Traveling can be intimidating, especially when you haven’t done much of it before, however, it isn’t as hard as it looks. The more you travel, the more you’ll get in the swing of things and feel better prepared for your adventures. I compiled ten of my top tips for first time or new travelers to help set you off on the right foot. These are things which may seem like a no brainer to me, but are things that many newbie travelers forget or don’t realize.
Think about ATMs
In this day-in-age, you don’t always need to order different currencies from your bank or a currency exchange place back home before leaving on your trip. In most countries, you are able to take money out right at the airport or exchange USD currency when you arrive. However, you don’t want to end up at an airport with no cash at all to get you to your hotel, so doing a bit of research prior to leaving will ensure you’re covered.
Have USD money on you
USD is the most commonly accepted currency no matter where you travel so I always ensure I have some USD on me. This way if I need to exchange some into local currency it’s easy, and also, you never know when it may come in handy. When I was in Cambodia for example, they preferred to receive USD currency versus their local currency, or when I was crossing the border from India to Nepal, I could only pay for my tourist visa in USD currency. So I always recommend having just a bit of USD on you just in case!
Have printed confirmations
This may sound old school to print out confirmations of transportation, hotels, etc. but even though you may not use them at all, they also can come in handy. Some airports won’t even let you into the departures area unless you have a copy of your itinerary. What if you lose your phone that has all this information on it? What if you show up at a hotel and they don’t have your booking and you don’t have confirmation to prove you booked or paid? In fact, crossing through China to catch a connecting flight, they weren’t even going to let us go through immigration without a print out of our flight itinerary. You never know when these can be useful so don’t underestimate an old school print out.
Arrive at the airport early
This may be a no brainer for people that never like to be late, however, arriving at the airport earlier than the suggested time is always a good practice. Although the airlines website may say only to arrive an hour or two in advance, you can’t estimate how long lines will be for security, check-in, etc. and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Confirm late arrivals at hotel
This doesn’t really matter for large hotel chains, however, when staying at small boutique hotels or hostels, you should always confirm your late arrival. Many hotels have a check-in time laid out but smaller hotels won’t remain open beyond a certain hour unless they know you’re coming in late. So it’s always best practice to shoot them an email leading up to your trip or when you book your hotel if you know you’ll be coming in later than usual business hours.
Be aware of your purse
Most countries you travel to will be safe, however, tourists stick out like a sore thumb and make you a prime target for pickpocketers. You may think that you’d be able to feel someone sneak their hand in your pocket or purse, but you wouldn’t believe the magic these people can pull off. Have a cross-the-body purse, and ensure it’s kept in front of you at all times, and don’t leave it hanging off the back of your chair or on a table. Boys, be aware of just keeping your wallets in your back pocket. Although I don’t usually wear a money belt under my clothes, I’m always extra aware of my valuables and ensure that I’m not vulnerable.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew
Trying to cover too much ground with a short period of time can end up ruining your trip. I’m definitely someone who likes to be on the move constantly when I travel, but even I know my limits. Remember that you can’t see everything with minimal time, so instead of trying to master a million stops and countries in a few weeks, limit it to a few places you can see really well, otherwise you’ll be exhausted and spend most of your time in trains, planes and automobiles.
Pre-check visa requirements
Certain countries require entry visas in order to enter their country. Most of the time airlines won’t even let you check into a flight without these prior to leaving your own country, however, it’s always good to double check if you’ll need anything in advance. The last thing you want is to show up at the airport without your visa and not be able to board the plane. Many countries have visas upon arrival which means you can buy them when you get off the plane (ensure you have USD on you or local currency), however, some have lengthy application processes that need to be completed beforehand.
Avoid over packing
Even experienced travelers can have issues with over packing. However, over packing can just be straight up annoying. You’re now stuck with a heavy and bulky bag to lug around, full of things that you likely won’t wear or need, and you have no room to pick up anything along your travels. To avoid over packing, know the weather of the place(s) you are going, create a packing list of everything you want to bring and then cut it in half. Also, you may want to consider the conditions of the place you are visiting. For example, in Europe, a lot of boutique hotels and hostels don’t have elevators and have very steep, narrow stairwells, cobblestone roads and small rooms that you need to get in and out of, this can be extra annoying and hard with a giant suitcase. Check out these packing tips to help.
Don’t give into jet lag
When you are traveling over many time zones, it’s natural to feel tired and have an adjustment period to get used to with the time change. However, no matter how tired you are once you land, you need to immediately get your body adjusted to the new time difference. So if you land in the morning, force yourself to stay awake until it at least gets dark out. If you arrive at night, force yourself to go to bed right away and set your alarm to wake up in the morning at a regular hour. Even though this will feel tough, it’s the best way to get yourself into a groove.
I hope these tips will help make your first adventures easier and if you have some top tips I’m missing, feel free to share below in the comments!