Congratulations! Either you have decided to travel abroad for the first time or you have already purchased the tickets to your dream destination. Either ways, the fact that you are now reading this post means that you have decided to take that much awaited trip you’ve been saving and dying to achieve. Hurray!
We’ve been there done that so we know exactly the first time jitters. Keeping this in mind, we put together a list of “to dos” that you can keep handy while you are preparing for your trip. Our aspiration is for you to organize everything before you leave so that you can fully enjoy and make the most out of your trip.
Yellowtravelingboots formulated a BGF formula that you can easily remember:
1. Build your Itinerary or Travel Plan
Timing. Our recommendation is 6 months before your trip. This will give you enough time to polish everything
Trick: As travelers, we prefer to DIY our trip. This gives us the liberty to skillfully put together the places that we want to visit while also honing our skill in travel planning.
But how do you organize when there are just too many great places to choose from? Don’t worry, we got you covered with these three special steps:
- Make a List. List down the places that you want to visit. It would be great if you can also snap photos of these places to inspire you more. Put the list and the photos together in one folder and label it. Do not panic yet, you are just throwing everything that you want here.
- Decide on a daily theme. Deciding on a theme for your day would give backbone to your list and will help put structure to your destinations. When we were in Korea (which was by the way Ms.Travelingboots’ first trip abroad), we organized our days per theme. Could you just imagine that because of this trick, we were able to visit that much in just four days!
- Arrange the Order of your Destinations: After bucketing the places into themes, carefully put a sequential order to your destinations based on proximity to each other. This is a very important step since you will get the most out of your trip if all places are organically arranged on your list: no waiting time, no missed trains, and no wasted time.
Question: Will this be my first step even if I haven’t bought the tickets yet?
Answer: Definitely! Building your itinerary fuels your imagination and it compels you to take the necessary steps to finally buy that two way tickets. Even if it won’t happen immediately, when you have it already prepared then, nothing will be lost in the process.
2. Get your Tickets and Apply for Visa
Now that you have a travel destination list, it is time to book that much awaited airline tickets. We are highly recommending SkyScanner for your search on cheap tickets. They have a comprehensive airline options which you can use to compare cost of airline tickets from different airline companies. Their website has a world class technology that is very intuitive that makes travel search easy and fast.
Below is a sample flight we looked up via SkyScanner to compare fare options and details. See it for yourself and experience the convenience they offer to travelers like us!
Suppose that you have decided to book your trip, what’s next? You have to definitely prepare for your Visa. Scan the internet for the following main information:
- Visa requirements and length of approval
- Number of copies you need to bring for those requirements
- Visa application and release time
- Show money
3. Finalize your Preparations
We couldn’t be any happier of you fulfilling that dream to travel the world! We support you BIG TIME so here are our final preparation hacks.
3.1. Close the Loop on your Accommodation. Depending on what kind of traveler you are (we are recommending you to visit CNN list on Types of Travelers), you can customize your accommodation options accordingly.
You can either stay in a Hotel, Hostel, or an AirBNB, but regardless of where it is, you have to be mindful of the following:
- Address of the Place. Research in advance how you can reach the place. List down the transporation options, fare, proximity from the airport, and the operating hours of buses or trains
- Payment Options: Find out if you can pay online or if they only accept cash payment. If it is the latter, you better include this in your travel fund computation.
- Check-in and Check-out time – it is very important that you know these so that you can negotiate early check-in or extension if necessary. One tip here: if you are negotiating for the time, give the longest time possible (2 hours is acceptable)
- Inclusions. For travelers who prefer to stay in Hostels or AirBNB, never forget to clarify on the inclusions such as: heater, aircon, wifi, cable, towels, toiletries, free breakfast, etc.
- Secure Confirmation Details. Lastly, secure your confirmation details. Email the hotel, hostel, or AirBNB one month, one week, and on the day of your trip to remind them of everything. This is specifically applicable for Hostels and AirBNB.
3.2. Decide on your Budget
The best way to appropriate your money effectively is to categorize them into five major expenses: accommodation, food, transportation, entrance fees, others. Once you figure out the estimated cost, put an allowance of at least 20% of your computed budget.
3.3. Call the bank and reserve for a foreign currency
You don’t want to be totally prepared in everything yet forget to get the lowest FOREX rate, thereby losing the value of your local money by A LOT in the conversion.
Having a pre-planned budget will help you decide on how much money you are going to convert in the foreign currency of your destination. If you are buying a certain currency, choose FOREX with the lowest selling rate. In this way, you can exchange your local currency for more. However, when you sell your excess money, look for FOREX with the highest buying rate. In this way you can convert your foreign money for much.
In the Philippines, we’ve already proven that BDO has the lowest selling rate so it is good to buy from them. However, they only sell to BDO Account Holders. You also need to reserve for the currency to ensure that it is available (they always have USD though). When it comes to selling your excess money in foreign currency, CZARINA has the highest buying rate so you may decide to sell your money to them.
3.4. Finalize your Travel Essentials
- Organize and Back-up your Documents. It is better to be prepared for anything that may come up unexpectedly. Always have a back-up copy of your documents: invitation letter, insurance, hotel booking, passport, visa, and flight confirmation details. Put these in a plastic envelope and have them handy in your bag. Scan these copies and send it to your email or save it in your phone.
- Organize your kit. Charger, lock for your bags, zip lock, medicines, transportation and language app, camera, video
- Plan your Outfit. Yes, this is also important. When you travel, you want to look great on your photos, so planning your outfit will achieve the goal. Never take this for granted since you are piggy banking on memories for yourself.
Have a blast on your future travel – get as much photos as you can, eat like a local, and explore the rich culture of the place. Then, be transformed in your experience and see the world in a different lens.
How about you? What was your Ultimate Preparation List when you traveled abroad for the first time? We are excited to hear your personal travel tips!