Heading out to explore the world, whether it’s backpacking, traveling full-time or just studying abroad, can be pretty scary. But don’t despair… there are a lot of travelers that were in your shoes not too long ago, and now they are living the dream! With some positive thinking and our travel tips and tricks you will be off to a successful start.
Here are 60+ travel tips we wish somebody shared with us when we first started.
1. Stay in contact with friends and family back home.
2. Don’t hold onto your money too tightly. If you want to do something, do it. After all, the whole point of traveling is to experience new things and places, not to save money!
3. Support local businesses and avoid chain restaurants and hotels.
4. Respect other countries’ customs. Remember, you are a visitor in someone else’s country.
5. Everyone gets scammed at least once. Just be sure to learn from it, and hope you don’t get fooled again.
6. Sign up for a credit/debit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.
7. You will make a million and one mistakes (even people that have been traveling for years still make them). No one is perfect.
8. Learn at least the basics of the local language. “Please”, “thank you” and “hello” are always nice.
9. Know that not every day will be an awesome day. Don’t let bad experiences ruin your trip.
10. Be prepared for culture shock.
11. Always carry toilet paper with you.
12. Avoid traveling with your most prized possessions.
13. Guidebooks are good and all, but don’t rely on them for everything.
14. Pack half as much as you think you’ll need.
15. Don’t be naive, but also don’t be paranoid when you travel.
16. Get used to the typical backpacker questions: “Where are you from?”, “How long have you been traveling?”, and “What’s your favorite country?” They are good icebreakers and you will hear them over and over again.
17. Always have backup cash hidden away somewhere in case of emergencies.
18. Make sure you know your destination’s visa requirements BEFORE you get there.
19. Rainy season doesn’t mean it is raining for 24 hours straight every day. It’s actually the best time to travel, as places are less touristy and prices are low.
20. Being homesick is normal. It will come … and it will go.
22. Make a digital copy of your passport before you leave and always have a paper copy of your passport on you.
23. Getting lost is a part of traveling! Don’t worry, you will find your way back eventually.
24. A smile goes a long way all over the world.
25. Travel slowly for a more in-depth experience and to avoid burn-out.
26. Fit some physical activity into your travel days. You only have one body, so take care of it.
27. Be it multivitamins or protein powders, supplements provide vitamins and minerals that you may be missing in your diet during travel, so consider bringing some along.
28. Go to places that are not mentioned in your typical guidebook.
29. Have fun and enjoy yourself, but don’t go overboard.
30. Stay open-minded and try things you have never done before.
31. Know your drinking limit.
32. Brush your teeth with bottled water.
33. Keep in mind that buses and trains might not always run on time. Relax, and remember it’s all a part of traveling.
34. Interact with locals because you never know what you might learn.
35. If you haven’t already, try Couchsurfing.
36. Don’t expect places to look like they do in the pictures. Those Instagram pics are cropped, polished, and altered.
37. Travel responsibly and leave a place better than you found it.
38. Read “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho.
39. Bargain, but don’t get hung up over a few cents. They need it more than you do.
40. Always count your change!
41. Get the best travel tips from locals or other backpackers at your destination.
42. More than 25lbs (12kg) on your shoulders is not only heavy, it’s unnecessary. A 30-45 liter travel backpack is more than enough.
43. Invest in a high quality backpack before you leave home.
44. Buy fruits and vegetables at local markets and not big supermarket chains.
45. A little planning is nice, but over-planning will set you up for disappointments and failures. Don’t be afraid to go with the flow and live a little!
46. Avoid packing white clothes. They won’t stay white for long ;D
47. Bring more money than you think you will need.
48. Unlearn the lies you learned about other countries and spread the truth.
49. Travel the way you want and not how everyone else tells you too.
50. Leave your shyness at home and strike up conversations with other people. Remember, they are in the same boat as you.
