I’ve lived a life of unfulfilled wanderlust I eventually went off on my first international trip. I travelled to Thailand in December and it was an unforgettable experience especially because I celebrated the New Year with the locals. Traveling may seem glamorous when you’re sitting behind a screen, gushing over beach side pictures on social media, but it does come with some challenges. Flight delays, unexpected costs and language barriers are a real thing so it’s best to go prepared for anything. I learnt a few things along the way so I thought would be great to share my top international travel tips with you, especially if you’re planning your first international trip.
10 International Travel Tips For The First Time Traveller:
1. Keep all required documents together:
Keep your passport, visa (if needed) and a printed copy of your proof of accommodation together as authorities may ask for it. Going through customs and passport control can be quite a mission when it comes to international travel, so keeping your documents together will make the process easier and quicker to get through. You may also need your accommodation address so that taxi drivers are able to understand where you’re going if they can’t speak English. Going through customs and passport control can be quite a mission so keeping your documents together will make the process easier and quicker to get through.
2. Learn a few words in the local language:
Being able to greet, thank and ask basic questions in the local language brings so much ease to your trip. Sometimes you’ll encounter a language barrier but locals generally appreciate it when tourists make an effort to learn. Not only is it helpful, but it also allows you to grow and for you to gain rich, cultural experiences. I became obsessed with greeting every local I came across in Thai and I even learnt how to say “Happy New Year” so I was so chuffed with myself. Learning something new is always a good idea. I am officially craving a life filled with international travel, where to next?
3. Carry medicine:
It’s important to carry nausea, vomiting & diarrhea pills when traveling internationally, especially if you have a sensitive stomach like I do. Also make sure that you carry headache pills and any other meds that you may need. Nobody knows yourself better than you do so just carry what you think you may need. I would also advise you to research the place you’re visiting and if you’d need any vaccinations, such as a malaria vaccination.
4. Avoid inflated ATM costs:
It’s best to carry a decent amount of cash in the currency of your destination so if you’re travelling to a county that uses a different currency you should exchange money before you leave. Exchanging and withdrawing money from ATM’s in foreign countries can prove to be very pricey so it’s best to carry a decent amount to cover the basics like food and transport. I struggled to gauge how much I would need when I travelled to Thailand and after some shopping I needed to draw money from an ATM. The bank charges worked out to approximately R200 ($15) per withdrawal, which I could’ve used for more shopping, bleh.
5. If you’re a foodie, try the local food:
I’m not very adventurous when it comes to Asian food so I kept it safe in Thailand with dishes like prawn egg fried rice and yellow crab curry, and man oh man, the seafood was the bomb dot-com! A word of advise: Be careful with eating street food as hygiene may not always be that great. My recent international trip turned from foodie heaven to hell very quickly when I ate McDonald’s. I wanted to see if they had anything different on the menu so I tried a spicy chicken burger that we don’t have on the South African menu. I spent the night and the next day as sick as a dog! A day of adventure was sadly lost.
6. Carry a change of outfit & toiletries in your hand luggage:
Getting stuck at the airport because of delayed flights is a travellers nightmare. My mother and I initially had a 7 hour layover which turned into being ‘held hostage’ at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Kenya for 2 days without luggage, thanks to Kenya Airways (I will never fly with that airline again). Luckily my mother already advised me to pack a change of outfit and toiletries because mothers know best 😉 Luckily we were able to brush our teeth, shower and change into a fresh outfit when the airline had put us in a hotel for the night.
7. Pack light:
If you’re planning on doing a little shopping then leave some space in your suitcase to fit the goodies you pick up along your journey…or you could be like me and buy a whole new suitcase to fit things into lol.
8. Research places you’d like to visit before you arrive:
I advise researching beforehand so that you can get an idea of how far you’ll be staying from tourist attractions. This way you’re able to get in as many adventures as you’d like but don’t get too caught up in planning. It’s also good to take it one day at a time as you might end up finding different things to do while you’re on your trip. If you’re travelling to Thailand then I recommend visiting the Buddhist temples like Wat Pho and The Grand Palace.
9. If you’d like to keep in contact with your loved ones then activate international roaming on your phone:
I left this until it was too late so I could only use my phone while I was at the hotel, using the wi-fi. It did actually turn out to be a positive thing because I got to put my phone away and truly take in every moment. It’s a great way to dive into the environment but it’s also vital to keep loved ones updated incase anything bad happens. Not all hotels offer free wi-fi and some only offer it in the hotel lobby so if that’s important to you, triple check that before making a booking.
10. Join group tours and meet local people:
Start conversations with tourists and local people, it’s wonderful to learn from the experience of others and to pick up local travel tips. I met a fellow South African that lives in Thailand and he got me even more excited for my trip over there. I also met people from Russia, India, Saudi Arabia, the USA and of course Thailand and they must be the friendliest people on earth. We did a Half day city and temple tour in Bangkok which was breathtaking, Click here to watch the first part of my Thailand vlog to see what I got up to.
I look forward to travelling more, as soon as my bank balance allows LOL. In the meantime have a look at part 1 of my Thailand Travel Vlog. I hope that these travel tips prove to be helpful. If you have any travel stories or tips to share then feel free to comment below.