Going travelling is every bit as daunting as it is exciting. People who make a habit of exploring the world always talk about how incredible an experience it is, and they aren’t lying. There’s so much for you to see out there – more than you can imagine – and knowing where to start is an almost impossible decision. However, travelling, no matter how life-changing, still comes with its share of risks. When you’re doing it for the first time, you won’t be ready for all that the world’s going to throw at you. This isn’t something to freak out over, though. While I can’t tell you everything to prepare for, I can give you an idea of what not to do when venturing out for the first time.
Going in blind
The mystery of wherever you’re travelling to might be exciting, but you should never hop on a boat or plane completely blind. Being inspired to visit somewhere because of photos you’ve seen or a story someone’s told is totally fine, but you shouldn’t base your decision on just that. Research is a necessity, especially when travelling alone, so that you don’t put yourself in a dangerous situation when abroad.
Planning too much
When you visit somewhere new for the first time, there’s always so much to do. It isn’t possible to visit and experience everything the place has to offer, so keep that in mind when you plan your trip. You’re better off doing less and savouring each moment, rather than running yourself into the ground. You can always visit again next year. Remember as well that journeys abroad require travel across time zones, and jet lag is a very real thing.
Over-packing (and alternatively under packing)
Overpacking is something almost all of us can put our hands up and admit to doing, but it’s not what you want to do when you go travelling. You never want to take more than you find comfortable to carry around. Avoid the urge to pack what you “might” need and focus only on the essentials. There’s a lot to consider, and it might take travelling once or twice to learn what it is you really need to bring, but you’ll work it out. Don’t be too harsh on yourself either. Underpacking is just as big an issue.
Not checking your passport
Your passport is one of the most crucial items you can take with you on your travels. It’s your way in and out of the country. However, many places require your passport to have over six months before expiration for them to let you leave. Be sure to check what the laws are wherever you’re travelling to – you don’t want to get stuck in a foreign country.
There’s a lot that can potentially go wrong when travelling, from issues with the journey to potential medical emergencies while abroad. It’s no different to being at home, only this time you don’t have your family and friends around to help you out when something goes wrong. Invest in travel insurance and check whether it covers expenses for medical emergencies while overseas. It will lower the risk of you landing in a scary and potentially dangerous situation while you’re on your own.
Being too trusting
Meeting new people can be overwhelming in a normal situation, let alone if you’re by yourself in a unknown country. It’s important to step out of your comfort zone and talk to locals, just don’t let your guard down. You shouldn’t be walking around paranoid of everyone, but there are plenty of people who don’t have your best interests at heart and that’s one of the hardest lessons to learn when travelling. That goes for any other travellers you meet on your journey. Meeting someone who speaks the same language as you can be a comfort in foreign countries, but that doesn’t make them any more reliable.
Not being thorough
When you make reservations for your first travel venture, always thoroughly check every document you receive. Ensure that all details are correct while you still have the time to change things. You might think there’s no reason for any of the information to be wrong, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Travelling is an experience that’s completely incomparable. The freedom of being out in the world is exhilarating, but it’s easy to forget how much responsibility rests on your shoulders.
If you’ve ever made any other travelling mistakes that I haven’t included on this list, let me know in the comments.