Taking a trip to another country can be one of the most amazing things you ever do in your life. Seeing a completely different culture can broaden your world view to levels not possible if you never leave home. For those of you that have been out and about a few times, you know what I’m talking about. For those that are thinking about it, hopefully this article will help you make the same decision that countless others have already made. That traveling abroad is just something that you must do.

Mark Twain once said that if you live your life without traveling, it’s like owning a book without reading it. There is so much richness in the world, that you have to see it to believe. Once you travel abroad, you’ll never experience your home country again. It gives you perspective that you wouldn’t otherwise find. Many people aren’t sure where to start, so in this article I’ll give you a few tips.

For your first trip abroad, you should maybe take it easy. Save the backpacking across South East Asia for next time. It’s best to choose a country that’s popular with tourists, but doesn’t have English as their main language. Countries like Germany, Italy, Spain or Thailand and Japan are great places to go. You can fumble your way through without knowing any of the local language, and still get the feel for being in a completely foreign land.

The first thing you’ll need to do before you leave is to get a guidebook. This can be a great way to research your trip, and find out about the local culture and language before you go. Books like the Lonely Planet series are great because they also give you some off the beaten track ideas in case you want to go it alone. Of course, there are also plenty of tour options to join, so you don’t have to go solo on your first trip.

Another fantastic idea is to learn a few phrases in the spoken language where you are going. Most guidebooks while have these, and you’ll find knowing how to say things like, “Thank you,” “How much,” and “Where is the bathroom,” will get you quite a lot of attention, and quite a lot of help from the locals. By showing you’ve taken the time to learn the language, you’ll send a strong message that you really respect their culture.

Of course, once you have a successful first trip, it’s time to start planning your second one. A great way is to go to the book store, and then flip through all the travel books, and see which ones speak to you. Pretty soon you’ll have to get more pages in your passport for all the stamps you’ll be getting.