The Beginner’s Guide To Traveling - The Best Tips & Advice for New Travelers
Traveling for beginners is exhilarating and just a little intimidating. What should you pack? How much money should you budget for your trip? Do you need travel insurance? For that matter, how do you decide on a destination? This beginner's guide to traveling is for all of you heading out for the first time.
Start Small, and Build on Your Successes
Out of all the top travel tips for beginners, this is perhaps the most important advice we can give: start small. You don't learn to swim by jumping off the diving board into the deep end of the pool, and you don’t want to travel to challenging destinations on your first trip. Get used to traveling before you embark on that hiking trip through northern Mongolia or visiting countries with less than stable political systems.
Keep your first forays into travel restricted to domestic flights. Once you’re familiar with at-home travel, broaden your horizons with trips to stable nations such as Canada or EU nations. When you’re more confident, you can arrange that five-nation kayaking tour you’ve always dreamed of.
Research Your Destination
Spontaneous trips to exotic locales always look amazing on television and in movies, but it’s better to plan your trips in real life. A little research into your destination will pay dividends once you arrive and helps prevent unwanted surprises.
Start your research by exploring travel blogs and travel guides centered on your destination and the type of travel you’re planning (traveling solo, for instance, is very different from traveling with a young family). Read as much as you can about accommodations, food, culture, local laws, things to do, and activities or locations to avoid. Don’t forget to check the weather, which impacts what kind of clothing you pack.
Check what time of year is best to travel to your destination. Do you want to be there for special events during peak season, or would you prefer the off-season? If you’re traveling on a budget, off-season travel can save you money, but you may not have access to all the events and activities you want to experience. Off-season travel can also coincide with unfavorable weather conditions.
Use your research to guide how much time you’ll want to spend at your destination. You may discover that the long weekend trip you were originally planning may need to be extended to a weeklong getaway to get the best experience. Remember to factor travel time into your plans.
Choosing the Right Luggage
Luggage sizes range from large, 62 linear inch suitcases to handy carry-on rolling luggage and backpacks. Choosing your first piece of luggage depends on multiple factors, including how long you’ll be traveling, who you’re traveling with, and what souvenirs you’re planning on bringing home.
As a general rule, new travelers tend to overestimate how large their luggage needs to be. Opt for a carry-on roller like the Travelpro® Platinum® Elite 21” Expandable Carry-On Spinner for your first trip. It’s large enough you can pack several days’ worth of clothing, and you won’t have to deal with checking in and picking up luggage. For long weekends, you may be able to pack everything you need in the Crew™ Executive Choice™ 3 Large Backpack.
What Type of Clothes to Pack
Top travel tips always emphasize packing light. This makes packing a bit of a balancing act — ideally, you want to pack only the clothes you’ll use for the trip, and not one pair of socks more. Learning what you need to pack takes time and is dependent on personal preferences. Some people are fine spending a week mixing and matching a pair of jeans, one pair of shorts, and three t-shirts, while others feel icky if they don’t wear fresh, unwrinkled clothing every day.
As a very general rule for a week-long stay, pack two to three seasonally appropriate tops. Pack two pairs of shorts or skirts for warm climes and one pair of pants or a dress. For cooler destinations, switch out the shorts and skirts for warmer legwear. Add a pair of shoes, a seasonal jacket, underwear, socks, and any optional clothing, such as swimsuits or a particularly nice top for evening wear. Any more than a week’s worth of clean clothing is rarely necessary, as you can usually find somewhere to do laundry.
What Else to Pack
Thanks to smartphones and tablets, the amount of extra equipment people need to pack is much lower than it once was. Unless you’re a devoted photographer, why pack a camera when you can use your smartphone to snap pictures? A tablet takes up less space than a laptop and allows you to read, watch movies, play games, and listen to music as you travel. Invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones for long flights, don’t forget your charging cables, and consider packing a USB battery pack to ensure you don’t run out of power when you need it.
If you’re traveling with carry-on luggage, you want to make every inch of packing space count. Make the most of your luggage by using packing cubes to keep items organized. Shoe cubes, toiletry bags, tech organizers for cables and adapters, and a laundry organizer all help you get the most out of your luggage.
Preparing for Unexpected
Learning how to adapt to the unexpected is important for new travelers. Here are some of the top travel tips for when travel doesn’t go as smoothly as you planned.
Stay in Touch
Smartphones make it easy to check in with family and friends as you travel. Apps such as Whatsapp, Skype, Messenger, and Instagram are great for sharing photos and news, and in a pinch, are also quick ways to contact people if your flight’s been delayed or to reach out during other unexpected travel events.
Travel insurance protects you from a range of travel-related woes, covering everything from medical emergencies to flight cancellations and lost luggage. Be sure to read travel insurance policies carefully to understand what is not covered.
Budget Extra Cash
Maybe you just found that perfect souvenir. Perhaps you just have to eat at a high-end restaurant you only heard about when you got to the hotel. Maybe you just discovered the actual cost of that activity you planned your trip around is higher than you thought. In any of these cases, having a little extra in your travel budget will help you enjoy yourself without worrying about the cost.
Changes in weather can result in flight delays. Many airlines now allow travelers to change but not cancel their travel plans due to severe weather. If the airline issues weather advisories, you may be able to reschedule your flight without paying flight change fees.
Before you travel, set up your phone with a PIN and biometric security. Phones are small but expensive, making them tempting targets for thieves. By using your phone’s security options, you can lock unauthorized users out of the device, remotely track missing phones, and even wipe the phone of data should it go missing.
Starting Your Traveling Journey
Ultimately, the best beginner’s guide to traveling is to, well, travel. Getting out there is the best way to familiarize yourself with airports, hotels, and the many little challenges that make traveling for beginners seem intimidating. Travel will become second nature once you have a few trips under your belt. Before you know it, you’ll be passing your own top travel tips on to others!