Your first trip is always an unforgettable one – for better or worse. If all goes well, you’ll remember your first tour abroad as an eye-opening collection of indelible experiences, dizzying sights and spontaneous friendships. And If things go sideways… well, you’ll still always remember it. Just for different reasons.
Let’s aim for the former: making your first trip abroad a memorable, positive experience. In this post, let’s explore four tips for the novice world traveller. Here’s how to craft the perfect first trip abroad.
With time and experience, you’ll become a seasoned traveller, and you won’t need guides like this one. Until that day comes, take these small pieces of advice as gentle guidance as you begin your adventure.
Choose the Right Destination for Your First Trip Abroad
Some destinations have a reputation for being “tricky,” even among experienced travellers. These destinations often have little to no tourist infrastructure, a serious language barrier, and safety concerns that make travel more challenging to navigate.
It’s probably best to avoid these destinations on your first go-around. Instead, choose well-trod backpacking paths with robust tourist systems, straightforward communication opportunities and relatively safe surroundings. The best first-time travel destinations are:
- Europe: Europe is an ultra-popular backpacking destination for novices because accommodation and transport are simple to procure, and you can usually find an English speaker to help you through a jam.
- Southeast Asia: Petty theft aside, Southeast Asia is pretty safe. It’s also rich in culture, nightlife and natural beauty.
- Japan: Japan is perhaps the easiest place to get around in – it has well-oiled transportation systems, intuitive wayfinding techniques, and practically zero crime.
- Australia and New Zealand. Safe, picturesque and filled with native English speakers, Australia and New Zealand are fantastic options for a first trip abroad.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are plenty of other great choices for first trips. But these are the most popular destinations for novice travellers.
Pack Light to Remain Agile and Unrestrained
One of the biggest mistakes first-time travellers make is to pack a gigantic, bulky bag. You might think you need everything in that 65-litre backpack, but the truth is that you probably don’t. Most people can skate by on a svelte, minimal carry-on or medium-sized backpack.
Not only does packing light make moving around simpler, but it can also save you time and money when you travel. To pack light, opt for t-shirts made with merino wool (you only need one or two pairs, since merino stays fresh for a very long time), a few pairs of merino underwear and socks, a sturdy pair of runners or boots, and outerwear appropriate for the destination/season.
Learn How to Keep Yourself Safe and Protected
Before you embark on your travels, research your destination. Your government’s travel advisory website is a fantastic resource for understanding potential hazards and dangers on a regional and sub-regional level. Otherwise, practice common sense and precaution; avoid rougher areas late at night, and, if possible, travel with companions for safety.
Likewise, ensure you’re up-to-date on the relevant travel immunizations before you depart. Inoculating yourself against common pathogens abroad will help you enjoy an illness-free outing.
To review: choose wisely, pack light, and stay safe. If you can follow these three easy principles, then you are well on your way to a successful, memorable first trip abroad. Bon voyage!