Your first trip abroad can be both exciting and harrowing. No matter how excited you are or how long you've waited for this, it's also normal to feel some trepidation. The tips below can help you have a wonderful time and make the most of your trip.
Learn the Language
If you're going to a non-English speaking country, learn a few words in the country's main language. Do this even if you're going to be largely in tourist areas and you've been assured that everyone speaks English. Being able to say things like hello, goodbye, and thank you, as well as asking if they know English in the local language is appreciated. No one expects you to become fluent just to go on vacation, but you'll find that a little effort goes a long way.
Do Your Research
Even if you're normally a go with the flow person, it's a good idea to do some research. This gives you a few advantages. First, it stops you from making big, obvious mistakes, like not realizing that all museums are closed on Wednesdays in a particular city. Second, it can alert you to any major safety concerns. Finally, it can clue you in on out-of-the way attractions you might not run across otherwise. This is particularly true since these days, rather than relying on guidebooks that might be out of date, you can ask people on social media or read people's blogs about their travels, which can often provide you with these kinds of insights.
Leave Things to Chance
A great trip is also about taking a few risks here and there. Of course, you shouldn't do anything unsafe, but go off plan. Try that appealing looking restaurant that doesn't appear in any tourist guide. Spend an afternoon just walking around an area of town that's not in your guidebook or people watching in a cafe. Don't overschedule your days. Not every impulse will pay off, but sometimes your best and most memorable experiences will come from something unplanned.
Get insurance to protect yourself on the trip. Trip insurance can help in case of flight cancellation or lost luggage. Health insurance can be important if you are injured or ill or if you need to be evacuated home. If you are traveling for medical reasons, including IVF/fertility treatments, dental care or cosmetic or elective surgery, you can get coverage for you and a traveling companion with single trip medical travel insurance designed for patients traveling abroad.
Think Like a Local
Some people may turn up their noses at it, but there's nothing wrong with seeing the big tourist sights. You've spent a lot of money and come a long way to miss the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tour, or the Great Wall of China. However, when it comes to other types of experiences, getting off the beaten tourist track can lead to a better time as well as cheaper prices. Take any heavily touristed area, such as Barcelona's Las Ramblas, and go a few blocks away to find better restaurants. Don't be afraid to strike up conversations with locals and ask them for recommendations.