Are you someone who’s lived their whole life just stuck in one place? You might be itching to get out of there, and if you are, there are some things you need to know about traveling for the first time.
Before leaving the nest, you have to know what to do. Learn from seasoned travelers and avoid the mistakes that they made. It’s why we’ve prepared these tips especially for you.
Yes, there’s nothing like being home. Still, the wonder and amazement of stepping out into the world for the first time is incomparable. There’s nothing quite like traveling.
If you’ve got that wanderlust and you’re ready for the big wide world, this one’s for you.
These are just some of the things I wish someone told me when I first traveled. Here are tips for first-time travelers:
Aside from all the paperwork, planning, and packing you have to do, there’s more to getting ready to leave. Mentally preparing yourself for a trip is something no one warns you about.
Going out of your comfort zone can be downright terrifying. A lot of first-time travelers get overwhelmed on their first trip. That’s completely normal; everything’s new and fascinating. Take a breath and know that you’ve already done the best thing you can do: deciding to travel.
Don’t get bogged down by all that’s going to happen. Don’t be scared to try out new experiences or talk to locals. If you make mistakes, just go with it! You may be miles away from your home or just an hour’s trip out, but it’s all part of the experience. It’s what makes it real and worthwhile.
Decide Where to go
Now that you’ve decided to take that plunge and go on an adventure, where do you start? Where you’re going for a first time trip is the most important question. Should you go out of the country or start small with a domestic trip?
Should you splurge and see everything or go find hidden gems? There are so many things to think about and so many opportunities for you.
First, decide why you’re traveling. If it’s to explore, you can direct your efforts to parts unknown, adventurous destinations, or somewhere new to you.
If it’s something more casual like taking a break, a beach destination could be your priority. There are various destinations for different purposes. You just have to find out which one’s the right one for you.
For most first time travel, it’s ideal to take it slow and not try to do everything at once. Just relax and enjoy the novelty of being in a whole new world.
Tip! Read travel blogs and first-hand experiences of others for a more realistic look at your destination.
Essential Things to Prepare
Get a passport in advance: Now that you know where you’re going, you have to get your paperwork in order. I know it’s boring, but it’s necessary. Your passport is the most important thing you’ll need on a trip. You won’t be able to leave or go back home if you don’t have one.
If you don’t have a passport yet, make an appointment as soon as possible. Organizing your passport can take up to several weeks.
If you’ve already got your passport, check your expiry date and make sure you can still use it. To know more about getting a passport, click here.
Check to see if you need a visa: Different countries have different entry and exit points, but most would require a visa.
Even if you’re just on vacation, a visa would be needed.
There are various visas for different purposes too, and different wait times. Make sure to get this done right after your passport!
Bring extra money: Even if you’ve planned out your budget up to the very last cent, you never know what emergency might happen. Maybe you lose your bag of toiletries and need to buy replacements? Or you just saw a one-of-a-kind restaurant you can’t pass up on? Make sure you know how to access your money when you’re overseas. Check if you can use your credit or debit card or the costs for using an ATM. And to be doubly sure, overestimate your budget.
Get travel insurance: If you are readying yourself for the worst-case scenarios, travel insurance will save you from most instances. A lot of stuff can happen on the road. Make sure you’re protected with travel insurance.
This will definitely keep some peace of mind, and as they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Do as much research as you can: This can range from everything there is to know about traveling or where you’re going. It can be tempting (and quite the adventure) to just go somewhere and not plan everything. But that’s something you can leave to when you’ve got a few travel experiences under your belt.
Having a base knowledge of what to do will undoubtedly save you time and effort. And most importantly, save you the stress of not knowing what to do.
Researching your destination is also for the best. You don’t have to try and see everything, but it’ll be good to know what’s waiting for you when you get there. It’s also smart to look at how you can save money during your trip.
There’s a lot of good travel deals and discounts you can find online. Look for official travel websites for travel passes. Make sure to always verify that these sites are legitimate before finalizing anything.
Don’t overbook, but don’t underbook: It can be easy to get into the rabbit hole of over-preparing and just booking every little thing. It’s safe to book for the essentials like accommodation and any special tours or events you really want to attend. But don’t get too ahead of yourself and overbook.
Read about common travel scams or travel blogs from that destination.
