Planning your first big vacation abroad? It seems like a challenging feat as there are so many places in the world to see. How do you start? It is good to choose your main goal of the trip- to see a certain place, have an experience, or do an activity. Have you always dreamed of visiting the Colosseum in Rome, or Malbec wine tasting in Mendoza, Argentina, a luxurious spa on the beach, or climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro? Whatever your pleasure, plan your trip around it but don’t just stick with one place or activity. Here are my thoughts on where you should travel first.
Here are my destination picks for your first vacation abroad:
Italy is awesome, and Florence is my favorite city in the world. Spend a week or a month and you will still feel like you could have stayed longer. The food is carb-tastic and amazing, the Italian language sweet-sounding and romantic, and the area steeped in art history of the Renaissance.
Whether art, religion, the culinary arts, wine, or fashion is your passion, Italy has something for you.
2) New Zealand
New Zealand’s scenery is worth the long flight alone. Spend days hiking, kayaking, exploring, and driving on the wrong side of the road (for the Americans anyway). While I’ve only explored the North Island, I have big plans to spend some time on the South Island doing my own little Lord of the Rings sightseeing tour and soaking in all the natural beauty of New Zealand.
Japan is an amazing destination- so clean, so delicious, and such great transportation for exploring the country. Bullet trains really move (200+ mph) and are conducive for visiting many cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, Koyasan, Hiroshima, and Osaka in a short amount of time. Most people speak English and menus are full of pictures. Oh the food, it is so good!
The landscape in Iceland is unlike anywhere else in the world. A “newly” formed volcanic island, there are so many waterfalls, glaciers, volcanoes, and hot springs to see and experience.
Spend your afternoon driving around the Golden Circle, scuba dive in between two continents in crystal clear blue waters, hike on glacier, or visit the many puffins!
5) Anywhere you know the language or want to know the language
Fluent in Spanish- visit Spain, Argentina, or Peru. Want to learn Mandarin- no better place to practice than in China. Language immersion is the easiest way to learn a language so just dive in and go for it!
The first things you should do when planning a trip:
1) Find our what other destinations are close by
If you choose to visit Rome, consider taking the train up to Florence and Cinque Terre or down to Sorrento on your trip to see more of Italy and make the long flight worth it! If wine tasting in Napa is your dream, rent a car and drive up and down the CA-1, eat local seafood, and explore the Pacific Coast.
Always check out what is close by that is worth the time. You already paid for the flight, a few extra days can make your vacation that much more relaxing, educational, adventurous, or relaxing.
Adding on 3 days in Siem Reap, Cambodia onto a Thailand trip was one of the best decisions I ever made:
2) Choose based on the weather
Try to visit in shoulder season- not high season and not low season. During high season prices will be higher and sights crowded. Low season could be good depending on the location or everything will be closed and weather poor.
Blowing away in Newfoundland:
Planning that first overseas trip can seem overwhelming and full of challenges. Put in the effort to read a guidebook and some trip advisor reviews. It will make you feel more comfortable about what to expect. But don’t plan the whole trip before you go, have a few key tours, hotels, or train tickets purchased but leave some room for exploring things that catch your eye and wandering.
Most of all, have fun!
Reader Question: Where did you go first? Or where do you want to go first?