Step One: Choosing a Destination
Choosing a destination is a very pivotal step in this process. Some destinations will require that you undergo a round of vaccinations before departure. Others have complicated Visa processes. And others are so unique that you would need to spend at least 10 days there to fully appreciate your trip. check your budget, your schedule, and the travel requirements of your ideal destination.
Step Two: Research
Check with the State Department about travel warnings in the region, passport and visa related issues, and other helpful information. This is also a good time to learn more about your chosen destination. What are the "must see" tourist attractions? Are there tours? Learning a little about the language, history, and people of your destination will help you navigate local customs and avoid embarrassing faux pas on arrival.
Step Three: Book It
For first time travelers, an all inclusive package may be the simplest and easiest way to travel. Many tourism companies pride themselves on providing a seamless experience from the moment of departure. Some even provide a designated contact on the ground at your destination to help you handle any emergencies you may encounter. For the more experienced or adventurous traveler, using sites like Sky Scanner to book cheap tickets, and finding a hostel or homestay may be the way to go. Whether you stay at a resort of a hostel, be sure to book early to get the best deals and confirm availability.
Step Four: Visas and Immunizations
This step is easily interchangeable with the previous one. Some people need to book a ticket before applying for a Visa. Others refuse to pay a cent for a ticket until they have a Visa in hand. Still, others can't get the Visa until they have provided documentation for their immunizations. Generally speaking, if you book your ticket far enough in advance, getting a Visa and immunizations shouldn't pose a problem. Popular destinations like Vietnam, in order to encourage tourism, have introduced an e-visa that you can apply for online. The process is faster than the traditional method and doesn't require interviews, longs lines, and a visit to the embassy.
Step Five: Prep Your Phone
You might be convinced to leave your laptop at home but hardly anybody travels without a phone. There is a variety of chatting, calling, and messaging apps that only require a wifi connection to use. Check with your carrier to make sure that they allow free wifi calls. As a side note, some wireless carriers will charge you a roaming fee for simply having your cell phone powered on while abroad. To avoid this fee, use your tablet instead.
Step Six: Make Digital Copies
Protect yourself by making digital copies of all of your important documents. Scan or photograph your tickets, itinerary, passport, Visas, medical cards and any other important document that you may need to carry. Email them to yourself and a few contacts at home so that you can access it regardless of your location. In case your bag is lost or stolen, having access to this information is very important.
Step Seven: Security
Make arrangements to have your house taken care of while you are away. If you live with family and friends, this isn't an issue. But, if you live alone and will be missing for an extended period, it's important to make sure that somebody checks in on you home while you are away. Suspend any mail or newspaper delivery service and put your property lights on a timer.
Step Eight: Insurance
Review the insurance policy for your credit card, cruise, resort, or tour. Travel insurance isn't for everybody, but if you will be away for an extended period of time and your credit card and health insurance plan won't offer you sufficient coverage while you are abroad, it's best to invest in a traveler's insurance plan. This will secure you and your personal items against theft, damage, medical emergency, and even get you an emergency flight out of the country if necessary.
Step Nine: Luggage
Invest in sturdy luggage. If you will be making day trips while abroad you will need a backpack that can carry all of your needs securely. Several companies offer "theft proof" backpacks with hidden zips and compartments that lay flat against your back to deter pickpockets.
Step Ten: Money
Avoid money-changers. If you need cash while abroad, use an ATM, they usually dispense the local currency. Credit card purchases are also preferable in certain locations but aren't universally accepted.