Tips for first time travelers are vital titbits of information that come directly from seasoned travelers who have been there done that, and are washing the car with the t-shirt. Heed the advice for new travelers, especially if you are crossing right over the language and cultural barrier, which can be very overwhelming. To make sure your initial experience goes with a bang here are 20 Top Tips for First Time Travelers:
1. Travel Light
This is an especially important tip for first time travelers because if you get it right from the off, your entire traveling life will be so much easier. Less is always more when traveling. Pack like a pro and just take the bare minimum. You may have long waits hanging around in airports, or may arrive at your destination where you have kilometers to walk with all of your belongings, with nobody to help you, to get to your transport. Pack lightly and take only what you need so you don’t regret it later.
2. Affordable Accommodation
Although this may seem obvious advice for new travelers it is easy to forget when getting caught up in the excitement of the impending trip. Shop around for accommodation. The Internet provides us with the ability to cruise and tour accommodation all over the world from the comfort of our own homes. Find the best prices and good value for money and you may even be able to stay a little longer if you tighten your belt when it comes to accommodation. If you are exploring, you hardly need 5 star luxuries - somewhere nice and clean like a friendly backpackers will be just what you need.
3. It is Not a Race
If you are starting to resemble your passport photo, you are doing it wrong. Traveling doesn’t need to be a race, if you are going to be away from home for any length of time, don’t rush around seeing a different place every day. After 2 weeks you will be shattered and overwhelmed and want to go home. Spend your time in each destination, take is slow and savor the experience.
4. Keep Moving
Chances are on your holiday you will be doing a lot of walking, unless you are on a tour bus or cruise ship. One of the top tips for first time travelers is that it is important to do some exercise while you are away, to keep fit and to stay healthy. Do something different, do a yoga class at sunrise on the beach, join a salsa dance class or cycle through some vineyards in France, but don’t get lazy and miserable - keep your spirits up.
5. Update Your Budget
It is very easy to get completely wrapped up and swept away in the magic and romance of a foreign country and whip out your wallet and write the extra expense off to the hunky waiter or that extra glass of wine. One of the best pieces of advice for new travelers is to keep an eye on what you are spending, and to update your budget every day. If you overspent one day, you might want to cut back a little the following day, so that you don’t find yourself way over your head in debt when you get back.
6. Backup Your Backups
Digital cameras, laptops, iPads, cell phones and the like, do indeed make it that much easier to record our experiences digitally and keep in touch, but it is also very easy to lose all the documented information, photos and other important items in a flash. Make sure you take a backup memory card, and back up your files into file sharing programs like Dropbox, so that if your equipment is lost or stolen or gets damaged, you will still have your important stuff.
Treating customs seriously is a key piece of advice for novice travelers. Customs and immigration in foreign countries can be a very frustrating process, especially if you’re competing with a language barrier as well. An inability to understand each other and a customs official with an attitude problem, is just a nightmare waiting to happen. If you are questioned or pulled aside, make sure you remain courteous, patient and don’t interrupt anyone, otherwise they will just pull rank and send you to the back of the queue.
8. Jet Lag
Jet lag is one of the horrors of long distance travel and can wipe you out for a few days on either side of your trip. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a novice or seasoned traveler, jet lag can affect anyone. As with other features of going on vacation, learn these top tips for first time travelers with jet lag and you’ll find it easier to manage in the future. When traveling, it is important to get your body clock into sync as soon as possible. If you are going to arrive at your destination in the morning, try and sleep on the plane and then do not sleep during the day once you get there. If you are going to be arriving in the evening, do your best to stay awake, so you will be sleepy on arrival, and always drink lots of water.
9. Check Your Passport
Make sure that your passport has the right number of open pages as required for international travel, and calculate that during your time of travel as you collect stamps and visas along the way. Make 100% sure that you have the right documentation and paperwork required for the country that you are entering, otherwise you could end up being sent home.
Some countries require visitors to have an up to date inoculation card, especially some of the African countries. Check up on the rules, regulations and requirements, and make sure that you have the shots that are required before hand. These rules are both for your protection as well as the protection of the countries that you are visiting, and should not be taken lightly. You can be refused entry if your inoculation card is not up to date.
