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trevi fountain, rome

I've been on a lot of international trips in my life. Which is why I know how tough it can be to just sit there and wait the entire time. And how tough it can be to get ready for a trip. What do you bring? What should you know before traveling somewhere? Well, hopefully, this article will shed some light for newbie travelers.

Tip #1: make sure that you spend a while researching your destination

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If the trip you're taking isn't on a whim, be sure to give yourself a few months before buying plane tickets and booking hotel rooms. This is especially important if you're traveling internationally. There are a lot of steps that need to be taken before buying tickets. Make sure that the time of year is right. Don't go to Egypt in July and don't go to Russia in December. (Unless you're going for snow).

There are a lot more steps that are involved in this process. Make sure that you start researching several months before your trip. This way you still have time to buy the plane tickets before they start getting too expensive. (If you wanted to go on a trip in June, start planning in Jan/Feb so you can buy tickets in March or April. This applies to international traveling, of course. Domestic tickets are much easier to come across.)
Make sure you've covered all the legal and financial bases. Make sure you've saved enough for the trip (because Europe doesn't come cheap) and that you have a working passport. Also, check the customs process in the country. I won't go into that for now. After finishing the research, you can buy tickets. (I don't need to explain that either, hopefully.)

Tip #2: transportation, location, punctuality

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Even if your plan is just to explore, make sure you know what cities you're going to and what attractions you want to see. For example, in the summer of 2019, I went to Italy and Switzerland. We had a more set timetable, but that didn't mean we didn't explore on our own. In a lot of bigger cities, the real attractions aren't what you want to see. The real culture of a place comes from the people. If you're traveling alone or with friends, I would recommend spending less time at the tourist traps and spend more time wandering the streets. If you're traveling with children, it's best to stick to the basics.
As far as timetables go, keep one on your phone. You can enter your plane and train departures and arrivals into a calendar app. Make sure you get reminders as well. It helps a lot. Trust me, six years ago we were supposed to fly from Hyderabad to London but we missed our flight. Don't make that mistake. It sucks. Having a timetable will help you know how much time you have to do certain things.

Transportation is another big thing. In most crowded cities things are close together and you can walk from place to place, but in the country, it's much harder to walk (trust me, I've tried). In cities, there'll be some kind of public transportation system, whether it be the city bus or subway. Take it. You won't regret it. It's so much easier than renting a cab. You can also book a tour guide if you like those kind of trips better. I'm not a fan, though. But it will provide you with transportation. In the country, there'll still be buses. Otherwise, you can book a train (the scenic view ones are super nice).

Tip #3: hotels and restaurants

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When going to another country, money doesn't equal the same amount it did at home. That's why it's important to know where to save and where to splurge. Hotels are one thing you'd want to save on. Try getting an Air BnB, they're much more cost-efficient, especially if you're traveling with large groups. They also have kitchens, which leads us to my next point.

I get it. When you go to another country you'll want to try their food. And you can totally do that. Just remember that restaurants are expensive and you don't want to eat at them thrice a day for seven days. If you're staying in one city for a couple of days, go to the local grocery store. You can buy raw ingredients to make your own meals every day (alternatively you could buy the pre-made food but I wouldn't). It gives you a chance to really splurge when eating out. (I'd eat out at least a couple of times on your trip).

Tip #4: live in the moment!

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You can definitely take pictures. You SHOULD take pictures. But remember to get off of your camera and really see the world. You can see the pictures online, but you won't get the same experience as actually being there. So get off your phone and really feel the environment around you. There's so much to a place that we can't see with our eyes. You can look back at the pictures years later, but it won't ever be the same as being in a place. You came to enjoy yourself, not to take photos.

Anyway, that's all the tips I had for today. I hope this helps and stay tuned for more articles!