Travel

The Best Travel Advice For The First Time Traveller

Travelling can be extremely daunting for a first-timer. You are dealing with so many emotions, so many doubts, so many unknown possibilities. The single biggest piece of travel advice I can give to any first-time traveller is to keep an open mind. I call it ‘the traveller’s mindset’. If you venture out into the world with expectations and a strict plan, you will not be able to explore the deeper meaning of your travels. You will feel pressure, and you will miss out on so much that travel has to offer underneath the surface. When we put aside or expectations, we open our eyes to a much bigger view, and much more enriching experience.

Here is my biggest and best advice for all first-time travellers to ensure you get the most authentic experience out of your travels;


Accept that things will be different

Things are not going to be the same as you used to back home. You are going to be out of your comfort zone. Embrace it. Taste those new flavours in an unknown dish, take the overcrowded local bus where people travel on the roof and ask a local for directions because you don’t have the internet on your phone. Allow yourself to be a beginner. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. By doing this, you are opening yourself up to an endless stream of possibilities.

Riding the local bus in India

Take a step back

Don’t try and squeeze a million things into a tight itinerary. Slow down and really take everything in. Just because trip advisor’s travel advice says that one of the top ten things to see in Paris is the Mona Lisa, it doesn’t mean you have to see it, especially if you’re not interested in art. Don’t let the opinions of others determine your experiences. If you stumble across a cute little cafe that serves the best coffee you’ve ever had and you spark up a fascinating conversation with a friendly local, then enjoy it and be present in that moment. Spend the entire afternoon, chatting and drinking coffee. Don’t be in a rush to be somewhere. If you are, you will miss out on more than you think you will miss out on by not sticking to your itinerary. Trust me; the best experiences are often the most unexpected ones. 

“A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles”- Tim Cahill

Enjoying a sunset from the rooftop with hostel friends
Enjoying a sunset from the rooftop with hostel friends

Put your assumptions and what you think you know to the side

Put everything you think you know about a country or a place to the side. Open up your mind to learning and understanding everything you can about that place. Chances are, what you think you probably knew, is wrong anyway.

Allow for things to go wrong

Because they will, you can’t avoid it when you travel. Expect the unexpected. Be prepared to dust yourself off and try again. Being ok with things going wrong will build your resilience. When things go wrong, it is often some of the most memorable times of your travels. My two most standout memories during all of my travels, are when I got robbed in Sri Lanka and then ended up in the hospital three weeks later with my nose split open. Shit happens, but if you have the right mindset, you will get through it, and you’ll probably have a heck of a story to tell.

Still smiling after getting 20 stitches in Sri Lanka
Still smiling after getting 20 stitches in Sri Lanka after a surfing accident

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Listen to others and ask questions

Your view of the world is not the only view of the world. Lose yourself in conversation with others. Ask questions to understand the way others think, see and experience the world. Seek answer’s to your questions in others. Ask others for travel advice along the way. Let others teach you things that you would have never considered otherwise. Everybody you meet has something to teach you. Learn from them.

Enjoying a coconut and the view with my Indonesian friend Tommy
Enjoying a coconut and the view with my Indonesian friend Tommy

Know when to trust your gut

Sometimes keeping an open mind is not always the best thing to do. Be sure to know when to trust your gut and separate keeping an open mind from keeping out of danger. I once found myself in a very vulnerable and dangerous situation because for a moment I’d become too trusting and forgot the one golden rule my mum always tells me; ‘never completely put your trust in anyone on the road, no matter how well you think you know them’. Luckily, with some quick realisation, before it was too late, I was able to get myself out of the situation, but it could of cost me my life at the time. So please, always, ALWAYS trust your gut if something doesn’t feel right. Know the limitations of keeping an open mind.

Overall

Although it seems simple, keeping an open mind is extremely valuable travel advice for the first time traveller and it goes hand in hand with always keeping your safety at the forefront of your mind. If you carry this mindset with you during your travels, you are sure to have a whole lot of fun!

Have some more great advice for first-time travellers?

Share it in the comments below!

Sammy xx

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