New traveller – such an optimistic, lovely category I’d sometime love to find myself back into!
However, with time I’ve gained lots of experiences. First I traveled with friends, then solo and now I’m actually planning a trip for four (prego alert over here!).
Now, no matter if you’re a vacation-type traveler or wanting to sail off on a long-term base, you need to cover your basics and make sure to do it right.
To avoid being a pest and a little Ms. I-Told-You-So I actually spoke to some blogger friends and collected loads of useful advice.
Take a look, it’ll make your new experiences much better!
What would experienced travelers tell to a new traveler?
1. It will be Scary
It will be scary. It will be a big challenge. It will be a daunting experience. But the memories of your first solo travel will change who you are in the most positive way.
For your first travel, I would like you to keep an open mind. Accept each hit or miss, each person you meet, each food served to you in the most humbling way, each color, sound, culture, tradition, religion with an open mind.
Open yourself to new experiences. Keeping an open mind is the only way you will see the beauty of each city, each community in the far-flung areas, each person’s personality.
– Carla from Just Traveling Solo
2. Get a Travel Job
When you first start traveling EVERYTHING is exciting. Immersing yourself in new cultures, tasting new flavours, exploring new places, meeting new people… the list goes on.
You’re likely to experience an immense sense of freedom that you’ll just want to hold onto forever and ever. But for most travelers, it eventually has to come to an end when the travel fund runs out.
Most travelers end up back in a job they don’t like only to save up enough money again to go live out their dreams. But, there are tons of travel jobs out there that allow you to make money while traveling so you can keep on wandering!
Online jobs are very popular as they allow you to be ‘location independent’ which means you can work from anywhere and still get paid. For example, you could work remotely for an employer, you could freelance or you could also work for yourself.
– Hannah Finch from StoryV Travel & Lifestyle.
3. Pack light!
I tell anyone, and everyone, who is just beginning to travel the same thing. My number one tip is to pack light!
Maneuvering up three flights of steep winding stairs is so much easier with one light bag. Traveling is so much enjoyable, and more fun, if you are not lugging around humongous heavy suitcases loaded to the gunwales with all of your belongings.
One single roll-aboard, or backpack, can carry everything that you need for even an extended trip.
– Arnie Jacobsen from ArnieandJoareontheGo.com
4. Slow down
The first thing that comes to mind is slow down, relax and look around you. Take the time to enjoy each and every experience you encounter and don’t try and do or see it all at once.
It’s common for most people who arrive at a new destination to rush from one thing to another; with plans of doing it all. You don’t have to! Enjoy what you can and save a little for when you return. Your memories will reward you.
– Carol Ann Quibell from Write for Travel.
5. Take Your Time
It’s easy to rush around and try to squeeze as possible into your limited time, rushing around 7 cities in 7 days. It’s understandable that you’re wanting to see and do everything. By doing this you’re gaining no real experience and knowledge of the places you’re visiting, you will return with a bunch of photos with no real meaning.
Don’t rush your trip and take your time to enjoy the adventure you’re on, go with the flow and stop following that tight schedule. Slowing down and going with the flow gives you real-time to appreciate and understand different cultures.
– Kevin from www.kevinstraveldiary.com
6. Take a Food Tour
Our top tip for new travelers would be to take a food tour at the beginning of their trip. Tasting local specialties and learning about the history and traditions associated with cuisine is a great way to learn about a culture. It also gives you access to a passionate local person, your tour guide!
Ask them where they like to hang out, their personal favorites for parks and day trips, which tourist attractions are an absolute must see and why, their favorite places to eat aside from the great places on the tour. Many of our trips have ended up being better than we ever imagined because the terrific tips we got from our tour guides!
– Tracey and Rob from expatexperiment.com
7. Plan, Plan, Plan
Planning a vacation is like birthing a baby. It takes 9 months to plan it. Particularly when traveling with a family, planning ahead is key as family sized rooms often fill up first at popular destinations.
– Sally Black of Vacationkids.com
8. Be Flexible and Don’t Rush
When people first start traveling fulltime, they’re still used to being in vacation mode, where you have set dates and you have to cram as much as possible into that small amount of time, leaving you exhausted and needing a vacation from the vacation. Slow down.
After our first six months of full-time travel, we stopped making reservations because we realized that everywhere we went, even if we thought it was the “middle of nowhere”, had unique things to offer that could easily fill up a week or two. Flexibility allows you to take your time and enjoy each place.
