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In my time traveling, and in my experience, I have had my fair share of wins, challenges, and awkwardness, going from one country to the next. I’ve also experienced some new and fresh perspectives, and a whole lot of questioning (to myself, the society I grew up in, and the places I visited). In today’s post, I want to share with you 15 travel tips I’d tell any new traveler, not from a place of “know it all-ness” but from a place of someone who wants to share helpful tips that could help any new travelers think of at different points of their travel journeys – from pre-departure, during travel, and post-travel. Whether it’s helpful tips for travel, or curveball lessons and feelings that no one talks about (or not enough at all) – I’m highlighting a little bit of everything in today’s post!
I have been traveling more frequently since 2014 when I studied abroad in Greece, but even before that, I traveled to México frequently to visit grandparents and extended family.
I have spoken about how transformative travel can be, and especially how transformative my trip to Greece was for me (click here if you want to read how I manifested that trip!) and really since that experience, my awareness for a different possibility of what life could be, myself and what I wanted to do, and others, really expanded, as I started to think in different ways. As we know, travel changes a lot of things, and the way we see the world and ourselves, it’s one of the main pillars of this blog and a personal reason why I chose to start blogging in the first place. To speak more about that awareness, and most importantly, how to harness it and how to live in it’s liberating qualities, all the time.
So, without further ado, here are 15 things I’d tell any new traveler, with the hope that it can give you more confidence to travel, be ok with your own company, how to actually move past the “I wish I could travel…” and onto doing it, and so much more. Let’s begin!
Money isn’t always the hurdle between you and traveling
It’s almost never really the lack of money that is the reason why we “can’t travel.” This isn’t an exclusive thing to just new travelers, but many others who have traveled frequently before. It’s a mindset that we are exposed to, and it has to do with the conversations we hear around us, which are usually that travel is too expensive for instance. But that’s not the case, not always anyway. The truth is that money may be a common excuse accepted by the grand majority of people as the reason why they don’t travel, but when looking at it a bit closer, it may be an excuse for something deeper.
A limiting belief perhaps related to your own belief of your ability to travel and/or trust in yourself to travel, the possible reality that no one around you is interested in traveling, which would mean going by yourself, fears of getting lost, not being able to communicate, or something happening. If you feel like this resonates with you, I strongly encourage you to look at the reasons as to why you say you can’t travel. Is it really a lack of money or something deeper?
In the event that you are indeed not able to afford travel expenses at the moment, it doesn’t mean that you won’t ever be able to travel. That can (and will) change. But the more you say something to the effect of “I can’t travel because I don’t have enough money,” then that will reaffirm that reality in your mind, which will affect your thoughts, behaviors, actions, and results – now and in the future. So be aware of what you’re actually saying.
After looking at the actual reasons why you haven’t been on a trip yet, and if you see that money is truly something you want to focus on, then I truly recommend getting a saving/investment app like Acorns.
The Acorns app helps you rack up money as you shop and by opting into investing as little as $1 every month into your savings account (or what I like to call, my travel fund). In the past, it’s helped me reach a little over $1,000 in extra money for travel or anything I want really. It’s so nice to know that my shopping and extra spare change is being used for good, and now because of it, I get to travel with an extra grand in my pocket. Read here if you’re interested in learning more about how I did it, and how you can too!
Related Post: 5 Motivating Ways to Start Saving Money for Travel
Set your intention to travel
To set the intention to travel is to fully decide and commit to the idea that you are going to travel, and with a few actionable things you can do now, even before you book anything, you can start this today. I wrote out a post on this fully explaining what I mean by setting the travel intention, and how it can help you to mentalize and materialize travel. The truth of the matter here is that just like with money being a common reason not to travel, the more you reaffirm the belief into your mind that you don’t have money to travel, the more it will turn out a reality in your life. Even if there is an opportunity to find the funds to travel, your mind won’t be able to take advantage of it because your brain is not set to pick up on that opportunity because of the story you’re telling yourself. So start deciding every day a little more by simply stating a mantra to help you affirm your next trip.
