On my first trip to Sweden, we needed direction. It seemed logical to walk to an open clerk’s window. A woman brushed against us as we started, giving us a look that could melt us. I noticed a line about 20 feet away from the clerk’s window with no signs.
The need for a large open space between the travelers and the help window in that train station was obvious to the locals. The open space implied an invitation to enter for my wife and me.
The first tip for beginning travelers is to remain aware of your environment and pay attention. Below are other tips that can help make your trip more pleasant.
Easy Does It
Some destinations are more accessible than others in terms of travel time. If this is your first time traveling outside of the country, it may be worthwhile to explore one of the more specific places, such as six weeks on Bouvet Island or a short journey up K2 Mountain. But, well, if that’s what you want, go ahead and get it.
Cell Phone Features
Unlock the travel feature of your phone and be aware of the roaming fees.
You can end costly data plans for travel, such as those from Sprint and Verizon. Local SIM cards are the most convenient option.
Unless, of course, you have T-Mobile. Their Simple Choice plans provide unlimited foreign data in nearly every country, and they are available in almost every language. It is, on the other hand, prolonged. They were the subject of my article The Best Cellular Plan for Travelers.
Purchase a smaller bag than you anticipate you would require. On the other hand, an excellent travel backpack is what I favor. Some people prefer the hybrid backpack/rolly-bag style, but I find them clumsy and inconvenient.
Avoid regular rolly bags and big luggage if you’re going skiing or doing something similar.
An inexpensive laptop with a USB battery pack is handy. But noise-canceling headphones can keep you sane.
This will be the most challenging aspect of the trip. Overpacking is one of the most challenging inclinations to resist in the world. “But I might need this!!!” is a phrase that is so ubiquitous that entire companies have sprung up around it, charging you for unnecessary junk and hefty baggage. For everything, aim for a maximum of 30 pounds. If you’re not bringing a lot of devices, try to keep it under 25 pounds. You don’t have enough clothes to last more than a week. You can do your laundry just about anywhere.
On the other hand, traveling light will completely transform your trip experience.
Someone I know had her camera stolen from her in a cab and lost three weeks’ worth of images, practically the entirety of her multi-country vacation around Asia. Cloud backups are inexpensive and straightforward to utilize. Although I like Google Photos, there are many alternative solutions available.
Google Translate is the best program available (download languages when connected to WiFi, and it will work even if you don’t have a data connection). Google Maps comes in second place (download an area on WiFi, which will also work without a data connection).
Introduce mobile applications to your family. Maintaining contact with loved ones when traveling is essential for your emotional health as much as theirs.
You can’t beat having your blog if you’re serious about it and have a little technical know-how.
Be Cautious, Not Fearful
Hostels aren’t something that most people in the United States think about. Some people believe that these are filthy, rowdy, and dangerous locations. Most of the ones I’ve stayed at throughout my two years of full-time travel are much nicer than most hotels, which is understandable given the circumstances.
Secure Your Phone
Your phone and the data it contains are probably your most valuable possession. Phones are inexpensive and readily replaced. The theft of personal data is significantly more severe. Pictures, locations, and how many financial apps and websites you have that automatically log you in are excellent examples of what I mean.
Don’t Be An Easy Target
Thieves working in teams are like wolves stalking the weak. In this case, weakness is mostly unaware.
Don’t leave your bag on a café table. Don’t focus on a crowd selfie.
The great majority are decent. They’ll help you if you need it. If you forget something, you can buy it there. The world is both different and the same in unexpected ways. Get out there and explore.