6 Things I Wish I'd Known Before My First International Trip

6 Things I Wish I'd Known Before My First International Trip

While travelling can be a thrilling and enlightening experience, it can also come with some unexpected challenges. Looking back on my first international trip, there are a few things I wish I had known before jetting off.

When planning for my first international trip, I didn't know what to expect and ended up making a few rookie mistakes. Here are six things I wish I'd known before setting off:

Familiarise Yourself With the Currency Exchange Rates

Looking back, one of my biggest regrets from my first international trip was not familiarising myself with currency exchange rates before departure. I quickly discovered that not all currency conversion apps or ATMs give the same rate, and some even charged hefty fees for the transaction. This lack of knowledge cost me both time and money as I scrambled to find the best conversion rates during my trip. 

In hindsight, it would have been wise to use a currency converter beforehand to calculate the approximate costs of various expenses in the destination country's currency. It can also be helpful to carry small bills in the local currency for immediate purchases, such as transportation or food. By doing a little bit of research before travelling abroad, you can save yourself from unpleasant financial surprises and fully enjoy your trip.

Do Your Research on the Culture and Customs of the Places You'll Be Visiting

As exciting as it may be to plan for an international trip, it's important to do your research on the culture and customs of the destination before arriving. I learned this lesson the hard way during my first international trip. In my excitement, I failed to realise that some gestures and actions that were perfectly acceptable at home were considered disrespectful in my chosen country. 

Not only did this cause awkward situations, but it also made it difficult for me to fully immerse myself in the culture. However, performing a bit of cultural research beforehand can prevent such misunderstandings and help travellers have a more enjoyable and culturally sensitive experience. 

Reading up on local customs and traditions can also help identify potential safety concerns and ensure travellers are prepared for any unexpected situations they may encounter on their trip. So if you're planning an upcoming international adventure, make sure to add a bit of cultural research to your travel checklist - trust me, it's worth it.

Have a Basic Understanding of the Local Language

Looking back on my first international trip, I wish that I had thought to brush up on some key phrases in the local language. Sure, I could communicate with hand gestures and broken English, but it made for a frustrating and isolating experience at times. Luckily, there are countless resources available to help travellers learn key phrases before they set off on their adventures.

From language apps to local classes, there is no excuse not to come prepared. Even just learning how to say please and thank you in the native language can make a huge impact on interactions with locals. In fact, making the effort to communicate in their language often results in more rewarding experiences and connections during your trip. 

So next time you plan a vacation abroad, remember the importance of familiarising yourself with the local language - it will surely enhance your travels.

Make Copies of All Important Documents Such as Passports and Visas

When I went on my first international trip, I didn't think to make copies of my important documents. In hindsight, it was a mistake. Not only could a copy have served as proof of identification in case my passport was lost or stolen, but it would have also made replacing these documents much easier. 

Additionally, some countries require multiple copies of visas for entry and exit, so having a copy on hand would have saved me the trouble and expense of obtaining them at the last minute. Now, before any trip abroad, making copies of my passport and visas is one of the first tasks on my checklist. 

Before travelling internationally, I highly recommend taking the extra precautions to make sure you have copies of all your important documents. It may seem like an unnecessary step at the time, but trust me - you'll be thankful you did if something goes wrong.

Check With Your Mobile Phone Provider About International Coverage

When I went on my first international trip, my excitement was quickly dampened when I realised that my mobile phone provider did not offer coverage in the country I was visiting. I was forced to rely on public wifi and pay exorbitant fees for international calls and data usage. In hindsight, I wish I had known to check with my provider beforehand to see if they offered international coverage. 

Now, before any international trip, I make sure to call my provider or check their website to see if they offer coverage in the destination country. This simple step can save a lot of frustration and expense while travelling abroad. In addition, it may be worth considering switching providers if the current one does not meet your needs for international travel. 

Don't make the same mistake I did - double check your mobile phone provider's international coverage before planning your next trip abroad.

Don't Forget to Leave Room in Your Itinerary for Unexpected Detours

When I took my first international trip, I was so focused on packing in as many sights and experiences as possible that I ended up cramming every minute with planned activities. However, while exploring a new city, it's important to leave room for detours and unexpected discoveries. 

That's why, looking back, I wish I had known to set aside some unstructured time in my itinerary. This would have allowed me to follow my curiosity and stumble upon delightful surprises such as a small neighbourhood cafe with delicious food or a charming local market with unique trinkets. 

Next time I travel, I'll definitely make sure to leave room for serendipitous adventures rather than packing every moment with planned activities. Ultimately, it's those moments of spontaneity that often end up being the most memorable part of a trip.


As a first-time international traveller, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  Overall, a little extra preparation can go a long way in avoiding potential mishaps on your international adventures. Taking these steps can potentially save you time, money, and stress in the long run on your international travels.

Posted By JenniferA

Updated : 22nd June 2023 | Words : 1073 | Views : 128

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