15 First Time Traveler Tips You Need to Know

First Time Traveler Tips
You don't want to end up lost or stressed on your first trip. Photo by Daniel Brachlow.
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Tips for First Time Travelers

If you are a first time traveler, taking a trip can be daunting. Especially if you are going overseas to a foreign country. However, knowing what to expect can greatly reduce the pre-trip jitters and reduce any stress you might have.

Of course, no matter how much you prepare, you’ll never be 100% ready for everything, but that’s part of what makes traveling so exciting!

Knowing the following tips for first time travelers will help you out big time.

Why Travel Alone

1. Search Around for Best Deals

There are many ways to get the best deals on flights and hotels. Well, maybe not even hotels but Airbnbs as well. 

As for flights, use sights like:

These sights will compare flight prices across multiple airlines and deliver you the best prices available. There are ways to view what the cheapest times to fly are, like with Google Flights.

As for lodging, I highly recommend checking out Airbnb or Booking.com. With Airbnb, you will be renting out someone’s private residence, whether it’s the whole house or just a room. You can save a ton of money going this route, as you will almost always spend less than $100 per night. Sometimes, you can expect to pay around $50 per night for some amazing places to stay!

Booking.com is my go to for hotels. If I am going somewhere where all-inclusive resorts are common, and overall cheaper than Airbnbs, then Booking.com is the first place and usually only place I’ll check.

JetRadar Cheap Flights

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Meet People

Traveling is a great way to open your eyes to the world and experience different cultures and lifestyles. One of the best opportunities you can take advantage of is meeting new people. 

Meeting new people, even just having a quick conversation on the bus or train, will go a long way in learning about how other people live. It can be very interesting hearing stories from around the world, and you may even learn something!

If you are looking to make potentially life-long friends, consider staying in a hostel. You will save a boatload of money, but you’ll be sharing a room, dorm-style, with a few other people. These people are usually all strangers to each other, and more than willing to link up to explore together or even go out for a drink together.

Depending on where they are from, you may even be able to leverage them into an even cheaper stay in the future. Say they are from London, and you are planning a trip there next year, you may be able to ask if you could crash at their place for the few days you’ll be visiting.

Update Airbnb Profile

3. Try Local Foods

This is also a huge benefit of meeting new people. Talking to the local citizens will almost guarantee you to get the best recommendations for food. And I promise you, you’ll want to try the food.

Coming from a small town, my options for food were pretty limited. Of course, you have the usually Italian, American, and Asian restaurants, and they can be really good! But traveling to a new city or a new country opens you up to a new world of food.  If you are like me, and most other people that exist, you absolutely love food.

Some of the best meals I’ve ever had came from Pula, Croatia and Amsterdam

Don’t be afraid to try the whole-in-the-wall, mom and pop restaurants you pass as you walk the city. Those are the gold mines!

Locals

4. Be Aware of Different Cultures

This is one I never thought about until I actually started traveling. Different cultures have different rules. What is acceptable where you’re from, may be unacceptable or frowned upon in other areas. 

You have to remember that you are a guest in their country, or city. You should exercise courtesy and try to be as respectful as possible.

An example of this would be if you were to visit a mosque. It wouldn’t be very respectful to go in there wearing super revealing clothing, whether you are a guy or a girl. Research what kind of clothes are appropriate for where you are going so you can ensure you maintain proper customs and courtesies for that area.

5. Watch Out for Common Scams

Being an American in a foreign country, you will stick out like a sore thumb. Scammers, pickpockets, and other criminals will target you because they assume you have money or valuable items.

There are ways to reduce the chances of this happening and ensuring your safety.

Approach people with cautious optimism. If they are overly friendly, they are most likely trying to pull some funny business. Whether that funny business is trying to rob you, or trying to sell you a garbage item for way more than it’s worth, just trust your gut and say no.

Research common scams in the area where you’ll be traveling. I tend to Google “common scams in X.”

Also, invest in a great, anti-theft daypack. This will greatly reduce your chances of someone walking up and stealing it right off your back.

Dangerous Street

6. Do Some Proper Planning

Some people love just arriving to their destination with a clean slate and absolutely nothing planned. There’s nothing wrong with this, but you may find yourself wasting a lot of time by just wandering around, just to find out later you missed out on a lot of cool experiences!

One thing I do during the planning phase of my trip, is to look for awesome adventure opportunities.

I’ll use TripAdvisor or Groupon to do most of my excursion planning. I’ll do a quick Google search of “things to do in X” which will bring me to TripAdvisor. Here, there will be multiple categories and activities to choose from. At the very least, this gives me an idea of what I want to do while I am there.

Groupon is another great resource because you can find super discounted events and excursions, so I’ll always check this app as well to see if I can find any sweet deals on some of the stuff I found on TripAdvisor.

