43 Travel Tips for New travelers

When you are fresh off the plane on your first travel adventure there is much you don’t know about the wider world.

But a lot you do know about the place where you just left.

This can be dangerous as it can lead you to commit many cultural faux pas. It may also mean that you travel with a mind that is not yet open to new experiences and ways of being.

To make your journey of discovery and growth easier, here is a list of

43 travel tips for first time travelers

1. Don’t expect things to be like they are at home.

2. Travel with your eyes wide open.

3. Be open to learn new things.

4. Don’t judge, instead say, “Isn’t that interesting? Tell me more.”

5. Learn the basics of the local language. Use them often. It is the best way to show respect, break down barriers and start conversations.

6. Manners are universal, use them.

7. Do not shout at others, they are not deaf, they just can’t understand you.

8. NEVER complain that the people of the country you are visiting do not speak English. Remember where you are.

9. Bargain, it is an expected part of a transaction.

10. Do not over bargain. 50 cents is nothing to you, but may mean a days worth of meals to the person you are haggling with.

11. Respect local customs. It is not about your way, you are the visitor.

12. Party yes. Have fun yes, but do not go so far to extremes that it means you trash the local area and people die.

13. Leave a good impression of your culture on the countries you are visiting.

14. Have off the beaten path adventures and enjoy traveling to the touristy stuff too – just add a different angle to it.

15. Don’t think you are so awesomely cool just because you’ve visited 58 countries on a budget of $25 a day and all you do is go off the beaten path like a real hard-core traveler does.

16. Travel in a style that is in alignment with your values and suits your likes and interests. Ignore everyone else’s opinion.

17. Start travelling when you are young

18. Don’t listen to the naysayers and dream-stealers telling you why you can’t live your dreams and how you should conform.

19. Eat street food. It won’t kill you. In fact, there are many reasons why you should eat street food.

20. Try different local dishes – ditch the Western diet.

21. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable, it is how you grow.

22. Be flexible, it is the best way to adapt.

23. Ask for help when you need it, even if it is in sign language and charades.

24. Carry palm cards with important phrases written on it in the local language. essential for vegetarians in China.

25. Don’t be afraid to respectfully say no.

26. If the chef of a village offers you rice wine shots at 10am after a morning hike so you can chase away any evil spirits you are carrying, do not be afraid to say YES.

27. Talk to the local people. Be friendly. It’s amazing what you will learn.

28. Do as much local as you can: local food, local transport, local accommodation.

29. Smile smile smile and laugh often- you’ll meet so many new friends this way.

30. Do one thing each day that scares you and push those comfort barriers a little further out each time.

31. Share and mingle with other travellers. It will give you a feeling of always being among friends.

32. Celebrate local customs and festivals with the local culture in their traditional manners.

33. Learn about other religions, not necessarily to believe something new, but to understand and perhaps to bring light unto your own beliefs.

34. Don’t rely on technology to help get you around, you will end up lost when the map app crashes.

35. Travel for longer in fewer places.

36. Don’t be afraid to take each day as it comes with limited plans.

37. Guard your passport with your life and don’t ever give it to US immigration for visa extension because they somehow think you don’t need it to leave the country and won’t return it to you.

38. Have travel insurance – it ain’t sexy but neither is the thousands you could end up paying if you don’t have it.

39. If you get robbed or bad things happen, don’t get hung up on it. As long as you are safe and well, let it go and continue to enjoy yourself.

40. Learn how to toilet squat. You’ll need it.

41. Don’t be afraid to blow the budget on those once in a lifetime experiences.

42. If you are really hating it, then change direction.

43. Be prepared for reverse culture shock when you return home as it could really mess you up.

Need more travel tips?

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157 thoughts on “43 Travel Tips for New travelers”

  1. Great tips! I’d like to add:
    – Always always trust your gut instinct. Learn to listen to it and follow it. If you feel safe – then do it. If you don’t, then for goodness sake, don’t! (As a new traveller, I once missed a Turkish wedding because I was too scared to accept an invitation to go; others that went had the time of their lives. On other occasions, I’m sure I’ve saved my skin by not accepting lifts to invitations to houses for dinner that felt dodgy).
    – Travel on your own from time to time. It forces to you be become self reliant and interact with those you may not have otherwise
    – If you really like it, buy it. It might blow the budget today but you will have a memento that will last for years (such as a carpet, handbag, painting / artwork, etc)
    – If traveling on your own and feeling lonesome yet not meeting other fellow travellers that you gel with, change hostels.
    – Remember, cheaper is not necessarily better. Sometimes it’s worth splashing out some extra money to eat in a really well regarded restaurant, or take a taxi and save yourself an hour of public transport.
    – Be smart, be safe.
    – Avoid restaurants that have pictures of the dishes on billboards out the front and look for places where locals are eating.
    – Of course be happy and always respect that you are a visitor in someone else’s country.

    Love your work!