– Tip provided by Life Riding Shotgun, a family travel blog about an adventurous family of 5 traveling the USA in an RV.
9. Be open
Congratulations you are a new traveler! Top tip to be successful in your travel adventures is to be open to the culture and all the experiences that come with it.
Understand that it will be a different culture and be an enthusiast to learn everything you can about the people and their way of life. You may be surprised that you enjoy the culture more than you expected.
– Dacia from touraculture.com
10. Throw Away Your Phone
11. Buy some quality trainers!
12. Less is More
– Wally and Duke of The Not So Innocents Abroad, a travel, world culture, and folklore blog
13. Don’t go into debt
It’s tempting to pay for a well-deserved vacation with a credit card and pay it off over time. The reality is, when you pay interest, you pay a lot more for that vacation than you should. Travel to destinations you can afford, even if it’s close to home. Save money so that you can jump on great travel deals, and pay for them in cash. Live frugally so that you can save more money and get out of debt faster.
As my family’s income grows and our debt shrinks, we are able to travel a lot more than we did a few years ago. We used to take a weeklong out-of-state road trip every year or two. Now we can afford to take those trips 3-4 times each year, and travel internationally. We pay off our credit cards in full every month and have great credit. We qualify for credit cards with the best travel rewards and don’t pay interest, so credit companies pay us to travel.
– Allison Laypath from Tips for Family Trips
14. Travel Like a Local BUT Mind your Personal Security
Here is Why? Whenever we traveled back in the day, we would never go beyond the tourist traps. So we saw the equivalent of a “curated travel experience”. In other words, we saw the polished kinda-not-so-authentic side of that part of the world.
Then one day we actually got lost in a beautiful part of Barcelona and we couldn’t believe how lovely it was. The people were very nice for that matter and we loved our Google translate (don’t go anywhere without it)! Mind you, this tip is in direct competition with: Don’t go anywhere without doing your research and take your “offline Google maps”! Obviously very essential if you are going to get off the touristy trail and discover the real authentic destination you have visited, and maybe even live like a local for a night or so. Very liberating.
Now you can have the same exact experience if you take a local bus to anywhere in that local area. Be sure to find out which local area has the best views, how much a day ticket costs, how far the bus goes and how long it takes to and from. Buy your ticket, sit right next to the driver (best to feel safer, right?) and enjoy the scenery and views. And see how the locals live for a moment. Don’t forget those insta-worthy photos or even a sneaky live. And there you go.
– Julie Syl Kalungi of Pkjulesworld.com
15. First Time Luxury Trip Tips
If you are a first timer considering a luxury travel experience we’d like to offer some of our top tips:
- Before you go enroll in an air miles scheme as once you have the taste for the good life you won’t want to go back and clocking up air miles can be a great way to pay for future trips.
- Get the most for your money on your first luxury trip and either choose a luxury destination that is off the beaten track or out of season. You’ll still enjoy all the luxury elements that the destination, resort or hotel has to offer but without the crowds or peak-time price tag.
- Finally, do not underestimate the power of the concierge. They are the people in the know, so be polite, chat with them, take their advice and who knows what hidden gems they may help you find.
– Chrystal from TheLuxuryEditor.com
16. Befriend a Local
Befriending a local not only give you a deeper understanding about the local culture, it also makes you feel more comfortable since you can easily ask him or her about local customs, traditions or even an advice about a perfect itinerary. Sometimes, following the itinerary you found on a guidebook can get too boring but if you have a local friend, he or she can tour you around secret spots that are sometimes far more interesting than the usual destinations frequented by tourists.
Melo Villareal – www.outoftownblog.com
18. Don’t Book All In Advance
19. Seize Unexpected Opportunities While You Can
20. Use Instagram Before You Go!
21. Have an Emergency Set of Documents Somewhere
This advice is about planning ahead so you are prepared should the unexpected happen. One good thing to do is to make copies of all your essential documents and information, for example, copies of your key passport pages, visa information, travel insurance information and so on. You might also want to take copies of your credit cards.
I’d suggest storing these somewhere electronically and secured, and, importantly, leaving a copy with someone you absolutely trust, like a parent. This way, if something were to happen to you on a trip, someone has access to key documentation – for example, to be able to contact your travel insurance provider should you be unable to do so.
