There’s nothing quite as exciting as the first time you decide to take that money you’ve got saved and book your first trip abroad without your parents. The feeling of arriving at the airport for what seems like decades before your flight, boarding pass in hand, will never quite be as thrilling as it is on your first trip.
Everyone needs to start somewhere when it comes to taking the leap and going on your travels, so I thought I’d tell you five of my tips on what you should and shouldn’t do when you embark on your first adventure.
The first time I went abroad was for a week away to Paris, however from the amount I packed you’d think I was headed off on a gap year in Thailand. If you’re going away for a week or less, all you need is carry-on luggage, it’s just not worth paying for extra baggage. I know that we always tend to think that we really need to bring those three changes of clothes for each day, but seriously, half of it won’t end up being worn. Unless you’ve booked a super off-the-grid adventure, the chances are you can pick up anything you’ve forgotten once you arrive.
Who will you be travelling with?
One of the most important aspects of travel is who you travel with. Sure, you may be embarking on the solo-adventure of a lifetime, but even then, you will meet people along the way. My advice is to be wise about who you invite to be your travelling pal(s). For example, I’ve done many trips with either one of or both of my siblings, because we know we all get along together. But if you plan on taking a trip with someone you can’t stand to be around for more than a few hours, you may be in for a rough ride. However, it is true that travel helps you get to know a person very well in a very short amount of time, so this could be just the bonding exercise you needed!
Plan how you’ll get to/around your destination
Once you land at your destination don’t think that the travelling part is over with, you still need to make your way into the city and utilise public transport as best you can. The first mistake I made on my first trip was approximately twenty minutes after we landed and ended up being taken into the city in an illegal taxi which came with a hefty bill. Quick tip: don’t let anyone hound you into a taxi. It sounds painfully obvious, but when you land in a new place and have no idea how to get to your hotel, when some seemingly friendly people show you into a taxi which is ready to take you there, you think it’s a good idea. My sister ended up losing her phone, and because the company wasn’t legal, we never got it back. Instead, before you even set off, quickly research the public transport that will get you to where you need to be in the city. It’s usually very inexpensive, and probably worth paying for a day or week long pass as you’ll be moving about a lot.
Avoid tourist traps
Of course, when you arrive at your destination you want to see the sights, that’s why you’ve come here, right? But don’t get too carried away and make it the whole part of the trip. Sure, you can’t miss places like the Eiffel Tower or Houses of Parliament, but don’t spend the whole trip going out of your way and spending a fortune to see the popular tourist sights when you could be enjoying the city properly. Go local, research blogs and articles of where the locals eat and drink, explore their neighbourhoods, they’re the ones who truly know the city. This way, you’ll end up spending a lot less money and you’ll get to enjoy a more authentic experience rather than being surrounded by tourists in an overpriced neighbourhood.
Take photos, not souvenirs
Now we all love to pick up a nice little trinket or a keychain for mum, but don’t go overboard in the souvenir shops. They often end up costing you more money than it’s worth for a crappy snow-globe that will break in your suitcase on the flight home. Instead, I’d advise you to just take as many photos as you can. Capture those memories because this is your first trip! When you look back on it in years to come, I guarantee you won’t be thinking about that over-priced fridge magnet, but at the photos you took and the fond memories that will come flooding back.