You never know what you’re going to find in a whole new setting, so read up on what troubles you might encounter. Most scammers will know to look for tourists to take advantage of, so be careful and always stay vigilant. You can also read up on travel blogs and reviews.
Tip! Make sure not to wear anything too expensive on you or look too much like a tourist to avoid being an easy target.
Packing & airports
Pack light: Sometimes we can be over packers and pack for scenarios we aren’t even gonna be in. The only thing that does is add weight to your luggage.
Don’t be too scared of the what-ifs. What if you suddenly want to swim or hike and not have the appropriate clothes?
Don’t worry too much. Unless you’re traveling to somewhere really remote, you can buy most things when you get there. Probably even for a lower price.
There’s also less stress when you’re not carrying your weight in clothes and toiletries.
Tip! You’ll also have more space for all that souvenir you’re taking home with you when you pack light.
Get to the airport early, familiarize yourself: It’s your first time flying out. Congrats on making it to the airport! This is just your first foray into the world of air travel.
It can seem complicated at first, but it’s relatively easy once you get the hang of it. But to do that, it’s better if you get to the airport early. There are two reasons for this:
Traffic may be hell where you’re from, and you might not know how to estimate the travel time to and from the airport yet. You can check your local travel blogs to see what time they recommend leaving your house.
Getting to the airport early can give you time to familiarize yourself with the place. Depending on where you’re going, you could encounter layovers or a number of other airports, so it’s best to get a head start and explore now.
Unless you’re traveling for the sole purpose of getting to as many destinations as you can, try and travel slow. Even if you only have a few weeks — a few days — to see a city, it’s still better to take things slow and not rush.
Travel is all the better when you stop and appreciate the experience.
Take your time to get over jet lag. You won’t enjoy anything with this hanging over your head the whole time. Take a moment to capture memories, but don’t get too absorbed with them. Unlike what you see on Instagram, travel isn’t all about photos. It’s all about how you spend your time.
There’s a good balance you’ll discover when it comes to capturing your travels and just soaking it all up. Just remember not to beat yourself up if you don’t fill up that Instagram feed with your travel pictures.
Don’t live by a guidebook
It’s definitely smart to get yourself a guidebook. It gives you plenty of background on where you are. But the best things (and hidden gems) won’t be found in your guidebook. Go strike up a conversation with a local and ask for a recommendation. These are usually where you get the best insider tips.
There are so many other sources of info you can find if you just know where to look for it. And guidebooks can be too rigid, with all the predictable tourist spots listed down. Be adventurous! Live a little and see where it takes you.
Make new friends
Tips on how to meet people
Take the first step and just say hello
Try and see if you can identify any conversation starters. Are they holding a guidebook of the same place you’re going to? Are they wearing a funny t-shirt?
Lastly, just be the tourist that you are and go with travel-related topics. If you’re talking to a local, you might get some cool tips and recommendations for it.
There’ll be other tourists in the same boat as you: When you’re traveling alone, it may seem incredibly lonely but never fear! There are loads of other tourists around you that feel the same way. Most are just like you and want to meet new people but don’t know how to start.
Tip! If it looks like you don’t want people to talk to you, they won’t. To a stranger, your body language is their only cue. Make sure you’re not looking closed off or unapproachable. Let your arms hang at the side and not crossed over your chest.
Stay in touch with friends and family back home
Being in another country can be incredibly lonely, especially if you’re a solo traveler. An excellent way to still enjoy your trip and not get too homesick is to stay in touch with those back home. A good old Skype call can take all their worries away and cure that homesick feeling.
It’s okay to change your mind
When it’s your first time traveling, you might have all of these expectations about how the trip should go. It should be amazing and out of this world. It should be the best thing ever.
Sometimes it is, but sometimes it isn’t. It can be something simple, but your whole mood about a place can change once you’re there. You might suddenly realize you don’t enjoy the forests and museums and find yourself not having fun.
That’s fine! Change directions if it’s not worth it. And it’s definitely not worth it if you’re not having fun. You can go home, go somewhere else, or stay. You can always change your mind, and no one can judge you for it.
This trip is for you and no one else. You make the rules.
Don’t forget to have fun! Let go, take a deep breath, and put all your worries away for now. You deserve it.
With time, you’ll also learn tips and tricks from your experiences. The more you travel, the more you’ll know what to do and what to avoid. Hope your first time trip is fantastic!