Planning Your First Trip Abroad

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So, you are getting ready to start planning your first trip abroad? If you are anything like myself, then you have no idea where to begin. I am currently planning my husband and I’s first trip out of the country. We are both 30 and finally about to start checking some places off our bucket list! So exciting! We are headed to Japan in about 30 days, but we started planning about a year ago. I had no idea where to begin, so I started where everyone normally does…Google! Ha! Well, kind of…

We both had Japan at the top of our bucket list and decided, once we crossed off a couple other things on our “life” bucket list ie; kids, marriage, house etc. that it was about time we took an amazing vacation. Literally, after we bought our house, we both said…next…japan!! In this post I am going to detail out what steps we have taken in order to plan our trip and hopefully give you a good starting point and some inspiration for your first trip out of the country!

  1. Decide that you ARE going and WHERE– DUH! Well for us this was easy. My husband and I have been together for 10 years, and when you first start dating and talking about hopes and dreams, Japan was both on our list of places to go. I want to go for pure culture shock and amazing scenery, and he loves anime, electronics, video games and of course we both LOVE sushi, and ramen, and are very adventurous when it comes to food! When we decided to take our trip, Japan was an easy decision. And by the way, when we decided we were going on this trip, we were not exactly set, financially. We had just bought a house, Christmas was around the corner, and we had two kids in daycare and lots of other expenses. We just made the decision and stuck with it until we made it happen. Once you know where you want to go…
  2. Do your research- Some of you won’t do this. Some of you are fly by the seat of your pants and go type of people. I, however, am not that person. Once I had kids, not all, but most, of that person went out the window. I am terrified to go somewhere and not know how, when, why, what we are doing etc. There was a time that I may have been ok doing that. Now, I am SUCH a planner! I researched the best time of year to go, what types of things to do. What cities to visit, how does transportation work etc. The more I found out, the more excited I became!
  3. Book your flights– Depending on how far out you book your trip you may want to do #4 first. I booked my flights 7 months ahead of time. I tried looking at the trip planning websites and decided to go out on my own. I booked through Delta, used their credit card and got a crap load of miles and upgraded to business class so that I could have some more room and free drinks. LOL! If I tell my husband we are getting free drinks, he is in! Wish we could afford first class…one day we will! 😉
  4. Get your passports– This should be one of the first things you do. Apply for your passports here. Also, be sure to make an appointment! Some places can take your picture on-site. Be sure to check before and if they can’t, then simply go to a Walgreens and get your picture taken there. After we applied for our passports, we received them in about a week and a half. I think that is abnormal as they say to check the status after a week.
  5. Book your hotels– If you plan on staying in multiple areas, then definitely make sure you figure out what you will be doing and book your hotels based off of the activities you plan on doing. I booked our first hotels just by using trip advisor and then later found out that everything I wanted to do was at least a 30 minute drive to each thing. I decided to move my hotel more central. So this goes back to #2, doing your research. Make sure you stay in an area that will be easy for you to get around. Do this with enough time to be able to change your hotel reservation if needed!
  6. Transportation- Again, back to #2, please do your research. As I was doing mine, I realized the most common way to get around Japan was with the Japan Rail Pass. I decided to see how much I would be using it, comparing on google maps, what the fastest route was and the recommended routes etc. Even though we will be in Japan for 12 days, the 7 day rail pass made the most sense for us. I will post more on this after our trip is up.
  7. Extras- Make sure if you will be driving internationally, to get an international driver’s license. This can be done through any AAA. There is an application you can download online. Also, if you need anything extra for any activities you may be doing, be sure to have those with you! Nothing can spoil a trip like not being prepared!
  8. Have a plan- Be sure to have a general idea of what you plan on doing while you are abroad! I am the type of person that wants to see as much as I can! So I have a general idea of where we will be going each day of our trip. I don’t have an exact plan of each day, because I do believe in being spontaneous.
  9. Have fun- Enjoy yourself! This is an amazing accomplishment! You are starting your amazing traveling journey! Nothing can stop you now, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Start crossing off your bucket list and don’t stop till god makes you!

What is on your bucket list? I would love to hear about some favorite paces you have been, or places you are itching to go!