Essential Tips for First Time Travelers – From Planning to Packing to Your Trip Itself

Guide for First-Time Travelers
Photo Credit: Pexels

Getting ready for your inaugural journey can feel quite daunting, don’t you think? Every first-time traveler has their own unique preferences and every trip is different. I’ve compiled a list of 24 helpful tips that I believe will be beneficial for beginners in the world of travel.

Before leaving home, it’s helpful to consider a few important things. To make it easier, I’ve divided them into three categories:

  • Tips for planning your first time travel
  • Tips for packing for first-time travelers
  • Tips for first-time travelers on their actual trip
  • Hopefully, you’ll discover valuable information here, regardless of where you are in your travel journey.

Essential Tips for First Time Travelers on Smart Planning

1. It’s Important to Invest in High-quality Equipment

Prior to embarking on your journey, it is crucial to invest in a well-fitting backpack and a pair of comfortable shoes. These two items will prove to be invaluable as you navigate through multiple destinations. If you’re looking to treat yourself, consider investing in these two must-haves.

2. Consider Buying Travel Insurance

Well, it’s understandable that people may be hesitant to invest in travel insurance for international trips. However, proceed with it regardless. I assure you, this is true.

3. Carefully Plan your Budget

I suggest taking a look at my article on planning your travel budget for more in-depth information. However, it’s generally a good idea to carefully plan your backpacking expenses and bring double the amount of money you think you’ll need.

4. Familiarize Yourself with Safety Tips

There’s no need to fear when it comes to exploring the world. However, it is important to exercise caution and make wise decisions while you are traveling. Discover safety tips for backpacking and traveling, and remain vigilant of your surroundings, keeping them at the forefront of your mind throughout your journey.

Feel free to begin your exploration of the safest places to travel at the moment, and as you gain more confidence, you can gradually venture into other destinations.

5. Consider Reaching out to your Bank for Assistance

Rest assured, your bank will take notice if you begin making purchases in a foreign country without any prior notice. It’s certainly not an ideal situation to find yourself in a foreign land without any means to access your bank account. It would be a good idea to reach out to your bank and credit card companies to discuss any potential foreign transaction fees. If the fees are significantly high, you might want to think about opening an account at a bank like Charles Schwab. They don’t impose any foreign transaction fees and they even reimburse all ATM fees on a monthly basis.

6. Consider Camping, if Possible, to Save Money

If you’re considering your destination, tent camping can be a great option and save you a significant amount of money. Certainly, you’ll need to bring a tent along, but it might be worth it considering the potential cost savings for you.

7. Do a work exchange program to stay longer

Engaging in a work exchange can offer a more affordable and fascinating opportunity to fully immerse yourself in a trip. It allows for an extended stay in a particular location, providing a one-of-a-kind cultural experience by working and living alongside locals. Worldpackers is an excellent platform for those looking to start volunteering, as it provides a wide range of projects available worldwide. In addition, they have a skilled team available to ensure that you and your host have an enjoyable and secure experience.

8. Consider Traveling During Off-season

When contemplating off-season travel, it’s important to understand the factors that contribute to this particular time of year being considered the off-season. Peak times are popular for a reason, I can assure you. The potential savings might outweigh the inconvenience of unfavorable weather or the possibility of missing out on seasonal events, or maybe not. It’s worth taking into consideration, though.

9. Familiarize Yourself with Your Destination

This first time travelers tip is incredibly important. It’s always a good idea to do some research on your destination before you embark on your trip. Is it okay to negotiate the price? Do people usually tip? What is considered suitable clothing for different occasions? Could you please provide information about the weather during your visit? Are there any commonly encountered local scams that I should be aware of? It is crucial to have all of these questions answered before you go.

10. Remember to Pack Light

For first-time travelers, particularly those interested in backpacking, a valuable tip would be to prioritize packing light. Get to know the weight you intend to carry by giving it a trial run. Try incorporating your fully-packed backpack into your daily routine for a day or two. Most likely, you’ll find yourself more inclined to eliminate any unnecessary weight before your departure once you’ve completed this task.

11. Remember to Pack Your Medicine

To ensure a hassle-free trip, it is crucial to never overlook the essentials, and one such essential is a first-aid kit. It’s a good idea to pack a variety of medicines, especially if you’re visiting a country where you’re not familiar with the language. Don’t forget to include bandages, antibiotic ointment, and antibiotics, among other essentials. It’s important to have an ample supply of your daily medications on hand.

12. Remember to Bring a Journal

If you’re an avid journaler, this might already be on your radar. Otherwise, it’s worth considering. Keeping a trip journal can be a delightful way to preserve memories, but even if you’re not inclined to journaling, there may come a time when you’ll find yourself longing for a simple piece of paper and a pen.

