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6 Things Newbies Should Know About International Travel

A first trip abroad is usually filled with a flurry of emotions. There are so many nerve-racking thoughts rushing through your mind at any given point that its hard to say tell whether you are happy or terrified about the journey to come.

Especially because there are so many things to plan and execute in time before you get on that plane and see yourself leaving your home country through the tiny peepholes called windows in flights. We know that feeling and have been in those shoes quite a few times so we thought it was time we put together some of our tried and true international travel tips. 


In this article, we are exploring some of the things we would have loved to know to go into our first international travel, that we hope will make things simpler for you as you embark on the adventurous journey of your life.


Occidental Xcaret, Christa Thompson, traveling for the first time, Mexico
Loving the morning seaside hike at Occidental Xcaret


International Travel Tips Every Traveler Should Know


There are many nuances to traveling, whether it is by flight to a foreign country or taking a drive to a nearby town and these nuances help you become a more equipped traveler. Be it keeping yourself and your belongings safe or taking the best international travel insurance plans to ensure you have a protective backing for your journey, these simple aspects of traveling will keep you on top of most things. 


Your Documents, Your Identity

Your documentation is very important. This might be one of the most important international travel tips. While this stands true even within the country, its doubly important for those of you traveling outside the country.

Your passport is your only source of valid identification and for any identity disputes, it will be the go-to document for authorities in the foreign country. This is mainly because other national identity cards like driving license or national ID are not recognized by the foreign country and not admissible as proof of identity.


Apart from your passport, make sure to keep your airline ticket or boarding pass handy with you. You may need it to gain access to various aspects of the airport or airline. Lounges will only provide passengers with valid boarding passes to enter and enjoy the amenities.

Make sure you keep a scanned copy or photo of your passport and visas in case of emergencies. And if you are traveling to a country like Saudi Arabia that is new to travel tourism, make sure you know the laws.


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Get to the Airport on Time

Reaching the airport with sufficient time to spare is paramount to making your first journey abroad smooth and successful. There are various reasons for this. Primarily, you may not be familiar with international flight protocols and also boarding gates may be a considerable walk from the airport terminal for which a lack of time can make the experience a hurried and discomforting one.


Furthermore, when you pass through immigration, which is a mandate for any international travel, you might be scrutinized a little. Dont be alarmed, this happens to anyone traveling for the first time because you basically have a virgin passport and authorities tend to ask more questions to first time travelers. And know if your airport notoriously bad for long lines and extended TSA check times.


Talking to the Immigration Officer

Immigration officers can be intimidating and I can vouch for this because even though I have traveled to countless countries, every time I walk up to the immigration desk at an airport, I can feel a shiver run up my spine and my legs getting weaker the longer I stand there. But over the years, I have learned some important things that will make your first time a pleasant one.


For starters, most people are confused about whether to smile or act seriously in front of the immigration officer. Most people might tell you to behave the latter in order to make the transaction interaction as simple as possible but honestly, in my opinion, there isnt a mandate.


You can give a pleasant smile to the officer when you walk up with a greeting because thats the norm for any interaction. Also, immigration officers sit in their tiny cubicles for many hours at a stretch looking at peoples passports more than their faces and staring at screens while thousands of people walk past their booths.


The job is a bit monotonous. So a smiling face is always a pleasure. Keep in mind, this isn’t the time for ideal conversation or speaking unnecessarily as this will raise a few eyebrows and might even annoy the officer.


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Also always wait in behind the yellow line till the person before you has passed the booth and then ask for permission to approach the booth. This projects an air of respect for the procedure and will reduce inhibitions towards you.

As you walk up, greet and smile if you wish to, otherwise simply hand over your passport with the boarding pass placed in the page of the respective country visa. This makes things easier for the officer than having to look through your passport for the right page. Also makes you look like a regular.


Last but not least, keep all conversation only limited to the questions asked and always be courteous in your tone. Immigration officers have the power to withhold your entry into international transit or the country if they feel a sense of misinformation or inconsistency in your documentation. While this happens rarely, if you stay crisp and clear in your communication, everything will flow smoothly.


Carry Your Entertainment Along

International flights can be long and depending on your booking may or may not include entertainment. While most international airlines will provide food and beverage services some are paid for. A good practice to keep in mind is when booking your flights, look for recliner seats and classes that provide entertainment services especially if the flight is over 3-5 hours. Also, look for offers on food and beverage services when you are finalizing your booking.


Eurail NSB Southern Railway Norway
Be sure to bring small things for children to play with on long train or plane rides.


Another great practice is to ensure you include the best international travel insurance plan during booking. Most often these plans are really cheap and provide you good coverage in the event of any mishap during your travel. If you aren’t sure about travel insurance, read our article about picking out the right type here: Travel Insurance Types


Travel Light but Don’t Travel too Light

Its your first international trip so you will want to be better equipped. Always ensure you have a small carry on bag with you which should contain the following – a jacket, a book or something to entertain you for a while, your identity and travel documents as well as some food and water.


Money and Plastic Items that You Need to Keep in Mind

Since you are off to a foreign country, make sure you are well versed with their cost of living and currency. Youll be best suited with exchanging some money into the international currency at the departing airport and consecutively exchange at the arriving airport. Also, be sure to carry some international credit or debit card for situations when you run out of cash in hand.


While these were a curated list international travel tips, they are just a few things we felt you should know. Remember that when you are traveling to a foreign country, no amount of information is too much. The more you know the better prepared you are for any situation.   

Nia McKenna

Nia is an Associate Editor at The Fairytale Traveler and self diagnosed travel junkie. Having traveled to 5 of the 7 continents, her love of good food and culture is a force to be reckoned with. When she isn't off adventuring with her husband, which she writes about on her blog CircaWanderlust, she can be found with a good cup of tea cuddling her pups and taking pictures of her food. She loves black and white movies and could listen to Elvis on repeat.

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