51. There is nothing wrong with using condoms or taking birth control. Better safe than sorry!
52. Earplugs are one of the best investments you will ever make, even if you are not a light sleeper.
53. Reverse culture shock is very real.
54. Take public transportation.
55. Everybody gets food poisoning at least once on their travels.
56. Disconnect from technology once in awhile and really connect with where you are.
57. Weed, and many other drugs, are easy to get in most backpacker destinations, but that doesn’t mean they are legal. Some countries have severe punishments for drug users, so use at your own risk.
58. Get travel insurance. It could save you from financial ruin.
59. Try not to have huge expectations for places. High expectations can lead to big disappointments and anxiety.
60. Take more than one debit/credit card with you.
61. Get an international driver’s license. You never know.
62. Find creative ways to save money while traveling like eat at pay-what-you-want restaurants.
63. Expect things to be different from how they are at home. After all, you aren’t traveling to your home country!
64. Most importantly: Be free! And have FUN!
Do you have any more travel tips that you would like to share with us?
Emmanuel Chibuikem says
I gave a knowing smile when I came across toilet paper. Nature’s call does not take permission. Great article.
Isabella Jones says
Interesting read. Some of the points are kinda obvious but often overlooked. Going to share this with my cousin who’s planning to go backpacking early next year. Thanks.
That’s a lot of tips :). You are right when we traveled there was no such tips coming our way. However looking back I would not have it any other way. It is great to plan well and then use common sense to let me navigate. I give resounding Hi-five to the last tip that is “Be free! And have FUN” That is the objective and I try not to lose sight of that . Thanks for bringing this article. :) :)
This is a great list for first time travelers! Where was this before I started my trip? I made so many of these mistakes in the beginning.
Mike Cotton says
I could have done with some of these tips when I first started travelling. But I guess making mistakes is part and parcel of travelling. (#40 – still happens today haha). A very helpful collection of tips for first-time travellers.
Yes, Mike, making mistakes is definitely part of traveling, and you will always make them, but knowing you can avoid some definitely helps in not making so many lol!
Whoa! What an amazing list for first time travelers. Wish i had known some of these when i first started traveling way back. I still pack white tops though. Haha. It’s a staple for me. And yes, we always learn along the way.
For that reason alone, is why we decided to write this article so first time travelers have some guidance as they set off on a new journey in their life.
And how do you manage to keep your white tops clean?!?!?!?
Punita Malhotra says
Very comprehensive list of tips to stay conscious of, while travelling. The reverse culture shock…I specially identify so well with that one!
59:spot on! And that is why underrated places are gems:)
30: that’s where the stories are!
14: I can never do it:/ getting there getting there!
37: treat it like your own:) and it will treat you back like that!
17: so so useful. I ll put this in bold and hang it!
39: not always! Bargaining in poorer countries, with locals is a strict no no for me. Sometimes it’s their only source of income and I hate doing it! When we don’t do it in supermarkets why do it on streets.
I can see why you disagree with point 39, however in many developing countries, bargaining is part of the culture! Locals do it and vendors expect it as they set their price double the price they would sell it for! However, if you are not comfortable doing it, then don’t, but if you don’t mind you should definitely do it as it is expected in most places, and you’ll pay less.
Some really useful tips for the new traveller, I think the most important one is number 62.
Couldn’t agree more :)
Siddhartha Joshi says
Excellent tips, and I think many of these work for seasoned travellers like me. I especially like the last one to be free and have fun, that’s the whole purpose of travel but sometimes we forget that…
Yup, you are so right! As seasoned travels sometimes we start to lose sight of the freedom and fun we have access to and forget to be appreciative.
Megan Indoe says
Wow, these are some great tips! One of my favorites has to be supporting local businesses rather than spending your money at chains or big companies. Being as my parents were always small business owners I love supporting small businesses whether at home or abroad.
Thanks! As for supporting local business, we make it our mission till this day to do it as much as possible, especially since big companies are known to never help the community in which they are munching off of!
Thanks for stopping by ;)