Travelling provides each person with a range of conflicting emotions – from excitement in some to a little bit of trepidation in others. The overwhelming sense, though, is of going on a wonderful adventure, where you’ll experience new sights and sounds
However, it can all feel a bit daunting, especially if your journey takes you thousands of miles away from home and you’re an inexperienced traveller. Heading into the unknown might fill you with nerves – but don’t worry, we’ve put together some travel tips for the novice explorer to help get you ready for your trip.
Plan your trip (but not too much)
Planning the important steps in your journey is key, but do everything in moderation. Making sure you’ve got your accommodation and flights sorted, knowing how to negotiate public transport and having a vague plan of where you’d like to visit is a great idea for your first travelling experience. However, scheduling every last second of your time before you leave will completely defeat the point of being your own boss and travelling wherever you fancy, whenever you want. Leave yourself some breathing space.
For those of you who like to have everything together and organised, there are plenty of great sites that allow you to book your flights and hotels together as well as hiring a car on top of that, if you wish. You can manage it all on an app to make it easier than ever, keeping your boarding passes, itinerary and everything else in one handy place.
One of the biggest mistakes new travellers tend to make is cramming too much into one trip. You may be able to physically see all those cities and sights during your two week stay, but you might also end up stressed from constantly being on the move and trying to cram everything in.
Take our advice and slow down, to get more of an intimate feel for your chosen destination. Take the time to explore and really immerse yourself in the culture. Working frantically through a checklist will quickly feel like a chore. Make sure you spend plenty of time relaxing and allow yourself to sit down, nap, or take a walk on the beach.
Make safety a priority
All destinations have their dangers, but obviously some more than others. Our advice is to really get to know your destination; research it online and read up on other travellers’ experiences. You’ll be able to ask questions, and the online travelling community can be really helpful, providing advice and guidance. Getting yourself a guide book may also be handy – they’re typically informative and often include a safety section.
Above all else, if something doesn’t feel right, think twice about doing it. Don’t let safety concerns deter you from travelling, just be cautious. It’s always better to be prepared just in case – this is a great resource, packed with 30 tips that will help you stay safe.
What to take with you
Packing the right items is also a huge part of your travelling experience. What you take depends heavily on where you’re travelling to, when you’re going and for how long, of course. For example, if you’re going somewhere cold, take clothing that can keep you warm, and that you can layer up – a jacket, jumper and raincoat. You may need to take hiking shoes, if you’re planning to do a lot of walking.
Check the long-term weather forecast. A waterproof bag for your valuables, to reduce the chances of them getting damaged or broken, is a great idea if wet weather is likely.
A travel bag organiser is also a great idea. You may think that a rucksack is sufficient, but things can get messy, potentially causing you to misplace your belongings. A travel organiser has specific slots for your items and offers you small pockets for minor items such as lip balm. Everything will be easy to find.
Make yourself a checklist with everything you need and update it every time you think of something new to add. Do this a month before your trip and then you’re all set for leaving day. A lesson to learn would be to pack light, especially if you are backpacking. The less you have to carry the easier it will be.
Take extra money
Travelling can be as cheap or as expensive as you’d like, within reason, but no matter how well you budget you can never plan for unexpected disasters or possible itinerary changes. Once you’re on your travels you may find other things you want to do, but you haven’t budgeted for, so it’s a good idea to take extra money with you. Or to have access to funds.
No matter what, something will always crop up to challenge your budget, so have a contingency plan.
Meet the locals
No matter where you’re staying, whether it’s in a top-class hotel or a budget hostel, you’ll meet like-minded people easily when travelling – it’s one of the biggest joys of exploring. But it’s also a good idea to get yourself off the beaten path and get to know the locals. This is especially important if your trip is going to be longer than a month. You’ll feel at home much quicker this way.
There’s often a language barrier but you’ll be surprised at how much information you can still convey. Meeting locals is a way to enhance your travel experience and allow you to wander into those non touristy areas. There are plenty of websites that can help assist you with meeting the locals.
Homesickness may kick in on your travels, especially if yours is a lengthier visit, but wait it out. The feeling will soon pass. You’ll soon start to appreciate your adventure for providing the life-changing experiences and fascinating new friends that you can’t get anywhere else.