Taking your first big international trip can be incredibly exciting. You’ll be able to visit exotic and exciting destinations that you may have been dreaming of your entire life, whether the historic locations of Europe, the pristine beaches of the Caribbean, cultural sites in Asia, or the natural beauty of South America.

First-time travel can also be intimidating or even a little scary. It is true that travel can present many challenges, and certain pitfalls may ruin your trip if you are not prepared.

Here are some top travel tips to avoid these problems and have the trip of a lifetime!

  1. Arrange Your Passport Well in Advance

If you are taking your first overseas trip, you’ll obviously need a passport. You likely know this already, but what many people are not aware of is how complicated and lengthy the process to get a new passport can be.

Depending on your nationality, getting a new passport can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months. Additionally, you’ll need certain official documents to get your first passport, such as your birth certificate. So if you can’t easily put your hands on these, you’ll need to allow time to locate them also. All these things considered, make sure you allow plenty of time to arrange your passport ahead of your flight date!

  1. Check Flight Search Engines

One of the first things you’ll need to do when arranging your trip is to book your flights. This is also one of the biggest expenses of your trip. When booking your flights, there are significant savings to be had if you look around.

Rather than jumping on an airline’s website and taking the first deal you can find, it is better to check all the options available. Sorting through all of the many airline’s sites would be extremely time consuming. However, luckily, you don’t need to do all this yourself: you can check all the best deals all in one place using a site like Skyscanner and Kiwi.

  1. Ask your Doctor About Vaccinations

One of the things that can really ruin your holiday is getting sick. The last thing you want to do when you’re supposed to be relaxing on the beach or sitting in a Piazza is to be spending time in a foreign hospital instead.

Depending on your destination, you may need certain vaccinations to protect you from diseases that you may be exposed to there, but do not occur in your home country. Visit your doctor and ask them what vaccinations are required for your destination. Remember that some shots must be done a couple of months in advance, so make sure to allow time for this also!

  1. Arrange Visas Before You Fly

Another critical preparation that you need to take care of when preparing for your first trip is to look into visas. Depending on where you are travelling to and your nationality, you may or may not need to arrange a visa in advance.

Many countries do not require a visa, or will organise a visa on arrival for most nationalities: this means that all you need to do is turn up at the border and present your passport. However, for some countries, for example the USA and India, you need to apply for a visa or visa waiver online days or weeks in advance of your trip. If you come to the airport and haven’t already arranged this, you may not be able to board your flight.

  1. Look for Alternatives to Official Tickets

You may very well take advantage of your first big trip to visit one of the world’s most famous sites, whether the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Machu Picchu in Peru, or the Statue of Liberty in New York. These are places that you should truly see at least once in your life. Unfortunately, many other people feel the same way, and so you may be dismayed to see that official tickets have already sold out when you reach your destination.

This doesn’t mean you have to face disappointment, having travelled all that way only to miss out on checking that item off your bucket list. Luckily, if you look around online you’ll be able to find alternatives to buying the tickets through the official site or ticket office. For example, you can find Harry Potter tickets online through tour sites, even when they are sold out on the official site.

  1. Don’t Overpack

One of the biggest mistakes first time travellers make is weighing themselves down – literally – with too much luggage. If you’re a bit nervous about your first big trip, you may overcompensate by packing a lot of things “just in case”. However, lugging around heavy bags can make your trip very unpleasant, not to mention more expensive if you need to pay for excessive baggage. Critically assess your packing and decide whether you need everything. As a general rule, once you’ve laid out everything you think you’ll need, cut this back by one third – you’ll be glad later!