16 Tips for Traveling International for the First Time

Traveling for the first time can be thrilling, scary, and emotional. To help you have the best trip, we have complied 16 tips for first time international travelers.

View our travel infographic and tips below to ensure you’re ready for you international vacation.

Preparing to travel

Before Traveling:US Passport

  1. Make sure your passport is valid: Passports are good until their expiration date; however, most countries require passports to be valid for 6 months after entering their country. If your passport is getting close to expiration, do yourself a favor and renew it at least 3 months prior to your international trip.
  2. Check to see if you need a Visa: Not every country requires a visa, but some do. You will want to take care of this well in advance of your trip. Check the US Department of State website to see if you need a visa for the country you want to travel to.
    NOTE: Visas can take some time to get approved!
  3. Make copies of everything: Be sure to let your family and friends know you are traveling abroad and give them copies of your itinerary. Make separate copies of your passport, visa and any other important documents you have. Keep those with you in a different spot than the originals.
    NOTE: Register for STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) , so the government knows when you will be out of the country and for how long. This is especially helpful should there be any natural disasters, terrorism, etc.
  1. Tell your banks: Contact your banks and let them know exactly where and when you will be traveling. If you have a credit card with a chip, make sure you know the pin number to authorize transactions!
    Reminder: Find out about any international transaction fees while you are talking with them!
  1. Get international travel insurance: You never know when you will get sick or hurt, and having international travel insurance is strongly recommended! Look into the policy you have to make sure you will be covered where you are traveling. If you are not, take on international coverage from another provider.
    NOTE: Some credit cards offer international travel insurance, check with yours to see if you are covered!
  2. Consider your phone plan: Most phone plans don’t cover international data or calling. Be aware of what your plan covers, as international data charges are not cheap. Decide if getting an international plan is something you want. If you are not, be sure to turn your data off before you travel!
    NOTE: Consider using a Wi-Fi friendly texting app. Apps like Skype and WhatsApp are great for those who don’t want to pay for an international calling or data plan.
  1. Pack a small medical bag: Make up a small bag that fits in your carry-on to hold essentials like Band-Aids, painkillers, sanitary wipes, etc. If you are traveling with prescriptions keep them in their original containers.
    Reminder: Liquid carry-ons cannot exceed 3 oz!
    NOTE: Double check that your prescription medication is legal where you are going, not all countries allow all FDA approved prescriptions; check here for further information.

Pack Light for International Travel

  1. Pack light: You will be responsible for moving your own luggage around. Do your best to pack light; a carry-on and  personal bag are great lightweight packing options.
    Reminder: Many countries have cobble stone roads and in cities like Venice you will be walking everywhere.
  1. Research where you are going: Get to know the countries you are going to be visiting. Learn about their cultural differences and language basics to help make your trip smooth. Research cultural differences: for instance, do they bow to say hello? Do they greet and say goodbyes with a kiss on each cheek? Knowing common greetings can make meeting locals a little more fun! Now that you know the culture, get to know the language. Basics can get you far in almost any country, “Hello”, “Goodbye”, “Where is the bathroom”, are great phrases to know. Most locals will appreciate you asking a question in their language even if the question is “Do you speak English?”.
  2. Don’t plan every minute: Look into the attractions you want to visit, know the location and hours, but leave some free time. You never know when a local festival will happen where you would want time to explore on your own. Having a free day allows you to experience the unexpected!


  1. Eat and sleep on destination time: As you are traveling, help prevent jet lag by altering your schedule to match where you are going. Many airlines will have everyone close their blinds, dim the lights, and keep the cabin quiet to help people sleep.

Once You Arrive:

Stay safe while traveling international

  1. Stay safe: Every country has their scams and hopefully you don’t get caught in one. Do your best to be aware of your surroundings and act like a traveler, not a tourist. To minimize the possibility of theft, wear your backpack on your chest and keep your wallet in your front pocket. Keep an eye out for some common tourist scams.
  2. Mind your manners: Although you may not speak the language, basic manners go far in any country.
  3. Splurge when it feels right: This is your trip, so enjoy it! Don’t go home wishing you would haveEat local cuisine done something additional. Spend the extra money and don’t leave with regrets!
  4. Eat local: Stop by restaurants, bakeries, and cafes to get a taste of the local cuisine. Not sure what to order? Ask your waiter; they can recommend their best dishes.
  5. Have fun: Smile and have some fun! You are on the trip that you have been dreaming about!


