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Planning your First International Trip

Planning your first international trip may seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be!  In fact, as with packing for your trip, less is more.

By setting too aggressive of an itinerary, you may get a lot of snapshots next to monuments, but you will be cheating yourself of all the small pleasures that make traveling so special. Slow down, look around, and remember, travel plans don't always work out the way you expect them to in developing countries.

Here are some things to consider for planning your first international trip:

  • Slow down.  Add buffer days in your trip; sometimes travel in developing countries does not go according to plan. Avoid the stress of sticking to a rigid schedule when your heart is telling you to stay somewhere a little longer.
  • Seasonal Weather.  Traveling during "off seasons" may seem appealing because of less crowds and cheaper prices, but there may be a good reason why people avoid an area during that time.  Monsoon rains and the mud that accompanies them can take a lot away from your trip, plan around them.
  • Budget Considerations.  Sure, you may want to visit Europe more than anything, but you will not get much enjoyment out of a trip when constantly worried about financial woes.  Consider going someplace with a better currency exchange to get more adventure for your budget.
  • Time of Year.  Other than weather, you should research the dates for festivals, religious holidays, and other scheduled events that you may want to plan around.  Holidays will always mean higher prices, but it would be a shame to miss a great cultural celebration due to poor planning.
  • Language.  Language should not really be a big concern when planning your trip.  People will understand a little English nearly anywhere that you go and half the fun is trying to learn the local language anyway.   Consider picking up a "Point-it" book to help bridge the gap in vocabularies when you need something.

Beware of GuideBooks:  Sure, guidebooks such as Lonely Planet and Rough Guide offer lots of great information about things to do in a country.  Just remember, these books need to be used properly. Don't make the guidebook your "bible" - there are lots of great places and things waiting to be discovered that are not in the book!

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