Advice for the first time international traveler

International traveller's bags

Travelling internationally can be exciting and thrilling for the adventurous at heart but can also be stressful for those who are embarking on this journey for the very first time. For the first time international traveller, you have to onboard yourself to a foreign culture, language, time zone, currency and totally unfamiliar territory. Try taking a bus for the first time in Bangkok or a train in India or a domestic flight at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, all of which can get the seasoned traveller a little stressed out.

For the first time since air travel began, generations of people can now experience the wonders of the world at their fingertips. With this in mind, it’s made it easier to prepare for travel abroad.

1. However, first things first, make sure you have a passport or update the one you already have. Make sure that there are enough pages left on the passport for passport control to put a stamp on it. And then check for visa requirements for South African citizens internationally. Certain countries like Brazil, Russia and our African neighbours are visa-free countries to visit. Check out this link for a list of countries where visas are required.
2. Book flights well in advance to enjoy low price flight tickets. Start booking flights as soon as you know where you want to travel. Book with your credit card to earn loyalty points you can use later and more importantly to get the medical cover that comes from Visa. You can call Visa directly to upgrade your medical cover at a low rate.
3. The changing social and political climate can make a safe country hostile within hours. Make sure you check with your embassy and register with them for easy contact should they want to take you out. Do some online research and get to know more about the country you’re about to visit. Check their political and social news feed for more information.
4. Get to know their currency value against our very own. A simple currency converter can help you gauge how much money you’ll have after conversion. Avoid any nasty surprises early on in your financial planning. Another great way to know the value of your money abroad, is to check the cost of living in the country you’re visiting.
5. Now all you need is a place to sleep that is comfortable, affordable and close to major transport routes, taxis and walking distance to pubs, bars, restaurants and places of interest. Airbnb has made it easier and cheaper to find accommodation central to your needs and a host could probably provide you with suggestions for finding your way around.
6. Check with your bank that your credit card works in a foreign country as they will be limitations to international transactions. More and more European countries are accepting chip-and-PIN technology. Convert your money at the banks or ATMs to avoid unscrupulous vendors from taking advantage. You are guaranteed an exact conversion rate. Make sure you always have some local currency as not all places will accept cards. Ensure your bank is aware that you are travelling abroad as you don’t want them to suspend your card because they suspect a fraudulent transaction.
7. Do some research now of all the places of interest and events, so you can book them early (even well before you arrive) to avoid queues or disappointment at missing out on a show or concert. You’re more likely to find some great online deals quickly. Download a travel app you may need before you leave to avoid charges abroad. Ensure you don’t miss out on the local festivals or the national food dishes while you are visiting.
8. Don’t leave home without it, your cell phone charger! And you may want to get an international adaptor for your phone and other electronic gadgets. Ensure the voltages for the country you’re visiting is good enough to power up your hairdryer for example or check your local hardware store for voltage converters. You can activate your phone’s global roaming capabilities but there is a fee for doing so and call rates can be very expensive. Using Skype and Watsapp might be a good way to stay connected with family and friends.
9. Pack your baggage lightly and pack one set of clothing in your carry-on bag. Pack all your essential have-to-have items in your carry-on bag so that if your luggage is lost, you’ll still have all the essentials you’ll need. Remember to pack all liquids over 100ml in your luggage and to keep all medication with you. If you’re on prescription medication, you may require a Doctors letter for certain countries.
10. There are some not-so-common essential items that you’ll want to take with you. Let’s start with a compact digital scale that will track the weight of your luggage and keep you in-the-know should your luggage be over the allowed limit as set out by the airlines. And some really comfy shoes will be your best friend to your feet during all the sight-seeing tours. Choose a good pair of all-terrain walking shoes.
Always be early, especially for an international flight. Up to 3 hours early for check-in and immigration, can take time and you don’t want to feel rushed and stressed so early on your trip.

Take some time you understand the local language and culture and learn some basic phrases that you can use in your travels, it always helps to show the locals you respect their culture. International travel can be daunting especially if it’s your first time, from the moment you land and take your first taxi to the hotel, you’re in another world away from home. Everything smells different and tastes different too, but this is a rare opportunity in your life to explore and be open to possibilities and as you discover more about people who have the same basic needs as you do, you quickly realise how we are all the same.



All information on this blog was correct at the time of publishing. It may change at any time without prior notice. Lowpriceflights will not be held liable for loss or inconvenience resulting from the use of out-dated or incorrectly noted information. All prices are subject to change unless stated otherwise.

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