The prospect of travelling for the first time by yourself or without your parents can certainly be a daunting idea. To help make your first time travelling that little bit easier, we’ve compiled our best advice to help you tackle everything from the initial stages of planning through to your arrival in your final destination. Check out our top tips for the first time traveller and start exploring the globe!
Ensure you have a valid passport
Although a passport isn’t something that you’ll need to worry about if you’re travelling domestically, you will certainly need one if you are heading overseas. If you don’t already have one, apply for your passport well ahead of time. If do you already have a passport, ensure that it will have at least 6 months validity left after your planned date of return to Australia as it is a requirement for entry to many countries.
Check visa requirements
Each country is different when it comes to visas, so be sure to look at things like how long you can stay in the country before renewing your visa, what you need to do to apply for each visa and what you can and can’t do on the visa, such as working. A little bit of research around visas during the planning stage gives you plenty of time to organise any extra documents you may need and find answers to any questions you may have.
Have your finances in order
Before you travel, set a daily budget that will allow you to travel comfortably, and then add a little more to your overall budget to account for unexpected expenses and unplanned purchases. Having a good amount of local currency is recommended for convenience’s sake, but pre-loaded travel cards and credit cards have become popular options for travellers. If you do opt to use your credit card overseas, be sure to let your bank know ahead of time to avoid it being blocked for unusual transactions.
Purchase travel insurance
You may be planning to travel on a budget, but the cost of purchasing travel insurance is certainly worth factoring into your expenses. Helping you to avoid large, unexpected financial costs if you are sick, lose your luggage or have an accident, even the most basic travel insurance can provide more than enough peace of mind. While any travel insurance is better than none, ensure that you have an adequate level of cover before you leave home.
Make copies of your travel documents
Before you set off on your travels, make a few copies of your important documents, such as your passport, visas and itinerary, to help make things easier if you happen to lose one or all of them. Keep a copy with you in a place separate to the originals while you travel, leave a copy with a friend or family member while you travel, and, if you wish, email a copy to yourself so you have instant access.
It’s no fun carrying around an incredibly heavy backpack or suitcase, so take some time to consider what you plan to pack and if there are some things that you don’t need or won’t actually use. Travelling light makes it easier for you to get around, gives you more room for souvenirs and shopping and can help you to adhere to weight restrictions. If there’s something that you forget to pack or can’t fit in your bag, you’ll often find that you can pick up a replacement while you travel.
Make the most of your carry-on luggage
While the chances of your luggage going missing are quite slim, it’s a good idea to be prepared just in case. Pack a change of clothes, fresh underwear and some toiletries into your carry-on bag, and you’ll be able to freshen up once you land and while you’re waiting for your luggage to be returned. Even if your luggage doesn’t go missing, you’ll be able to enjoy the option of a mid-flight refresh.
Do some general research about your destination
One of the best things about travelling is the opportunity to experience destinations and cultures that are so unlike our own. However, it’s important to do a little research before you head out on your travels to ensure you know what to expect, are familiar with any local taboos and have a general idea of the weather you’ll need to pack for. Some basic preparation can help to make your travels run smoothly and even help you to avoid an unwanted run-in with local authorities!
Immerse yourself in the local culture
Even if it is your first time travelling, it’s important to step outside your comfort zone and experience at least a little of what the local culture has to offer. Sample local foods, talk to the locals and try to head off the beaten track, beyond the main tourist attractions, every so often. If you’re heading to a destination where English isn’t the main language, be sure to learn some basic phrases, such as ‘hello’, ‘goodbye, ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘toilet’ before your depart.
Keep your itinerary flexible
When you’re travelling, it’s easy to create an overwhelming itinerary that is absolutely jam-packed with places to see and things to do. However, it’s often better to schedule in the main attractions you’d like to visit and leave room for unplanned opportunities, changes in plans and simply making the most of the places you do visit. With fewer places to visit to each day, you’ll appreciate the time spent at each attraction all the more!
Arrive at the airport ahead of time
Travelling for the first time is stressful enough without having to endure the added pressures that come from not leaving enough time at the airport. Leave yourself ample time to check-in, head through security, find where your gate is and relax before your board your plane. While you can fill an extra time with a wander through the terminal or a bite to eat, not having enough time is far from ideal.