Traveling abroad can be one of the most rewarding experiences – meeting new people, being exposed to different cultures, foods and ways of life, and seeing new birds & wildlife.
But Where Do You Begin?
We were inspired by one of our followers @jace_the_bird_nerd to write this article, when he began asking us questions on this very topic.
First, decide what country you might want to visit – and what part of that country.
Then you can start gathering your basic info which will help you
decide if this is indeed the right choice for you.
Does this Country require a Visa to enter?
Not every country is accessible to you with just your passport. In the US for example, we can travel freely to many countries like Brazil, Costa Rica or countries in Europe with only our passport. Other countries, like in East Africa and Mainland China require a separate visa to enter. Some can can apply for in advance (which usually involves mailing in your passport) and some you can apply for when you arrive.
TIP: If a Visa is available in advance we always prefer that option
In the US, a great place to start is the State Department Website. You can choose the country and learn about any visa requirements.
A great resource is the CDC travel page. You can enter the country and a list of recommended vaccines by location. Basic routine vaccinations before traveling are always recommended. In addition, for all travel abroad, Hepatitis A (10yr protection) and Typhoid (2-5 yrs depending on injection or oral).
Yellow fever is a vaccine that is recommended for many countries but this also varies within each country. This is why it’s important to know the places within the country you wish to travel. For example:
Here is a Yellow Fever Map of Argentina.
You can see that only some in areas of the country
you may need the vaccine.
The same applies to Malaria Prophylaxis
What else should you know?
Of Course safety is always a priority. You can again check with the State Department for any advisories. Some important safety tips especially for beginning travelers:
–Make copies of your passport and keep one in the hotel.
Also keep a photo of your passport on your phone.
–Only take taxis called for you by the hotel/lodge
or pre-arrange transportation with your guide/tour company
—Avoid bars/night life
—Don’t flaunt cameras/phones or expensive jewelery (leave that at home)
Go with a tour/guide in a group or with a friend. Having a pre-arranged tour, or going with someone you know who has been to that country is the way to go if you are a new traveler. Typically tours will arrange everything for you from transportation to and from the airport, to lodging, food and activities.
Lastly, get travel insurance! Flights can be delayed causing you to miss connections, you may get sick while abroad causing you to cut your trip short – there’s potential for things to go wrong. We use Travel Guard and have had a good experience with them.