The Newbie Traveller’s Guide to Avoiding Mistakes on Their First Trip

When I started my wanderlust lifestyle some years ago, I wasn’t prepared for most of the things I encountered. I was more impulsive in my younger years and my trips where decided on a whim. Although, it’s advisable to get spontaneous once in a while, it’s better to plan every trip you make- especially if it’s a totally new territory.

Back then, I made many mistakes that could have been avoided. And some people aren’t always as lucky to have it easy. So, I am writing a guide list of common things first-time travellers can do to avoid mistakes when they go to a new country.

People traveling to the United States or any of its territories like Hawaii, need not worry about being turned back because President Trumps’s terrorist country ban has been overturned by a federal judge. This means that, as long as they have a valid US visa, they will be allowed into the country.

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For travelling citizens of visa waiver countries,like Ireland,  applying for ESTA USA and getting approved is a requirement if you want to set your foot in the country. An ESTA visa is a permit that grants nationals from certain designated countries entry into the US.

Traveling tips that will save you a lot of trouble

1. First learn about the country

It’s always good to have some inside information about anywhere you are travelling to. Sure, you may come across stereotypes, but it’s not for you to consume hook, line and sinker. Visit trusted tourism websites, read encounters of experienced travellers or ask friends who have been there. A little inside information gives you the advantage of what itinerary to take along, what to wear, the currency rates and more.

2. Expand your taste buds ahead of your trip

It is good to get your tummy ready so you don’t spend your whole trip in the loo. This happened to me once in Indonesia when I ate trepang (smoked sea cucumbers) and couldn’t hold it down. I usually advise people to visit the local restaurant in their country (if there is one) and get accustomed to some dishes. Otherwise, it’s no problem, just try each new food item one at a time.

3. Learn a bit of the language

This goes without saying. Besides making your trip more fun, a fair command of the language can save you some money. Locals are able to sniff tourists from a mile, making the more enterprising ones take advantage of your naivete. You can also strike up friendships that could get you certain favours during your stay; for example, the cheapest places to buy stuff, the hottest bars, finest restaurants and so on.

4. Plan, plan and plan some more

You can never get prepared enough. From obtaining the local currency, to booking your hotel reservations and drawing up your list of activities for each day, making plans cave save you a great deal of discomfort. Did you know it’s a lot cheaper to book your flight and hotel rooms weeks (even months) ahead? Mark out favourite places you’ll visit each day to avoid wasting precious minutes wandering in mere cluelessness.

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5. Check your documentation

Documentation is very important. Items like your passport, visa and travel insurance, to name a few, can make your trip worthwhile- or not if you don’t have them. For example, traveling without a health insurance is a no no because you never know what might happen. For something so cheap to obtain, you could end up spending quite a lot if you lack one, and need medical attention.

6. Budget for extra time

Have you ever planned a trip for four days and found yourself extending it to a week? Well, I have. And it’s not only romance that could make you do so (this is actually a major reason), it may be the sheer attraction of a place so attractive. You never know what may hold you back, so make room for extra days- more money, items, increased medical supplies and the like. Keep an open mind for this especially.

7. Always be cautious

While travel can be fun and interesting, it does have its ugly side. You’ll often hear about mishaps on trips in the news, and adventures gone wrong. This is made even more popular by movies such as Taken and Hostel. Practice “safety first” and avoid joining parties you don’t know or following people you don’t trust. If you are traveling solo, keep in touch with loved ones, know the tourist emergency numbers and be generally alert.

Do all these and your experience is bound to be a pleasant one with less hassles. Happy travels!