– Laurence Norah from https://www.findingtheuniverse.com
22. Create an Acronym
Travellers often forget things in their hotel room, whether that’s a phone charger plugged into a wall socket or items stored in a safe. I once left an epilator worth £100 in a hotel bathroom. We’ve heard stories of people arriving at the airport and realizing that they left their passport tucked beneath their hostel mattress.
To prevent mishaps like this, we created an acronym to remind us to check our danger spots: BAPS which stands for:
Create an acronym for your own danger spots to make sure you leave nothing behind.
– Kia Abdullah from Atlas & Boots
23. Start Small and Slow
If you’re an inexperienced traveler, look for mini-breaks or short trips close to home to get used to the idea of experiencing and exploring somewhere new. With every trip, your confidence will grow, as will your sense of what you enjoy and what you can do without. Everyone travels differently and there is no “right” way to explore. Don’t pressure yourself to take on a busy itinerary or start out halfway around the world. By starting small and slow you will be able to learn and grow at your own pace, and you’ll be more comfortable and prepared if your future travel dreams include big, crazy adventures far, far away.
– Corinne McDermott, founder of HaveBabyWillTravel.com
24. Disney Fans – Try The International Parks, too!
If you are a Disney theme park fan of any degree you may want to consider the international parks. Each has its own identity and feel but have a common Disney thread. There are parks in Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong, and Shanghai in addition to stateside ones in Anaheim and Orlando. These overseas parks can work as a good anchor/jumping off point to explore a new city/continent providing you with something familiar in a foreign land. Plus you can experience some unique experiences, for example, the Country Bears singing Christmas songs in Japanese.
– Jason from Disney Geek.
25. Traveling is an Adventure that Requires Extra Attention to the Risks.
While tourist hotspots come with certain pitfalls – pickpockets, bag snatchers, conmen and even terrorism – the more remote places have their own dangers – bad roads, poor policing, limited medical care. That doesn’t mean you should give them a miss – my advice is ‘be risk aware, not risk adverse.’ In other words, as part of your preparation do what the military call “the estimate”. Always think through personal safety and security issues, especially if you are going to go off the beaten track.
Make an assessment of where the hot spots for criminality are and the most likely types of crime and target. Find out as much as you can about local police forces and how they behave toward travelers who are in trouble. Are they part of the solution, or part of the problem. Ask yourself, where is the embassy or consulate. How can you get in touch with them should you have a problem. Most travelers think about disease risk – malaria, yellow fewer – and take preventative steps. But if you are heading somewhere where medical care is hard to come by, maybe a more robust medical kit is needed. Carrying your own antibiotics, painkillers, needles, and syringes limit the risk and can be real lifesavers.
Be aware of your surroundings. Always check the routes out of your hotel room. Check where the fire escape is and that the door and route are actually open! Be watchful in large crowds and protect your possessions. Think through what you will do in the event of a confrontation and where you will meet people if something separates you.
Don’t let these things hold you back from seeing the world. Be bold…just be prepared!
– Gerry Northwood from Mast Security
26. Prepare For Your First Time Travel With Your Kids.
Traveling with kids can be a lot of fun if you are prepared. Before traveling, talk to the kids about what to expect in the airport and how you expect them to behave on the plane. Make sure you pack some small toys, back up clothes, wipes, a bag for rubbish and cups with lids for the plane or car. If you are flying pack plenty of snacks in case they don’t enjoy the airplane food.
– Becky from Cuddle Fairy provided this tip and explained it in greater length in her article here.
27. Trust Nobody
Be very very careful about the people you meet when you travel. Sadly I had the misfortune to encounter many liars, thiefs and false friends on my journeys. You could know someone for a few years and feel you trust them, but you can’t. So my advice is to be very careful with people. Don’t lend money to people, don’t pay for their meals, trips or drinks. It pays to be selfish as then you find the real friends – those who don’t ask you for money or tips only to turn their back and lie to you later on. If it wasn’t for such nasty people I met, I’d have loved my entire travels, but they really soured it.
28. Invest in a Decent Camera Before You Leave
Before you go anywhere, make sure you’re armed with a decent camera to document your journey.
I only recently invested in a good-quality camera (I went for the Panasonic Lumix GX800) and it’s made a huge difference to my photography. Now, I look back on photos I’ve taken on my iPhone during previous trips and I kick myself to think how much better those photos could’ve been!