Dubai Jet Ski

7. Act like You Belong

This is another safety measure. Don’t act like a tourist, or you’ll be treated like a tourist. And I know, I said earlier that you’ll stick out like a sore thumb regardless, but who do you think a scammer is more likely to target?

Someone acting lost, carrying a bunch of stuff everywhere with them; or someone that looks like they’ve been there before and knows exactly what they are doing?

Probably the former, right?

There is a reason why a lot of these people that you hear about getting robbed, are the people showing off flashy jewelry, not blending in at all, and just practically painting a target on their back.

Venice Beach Boardwalk

8. Call Your Bank

Most banks have an anti-theft feature where if your card was used in an area where you have never been, or shouldn’t be in, then it will lock itself out to prevent further use. 

It’s a great feature, but make sure that doesn’t happen to you. 

Nothing is worse than being in a foreign country with no access to any of your money. It is especially worse if you find yourself without cell phone service, so you can’t call the bank to get the problem fixed.

Before your trip, give your bank a quick call, tell them you will be traveling to country ‘X’ during ‘these days.’ This will allow them to have accountability and ensure they don’t lock you out!

9. Look for Day Trips

One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to take day long excursions. I find them, again, on TripAdvisor. 

The great thing about day trips, is that you’ll most likely be taken somewhere not super easily accessible, but well worth it.

For example, let’s say you are visiting Belize City. You go on TripAdvisor, and you see a day trip to visit an ancient Mayan Ruin and cruise through a river.

This is not something you can just do on a whim, and it will most likely be an absolutely mind blowing experience. The great thing about a lot of these day trips as well, is the fact that they will most likely pick you up straight from where you are staying, and drop you right back off. That makes it super easy for you!

Honolulu

10. Download Netflix Movies/Shows

A lot of people say “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” 

Tell that to yourself when you are on hour 20 of flying/navigating airports. That piña colada on the beach is sounding a whole lot better right about now!

A great feature Netflix offers, is that you can download movies and TV shows to watch while you don’t have any service or WiFi. This will make those long trips much easier for your sanity. Knowing you have a few episodes of your favorite show to watch while you sit at the airport for your four hour layover will make the journey a bit nicer for you.

11. Put Electronics/Large Jewelry in Carry On

This pertains to going through security at the airport. Make it easier for yourself and everyone around you; put your electronics in your carry on if you haven’t already, but also put any large jewelry items in there as well.

This will ensure you don’t have to mess around and fidget with all your items at the security line. You’ll be a true professional and be in and out in no time!

Carry On Rules

12. Wear Comfortable Clothes

When flying, or road-tripping, or however your preferred method of travel is; wearing comfortable clothes for the journey is a must.

If you’ll be sitting down in a super cramped area for an extended period of time, you don’t want to be wearing tight jeans or big jackets. I know, I know, you want to look good and show off your outfit for everyone in the airport. I get it, I do; I’m that guy!

However, I have learned that I don’t care anymore, and I much more enjoy myself if I have a nice loose fitting pair of shorts and a shirt. 

13. Drink Water – Stay Hydrated

Flying dehydrates you quick. The thin air mixed with the lack of humidity dries you out like a raisin. That’s why a lot of people feel a little sick or weak after a long flight, they aren’t drinking enough water!

I am not suggesting you buy bottled water at the airport, that’s too expensive. Also, don’t bring water, you won’t make it through security!

Bring a packable travel water bottle. Once you get through security, find a drinking fountain and fill it up. Drink it then repeat the process, you’ll need to be good and hydrated for the flight!

Don’t just binge drink the water though, for best results drink a good amount of water throughout the day.

Airport Tips

14. Use Google Maps

Google Maps is a huge tool to have. This is by far my most valuable app whenever I travel. 

The great thing about Google Maps is that it knows all departures, arrivals, and stations for buses and trains. This is especially helpful if you’ll be utilizing public transportation on your trip

Another sweet feature, is that you can download maps to use offline. So if you don’t have service, you can still navigate around effectively.

15. Budget Extra Money

Traveling can get expensive quick if you aren’t careful. It is very easy to splurge and go all in. I’ve been there myself.

However, don’t put yourself in a tough spot because you didn’t properly budget. 

However much money you think you’ll need, bring more. Trust me.

Currency Converter

In Conclusion

If you follow these tips for first time travelers, I’m sure your first trip will go much smoother; no matter where you go! Traveling is an amazing experience that everyone should get the opportunity to pursue. 

Once you get the first trip out of the way, you’ll just want more and more.

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About Troy

About Troy

Troy started his travel journey at 19 years old when he moved to Germany. Over the course of the following two years, he visited a total of 18 countries around Europe and the Middle East. He strives to see more of the world with each passing day.

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