The United Kingdom is a fascinating place with a varied landscape that hosts numerous wonderful locations to visit and awesome things to do, without you ever having to leave, but the world is much bigger and has so much more to offer to the traveller. Although international travel is a very common practice nowadays, the first time you take that trip abroad, things can get a bit scary. For the most part, though, there is nothing to worry about at all, as long as you have taken the necessary preparations that are customary for every international trip, as well as some planning-related specifically to your destination. To help the first-time international traveller out, here are a few important tips that might just help you avoid common mistakes and make things go a lot smoother.
Get Your Passport in Order
Before anything else, you will need a valid UK passport in order to be able to travel outside the United Kingdom legally. In the UK, the number of people holding a passport is quite high, especially in England and Wales, where it was deemed during a census back in 2011, that about 76% of the local population held a UK passport. Due to a boost in global travel and tourism since that time, it is estimated that the percentage of people owning a passport in 2019 is far greater now.
Having said that, even if you have been issued a passport at one time, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your passport, or the passports of the people travelling with you, is in order. Consider the following scenarios to get an idea of what we are talking about.
- Your passport has expired or is about to expire soon
- Your underage child who will be traveling with you doesn’t have a passport yet
- Your passport was stolen or lost at some point
- The passport is damaged beyond use
- Your name has changed since the passport was issued
If any of the above is true, your passport is not in order and you need to either replace or renew the document before being able to travel internationally again.
The good news is that as long as you have ever had a valid passport, which is currently stolen/lost/damaged/lapsed, the Newport passport office can help you get the document in order in under a week from the date of application, or even in just hours, provided all you need is a renewal.
What is even more convenient is that the passport office Newport can also deliver a brand new, first passport for children in just a week’s time. Book an appointment with the Newport passport office here at passports-offices.co.uk, and make sure that you bring all your necessary documentation with you on the day of the interview.
Understand Your Visa Requirements
As long as you hold a valid UK passport that certifies you as a British citizen, you will be able to travel across a very wide range of countries, without having to apply for a visa in advance. The 185 countries and regions that allow British citizens this liberty either do not require Brits to apply for visas or they can get their visa after arriving in the respective regions.
Do understand that this doesn’t apply to British Overseas Citizens, British Overseas Nationals, British Overseas Territories Citizens, British Protected Persons, and British Subjects, although, they also may or may not enjoy limited liberties for travelling, depending on the destination.
Even if you hold a valid UK passport, be careful of the fact that there are a few nations which won’t allow you to visit without applying, paying, and getting approval for your visa/e-visa first. Some of these countries are China, Russia, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Australia, India, Pakistan, Ghana, and Kenya, among others. So, do check the visa requirements of the particular destination before planning the trip. Since this would be your first trip outside the UK, it is recommended that you stick to a region which allows Freedom of Movement or visa-free travel for Brits.
Do Not Travel to an Unsafe Destination
In all honesty, you should not travel to an unsafe destination whether it’s your first or tenth trip outside the country unless you absolutely have to for professional or personal reasons. However, if this is the first time you are leaving the UK, it would be particularly unwise to venture in dangerous territories on your maiden trip.
The Sun reports that due to an extremely high rate of crime, some parts of South Africa, Turkey, India, Thailand, and Mexico are unsafe for Brits or any other foreigners to visit. Some nations like Japan, Vietnam, and Greece have low crime rates but, unfortunately, their susceptibility to frequent natural disasters make them a risky venture as well.
While no one can possibly put Bangkok or Santorini out of their travel list forever, it just might be better to get yourself acquainted with travelling internationally first, by visiting relatively safer countries such as New Zealand, Norway, Iceland, Austria, and Singapore to name just a few. Also, a nation with a high or predominant English-speaking population is always going to be easier to navigate.
Expect to be Overcharged as a Tourist
As a first-time international traveller, understand that any developing country that you visit will have people who will be looking to charge you more for everything from accommodation and food, to anything you try to buy from the local markets.
In Thailand, Vietnam, India, the Caribbean, Islands and most African nations in general, their respective governments themselves have put up extra charges for visiting foreigners.
While you can’t do anything about the government approved hiked prices at the major attractions, haggling skills might just help you crack a better deal with the locals, so don’t be shy in questioning a price that seems way too inflated. Also, book online and book in advance to save on accommodation costs because once you get out of the Suvarnabhumi Airport and start asking the brokers standing outside about accommodation, you are just asking to be swindled really!
Do your own research online about a place and its pricing before visiting it, so that you can actually know when people are trying to get more money from you. However, it is also essential to accept that if you are visiting a developing country, you will have to pay more than the locals, irrespective of how many times you have been there. These regions do have a much poorer economy than yours and having to pay a few extra pounds is expected, which is unfortunate but practical at the same time.
The last piece of advice that would serve you well on your maiden international voyage is the fact that you should prepare yourself for a change in culture, especially if you visit Asia. You don’t have to know everything in advance (although that can help immensely), but just read up a bit on the local culture before visiting, so that you don’t end up in an uncomfortable and unexpected situation. For example, most Chinese toilets require you to squat, as a majority of them do not have toilet bowls for people to sit on. As preparation, we suggest you don’t skip leg day at the gym!