Planning an exotic vacation abroad can be a little overwhelming. Your mind races. You have mixed emotions. There is something very alluring about the unfamiliar. It’s exciting. Trust me. I know. The rewards can be very big, like having the best vacation of your life (hello Moorea) but there can be bitter disappointment (I’m looking at you Bejing) if you don’t prepare correctly.
My friend Amanda recently returned from a trip Singapore and I used the opportunity to ask her some tips on how to plan an exotic vacation. What are some of the things you will have to do before you leave? How do you plan where to go and what to do when you get there?
Here’s what she had to say.
While your mind works hard to figure it all out, your emotions, too, can get the best of you. After all, you’re thrilled because you can just see yourself on an adventure. You can imagine connecting with interesting people, learning about different cultures, and visiting fascinating places and eating fabulous food. If you have a particular hobby, like golf (one of my favorite things to do), then you may plan whole days around Singapore golf courses at golfscape (like I did) on my recent trip. The fantasy of playing a few perfect rounds of golf on world-class courses was enough to get me on that plane!
But I digress! Here are some practical tips on how to plan an exotic vacation abroad:
1. Decide on your destination.
You can’t even begin plan unless you have a clear idea where you’re going. If you have no idea, then ask family, friends co-workers or check out popular vacation destinations from major travel magazines. If you do have a number of places in mind, then you have two choices: one, either spend a little time at each one or focus on one and decide on the best places to see or the most interesting things to do in that country.
The level of activity you want to do may also dictate where you go. If you are looking to relax, want a mixture of activities, or love to explore food. All of these choices will impact your decision. For me, I pretty much got a little bit of it all in Singapore!
2. Get your travel documents.
Now that you’ve decided where to go, you may need to start your passport and visa applications several months before your planned vacation. While you will definitely need a passport, you may or may not need a visa. More likely than not when visiting a truly exotic location, you will need one. If you do need one, find out what type of visa is necessary. Usually, you will just need a regular visa, but some countries have different visa categories. Getting a visa from a foreign embassy is rarely a quick process.
3. Get a medical and dental checkup.
You don’t want to end up in a foreign hospital because of some unforeseen health problem. By visiting your doctor and dentist, you will reduce the likelihood of issues coming up during your trip. This is also a good opportunity to check up on any vaccinations that you might need. Depending on where you are going, your immune system may not be up to battling somewhat exotic diseases like chikungunya or typhoid fever or malaria.
4. Figure out your telecommunications.
There are many free services that you can use from a computer in other countries. However, you should also check to see if your smartphone plan can be activated abroad. In some cases, it won’t work. One option you have is to buy and carry a phone card, another option is to get a SIM card for traveling abroad.
5, Organize your finances.
First, consider buying an insurance package. You may want to have travel insurance, baggage protection, and health insurance when you travel abroad. Often all these different types of insurance can be bundled together into an insurance package for international coverage.
Next, work out a spending plan. Research all your expenses—your travel costs to the country and within it, your accommodation and meal expenses, and your recreation and miscellaneous expenses. Although these will be estimates, it’s better to have some idea how much you’re going to need then just trying to wing it.
Finally, talk to your bank or your well-traveled friends to figure out how to get money sent to you from home should you have a financial emergency while abroad.
All things considered, the earlier you plan your vacation and the more detailed your research, the more you will increase your chances of having a wonderful time.
Having worked in a passport office for a summer (a LONG time ago), I can tell you knowing how to get money from home in the case of an emergency was something I helped people deal with at least a dozen times a day at the American embassy in Madrid!
How about you? Do you have additional tips for planning an exotic vacation?
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