Use these 16 tips to help make your first, and every, international trip a success.

What tips do you have for first time international travelers?

Playing Pokémon Go as you Travel the World

Playing Pokemon Go Around the World

Alright trainers, it’s time to grab your Pokéballs, head outside, and explore the world. There are Pokémon out there waiting to be trained and join your team. Walk the local trails, visit museums, see the sights, and enjoy the fresh air as you play Pokémon Go… internationally!

Pokemon Go lure and trainer

Originally released in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, this game is growing in popularity. As the company works to fix their overloaded servers, they’re also releasing the app to the entire world. Currently there are over 26 countries where users can catch these beloved creatures. Whether you are in Iceland, Poland, Germany, or Australia there are gyms to take over, Pokémon to find, and eggs to hatch. See where the latest launches are.


Golduck from Pokemon Go at a Team Valor gym
Seeing the world through Pokémon Go? We want to see your international travel and Pokémon Go adventures as you taste gelato in Rome, hike glaciers in Iceland, or relax on the beach in Australia. Share your photos with us using #PokemonGoToday to receive a $50* off per person promotion code for your next international vacation!

Our team’s been busy catching Pokémon around our office in Seattle, Washington. Here are some of the Pokémon we’ve caught!

Pokemon Go Zubat in the Go-today office

Pokemon Go Pidgey on the patio

Pokemon Go Krabby

Psyduck on the water in Pokemon Go

Where are you catching Pokémon? Share your photos, location, and team using  #PokemonGoToday and your team’s hashtag: #TeamValor #TeamMystic #TeamInstinct for a $50* per person discount on your next international vacation with go-today.


*$50 off promo code will be private messaged to anyone who posts on Twitter or Facebook using #PokemonGoToday and a photo playing Pokémon Go before Monday, August 1st, 2016 at 11:59 pm PST. Vacation packages must include airfare and be redeemed before September 30th, 2016. Promotional code is valid for one time use per reservation and cannot be combined with any other offers. Promotion cannot be made on group reservations. Promotion is not valid for existing reservations.

Last minute things to do before you go on vacation

Last minute thing to do before you go on vacation

Flights, hotels and sightseeing are all booked and you’re ready to leave… or are you? Have you checked into your flights, paid your bills, or cleaned up your house? What you do before you go on vacation can help make your trip more carefree and your return home a little more relaxing.

Follow our 10 tips below to ensure your time away from home is perfect. Trust us, these simple tips will help ensure you are prepared before you go on vacation!

10 things to do before you leave for your vacation

  1. Clean out your wallet – Do you really need your loyalty card while you are wandering Paris? Probably not. Remove everything you won’t need from your wallet before you leave the country. It will make your wallet a little lighter and you won’t lose it while you are away.
  2. Charge all electronics – There’s nothing worse than getting on your flight to London and not having music, books or movies. Charge everything before you leave home and pack your chargers in your carry-on.
  3. Make copies of everything – Get copies of your passport, itinerary, visa, etc. Send your itinerary to someone you trust before you leave.
  4. Download ebooks, music, movies, games, etc. – Not every country has the best Wi-Fi, so use your time at home to download those movies you want to watch on the flight before you leave.
  5. Check into your flights and double check your departure times – 24 hours before your 1st departure flight go to the airline’s website and check in, if possible. This tells the airlines you will be coming and sitting in that seat. While you are doing that, double check the departure time! Sometimes airlines change the departure times on you, so it’s always a good call to double check. Remember: Arrive to the airport at least 3 hours prior to your departure time.
  6. Pay your bills – Pay any bills that will be due while you are away, or put everything on auto pay for your vacation. You don’t want to come home to late fees.
  7. Inform your banks – Tell your banks where and when you will be traveling, this way you don’t get your card shut down while you are out eating that fancy dinner you deserve.
  8. Pause your mail – Don’t come home to a huge stack of mail in your mailbox, pause everything through your local post office.
  9. Prep your house – Do a little extra work before you leave: clean out the fridge, take out the garbage, unplug and turn off electronics, water the plants, pick up the floors, turn off the water, and make the bed. You’ll appreciate it when you come back and you’ll save extra money while you are gone!
  10. Pack – Start getting ready for your vacation by packing your bags. Use this handy checklist to help ensure you don’t forget anything. Remember: Carry-on liquids must be 3.4oz or less and you can only bring 1 quart size baggie and all checked bag must be under 50 pounds.

Now you’re ready for your vacation. Go on and enjoy yourself, you deserve it!


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