-Can you give some tips for inexperienced travelers who want to start traveling?
I mean, you gotta start somewhere! Right? Like, maybe don’t try visiting Nepal for the first time you leave the country, you know? I traveled a bit as a kid, but not nearly as much as Marlowe does. I mostly went back and forth between Massachusetts and Florida. My dad was the one to take my brother and I on trips— usually to the Caribbean. Outside of that, I went Canada (Quebec) and to Bogotá a few times as a really young kid (you know, gotta visit the fam). And I apparently even went to Cartagena as a baby. (I just learned that fact).
As a teen I went to the Dominican Republic a few times. Two, maybe three. And that’s about it. (Unless there were more international trips that I just don’t remember— which is likely). I didn’t start most of my traveling until recent years, when I could afford it. I honestly don’t think I travel as much as some frequent flyers… but I do travel enough to put, “travels often” on a résumé. Though let’s be honest, any corporate job that requires a résumé application would probably not appreciate, “travels often” — haha. Travel writer job, anyone?
Anyway! You guy asked me for tips and so here we are! I’m sure there are even better tips out there that I’m forgetting, but this is a list of the best ones I could think of! Please by all means, if you are a well seasoned traveller, add more tips in the comments if you have them!
Tips for inexperienced travelers:
-Picking a place where you can speak the language is always a good start! Let’s say flying to Australia, Berlin, the UK, or Jamaica instead of jumping into Thailand might be wise. It’s much harder to make your way around a country with a language barrier. Not impossible, but harder for sure. Without the language barrier, you’ll feel more at ease and an extra sense of security in your adventures. This is why we travel to Central America often (and are now making our way back to South America too).
-Travel somewhere where there is a big tourism industry or a lot of expats. On one hand, it’s not always ideal to travel somewhere and be stuck in crowds with more tourists, but on the other hand, the system caters to you. The city/town/whatever likes an influx of tourists. Tourism brings A LOT of money to countries, Often times it’s actually the biggest income source to many developing countries. The government wants tourists to be happy and have an easy, good time. Once you get a bit more comfortable in travel, you can branch out away from the more touristic routes 🙂
-Don’t panic, not everyone in the world sucks. I know I already mentioned this in my last travel questions post, but it’s true! We’re conditioned to believe that strangers are dangerous and all people in other countries are out to hurt us. THEY AREN’T! Most people in the world are pretty wonderful and offer experience, knowledge, and stories to us. Don’t go into a trip over-worried about everything. Yes, you need to be smart and aware of your surroundings, but you need to do this EVERYWHERE in the world, even in your own town! So seriously: don’t be paranoid, not everyone in the world sucks.
-Find a well-traveled friend. This is a great way to not only enjoy quality time with your friend, but also have the ultimate buddy system in place for your travels. It’s extra helpful if they’ve been to the location before too. You’ll basically have a built-in tour guide with your friendship. Win win!
-Go on a guided trip! When I put together the guided India trip (a few years ago), it was a first time experience visiting Asia for every woman who joined! We got to experience the trip together (made life long friends) and everyone had the ease, convenience, and safety of traveling on a guided trip.
Going on a guided trip can and will cost a bit more money for sure, but this is a convenience fee and honestly, depending on the location, it can often be worth it. I am not above having a guide if I know it’s a place that I want to visit, but know I will have difficulty navigating by myself. We used a guide for this day in Nepal and it worked great. But we were lucky because the guide was more of a friend to my best friend, he’s known her since she was a baby 🙂
-Make a guide/plan of your own. You can never be too prepared. I mean, sure, even if you’re 100% prepared things can go array, but at least for basic day-to-day travel, you’ll be pretty set up to not fail on your trip. Make lists of restaurants, hotels, cafes, book stores, all the things! Sometimes if I know the wifi might cut out or I’m not paying for a phone plan, I like to screen shot maps to know the general whereabouts of where I am and where I want to go.
-Food allergies and restrictions? Maybe do consider an airbnb with a kitchen or a hotel with a suite/kitchenette setting. We also use yelp to search for places to eat. Or for places that don’t have yelp, we love happycow to find vegan friendly dining! And most reviews will be pretty clear on whether the restaurant has gluten free, raw, or other options too.
-Where you stay can be super important. We often use airbnb because we like the kitchen aspect and we can stay right in a neighborhood. But if the idea of staying in a strangers house makes you nervous, consider a hotel. Hotels are great because you’re basically guaranteed an english speaking concierge. You can ask them questions about getting around, or best spots to eat, etc. Does the idea of staying in a large corporate hotel scare you? Try to find a smaller, boutique hotel. These have the charm of an airbnb but the security of an on property concierge.
-Definitely find the number of a cab company if you’re visiting a country that doesn’t have ride sharing apps.
-Don’t expect everything to be amazing for every second of your trip. That’s not how travel works. Traveling is real life experience out in the real world. Just because you’re on vacation in their country, doesn’t mean the people around you are on vacation. They’re working hard at their daily lives. And that’s okay. You have to plan for the best.
Be knowledgable about your location so you can try to gauge what to really expect in that environment. Don’t book a flight leaving in a few days to a country you’ve never been to and expect every moment to be perfect. Plan ahead. And while you might still struggle a bit here and there with directions, or finding your way to a restaurant and finding out their closed for holiday, etc etc, you can enjoy it. Life and travel have ups and downs, go with it!
Alright friends! Those are my travel tips for inexperienced travelers. If you have more, please comment below for other want-to-be travelers! The key thing is just to make the best out of every moment. Live in it, enjoy it, do your best. Oh and here is another great travel tip post: on tips for international travel! Written by a travel expert for sure!
Ps. If you’re curious, all these photos are from our trip to Colombia last summer. This was a visit to the cute town of Tabio, neighboring my family’s town in Chia. We head back to Colombia this June– but to the Caribbean side of the country and we’re very much looking forward to experiencing the warmer, tropical side of Colombia with a big ol’ group of my Colombian family haha. 🙂
Cheers friends! Add more tips below please! I’m here to learn too!