Do you need some help to plan your trip abroad? Below are some of the things I do, based on my or my friends’ experiences and mistakes. I divided them into two groups: research (can be through the internet, friends, or book guides) and packing. Depending on the destination, some of them might not be applicable.
Plan Your Trip
To effectively plan the trip you should know what your options and limitations are. It’s best to do some research. The further away from home, you will be, the more important this research is.
- general climate and weather forecast for the stay;
- Information from the Embassy’s website and their contact information (write it down);
- vaccines requirements, possible illnesses;
- ATMs, cards or potential money issues.
Explanation: Weather, health and money-related issues are for your well-being. Contact to the Embassy is a must in case anything happens. When you are in deep shit, you may not have an internet connection. It doesn’t matter if it’s just for a weekend, write it down. You never know.
Real life example: Possible problems with foreign debit/credit cards in Norway. It’s not funny when you can’t take out your money or pay. Luckily, I had enough money to pay for the hotel, transport, eat something and think about what can I do in such a situation.
- places of interests to you and rough travel plan;
- transport inside the city and country (mainly focused on how to get to the points of interests);
- hotels for at least the first and last night in a country if you plan to move a lot.
Explanation: Do you plan to stay in one place or travel across a country? It’s hard to plan a spontaneous trip to a foreign country without knowing possible options, their pros and cons. Sometimes there are also special offers for tourists coming from abroad. Available only overseas.
Real life example: I bought JR Pass before my trip, it’s not possible to buy it in Japan. I used it almost on a daily basis to travel by Shinkansen, and other Japan Railways trains across Japan
- language (including basic phrases);
- food (especially when you have allergies);
- dominating religion and info on it, if it’s not something you’re used to;
- etiquette (especially what you shouldn’t do);
- get to know some modern culture (films, book, music) made by a person from that country;
- a basic history of the place you go to.
Explanation: Getting this much research is indeed very handy. There is no nation in the world (I think) that doesn’t appreciate outsider’s interest in their country. It’s a sign of respect, and trust me; it can help you greatly in your trips.
Real life example: try it, and you will see a difference. It’s too “transparent” to give only one example.
- Write down a list of what you must take with yourself. Medicine, glasses, universal adapter, camera, etc.
- Make a beta packing, walk with it, sleep over it and a few days later pack again. Don’t pack the night before.
- Pack lightly, don’t take more than you can handle. Don’t pack maybe-I-will-use-it things; you probably won’t. You might have to carry your luggage by yourself.
- Don’t take too many clothes – you can always wash them.
- Copy your travel documents, print out the hotel’s information, get the contact to Embassy and put it into travel documents holder.
- Don’t pack all the money in one place, have it in several places. In the luggage and also outside. If you get robbed, you won’t lose all the money. Have enough local cash to get running for the first 24 hours. That includes money for hotel, transport, food and some spare cash.
- Pack notes and a pen in a place where you can quickly reach them.
Explanation: Plan your trip well based on earlier research. Everything you pack adds to the weight. It’s better to pack smart, use universal things and when needed, buy something in a local store.
Real life example: You might not have an internet connection to look up for your hotel, your smartphone might discharge. A piece of paper with the address written in the local language will make it easier for locals to help you. I had to go to the internet cafe in Tokyo because I, and police officers, couldn’t locate my hotel. I know Japanese. Just my memory didn’t serve me well with the hotel’s address.
These are the general tips which are useful to plan your trip abroad, be it a weekend or longer.
What are your tips? What do you think I should add?