After a very difficult week battling with my internet connection, I thought it would be prudent to post a blog without too many pictures. Therefore, I decided to do another “helpful hints” post. This week I’m discussing some tips to consider when taking your first trip overseas. This may not seem as interesting as raving about the places I explore but, for those who are contemplating their first trip, it just might ease some worries you are having.
Tip one: Choose a safe destination. No matter if you are travelling in a group, as a couple, or on your own, safety is a big thing to consider whilst overseas. What do I mean by a safe destination? I’m talking about not venturing into the war-torn middle east for your first trip. Many people, myself included, opt for destinations such as the U.K. and America when dipping their toes in the ocean that is international travel. The main reasons are because the cultures in these destinations have a fair similarity to Australia but are also different enough to be refreshing. I visited Scotland and England for my first trip. I did go alone, however I also met up and stayed with friends whilst in these nations.
What makes these destinations safer than others? Well, for starters, they speak English! This is honestly the biggest plus. My first trip, I was anxious and nervous. I had no idea what to do, despite having researched thoroughly. It was a weight off my mind that I was able to walk up to someone and ask for directions (something that is a terribly convoluted action in Europe). Also, The U.K. and U.S.A both have very low risk warnings posted on government websites. I mean, they have crime like any other country but you are unlikely to be thrown in jail for looking at someone the wrong way. If there happens to be a terrorist act or natural disaster within the months leading up to your trip, be sure to ask your travel agent if this will affect your holiday.
Tip Two: Prepare for your trip. No matter if you are booking online or visiting a travel agency, you should always research your destination before placing any money down. There is nothing worse than booking a hotel before realising it’s not as centrally-located as you desire. Buy a guide book, visit the websites of the sights you are thinking of visiting, read blogs from fellow travellers. All of this will ensure you are as prepared as you can be for your holiday. For me personally, I don’t visit a travel agent until I have had the chance to go through a guide or three. This gives me a rough idea of what I want out of my holiday, how long I want to be away and areas I do and don’t want to visit.
Tip Three: Once you know what you want out of your trip, don’t allow yourself to be persuaded to pay for something you don’t want. Travel agents are not out there to rip you off, guys. They don’t even charge you their commission. However, they are still sales people and they will recommend travel add-ons such as tours or sight-seeing packages that you may not want. If you decided you do want to book a tour, no problems but grab a bundle of books and research all the options before making a choice. Only you know what you want and it is your money that is paying for the holiday. Be certain that what you’re paying for is really what you desire.
Tip Four: Prioritise! This is super important if you are on a budget. You need to know if you are willing to stay in a hostel if it means you can afford to travel longer. Also, know that you are not going to be able to see everything on your first trip. For starters, you will be distracted by every new sight you see (trust me, I’ve been there) plus there are not many destinations that require one trip to slake your curiosity. Therefore, make a list of which sights are a must and which are a kinda bonus. Look into sight-seeing packages and passes. Things such as the Hop-on/Hop-off buses are great for seeing a heap in a short amount of time and many major cities offer a city pass that have amazing discounts on sights.
Tip Five: Don’t be afraid to try something new! Make your lists, guys, but be prepared to be spontaneous, too. Travel is about exploring and absorbing other cultures so try not to be overly touristy. Eat out at smaller restaurants not chains, start a conversation with a local on the bus, visit a marketplace for local products. Some of my best memories (and purchases) came when I ventured away from tourist traps.
And, Finally, be safe. Get travel insurance. I cannot stress this enough. That peace of mind, especially on your first trip, is priceless. Use your common sense when travelling. Don’t take dangerous risks that are unnecessary. Definitely attempt to fit in and watch your belongings. There is no need to be paranoid but a healthy amount of caution will save you from becoming one of those travel horror stories.
I hope this post has been beneficial to all those first-time travellers. No matter how anxious you feel before your trip, I promise you that it will all melt away when you reach your destination. You will enjoy your first trip and it will fill a void that you didn’t realise you had. Just know, however, that once you start travelling, there is no going back!