We don’t want to hardwire our brain that way, and the same goes for our chance to travel to begin with, and as a new traveler, this is extremely important to be aware of. Travel intentions prime the mind to look for those opportunities effortlessly and to take action in the direction of your travel desire. Once you do this, a path to follow towards traveling will appear for you to take whether it’s an unforeseen opportunity, finding the perfect time, ideal prices, and then some – it will come easier because your mind is actually looking for them now, and that is based on the intention to establish, repeat, and reaffirm.
Related Post: Setting The Travel Intention
Related Post: 3 Ways To Make Travel Less Intimidating
Get your foreign currency while still at home (and no, not at the airport)
It’s just easier, and the way I see it is that if you’re traveling to a country where your currency doesn’t work, and where you may or may not be able to use your credit/debit cards, why not travel with extra local currency? Travel with that peace of mind that you’re covered if you should need anything upon arrival, like buying a bus ticket or subway ticket at the airport to get to the city center or even a snack.
If you’re a new traveler, I definitely recommend to think of that as you’re planning your travels, and how much money you want to take if you’re planning to pay everything else mostly with your card, or cash. Even if you decide you want to use your card for mostly everything else (meals, souvenirs, ticket entrances/tours) I’d still strongly suggest you take some extra cash (maybe $100 dollars worth, which of course depends on your destination/length of travel, but it’s just a ballpark estimate). Services like transportation or a coffee will be easier to pay with cash/coins.
I usually order foreign currency through my bank for the convenience that I can order it online or through my banking app, and it is taken straight from my bank account, instead of taking it out manually and taking it to a foreign exchange store.
Enjoy the travel process starting NOW
Even before you purchase the tickets, book the Airbnb, or pack up your toiletries, start enjoying the fact that you are going to TRAVEL soon! You’re already realizing the true hurdles that are holding you back from traveling and setting the intention to travel and feeling into the feelings of being at your dream destination. In my book, you’ve already started the travel journey!
The more you get into the feeling of it by practicing travel and travel-like things in your mind, the more the momentum to travel increases, the more hyped up you get about traveling, the more you start to believe that your trip is a done deal, and the quicker the path starts to clear up (those hurdles get out the way!).
This part of your travels will help you center in on the place you want to go, and what you want to do (set the travel intention), and that way, more things start to solidify faster and easier (you start to book things and purchase tickets). The traveling doesn’t start the moment you land at your destination, it starts the minute you decide you’re going to travel. You get to decide when it starts and ends. Relish every bit of it, and make it fun!
During the trip
Don’t be that traveler…(that says the wrong thing)
This isn’t to say that you’re not allowed to make mistakes, but only that we should be aware of the fact that any doubts we may have upon entering a new country, can be looked up online, including how to say yes/no/thank you/please in the local language. Also, being aware of the local history is very handy to know, as some things may be taboo topics or sensitive in the city you’re visiting, so you definitely don’t want to be that new traveler who just goes in, unaware of their influence/impact with certain questions. As the traveler, you may not be aware of such things and you wouldn’t do it on purpose, so that’s why it’s important to constantly be informing yourself of the local way of doing things, being respectful, and mindful that you are visiting and open-minded that you are there to learn. This isn’t just a pre-trip tip, but mostly an ongoing thing, because things will come up that you didn’t anticipate beforehand, so just be aware of that.
Also as a bonus tip: Even if you speak the language as those in the country you’re about to travel to, it wouldn’t hurt to brush up on certain slang terms, what your word for something may mean to those in the country you’re visiting, etc. For example, as a fluent Spanish speaker (Mexican Spanish) who moved to Spain, I can confirm this. It’s essentially the same language, but between accents, the rate at which it is spoken, and the slang, it sounded nothing like what my ears were used to. So just be aware.