11. Local Cultures
The thrill of experiencing something different is why we travel in the first place. Another top piece of advice for first time travelers is to find out a bit about the country you are visiting; the local customs and cultures and what to look out for. Some of the more remote Asian countries require modest dress, and scant attire could deeply offend the people who live there. Carry a sarong or light weight pashmina with you just in case you are suddenly required to have your legs or shoulders covered.
12. Inform Your Bank
Nothing quite like having your fun completely spoilt when your bank cuts you off at the knees and cancels your credit card after too many tequila slammers in a Hong Kong bar. One of the top money management tips for novice travelers is to let your bank know that you will be traveling out of the country and where you are going, so that large purchases in un-pronounceable countries won’t set off alarm bells and have the fraud department relieve you of your banking privileges in the back of beyond somewhere.
13. Test Run Your Luggage
Necessary but also heaps of fun, and it will give you a good idea of what to expect once you are forced to be married with your luggage for better or for worse during long haul travel. Pack your bags and pull it around on wheels all over the house up and down stairs and up and over some pavements. If it is a rucksack walk around with it for an entire day and see if it is going to hurt you.
14. Drinking Water
Read up beforehand about the quality of the drinking water for where you are going to be going, this is some of the best advice for novice travelers. Depending on which country you are visiting, there may not be an Evian stand anywhere in a 300km radius, so you will need to come prepared .If you are in a hot and humid country, walking out in the baking sun, you will need to make sure that you do not become dehydrated, or that you will end up paying the equivalent of a small car for a bottle of water in the middle of nowhere.
15. Money Exchange
If you are fortunate enough to be staying in a high end hotel, this may not apply to you, as some of the bigger, classy hotels have their very own money changing department on site for their guests. If not, you could find yourself clutching handfuls of foreign currency that you could not give away when you need cash. This becomes a colossal problem. Change money at the airport otherwise make sure that you can change it over on the other side.
16. International Driving
Some international driving permits are just a cheap piece of paper and a stamp bought at a cigarette counter on your way into the airport. Others are slightly more difficult to obtain, either way find out what it is that you are getting yourself in for. Even the most intrepid and confident driver may think they could handle the driving in Vietnam, only to get there and well, panic immediately. Some parts of Asia do not allow foreigners to drive or rental vehicles, motorbikes or anything at all, so you know which snippet of advice for new travelers is coming don’t you? – do your homework.
17. Local Phrases
It will make your life a lot easier if you could brush up on a few common phrases used for the country that you are going to, because if you are really thirsty and you want to order a beer and you get a smile and a ‘’ Desculpe, eu não entendo’’ (Sorry, I don’t understand you) you are going to stand there without your beer. Besides, there are some people what would consider the ability to order a beer in 5 or more languages a serious life skill.
18. Store Opening Times
I know a lot of this advice for new travelers is about preparation, but doing your homework is important and can prevent issues once you’re on the road. As visitors in a foreign country we take it for granted that the ‘office hours’ are just like ours at home, which could be a problem if you had planned to buy something, pick up something from the pharmacy or change over money early in the morning before traveling somewhere else. Many European countries have opening hours that are from mid-morning, and in rural areas, you won’t find anything open on a Sunday.
19. Medical Planning
Medical insurance or not, check out where the local hospital and or local medical health practitioner is when arriving at your destination, more especially so if you are traveling with kids. It is important to be healthy on your trip so another of the top tips for novice travelers is to know how to get hold of a doctor and where the nearest pharmacy is, should you need medicine for a fever, or a bandage for a scrape. You do not want to be scrambling around in a panic looking for numbers and directions when you need something.
20. Emergency Backup
Make sure you have a backup plan in case something goes wrong. If your passport is stolen you need to report it immediately and rather travel with a certified copy of your documents and leave the originals in the hotel safe. Make sure that your family or a loved one back home knows where you are at all times. In the event that there is a natural disaster, loved ones will appreciate the time it took for you to check in with them.
These are just 20 Top Tips for First Time Travelers, and believe me at some point, you will use them all. Common sense, patience and the ability to count to ten are also great words of wisdom for all travelers. So all you seasoned and experienced travelers out there, what would your words of advice for new travelers be?
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