Approximately 38 million United States citizens traveled overseas in 2017. That may sound like a large number, but it’s not when you compare it to the 325 million people that live in the U.S.
The reason traveling abroad isn’t as prevalent for Americans is due to misconceptions related to safety and cost. Americans are fearful of experiencing a natural disaster, getting sick or being assaulted while traveling internationally.
However, we are here to give you the basic guide for traveling outside the United States so that you will comfortable and prepared.
Get A Passport
To receive a passport you must fill out at DS-11 Form if you are a first-time traveler. Once you fill out the correct information, you must find your citizenship documentation and proof of ID.
Once you have completed everything, book an appointment at a passport facility that takes pictures. That way you only have to bring your form, documentation, and money.
Paying for a passport is not cheap, the average amount is $100, however, you do not have to renew them often.
Check To See If You Have To Apply For A Visa
First off, let’s describe what a visa is. A visa grants an individual permission to enter a certain country for a certain period of time.
For example, if you are traveling for vacation, your visa application is easier to get. Most of the time you need to fill out simple information such as why you are traveling, where you are going, whether you have family there, and how long you are staying.
Booking a return flight prior to going overseas is beneficial since you can prove you are planning on leaving that country.
Getting a work or student visa requires more time, documentation, and money.
Most European countries do not require American citizens to apply for a visa, usually, a passport is sufficient enough. But every country is different and checking before you book a flight is crucial.
Countries such as Australia, China, India, Russia, and Kenya all require visas.
Check The CDC Before Booking A Flight
Since the recent flu and Zika epidemic, it is extremely important to know what you may encounter when traveling.
Mosquitos love warm and humid climates and they hold a lot of bacteria and viruses. Instead of just booking a trip to Thailand, make sure you keep yourself updated on potential risks, such as malaria.
After you check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, book an appointment with your doctor. They can give you vaccines and medications that you can take to further prevent any unwanted illnesses.
Plan Before You Arrive
So you have found the perfect destination, bought your passport and purchased the tickets for your flight, now what?
You get to scheduling.
Unlike traveling domestically, you want to book your Airbnb or hotel before you arrive. If a certain destination is full of tourists, you may find it nearly impossible to find a place that hasn’t been booked.
Booking ahead of time also gives you the opportunity to compare prices and choose the best option for you.
It is also important to figure out how you are going to travel once you get to your destination. Most hotels offer a transportation service for when you reach the airport, that way you can save yourself the hassle of searching for a bus or taxi.
Just because you managed to find a way to your hotel doesn’t mean you’re done looking for transportation. In big cities, you can often walk around or take buses/subways, but if you are visiting a spread out area, it might be easier to book a car rental instead.
If you are visiting a new country, it is important that you book a place to stay and know how to get around before you get there. It is not fun being lost in another country.
While You Travel
Since most domestic flights in America are usually under 6 hours, wearing comfortable clothes on an airplane isn’t all that important.
It’s a different story when you are traveling for nearly 24 hours and one flight itself is around 10 hours. That is why if you are going overseas, dress and pack accordingly.
Make sure you wear comfortable and loose fitting clothing and you bring airport approved snacks. Also, remember to move around the airplane when you can.
If you are not used to sitting for a long period of time, your body will hurt and your legs can swell. Even making a few extra trips to the restroom will help get your body moving.
Remember to bring a jacket and possibly even a travel pillow, since the seats are not very comfortable and the plane does get chilly.
The Fun Stuff
Now that the crucial aspects of international traveling are covered, let’s discuss the fun stuff.
Usually, when you pick a destination, you already know the main thing that country offers. For example, the Caribbean is known for its beaches, while Kenya is known for its wildlife.
But what about the not so common things?
When you decide on a place, it is easy to search up fun activities that place has to offer. Sometimes travelers just want to wing-it and explore on their own, which is absolutely fine. But sometimes the most fun experiences aren’t found by just casually exploring, see more here.
That is why we recommend looking online because other tourists can share their adventures or you can find suggestions from locals that have lived in that area their entire life.
Tourist recommendations can also help deter you from activities that aren’t safe or overly expensive.
Since tourists are often seen as rich, locals may try to charge you extra. But by knowing the fair price of things and what to watch out for, you will save yourself from wasting more money than you planned.
Traveling Abroad Overview
When traveling abroad, you can never be too prepared.
Whether this means freshening up on your Spanish skills, overpacking your suitcase or researching about another culture, it is important to know what to expect.
All countries have to own set of customs and socially acceptable behaviors. Instead of assuming that everyone acts like the western world, do your research.