13. Have Copies of Your Important Documents

Remember to create duplicates of your crucial documents like passport and visas in case the originals are misplaced or stolen. It is advisable to have both physical copies and digital copies for maximum security.

14. Remember these Random, But Useful Things

  • A microfiber towel
  • Ear plugs
  • It’s always a good idea to have some toilet paper on hand, just in case.
  • Adhesive tape
  • Water filter (based on your destination)
  • Consider bringing along a comforting item that reminds you of home to help ease any feelings of homesickness during longer trips. This could be something as simple as a small stuffed animal, a t-shirt belonging to a loved one, or even your favorite coffee or tea from home.

15. Layer and Bundle Synthetic Garments

When it comes to clothing for trips, synthetic materials have a clear advantage over cotton. They are lighter and dry much faster, making them the perfect choice. Layers offer a convenient solution for seamlessly adapting to different temperatures, eliminating the need for multiple sets of clothing.

16. Waterproof Your Backpack

Backpacks often come with rain covers, but from my personal experience, relying solely on them may not be foolproof. Alternatively, consider using a spacious, completely waterproof bag to line your backpack, ensuring that all the contents remain shielded.

17. Remember to Bring a Battery Pack

During a visit to an unfamiliar city, I found myself in a situation where my phone ran out of battery, I had no cash for public transportation, and calling an Uber was not an option. I wasn’t completely certain about finding my way back to my hostel without GPS, either. Finally, I managed to return, but the experience would have been far less nerve-wracking if I had an additional battery to recharge my phone.

18. Please provide the address of your current accommodation

Whenever you arrive in a new city, it’s a good idea to jot down the address of your accommodation and keep it handy. In this manner, even in the absence of GPS or WiFi, it is still possible to seek assistance from someone for directions.

19. Wear Your Bulky Clothing while Traveling

This will help you maximize space in your backpack for those days when you need to fit everything in.

20. Hide Your Money in Multiple Spots

Indeed, a money belt is a wise choice. It’s always a good idea to avoid keeping all your money in one place, just in case you happen to misplace or have your bag, coat, or other belongings stolen. It’s a good idea to distribute your money in different places, such as on your person, in your bag, and safely stored at your hotel or hostel.

21. Stay in Hostels with Free Breakfast or Cook for Yourself

By making use of complimentary meals and cooking whenever feasible, you have the opportunity to significantly reduce your expenses in the long run. Several hostels provide complimentary breakfast or have a kitchen available for guests to prepare their own meals. If you decide to volunteer, you’ll have the opportunity to contribute to a wide range of projects, including farms, ecovillages, communities, and NGOs.

22. Talk to the Locals

Local residents are excellent resources for gathering information. They have valuable insights on the safety of different areas in the city, can reveal hidden gems for you to discover, and provide a deeper understanding of the local culture compared to solely interacting with other tourists. Begin by approaching the individual stationed at the front desk of your hostel or hotel. If you’re interested in volunteering, your host will be an excellent fit for you!

23. Make Sure to Prioritize Your Well-being

Even during vacation, life continues to move forward. It’s really unfortunate to fall ill while backpacking. It’s important to remember to prioritize self-care, even while enjoying the occasional indulgence of an extra drink or trying out the local cuisine.

It’s important to prioritize your well-being by incorporating a nutritious meal into your daily routine, staying hydrated with water, and giving your body the rest it needs to rejuvenate. It’s a good idea to have snacks on hand during travel days. When you’re carrying a backpack, you’ll be burning more calories than usual, so having snacks will help provide the energy you need.

24. Be Flexible

When it comes to allowing yourself time to rest, it’s important to be open to adjusting your plans. Create a list of activities to do at each destination on your trip. However, it’s also important to keep some days free for rest, in case the weather isn’t ideal, or if you meet interesting people and want to do something unplanned together.

25. Be Aware of free WiFi Spots

Take some time to research and keep in mind the local establishments that offer complimentary WiFi, such as McDonald’s, Starbucks, and others. It’s a good idea to download city maps onto your phone as soon as you arrive in a new city. Then you can utilize them, even without an internet connection.

26. Connect with Family and Friends

Share your itinerary with a few trusted family members or close friends prior to your departure. It would be beneficial to establish a routine of regularly touching base with them. Something as simple as sending an email before bed each night can make a huge difference if something goes wrong during your backpacking trip. It’s always helpful to have someone who is aware of your location and expecting you to check in each day.

I hope these 26 first time travelers tips and tricks have been useful. Backpacking is a truly enriching journey, which becomes more manageable as you gain experience. Along the way, you will undoubtedly uncover your own valuable insights and strategies.