As well as investing in a decent camera, arm yourself with a spare battery so you don’t end up running out of power when you’re away from your hotel or hostel for the whole day.
– Kacie Morgan from The Rare Welsh Bit, food and travel blog.
29. Travel in the Shoulder Seasons
Travel has become more and more popular over the years and sometimes the crowds can be overwhelming. One way to avoid the crush is to travel outside the heavy vacation months of June, July, and August. In addition to shorter lines and lighter crowds, temperatures are cooler, hotel rates are often lower, and locals aren’t sick of dealing with weeks of throngs of tourists. We have even found traveling over the Christmas/New Year’s holidays can be very rewarding and not crazy busy. Just be careful, sometimes museum and other sites have shorter hours or close at certain times of the year. If you are traveling in the “off-season” make sure you can see the things you want.
– Greg Ball from EuroTravelCoach.com.
30. Don’t Cut Costs On Luggage
Not all luggage is created equal. The right piece can make your trip easier and stress-free. But get it wrong and your fabulous holiday can quickly become a nightmare.
A cheap suitcase that rips in half can see you dragging a broken, heavy suitcase around Europe. Or, in our case, a torn backpack strap will have you carrying it! So, spend some extra cash and invest in durable luggage that comes with a guarantee. And be sure to take a close look at zippers, stitching, and other hardware before making your purchase. It’s also a good idea to jump online and check out some reviews.
– Audrey Chalmers from Gumnuts Abroad.
31. Get Up High!
When arriving in a foreign city, I think the best way to become familiar with your surroundings is to get up high and take a look around. Almost every city has a building or hill that offers panoramic views. I like to go at sunset on my first evening after arrival. In Paris, my favorite panoramic view is at Sacré-Coeur, In Florence, the place to be at sunset is the Piazzale Michelangelo. In Bogotá, it’s Monserrate. In Taipei, it’s (of course) at the top of Taipei 101, but you can also get an incredible view from hiking Xiangshan, or Elephant Mountain.
– Jenna from TINY HOUSE giant journey.
32. When in Doubt, Use Maps.Me
On the road, you can only get so far with guidebooks, blogs, and TripAdvisor. Half the fun is making spur of the moment decisions that totally deviate from what you had planned – and often you get the best suggestions from other travelers, so make sure you chat with everyone you meet along the way to get as many recommendations as possible. I always use Maps.Me, a great app that doesn’t require an internet connection, to get around, especially to those little-known places that you might hear about only by word of mouth.
– Khaleelah Jones from KhaleelahJones.com.
33. Don’t Forget The Travel Insurance!
Travel health insurance is big on my list of “must haves” when traveling, especially with children. Accidents happen, children get sick, and you just never know when you are going to need to visit a clinic or require emergency care. Most of us think that our health coverage or credit card coverage will be enough no matter where we are, but that just isn’t the case. Check your policies, read the fine print, and if you are not covered for the “what ifs” then purchase additional travel health insurance. It is better to be safe than faced with an enormous medical bill from a foreign country.
– Barb Blair from TheTravelAgentNextDoor.com
Smiling creates a bridge between people, culture, and ages. People would rather help you than hurt you – a smile is the safest, easiest and best way to avoid any trouble. Smiling is the best travel insurance ever and it’s quite cheap. I’ve been in the so-called “no-go zone” of various countries such as San Salvador, Cali, Rio, and more. I’ve always treated people as I would want to be treated and I had the most memorable moment in my life.
When you think deeper about it, not just in travel but in your life, awesome things happen when you smile. You can meet some locals who will introduce you to a unique home-cook restaurant, befriend other travelers with the same goals or even meet your future love, who knows?
– Mehmet Sogan from Coffee Origins Travel
35. Leave All Your Prejudices Behind
Wherever you travel, go with an open mind and leave all your preconceived ideas and misconceptions about the destination behind. Travel with respect and gratitude for the opportunity and be truly present, wherever it is that you find yourself. Travel is a privilege and that mindfulness opens a more conscious way of travelling that I far prefer. Where possible choose eco options, support community projects and refrain from unethical animal interactions. Always revel in the moment! Also, make sure that somebody knows where you are, at all times.