Start your trip with a tour of the city
Whether you’re a new traveler or a seasoned traveler, spending your first day taking a tour of the city and getting to know your surroundings just a bit more, is priceless. Understanding the history behind the buildings you’re looking at and snapping photos of, learning about the main square, the architecture, the edifices, and even the cute coffee shops you’re walking past everyday is so helpful in connecting to the place you’re visiting.
Everything has a history, a story, and something to learn about that only deepens your understanding of the place you’re visiting. I can’t recommend taking a tour of the city you’re visiting, no matter how “small” it may look, or if you may think there aren’t tours offered.
I recommend Googling “tours in (name of the city)” or going straight to organized tour companies online such as the ever-popular Sandeman Tours (available mainly in Europe and Asia), The Tour Guide (mostly European city tours, also offering food tours in Italy, France, and Spain!), or checking out a fuller list of different tours offered in your destination city with Get Your Guide (offering tours and different activities in pretty much any city of the world, including tickets and personal tours of different museums and monuments, informative guides that guide your experience and answer your questions, unique itineraries to include all the must-do’s of a city, all in all, activities and services to offer unique glimpses and experiences of your destination city). All in all, taking a tour of the city you’re visiting offers you as traveler access to cultural information, history, a fun ambiance, and a cool way to connect with locals and other travelers! I can’t recommend it enough!
Sit down at an outdoor cafe or in a main square for a bit
There’s nothing quite like sipping a hot coffee (or your beverage of choice) and sitting outside in the action of it all. Yes, make time to go to the museums, visit the monuments, take the tour of the city, but taking break midday to regain yourself and soak in the local culture is really something special. People watching, in any part of the world is interesting, especially if you’re in a part of the world where there is a language barrier, major cultural difference, it’s a great way to ease into your surroundings before you venture on your own a little bit. Plus, you’ll be able to try how the coffee is prepared in this part of the world, how it’s ordered, what else they have on the menu, and what other people tend to order. Bonus points, if you do this in a place that isn’t so visited by tourists, for example, a bar or cafeteria at a different point in the city.
Related Post: 5 International Coffee Recipes You Need To Try!
Take a day trip
A day trip, much like a tour of the city, or taking a midday break at a coffee shop, will allow you to soak in the culture and views just a bit more. No matter where you are, for the most part, there will be an opportunity to take a day trip somewhere. One of the ways to learn about the day trip opportunities is by joining that tour of the city, and that way, you can even purchase tickets and schedule the time when you can go. If you made friends during that tour, you may even schedule to go together, and that is a way you can make friends out of this experience as well which is always fun. Taking a day trip, especially for new travelers, is an opportunity to step a little extra out of your comfort zone, experience what is outside the city center a little bit while being guided, and not having to figure out transportation on your own.
Stepping outside the city center and all the popular sights, and taking that bus ride through the country, stopping by little towns, seeing what every day looks like in those parts of the country, while on your way to and from the city, is pretty cool, and oftentimes one of my favorite things to experience.
Try at least one local dish
This one should go without saying, but I know that there are people out there that still don’t do it. I understand that everyone may have different food restrictions and such, but nowadays, there are many different options and opportunities to try a country’s specialty, even in vegan, vegetarian options, coffee shops that offer alternative milk options, and so much more! I strongly recommend doing the research before your trip, and during your trip, of all the specialty dishes you can try, and if you do have food restrictions, there may be different alternatives for you! Also, if you consider yourself to be a picky eater, ease into the research you’re doing, give yourself the opportunity to find different options that are not too drastic from what you’re used to eating. Especially as a new traveler, if the dishes look very different than what you’re used to, look for familiar ingredients. If you like certain specific ingredients, try to find a local dish that has that ingredient you like and give it a shot! You definitely don’t want to deprive yourself of the full cultural experience, so try at least one new dish!
Related Post: How To Travel The World From Your Kitchen
Grant yourself the time to reflect
As a new traveler, you may experience a little something called Reverse Culture Shock, which essentially is a distress travelers experience when they return from a trip, which can result in experiencing difficulty in readjusting to their home, culture, society in their country, and values commonly held by those that live in their country. To its core, it’s the shift that many would describe as the familiar becoming unfamiliar. Oftentimes, this emotion is something that many people don’t anticipate experiencing, many people may think that culture shock may be more likely to happen to them, but not the similar effect happening upon arrival at home.
