travellers have recounted harrowing stories of how their trips went haywire after losing their passports in transit. How can you prove your identity and nationality without your passport? This is why security experts advise travellers always to make photocopies of their passports and other vital documents. 


Apart from the physical copies, you can also make electronic copies and store them on safe, easy-to-retrieve cloud platforms. A better option would be to save your electronic copy in your email account. Some people go a step further to keep physical copies of their passports with trusted friends or family. Lastly, do not forget to register at your high commission or embassy to enable them to contact you quickly in times of civil unrest in your destination country. 


Have access to your money when abroad

It’s the 21st century, and you no longer need traveller’s cheques when you travel overseas. Those processes were cumbersome and stressful for travellers. Fortunately, with advancements in technology and global digital integration of financial platforms, you can have access to your money anywhere in the world. However, you must inform your bank where you’re travelling and how long you’ll be away to make the processes easier.

That way, it will be easier for other processes and permits to be granted to your account for the period you’re away.


Do not forget to inquire about international fees and how they can impact your transactions. There’s been an increase in online financial fraud in the last decade, and major banks have taken extreme precautions to safeguard their clients’ accounts. For your comfort, it’s advisable to keep some physical cash on you. This way, you can quickly access the currency exchange shop at the airport. The safety tip here is to avoid holding too much physical cash on you. The bulk of your travelling money should be stored electronically for safety purposes.


Compare transport and accommodation options

Unless your first-time trip abroad is an official one and all other contingencies are fully taken care of by your employer, you must factor in transportation and accommodation costs. Indeed, your employer will take steps to get the best offers to save money too. However, it is vital to compare transport and accommodation options if you are solely funding your trip. Airline and accommodation fares vary depending on the season, making it imperative to determine the best deals.


Moreover, you should consider ride-hailing taxi services if you are not driving in your destination country. What’s more, you have a responsibility to research the type of transport services available there before leaving your country. Sometimes, you can download the mobile app before travelling or right at the airport when you arrive there. No matter how you look at it, the most efficient and cheapest transport would be bus rides if you’re travelling to a developed nation abroad. Furthermore, hotels or boutique hostels are excellent accommodations to options to consider for safety and affordability.


Respect the local culture

Every country has a prevailing culture, and it’s prudent to respect it for the best travel experience. If you disregard this essential rule, your trip may end up unexciting as locals will not be willing to help you when you need them the most. For example, if the local culture gives reverence to decent dressing, you will be disrespecting the culture if you wear skimpy clothes.


Indeed, some cultures may not be too forgiving when you disregard their rule or culture. Therefore, help yourself by conducting thorough research on where you’re travelling before getting on that flight. Remember that your first trip abroad can mar how you view international travels in general. Therefore, make your first time count in every way.


Travelling to a new country can be exciting and overwhelming, making it imperative to take the proper steps. Hopefully, you will leverage these tips as you prepare for your trip.

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