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If you’ve never left your home country, it’s a brave step to move forward and plan your first international trip.

Getting a firm grasp of the steps for planning your first trip will make the whole thing seem a lot more doable and a lot less overwhelming. Let’s break down some of the most important steps.

As we go, remember that other people have done this before you. There’s no reason you can’t, too! Take it one step at a time, get all the research done that you need, and get ready to make memories you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life.

You Need To Set a Budget For Your Travels

It’s the thing that stops most people from planning at all, so let’s get this out of the way. You need to set a budget for your first international trip.

Research costs in your destination. Do you like to stay at mid-level hotels? Hostels? Accommodation and travel costs are your first two items for your budget, and will vary a lot by country and your style of travel. A hostel budget is going to be very different from a five-star hotel. What do you want out of your trip?

If you know your trip will cost you in a certain range per day, you’ll be able to calculate how many days you can afford to go on this trip.

Add extra to your budget so you can be sure you’ll have enough.

Know What Is Important To You

This is your first international trip, so you may not entirely know the things you do and don’t like yet. That’s okay! This is what travel is all about. Explore your curiosities! Are you a museum person? If you’re curious, but not sure, try it! Beach person? Foodie? Coffee lover? Do you enjoy local experiences? Are you looking for a resort? Do you want to meet backpackers? Do you want to visit the cinema in a foreign country?

There are a lot of possibilities for your trip. Mark everything you’re curious about, and then start considering these based on time and budget restraints, as well as interest, to determine what’s most important to you on this trip.

Tips for Cash and Cards While Abroad

It’s time to think about how you’ll be handling money while traveling abroad.

Getting Cash

For cash, you can exchange your home currency once you get to the country, or at home. Generally, it’s more expensive to exchange cash at the airport. It’s also usually more expensive to exchange cash than it is to pull money from an ATM once you arrive in your destination.

If you choose to pull cash from an ATM, check out your bank’s policies. Banks like Charles Schwab do not charge you a fee and will refund the fees the local ATM charges you at the end of the month. Check out your checking account’s policies on foreign ATMs and charges.

Handling Your Cash

Have you looked into a travel wallet? Something you can keep your cash and passport safe in while you travel. This is where the utility of the fanny pack may have you reconsidering it as a fashion choice.

It’s a solid policy to keep some daily cash easily accessible and the rest of your money more hidden. Separating cards is also a good idea. If you lose everything in your pocket (or its stolen), you still have the cards and money you kept safe in your bag.

Get a Good International Credit Card

Does your credit card charge a fee for international transactions? There are many options out there that don’t. It’s worth applying for one of those now before you go. Credit cards will usually have the best exchange rate (better than check cards or cash) so that’s something to keep in mind.

Make sure to notify our credit card company before you go on your trip so your card doesn’t get shut off! It is not a bad idea to have a backup card in case this happens.

Pack Less

A lot of first time travelers want to bring more with them. It can create a sense of safety. When packing, keep in mind that if something were to happen and you needed more toothpaste, you could likely pick some up at the store. How likely are you to wear that many shirts? Take a good look at what you’re planning to bring and think about carrying it with you. How do you feel about it?

Download Google Translate

You can download a translation app, like Google translate, to help you get around. Download the individual language for offline use.

Download Maps

Apps like Google Maps and Maps.Me are great for finding your way around. Both of these apps will let you narrow down to a specific area and then download maps for offline use.

Check Your Passport

Do you have a passport? Good. When does it expire? Most countries will need at least six months on your passport upon arrival. You can check with your destination’s requirements to make sure this is true.

Remember To Do Your Research But Have Fun

Know what you can! Trust that you can also figure out what you need to once you get to your destination if necessary. Things will come up that you have to look up online. That’s part of the adventure! The more you travel, the more your confidence will grow in these situations.