10 Helpful Tips for First-Time International Travelers

tips for first-time international travelers
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Traveling for the first time internationally is an exciting experience, but it can be overwhelming without proper preparation. So here are ten helpful tips for first time international travelers to ease the overwhelm and ensure a better time.

1.  Tourist Traps and Local Hotspots

tips for first time international travelers
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“Always try and chat up locals that appear open to friendly conversation with the intent of getting their favorite spot to eat or the one thing they'd recommend to a visiting friend out of a conversation,” shared one.

“Go to the tourist traps, see the big things; you'll regret it if you don't. But also spend time in smaller neighborhoods, and sit in a small Cafe with a name you can't pronounce. Drink a cappuccino while sitting, not on the go. While at said tourist traps, have a hand on your wallet or zipped tight in a purse.”

“Spend time exploring the culture and not just in the museums. Want a real culture shock? Go to the grocery store and check out the cereal aisle?!? They have like eight options!!”

Another added, “Go to a small neighborhood pub rather than a fancy cocktail bar in the tourist district. If the opportunity presents itself, get lost in conversation with locals over drinks.”

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2.  Beat the Jet Lag

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“Take Advil pm or Tylenol pm so you can sleep some on the flight. It should help with the jet lag,” replied one.

“But make sure you only take it once you've taken off! I fear taking it before leaving and then running into an issue where we get delayed or have to deplane and then groggy and miserable!!” another warned.

“You can also download the Timeshifter app to help you beat jet lag. It worked for me perfectly when I went to Indonesia! Had 0 jet lag, and I could enjoy every moment of the trip,” a third user replied. 

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3.  Get Yourself Some Earplugs

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“If the noise in the airport makes you anxious, try wearing earplugs. You can still hear announcements, but the noise level is reduced,” one suggested.

“Constant announcements stress me out, but I don't want to wear my noise-canceling headphones all the time because I still need to hear some of the announcements. So earplugs are a great suggestion,” another agreed. 

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4.  Pack a Change of Clothes in Your Carry-On

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“Pack a change of clothes in your carry-on. Then, if your luggage gets lost or delayed, you'll be happy you have a set of fresh clothes to change into,” one replied. “Also, pack any medication in your carry-on. Finally, drink lots of water on the flight to avoid dehydration.”

“Great tip! Plan in case your checked baggage gets delayed, so anything important you will need should travel with you in your carry-on. For example, if you have a business meeting and don't have work clothes, you can also hit a Zara/H&M for a quick outfit,” another explained.

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5.  Respect Immigration and Customs

tips for first time international travelers
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“Never mess around with immigration or customs, people. You have zero rights with them—short, direct, and truthful answers. Trying to smuggle that extra liquor bottle to avoid five dollars duty is not worth the hassle or fines.”

“I have found that with minor overages, they usually wave you through as long as you declare it. Too much paperwork for minor duty amounts,” one stated.

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6.  Contact Your Cell Service Provider

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“Also, check with your cell phone provider to be sure your service will work there. It may be okay with a primary carrier, but if you use a work phone for any reason, some steps exist to operate internationally.”

Another exclaimed, “This! Some of you have to have a function initiated in your plan. For some, you have to turn on roaming.”

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7.  Pack as Light as You Can

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“Yes, yes, yes, it took me a while to realize, but yeah, you don't need to bring many things if I am traveling to places that I know sell cheap t-shirts I don't pack and buy, for example, South East Asia.”

“I need to remind myself of this every trip. I learned in Switzerland through a fascinating game of charades that they call Imodium – Imodium. But the pharmacist probably left with a good story.”

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8.  Make a Copy of Your Passport

tips for first time international travelers
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One person suggested, “Enjoy your trip. Make a copy of your passport. I always have a paper copy and a picture of it on my phone. Try and learn a few local words. Please and thank you are good ones!”

“One small upgrade- rather than just having a picture on your phone. Email a picture of it to your mom (or whoever). That way, someone outside the country has it, and it is in your sent mail folder. If a purse with your wallet, phone, and passport gets stolen, it's a big headache,” a second warned.

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9.  Contact Your Credit Card Company/ Bank

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“If you plan to use your debit card abroad, let your card provider know that you are traveling so that they know it's not fraudulent. Also, be mindful of letting your credit card company know,” informed one.

“It depends; lots don't care at all anymore. Just Google “can I use my ____ card in [Enter Country Here]?” Before you go. Make sure you know if you have foreign transaction fees; they add up quickly. Source: currently in France from NA, didn't call Chase or Capital One before I left, cards working fine,” another argued.

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10.  Learn Some of the Local Language

tips for first time international travelers
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One shared, “People in France don't like to speak English even if they speak English!” “Yes, learn some French,” another agreed. “Imagine being a Mexican in the states and meeting Billy Bob, who says, “we speak English here in America.” This is how a lot of French are.”

“I was just in Paris and was utterly shocked that almost everyone spoke English and were friendly and polite. France has changed quite a bit. The last time I was in Paris (like 25 years ago), it was not so. But they are much less likely to speak English in the countryside,” another weighed in. 

We hope you enjoyed this Reddit picks list of helpful tips for first-time international travelers.

This post originally appeared on The Impulse Traveler.

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