BY Sophie James
Below are just a few tips and tricks for first time travellers, but remember; the most important thing you can do is doing your own research.
1. Dependant on where you want to go, check with your doctor if you need any specific vaccinations.
2. You don’t want to go all the way to the airport just to realise you can’t go traveling due to problems with your passport or visa/s. Check that everything is in order, and that nothing is expired (this sounds simple but, believe me, it happens).
3. Look up what the weather might be like during the time you’re traveling, pack your luggage, and then cut it down to half. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to take every piece of clothing you can fit in your bag, but it will only end up with unnecessary weight. When I went to Europe, I didn’t even wear half of the clothes I had packed, and I had re-packed a total of three times before I left. On a similar note, consider purchasing a backpack luggage trolley instead of an actual suitcase, it’s easier to carry around and may be more practical.
4. Always remember to pack thongs/flip-flops, you will need them in communal showers.
5. Make sure you tell your bank/s that you are going away. If you need to use your card in another country, your bank may cancel it due to a security breach. Just let them know so they don’t think it’s been stolen.
6. I was so scared of being scammed when I travelled internationally. However, if you are wary of what is going on around you, keep your bags closed and close to you, and always check that you have secured everything, you will be fine— I was!
7. Try to get to know the language, even if it’s just how to say, ‘thank you’, ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’. People will appreciate and respect your efforts. Try to get to know the locals, especially if you are lost. Don’t be too scared to ask them for directions, don’t just keep your head in the guidebook. Experiences make for better stories!
8. Try not to panic— If you lose your money, or the hotel/hostel you were meant to be staying at has lost your booking, don’t freak out. I know it’s hard, but getting upset won’t make it any better. At the end of the day, nothing else matters just as long as you’re ok. Plan in advance for emergency money funds, have your parents on speed dial, and never underestimate the hospitality of backpacker hostels when you’re lost or in trouble!
9. Have fun! There may be stressful, uneasy and quite frankly scary times, but don’t let them get in your way of making the most out of your holiday. Try different foods, different drinks, be adventurous, see the local entertainments and just explore as much as you can (but remember, give yourself some time to wind down and be lazy as well, you don’t want to burn out).
10. Oh, and one last thing…please, please, please take insurance out!