8 Tips for New Travelers
If you've never traveled out of the country before (or maybe even outside of your state) planning a big trip can feel daunting. The world seems like a scary place from our safe bubble at home, and experiencing new things always presents a challenge. Well, challenge accepted! Traveling is absolutely one of the most fulfilling things you can do in life, and these 8 tips are here to help prepare you for your first time.
1. Be Fearless
Travelling to a new country for the first time can seem daunting. People have different customs, speak other languages, and trade in foreign currencies. What if something goes wrong? What if you get lost? What if no one can help you? The most important thing you can do while globetrotting is to let go of all that unnecessary fear from those 'what if' questions. Allow yourself to experience the new things that your trip has to offer and keep a positive mindset.
2. Let Go of Expectations
As in all areas of life, travel is no exception when it comes to letting go of our expectations of how things should be. I'll be the first to tell you that things don't always go your way while abroad. You might take the wrong train, miss your flight, or find that your favorite monuments are overcrowded and require hours of waiting. Before you embark on your trip, take a moment to let go of any ideas you might have about how things will pan out. Allow yourself to accept whatever happens, and go with the flow.
3. Don't Panic
If something does go wrong; stay calm. Trust your instincts, and take a deep breathe. There is always a solution to every problem. Took the wrong train? Ask for help, or take the opportunity to see a new place that you didn't expect. Got pick-pocketed? Immediately cancel your cards and file a police report. I heard someone at my hostel in Berlin talking about how he lost his passport in the back of a taxi and had to wait several weeks to get a new one. Shit happens, and sometimes we just have to make the best of it. Take action, move on, and don't lose your passport.
4. Do Your Research
It's never a good idea to arrive blindly in a new country and hope for the best. Research the area prior to departure. What are the top places you'd like to see? Find out the exchange rate, the best credit card to bring, the best area to stay in, and the best way to get around. Perhaps learn how to say 'hello', 'thank-you', and 'excuse me' in the local language. Do you want to explore the country yourself, or take a guided tour? Maybe you want to leave room for a little of both. Find out if you need tickets to get into specific monuments and how you can buy them for the best price. What's the local food like? Make a list of everything you should know before travelling. This will allow you to see and do everything you want without feeling overwhelmed.
5. Plan, But Leave Room for Spontaneity
Once you've researched and decided what you want to do, it's smart to start booking things in advance. Your flights and accommodations are obvious, but booking tickets and tours early can save you time and money. Plan out your trip, but make sure to leave space for free time. Exploring, eating, resting, and shopping are all part of the travel experience and can often be overlooked in the face of tours and sightseeing.
6. Prepare to Wait
Traveling is not all glitz and glamour, especially if you are traveling on a budget. Waiting is also a large part of the travel experience and it's important to have patience while standing or sitting around. If you are abroad during the summer, lines will be longer and crowds bigger. Even in the off season famous places like the Louvre will require you to stand in seemingly endless lines and traverse through giant tour groups. You will wait for your flight and you will wait for your train. The more you are prepared for this, the easier and less frustrating it will be. Bring a journal, play a game, meditate, or research your next move.
7. Make Friends
Be brave and make conversation with those around you. Whether it's the person sitting next to you on your tour bus, your bunk mate in your hostel room, or a local making you a coffee; the easiest ice breaker is: Where are you from? This simple question can open the doors to life long friendships. Remember to be respectful and non-judgmental while conversing with someone abroad. English may not be their first language and they likely have different ideas and experiences than you. Be open-minded and friendly, and see what you can learn.
8. Take Pictures
This last tip may seem obvious, but I think it's a good one to remember. Traveling is a beautiful thing filled with self-growth, knowledge, and experience. When it's all over and you're back home you'll want to look back and remember all the amazing memories you made, and share your stories with friends and family. Take pictures of your adventures, but don't forget to put your camera or phone down and take in those unforgettable moments.
Have any tips you think are important for new travelers? Share them below!