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Many of us confused millennials are always looking for ways to better understand ourselves and the world around us. If you’re like me, you probably feel a little stuck and are hoping for something to broaden your horizon. I struggled with this feeling a lot in my twenties and one thing that helped me was traveling abroad.
I’ve been to Japan, South Korea, and Mexico, and there are still so many places I want to go! When I’ve travel, it always challenges me to really look at myself, see what I am capable of, and open my mind up to different ways of thinking.
International travel isn’t as spontaneous as a road trip, but the planning will make your trip less stressful and more meaningful. So I am sharing four tips for millennials traveling abroad:
GET YOUR PASSPORT
The first thing you need to do it get your passport. If you don’t have that, any other planning will be for naught. The process for getting a passport is lengthy and strict, so it’s better to do sooner rather than later. At minimum (without expedition charges) it takes four to six weeks to process and receive it, and that’s assuming there are no problems with your application. The things you need to complete the application: a passport photo, a birth certificate or proof of citizenship, a driver’s license or state ID, and photocopies of them, as well as the payment for the passport. Once everything is together, you must go in person to a passport facility to apply. Once you get your passport sent to you, it is valid for 10 years. From then, you can be a lot more spontaneous with your trips!
CHOOSING A DESTINATION
Our planet has so many exciting places, and they are just waiting for you to visit. For the best eye opening experience, I recommend a country where the native language isn’t English. You can learn a lot about yourself and other people when you leave your comfort zone (such as the comfort of clear communication!). Not only will the experience help you become more self-reliant in difficult situations, you can develop empathy towards visitors and other non-English speakers in your own country.
Safety is also a top concern. Check for issued travel warnings for things like severe weather, natural disasters, disease outbreaks, and political unrest. Also, do general research on what the seasonal weather is like, what the crime rates are, and overall safety of the country. Getting out of your comfort zone is one thing, but not at the cost of your personal safety.
STAY HEALTHY WHILE TRAVELING
Aside from safety, general health is also a top concern. Visit your doctor prior to finalizing your travel plans to make sure you are in good health and get any necessary vaccines. Also while at the doctors, make sure to get a note validating any medications or prescriptions you need to have with you while traveling. You may need to contact the country’s embassy to apply for permission to bring some prescriptions along. Some over the counter medicines in the U.S. are controlled or illegal in other countries (e.g. some cold medicines). Lastly be cautious of what you eat abroad. Trying new cuisine and being adventurous is a must, but ask questions about how things are being prepared. Nothing kills a trip like food poisoning.
Money is a necessary evil for traveling, but don’t let the idea of it discourage you from traveling. Try to save on everyday purchases or cutting back on non-necessities. Instead of thinking it as “restricting” yourself, think of it as an investment into your travels. Once you’ve saved enough, you can start planning your adventure.
While traveling, it’s also important to keep track of your finances. With exchange rates always changing, it’s good to bookmark a currency exchange converter. Overspending overseas is easy if you aren’t aware of exchange rates. While overseas, don’t expect to rely on cards. Consider applying for a travel card that allows free ATM withdrawals since many other countries prefer to use cash for everyday transactions. As a bonus, using cash primarily can make it easier to stay within your budget since you can see what you have left.
Once these details are taken care of, you can have a wonderful life-changing journey with a lot less stress and focus on more on the journey.
Have you traveled abroad? What tips do you have?
If you haven’t traveled abroad, what’s one place you would like to visit?
Mila is a writer and recent college graduate with a BA in English Linguistics. Her ambitions include traveling the world, studying languages, and taking pictures of her dog, Baymax. Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram!
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