- List of things to do: The first step is to make a list of places you would want to visit in a city. This list will give an idea as to how much time is required to stay in the city and also plan each day of the trip. If possible buy tickets online as it will help you avoid standing in the long queues. I also usually book a ‘Hop On & Hop Off’ bus tour in advance as I get to explore parts of cities that I would have otherwise not checked out and that to conveniently.
- Geography: Read up to have a general understanding of the geographical topography of the cities you are visiting. This helps you go about the city more comfortably and also decide where to stay so that it is not too far from most of the places you want to visit and is also close to a local metro station or bus stop.
- Mode of transportation: Check what the popular mode of transportation in the city is. Make bookings for cabs/buses/tours if you have to undertake a day trip, beforehand.
- Understand the culture: It is essential to understand the nuances of the culture of the country you are visiting, especially if it is a conservative society. In case, people do not speak English; you need to know some of the commonly used words of the local language like hello, restaurant, washroom, please, thank you. Always keep the address of your hotel with you.
- Climate: You need to pack your clothes according to the expected weather of the country. Do check the weather forecast for the period you are traveling. Please note that at some places the actual temperature is different from ‘feels like’ temperature as it is windy. It is better to bring in clothes as per the ‘feels like’ temperature. Carry a raincoat at all times if you are traveling in the rainy season so that you don’t spoil your phone or any other electronic item.
- List of restaurants: You should do some research on popular places to eat as you would not like to miss out on the local cuisines. Also, if you have any dietary restrictions, you need to have a list of restaurants which will meet your requirements.
- Currency: You need to know the conversion rate between your currency and the currency of the country you are visiting. Even if you intend to spend using your credit card, it is vital to keep sufficient currency of the country with you.
- Budgeting: You should plan a budget for your travel depending upon the expenses you expect to incur on stay, commuting, eat outs, tickets for places you want to visit, shopping, etc. It is easy to splurge in a foreign country, but if you have limited means, it is best to plan.
- Few essentials to pack: A water bottle as in some countries a bottle of water is not readily available or is very expensive. It is best to fill up your bottle in the hotel before leaving for the day. Photocopies of important documents and keep them separately from the originals. Make a packing list so that you do not forget essential items. Carry a small first aid kit and essential medicines that you may need in case of a headache, fever, cold or a cough.
Usually, there is a lot to read on the net about the country you are visiting, and you should familiarize yourself. In spite of all the preparations, a few things may go wrong, but don’t sweat and deal with them calmly. Have a safe and enjoyable trip.