– Dawn Bradnick Jorgensen from The Incidental Tourist
36. Be physically and mentally prepared
- Make sure your important documents are updated ( passport, VISA, etc)
- Do an initial research about the place you are traveling, the best place to stay, best food, etc
- Don’t forget to bring cash for emergency purposes, some establishments might not accept credit cards especially when visiting other countries and remote areas
- Always have a backup plan and be open to hits and miss during your travels. There is no such thing as perfect travels, there are always hiccups along the way.
- Pack light but make sure to bring enough for your entire travel duration. Bringing what is not needed can lead to extra cost for luggage and not bringing what is necessary may lead to unexpected expenses. (i.e. if you love to take photos while one travel, make sure to bring your cameras and backup power).
37. A Little Taste of Home is Okay
We all travel to escape our routine, our job, the groups around us, and tedium from time to time. It’s perfectly acceptable to want to do crazy things you would never consider doing at home, but when it comes to health, both mental and physical, don’t underestimate the importance of keeping some of your routines.
If you need a particular brand of coffee to stay sane in the morning, take it with you. If you know if you’re not going to appreciate a travel experience until you’re over jetlag, schedule a day or two (or three) to do nothing but get massages, relax on the beach, and eat well. If you need the energy that comes from a good daily run or visit to the gym, by all means, make sure you do that after a tour of Angkor Wat. First-time travelers and even veterans make the mistake of doing too much too quickly and burn themselves out.
– Turner Wright from Once a Traveler.
38. Traveling for Free on Points and Miles is Easy!
39. Talk to the locals.
If they happen to speak the same language as you, then all the better. However, it would never go amiss to learn the basics of the language of the location you’re venturing out to. Duolingo is fantastic for creating a quick, fun and educational way of getting some highly used phrases in.
I see it as respective to speak in their native tongue, and even if you’re not the worlds best speaker of the language, trying is better than being an arrogant traveler and expecting everyone to understand you. Learning hello, please, thank you and asking how people are are good baby steps toward developing a new library of language.
Talking to the locals and hearing their stories is one of the many reasons why I love to travel. It’s fascinating to learn about their way of life, what they get up to, and if they can recommend some none touristy adventures. Locals always have the secrets and hidden gems no matter where you go, and any passionate local will be more than happy to direct you to the places that give them joy.
40. Bring More Money Than Needed
41. Do something different
42. Don’t stray away from your fitness routine!
43. Be easy on yourself
Talking from my experience when I had to keep cool and show myself a little grace during my time in Hawaii.- Tryphena blogging at Tryphena Wade and WeDontSitOnCouches.
44. Go with the Flow and Experience the Changes
It is okay to leave your comfort zone and experience the changes while traveling. Don’t stress when things don’t go the way you expected, just go with the flow and you will not regret this.
While some planning is necessary, mapping out everything to the smallest detail isn’t. It is absolutely fine to travel with no plan. You just need to keep yourself open for adventures during the trip because an unplanned trip is always at it’s best and unforgettable.
You can also save money when you travel this way… E.g. you can avail last minute discounts, especially during the off-season. Ask locals for recommendations instead of completely relying on the internet. It also gives you an opportunity to meet new people and make friends.
Go with the flow and see where life will take you.
– Shivani from Plan For A Trip
45. Start a Blog or Travel Diary
46. Have a General Food Plan
47. Try Couchsurfing
48. Plan ahead!
If you want the best hotels and budget flights then plan your trip months ahead to get those before they get full. If you’re going to a place in a tourist season then try and get the tickets to famous museums, art galleries etc too. You will thank yourself when you don’t have to stand in hour-long queues.
Don’t overpack your holiday too though. Leave a little space each day to explore yourself and give yourself downtime. After all, that’s what holidays are for!
– the authors of Ourvagabondstories.com
49. Don’t over plan your trip
Be flexible and don’t over plan your trip. Always include time for the unexpected. Whether your trip is a weekend, a week or a month, you will always learn about new things to do and places to go that you didn’t find when you researched the location. Some of my favorite experiences are these unexpected detours I learn about from locals or other travelers once I arrive.
– Alexa from 52perfectdays.com
As much as some of these tips sound pretty straight-forward and logical, they’re spoken from experience.
Experience = lots of mistakes
Use your internet connection wisely and make sure to research, plan and most of all – learn where the best fun and adventures lay!
As usual with my blog, I’m open to featuring more opinions! If you have a tip to share, feel free to reach out 🙂