When you are fresh off the plane on your first travel adventure there is much you don’t know about the wider world, but a lot you do know about the place where you just left. This can be dangerous as it can lead you to commit many cultural faux pas. It may also mean that you travel with a mind that is not yet open to new experiences and ways of being. To make your journey of discovery and growth easier, here is a list of 43 travel tips for first-time travellers:
1. Don’t expect things to be like they are at home.
2. Travel with your eyes wide open.
3. Be open to learn new things.
4. Don’t judge, instead say, “Isn’t that interesting? Tell me more.”
5. Learn the basics of the local language. Use them often. It is the best way to show respect, break down barriers and start conversations.
6. Manners are universal, use them.
7. Do not shout at others, they are not deaf, they just can’t understand you.
8. NEVER complain that the people of the country you are visiting do not speak English. Remember where you are.
9. Bargain, it is an expected part of a transaction.
10. Do not over-bargain. 50 cents is nothing to you, but may mean a day’s worth of meals to the person you are haggling with.
11. Respect local customs. It is not about your way, you are the visitor.
12. Party, yes. Have fun, yes, but do not go so far to extremes that it means you trash the local area and country and people die.
13. Leave a good impression of your culture on the countries you are visiting.
14. Have off the beaten path adventures and enjoy travelling to the touristy stuff too - just add a different angle to it.
15. Don’t think you are so awesomely cool just because you’ve visited 58 countries on a budget of $25 a day and all you do is go off the beaten path like a real hard-core traveller does.
16. Travel in a style that is in alignment with your values and suits your likes and interests. Ignore everyone else’s opinion.
17. Start travelling when you are young
18. Don’t listen to the naysayers and dreamstealers telling you why you can’t live your dreams and how you should conform.
19. Eat street food. It won’t kill you. In fact, there are many reasons why you should eat street food.
20. Try different local dishes- ditch the Western diet.
21. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable, it is how you grow.
22. Be flexible, it is the best way to adapt.
23. Ask for help when you need it, even if it is in sign language and charades.
24. Carry palm cards with important phrases written on it in the local language - essential for vegetarians in China.
25. Don’t be afraid to respectfully say no.
26. If the chief of a village offers you rice wine shots at 10am after a morning hike so you can chase away any evil spirits you are carrying, do not be afraid to say YES.
27. Talk to the local people. Be friendly. It’s amazing what you will learn.
28. Do as much “local” as you can: local food, local transport, local accommodation.
29. Smile, smile, smile, and laugh often - you’ll meet so many new friends this way.
30. Do one thing each day that scares you and push those comfort barriers a little further out each time.
31. Share and mingle with other travellers. It will give you a feeling of always being among friends.
32. Celebrate local customs and festivals with the local culture in their traditional manner.
33. Learn about other religions, not necessarily to believe something new, but to understand and perhaps to bring light onto your own beliefs.
34. Don’t rely on technology to help get you around, you will end up lost when the map app crashes.
35. Travel for longer in fewer places.
36. Don’t be afraid to take each day as it comes with limited plans.
37. Guard your passport with your life and don’t ever give it to US immigration for a visa extension because they somehow think you don’t need it to leave the country and won’t return it to you.
38. Have travel insurance – it ain’t sexy but neither is the thousands you could end up paying if you don’t have it.
39. If you get robbed or bad things happen, don’t get hung up on it. As long as you are safe and well, let it go and continue to enjoy yourself.
40. Learn how to toilet squat. You’ll need it.
41. Don’t be afraid to blow the budget on those once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
42. If you are really hating it, then change direction.
43. Be prepared for reverse culture shock when you return home as it could really mess you up.
Author: Caz Makepeace, co-founder of “Y Travel Blog”