The 5 best destinations for Americans traveling abroad for the first time

This blog is meant to inspire others to travel more and, for some Americans, that may mean their first trip abroad.

There are many factors that can stop a person from traveling overseas: finances, family, and work are just a few. I believe that with an eye for deals, a desire/ability to play the “points” game, and by following blogs like Josh Trips, international travel has been opened up to people who may have otherwise never considered it.

On that note, I wanted to write this post about the 5 best destinations for Americans planning to leave the country for the first time.

5. Montreal, Canada

Montreal1

Our neighbor to the north is an amazing place to begin your adventures abroad. Canada is a very safe, diverse country with great medical care and friendly people.

While there are a handful of great places in Canada to choose from (Toronto, Vancouver, and Banff among them), Montreal is located in French-speaking Québec, making it feel more foreign. Even with that, you will still be able to communicate effectively in English, which is especially important many first-time international travelers.

Another advantage Montreal has is that it caters to all kinds of travelers – the city is as well known for its culture and architecture as it is for its strippers and poutine.

Advantages: Very safe, feels foreign
Disadvantages: Can get way too cold

4. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

cabo3

Full disclosure: I struggled a lot with this. Mexico has a number of excellent options for your first trip abroad, including Cancún, Puerto Vallarta, Tulum, and even Mexico City. What put Cabo San Lucas over the top, though, is that many establishments in this Mexican resort town accept U.S. dollar and English is more commonly spoken here than anywhere else I have visited in the country.

Not having to convert money will help first-time international travelers (pro trip: it’s almost always better to get cash from a local ATM than to exchange the money in advance, particularly at the airport where the fees are ridiculous).

But practical reasons aside, Cabo San Lucas is an amazing first-time (and for me, ongoing) destination because of it’s near perfect weather, its beautiful beaches, amazing resorts, and the quick flight from the West Coast.

Advantages: Safe, can use U.S. dollar, can get by with English
Disadvantages: Americanized, not a ton of culture

3. Paris, France

paris

Gay Paree!

One thing is for sure: if your first international trip is to Paris, you will be planning another in no time. The City of Lights is a must-visit destination for anyone, and its solid tourism industry means that it has the perfect structure for first-time travelers.

Those who like to plan their trips can easily find free guides online and learn from others mistakes. Budget travelers also have a host of options due to the size of the city and the number of backpackers who visit.

As amazing as Paris is, recent terror attacks may cause additional anxiety for first-time international travelers, which is the only reason this glorious city isn’t ranked higher on the list.

Advantages: Safe, world-class city, amazing sights
Disadvantages: Foreign language, recent terror attacks

2. London, England

london1

Like Paris, London is a world-class city. But also like Paris, recent terrorist attacks have made it less friendly for first-time international travelers, many of whom are already a bit skittish. Despite this, London is still an excellent choice for Americans going abroad for the first time.

Many Americans already know some English history and a bit about the royal family, which is helpful when exploring. The Tube is easy to use and effective, and there is an amazing mix of culture, fun, and food that will keep any first-time traveler happy.

What puts London over Paris, though, is that its an English-speaking country, which is helpful for many first-time international travelers.

Advantages: English speaking, familiar history/culture
Disadvantages: Strong-ish Pound, recent terror attacks

1. The Caribbean

Bahamas

The other selections for this list were specific cities, but for the number 1 spot, I picked an entire region. The reason is simple: for all intents and purposes, if you’re visiting a beach destination with the goal of relaxing and enjoying the vibes, most islands in the Caribbean are very similar.

Particular islands that come to mind include The Bahamas, Jamaica, Barbados, Aruba, and St. Kitts. Assuming you stay at a hotel/resort, your experience will likely be very similar.

The Caribbean boasts amazing beaches, world-class service, a tourism industry which caters towards English speakers, and safety in and around its touristy parts.

It’s important to time your trip to the Caribbean right; June through November is hurricane season, so the winter months are usually “safer” for a first-time international trip.

Advantages: English speaking, easy flight (from the East Coast), postcard pictures
Disadvantages: Not usually cultural, Hurricane prone

 

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