Traveling for the first time can be intimidating. You’ll be getting a wave of mixed and often conflicting emotions and ‘what ifs’ that can only be calmed down and answered once you’re already on the trip. It is wise not to set too many expectations at the start so you can avoid plenty of disappointments later. Traveling is a hobby that’s hard to master. It’s not like the other hobbies out there where you do the same thing over and over again. When you travel, you do different things every time as you visit new places!
Nothing could have prepared me the first time I traveled and now with over seven (7) years under my belt going through long flights, tedious hikes and countless unexpected things happening within each trip I had, here are twelve (12) useful tips I would like to share with all the new travelers out there who are seeking to conquer the world!
1. Leave No Place for Fear
Fear is powerful! It can prevent you from growing and enjoying new things. Dare yourself every time a unique experience is on the way and try it! The places you’re planning to conquer are not uncharted territories so spread those wings and glide through every experience like an eagle! There will always be people who would help and guide you along the way, and there are trails that other people have already trod before you do. If they were able to do it the first time, you can also do the same or achieve even more. You just need to put the fear away and be brave enough to take the first step.
2. Don’t Stick with Your Guidebook
Guidebooks should only serve one purpose; it should just provide general information about the place that you’re going to visit. Don’t travel through a new site using it as your travel Bible because if you do so, you’re up to a dull and tasteless adventure. Take time to get out of your comfort zone and start connecting with locals. Guidebooks will never provide information on new attractions, restaurants or bars which locals can inform you about. Asking for recommendations from other travelers or the hotel staff works and that’s what you need to do.
Remember that people are the best resource if you want a memorable travel experience so don’t stick all the time with that guidebook that you have unless it updates in real-time with all the new stuff available in the place just like what digital devices do.
3. Don’t be in a Hurry, Travel Slow
Now, this does not mean that you travel on foot most of the time, it just means that you don’t need to squeeze-in 10 places to visit in 10 days because you only have that amount of time for your trip. You may have beautiful photos when you get home but what you’ll remember most are the stresses and a whirlwind of uncomfortable situations you’ve experienced along the way! In the end, you will realize that you did not enjoy because you were always in a hurry!
Don’t be in a rush all the time. Take time to spend a day to relax and enjoy a single view or be in a place that you love most. Slow everything down and experience the culture and the people. It helps you find a feeling of fulfillment and sincere appreciation of the time you spent on the trip!
4. Don’t Forget to Get People’s Contact Information
Traveling opens a door for you to meet new friends and a lot of them along the way. Some of them you will get very close to during the trip or on your stay in a particular place which will eventually develop into a lifelong friendship. Well, it will grow into that if you did not forget to get their contact information. Sadly, most of us don’t remember to do this essential thing that helps us connect with the friends we’ve met during the trip, and we end up regretting it for the rest of our lives.
Collect their email, Facebook information or even add them as a contact on Skype and stay in touch with them even after your trip. Don’t forget your new friends and let them fade into forgetfulness. Remember to get their contact information every time!
5. Don’t Bring Too Much Gear
There’s always much to learn from your first travel. Or if you don’t have the experience yet, you can learn a lot from other people’s first travel experience. Most people fill their bags with tons and tons of stuff. Multiple sets of clothes, hiking boots, fleece jacket and plenty of toiletries. And the result? Most of them just sat in your bag adding too much weight and taking precious space as you carried everything in the entirety of your travel.
So my advice is for you to pack and travel with as little stuff as possible. Acquire a small backpack so you won’t be tempted to bring too many things which you don’t need. And in case you realize that you need something, you can pick it up and put it in your bag as you go. Experience has taught me that when it comes to packing stuff, less is always good.
6. Always Bring a Phone
It doesn’t need to be your pricey thief-magnet iPhone. There are plenty of cheap phones that you’ll find along the way, and for it to work, you can buy a SIM card that works in the country. You will be meeting a lot of new friends and other people whom you need to get in touch with during most of your stay. Facebook may sound like an excellent way to communicate, but you need to remember that not all countries have access to the internet.
And if you’re going to some remote area where GSM is the only available mobile signal, Facebook is never going to work! Invest in a cheap phone which will work anywhere and everywhere in the world so you can use it in every travel that you would have in the future! Trust me; you’ll never regret doing so.
7. Don’t be Afraid to Go With the Flow
Going with the flow means worrying less about every detail of the travel and enjoying everything as they unfold every single day. Sticking with a strict travel plan is like being hard on yourself. And it will just result in being stressed and even exhausted at the end of each day. Don’t rush and taste the bittersweet accidents that can happen in every travel.
So be sure to give place to flexibility when planning your schedule for the day. Put at least two (2) activities to accomplish during the day and let serendipity handle the rest. You’ll notice that it’s going to be less stressful and even more enjoyable!
8. Always Bring Extra Money
It isn’t costly to travel. If you are in Asia, you will quickly find out that you can spend as low as $15 a day. In Europe, it’ll be a bit higher at $40 a day. But no matter where you go, you will also learn that unexpected expenses can pop-out of nowhere. Always take extra money with you no matter how confident you are with your budgeting skills. Don’t wait for unexpected travel accidents to happen to you and get you off-guard. ‘To be forewarned is to be forearmed’ as they say so now that I’ve warned you about it, take all the necessary steps to be forearmed the next time you go on travel.
9. Leave All the Shyness at Home
There should be no place for shyness when you are traveling. The adage ‘No Man is an Island’ is there because it’s a big fact that all of us need to face. We need other people’s help and companionship to survive, and when it comes to travel, you need to be less concerned about what other people are thinking. Most of them are in the same boat as you are but some have already overcome shyness and are now soaring high making friends with people around them.
You can do the same as well. Practice saying ‘hello’ to people you meet. It’s the first step toward conquering shyness. Put down those headphones, pay attention to the people around you and if you’re sitting beside someone, take time to say ‘hello.’ You will have nothing to lose and a lot to gain! You can make new friends, attend social gatherings or even find your self in a few weddings and the result? You’ll be a better version of your self in terms of picking up a conversation.
10. Take on Even More Adventures
Challenge yourself! Traveling is a chance for you to break all the barriers and finally step out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to do bungee jumping, climb a cliff or jump off a boat somewhere in the Galápagos. You may scream your heart out because you were not comfortable doing it, but in the end, you’ll find out that scorpions taste good! Take risks and have the courage to try new things. That’s part of growing up and becoming a seasoned traveler.
11. Don’t Think That You’re Stuck
There would be times when you won’t be in the mood for a trip going to someplace during your travel. When you get to this point, don’t force your self to go. Stop and take some rest. Spend a few days in the place where you currently are and take time to recompose your self. If you still feel that you’re not in the mood to travel after doing so then don’t be afraid to pack your things up and take the road going home! There’s no reason at all to feel ashamed with that. At least you tried it and always remember that it’s okay to go home when you’re not having fun at all. Don’t keep yourself stuck in your decision to travel.
12. You’re Not the Only One Traveling
You may have left your origin country alone, but in the place where you’re going to, there is a big network of travelers who are like you and others are traveling as a group. They are out there waiting to meet you at some point, so you need to make friends with them. They can give you tips, advice and they can even be a big help when you need one. You are not alone as long as you make friends with the people you meet especially those who are just like you. Trust me; you’ll be OK.
Take Time to Breath, Relax and Enjoy
It is part of human nature to feel intimidated or even fear the unknown. But if you let that feeling control you, you’ll be missing much of what this life can offer. So learn to take a deep breath, relax and enjoy every moment as they come so that at the end of every trip you can confidently say these famous words by Julius Caesar- ‘I came, I saw & I Conquered!’