Sure, the U.S. is massive with more attractions and world-class cities than you could ask for. But you should never miss out on what lies beyond our borders. From natural wonders to ancient cities, to entirely different cultures and exotic wildlife. There is so much to see and do, but taking that leap on an overseas journey for the very first time can still be a nerve-wracking experience. With this guide, however, you can prepare everything you need before you step on your flight, and improve the quality of your trip all around:

Ensure All Your Travel Documents are Valid

Travel documents need to be valid before you travel but your passport needs to be valid for more than six months after you return. So, if your passport expires in four months, you need to know you might not be allowed into the country. Once your passport hits that six-month mark, you will want to renew it. Click here to renew, or even to apply for your first passport, and ensure you have enough time to get it back before you travel.

Check Ahead to See if You Need a Visa

Though powerful, the American passport does still require a visa when traveling to certain countries. Top destinations like Vietnam, for example, will need you to apply in advance. That’s why as soon as you know you want to book a trip somewhere you should look up visa requirements. Giving yourself time to apply can reduce stress and the risk of not getting your visa in time.

Create a Checklist to Ensure You Don’t Forget Anything

Traveling for the first time can be intimidating, which is why creating a checklist of everything you intend to bring (particularly your travel documents) can help prevent you from leaving something important behind.

Your Travel Wardrobe

There are many flights nowadays that are super affordable, but only if you don’t bring checked luggage. Now, before you think this is impossible for everyone but frequent business travelers and air hosts, think again. You can easily live out of a carry-on suitcase for an extended. Just ensure that everything is well made, matches together and that you know how to use a coin laundry machine to keep things fresh as you go.

Stay Connected

You can survive without internet connection, but it’s not always ideal. You can unlock your phone and get a local SIM card (not always available to tourists), or you can get a Wi-Fi pocket device.

If you can’t get a connection overseas, you will want to have as much downloaded or offline as possible. Having the local country’s language downloaded to Google translate and the map saved offline can go a long way. Having a language dictionary and a map in case your phone dies, however, is better.

Traveling overseas can be scary to picture, but it doesn’t have to be risky. Just prepare in advance so that you know what you are getting into and really learn about the world while you’re at it.