13 Things Every First-Time Traveler Should Know
I love to travel. Seeing places I’ve never seen, meeting interesting, sexy people, discovering the perfect café or restaurant, it’s all so great. But with great adventure comes great peril. Here are 13 things to know if you’re setting out on a journey to a foreign country.
1. You’re easy to spot
People in other countries have certain mannerisms, body language and styles, which you don’t. And they may or may not have a totally different skin color than you, too. That makes you an obvious target, so be aware.
2. You may get homesick
Sometimes being in a place where you don’t know anyone and you don’t know the language can be really depressing, especially if you’re there for a long time by yourself. That’s okay. If you’re bored traveling, try walking around. Ask locals for cool places to visit: this will be really helpful so you don’t stumble into a bad neighborhood.
3. Mistakes happen
If you miss your flight or lose some money, don’t worry too much about it. Stress will make you miserable. Instead, treat your mistakes as experience. Dealing with problems will make you more easygoing. Problems are what make travel fun and interesting. In the end, they’re fun stories to tell your friends when you return home.
4. Go for you
If you’re traveling with friends, be aware that you may be forced into going places and doing things you don’t want to. Don’t be afraid to take a stand and say, “I’d rather go here,” even if it means going by yourself. Time alone on an adventure can be more rewarding than following another leader.
5. It’s okay to get lost
Getting lost can lead you to walk certain streets, meet certain people, and have certain unexpected experiences. Getting lost is the essence of what travel is about—not knowing what’s going to happen and taking it as it comes.
6. Keep your valuables at home
Bringing your MacBook Pro to Thailand is a bad idea, especially if you’re going on an extended trip. If you really want to bring a computer, buy a cheap notebook expressly for the purpose of travel.
7. Wear a fanny pack
Pickpockets abound in crowded cities, just waiting to snatch your passport or wallet. Take precaution by buckling up. Fashions have come a long way in twenty years—today’s fannies are slimmer and sleeker than those of yore. Carry and conceal important documents and cash to keep them safe.
8. Invest in comfortable shoes
In many countries sandals are more common than sneakers. To blend in with the locals, invest in a quality pair that’s more durable than your average flip flops. You’re going to do a lot of walking. And if you’re traveling somewhere cold, a cross-trainer sneaker is a good choice.
9. You’re going to be uncomfortable
The idea of travel is romantic. But sometimes you find yourself on an overnight bus in ninety-degree weather without a shower until next evening. These situations may seem like torture, but if you survive, they will make you stronger.
10. Get ready to fall in love
It may be with someone else, it may be with a seaside village, or it may be the memory of being on a train, not knowing what’s next. Be prepared to fall in love, have your heart broken, and move on.
11. Bring a camera
Taking pictures will be one of your best ways to remember your journey. Just be careful to keep your camera on you at all times, and try to be discreet. Cameras are crucial, but they’re also a giveaway that you’re a traveler.
It can take a lot of time and effort to keep a jounal, but it’s very rewarding to revisit personal records of a trip years later. Try to avoid listing what happened during your day. Instead, get to the nitty-gritty of how it felt when you first walked into that clearing, of your first impressions of a new friend, or of your personal failures and difficulties in simply getting around. Above all, when journaling, don’t be afraid to confess.
13. You don’t have to hit all the tourist sites
When traveling there are certain sites to see, sure, but you may have as much fun walking around the streets of Rome as you do snapping photos of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Fighting crowds, taking tour buses and paying overpriced ticket fees are all turn offs for me. Unless it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, I’m not sold on making a detour.
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