We can never forget the firsts in life. The very first time we fell in love, bungee jumped, learned to drive or rode on a rollercoaster. But there is something special about travelling overseas for the very first time. There’s no feeling that matches the excitement and sheer anticipation of flying across the sea. Crossing borders brings out the kid in everyone. There’s something thrilling about the whole experience, from the packing process to people watching at airports and then landing in a new place.
Whether you’re taking a gap year or want travel for just a couple of weeks, it’s always fun to scratch items off your bucket list. But there are a few mistakes first-time travellers make that could negatively affect their holiday and it’s best to look out for them in order to make the most of your trip.
Here are a few mistakes that people usually make when they travel overseas.
Partner in crime
Be careful who your travelling companion is. Sometimes it’s better to go alone than to go with an acquaintance you barely know. It’s a decision you might live to regret. They say you don’t know someone until you’ve travelled with them and it’s true. You’ll spend hours cramped together on the aeroplane, you’ll get lost once or twice and share a dozen meals together. And their true colours will show. If you’re travelling with someone you’re not close to, it might end in arguments and uncomfortable silences. Travelling for the first time should be fun and exciting, not stressful and taxing. Choose a travel buddy whose company you enjoy.
Don’t pack items you won’t need because it will be difficult to carry that baggage around. Do you really need 20 pairs of socks? Do you need to fill your suitcase with five jackets? Yes, you can’t predict the weather and you never know if you might be invited to a party, but that shouldn’t cause you to pack every item in your wardrobe. Try to discern between what’s important and items that’ll just take up space in your luggage.
Don’t be afraid to talk to locals, not everyone wants to take advantage of you. Locals are the gateway to a unique experiences, they’ll expose you to their culture, interesting cuisine and foreign language. Imagine learning a few Mandarin phrases.
Right from the moment you bought your plane ticket, you probably started making loads of bookings. You booked your accommodation and tours and planned day to day activities so you could explore the place. But sometimes the most magical moments on a trip happen when we are spontaneous. Leave room for versatility. Don’t be afraid of experimenting and not sticking to plans. Planning your trip in detail might not allow for flexibility.
Ignorance isn’t always bliss
If you’re going to a new country, you don’t have to know the lingo but it’s important to know the customs, social etiquette and local clothing. For example, in many countries, eating with your hands is the norm.
Road less travelled
Tourist traps can be found in every city in the world and they’re extremely expensive. As a student, you may be on a tight budget and you should avoid these places. Rather ask the locals. They’ll tell where the affordable restaurants are and interesting places you can explore without going broke.
If you don’t have a set budget for your trip, you may find yourself running out of money. Spend your money wisely or you could find yourself skipping out on meals. It’s important to plan out the cost of meals, activities and things you plan on buying. For example, you don’t have to buy an “I love NYC” T-shirt for everyone back home. The truth is, your family may be interested in the cheap trinkets you bring them at first but later it’ll probably be chucked in the cupboard.
Don’t act like a tourist
You can spot them from a mile away. The nervous looks, hands gripping bags tightly, maps in one hand and cameras around their necks. Try not to show that you’re a tourist. Try blend in with the crowd or petty thieves will spot you and take advantage of your vulnerability.
Travelling to a new city can be exciting and scary all at the same time. You get to meet new people and get exposed to new experiences, whether it’s the Taj Mahal or the Eiffel Tower. If you avoid these mistakes, you could have the time of your life.