But that is not the case. And it doesn’t really matter how long you’ve been out of the country, as it can happen to those who traveled for a week, or moved abroad for 5+ years. This is why I strongly believe (having experienced RCS) that taking the time to reflect on your experiences, checking in with yourself, and allowing yourself to feel the shift in your environment and your mind based on what you experienced in the last couple of days, is crucial. Some practical ways of doing this are through journaling, meditating, and overall trying not to jump too quickly into your routine back home. Ease into it.
Find a community that shares your new interests
Something I always recommend to new and seasoned travelers is that if you find yourself struggling with reverse culture shock, or just missing travel, or perhaps something you tried for the first time, a dish, a drink, a newly found hobby – find a community that focuses on that! Whatever it was specifically that you miss about your travel experience, seek that out on Facebook for example, or on Instagram, or start by watching YouTube videos. There’s always something behind the foggy and nebulous feeling of missing travel – it was something, a feeling, an activity, a possibility, that for the time being, you can totally find a place online to connect you with those that also feel that passionately about it as you. And if there isn’t anything like that online, create it! Be the founder of space for those who feel what you feel can gather. That is a major reason why I personally decided to start this blog, and start this Facebook group. For those that believe in the liberating effects of travel, that there is more than a way to live life, and that it is not predetermined based on where you are born, how to keep and maintain the travel mindset, and a space for those that believe that the adventure is everlasting as long as we believe it is. As a side note, If that resonates with you, then I invite you to join us inside the Travel Transformation!
Find your people, or create that space for your people.
Shift your focus from sadness that the trip is “over”
…and think of all the ways that it has just begun. Bring about your journal, your reflections, and all of those feelings and ideas you’ve been feeling. What can you create out of that? For me, it was my blog and finally getting out of my own way to do the damn thing because travel had taught me of all the things I wanted to keep experiencing in my life: freedom, travel, and connecting with others. What has travel taught you? More specifically, this recent trip? As a new traveler, you may experience reverse culture shock for the first time, which is why I believe that this information is crucial for you to have. If you felt changed by your trip, in any way, whether it’s a new hobby, habit, or idea, you don’t have to remold yourself back into your old ways just because you’re home again. No. That’s why people often have a hard time with readjusting back home. First of all, readjusting to what, and why? Ask yourself that. Rethink your emotions, why you feel what you feel, and allow them to propel you into a state of hope rather than sadness, for something pretty amazing.
Question yourself, your travels, and your society
Travel is about learning, including after you’ve arrived back home. In fact, I’d say it’s where you should be putting a lot of emphasis on, but we are not taught that. As a new traveler, I want you to know this right off the bat. We immediately have a laundry list (literally and figuratively) of things we must do now that we are back. We have to “settle” back. And depending on your travels, your “settling” back or “readjustment” will look different. If you have to go back to work, go back to work, but bring with you the new perspectives you gained while abroad. Why do we work 40 hours a week? Why do we get ½ hour lunch, while other places give their employees time to go back home and eat lunch there? How does that work for them? Would I like that? Question, investigate, and allow yourself to see how it can lead you to something better than what you have now. In any area of your life. Elevate from your travels, don’t just move on from them because they’re “over.”
Alright! Well that was a bit of a long one, wasn’t it? But I hope it was helpful more than anything. My goal is to help clarify and give you validation (especially with the post-travel points) to feel what you feel when related to how travel may have changed your life. I think it’s important to get the tips, the suggestions, and the advice from traveler to traveler, but my intention is that these points help guide you into a space of comfort when traveling. Not to be taken word for word, but customizing it to what you want your experience to be.
Don’t forget to check out the Traveler Affirmations list, created to boost your own confidence to travel the world.
To many more travel moments like this,