    1. GREAT tips Dianne. Completely agree with all of them/ Absolutely LOVE the trust your gut instincts one. A mantra for life. Your gut will never lie and the only time I’ve been in trouble is when I haven’t listened to it. It happened to us just this past weekend and it put ourselves in a pretty dire situation. Lucky we got out of it!
      Thanks for linking to the post as well on your blog

  2. Great tips for first time travelers and seasoned pros alike. I feel like the more you travel, the more you forget the simple things.

    I’m especially keen to:

    14. Have off the beaten path adventures and enjoy travelling to the touristy stuff too- just add a different angle to it.

    15. Dont think you are so awesomely cool just because you’ve visited 58 countries on a budget of $25 a day and all you do is go off the beaten path like a real hard-core traveller does.

  3. 1- always carry a deck of cards. It is a great way to meet people in a hostel when you’re too tired to go out.
    2- ask around the hostel kitchen if anyone wants to do a ‘group cookup’- share your ingredients and cook up a feast.
    3- pack dental floss. Not only is it great for oral hygeine, but it is also emergency shoelaces, hair ties, clothes line (for smalls).
    4-learn how to make friendship bands. Give them to people you meet who help you out or make an impression. Barter for something or sell them for extra cash.

    1. Oh the deck of cards is a GREAT idea. So are all the rest actually. Cards always kept me entertained in so many different travel situations, and I met so many people as a result and had a lot of laughter! Even with local people, we played cards at the local bar/restaurant in Bukkittingi Sumatra till early hours every evening for a week with the staff there and other travellers- it was a hoot.

  4. I love this! Great advice as always. (I’m intrigued about the US immigration remark though.) Traveling is about so much more than just going to the places. Experiencing the culture, trying the street food, taking a few chances here and there, it’s all what makes traveling that much more rewarding.

    1. Now that was a story Ali! I should write a post about that though. Short version. We handed our passports in to get a visa extension. A week before we were due to depart, we got the visa extension but no passport was returned and no one could tell us where they were. AFter days of tears and frustrations and stress about becoming illegal in the States which would ruin our chances of returning to live, we went to Oz embassy who cancelled and gave us emergency passports. It was a nightmare!

      1. OMG that’s insane! I can’t believe they didn’t return your passports! So glad the Oz embassy was able to work it out for you. Yikes!

  5. Great tips, and not just for new travellers. There are some tips there that we need to be reminded about before each and every trip overseas. This should be a Travellers Manifesto!

  6. Daniel McBane

    When you’ve been traveling for a while, you’re aware of most , if not all, of these tips (which is probably why you called them tips for first time travelers), but you tend to forget some of them. Thanks for the reminder–it’s definitely something I need every now and then.

    1. No worries Daniel! I think a refresher for everyone is important. It was fun thinking of them to put in the list and was a good reminder for me too

  7. An additional tip for people thinking about travelling for the first time is that sometimes the hardest decision is the one to actually travel. Travelling is all about deciding to go and then following through.

    I always know that I am serious when I create a rough outline of my planned trip and start saving the money to reach my travel goal.

  8. Lovely round up of tips there Caz! This one is short yet sweet:

    22. Be flexible, it is the best way to adapt.

    I really need to start doing Yoga πŸ˜‰

  9. I have to add that the advice to bargain depends on where you go. I know it’s expected in many countries, but if you walked into a store in Chile and started bargaining, people would think you were insane just as they would if you tried to bargain somewhere like the US. But #26 I wholeheartedly agree with!

    1. True True! But there are some instances in countries like this where you can use your bartering experience to negotiate better deals!

  10. Travelling in fewer places for longer is a great tip. From our perspective when departing Australia it takes so darn long to get anywhere by plane that we always want to cram in as much as we can when we’re away.
    Our plan next time is to travel slowly, as they say and take time to really take everything in. Great article!

  11. infinite likes…..
    I just love to make travels and these tips will certainly help me a lot. I will remember all of your tips and thank you very much for this wonderful post. πŸ™‚

  12. Completely agree with this list! Especially number 18! Down with the Naysayers!!! Where are here (where ever here is) and we are doing it our way!
    Come to think of it, I think this list is also very useful for people staying where they are. πŸ˜€

    And I would supplement number 40 with “learn how use water instead of toilet paper”. Squatting was never a problem for me, but using the bum gun… 0_0

  13. No, travel insurance isn’t sexy but I wouldn’t go anywhere without it! I get a bit disappointed when I hear of even experienced travellers going without it and then discovering that they wish they had it.

    But my favourite tip is NEVER complain that people in a country your visiting don’t speak English! So true.

      1. I agree about the English language complaints. Decades ago while I was in Europe, I was lost looking at a map when a German lady asked if she could help. I happily said yes, please. She apologized for her English (which was great BTW), and I told her that I should apologize for not learning more of her language and thanked her profusely for her help! After all, I was in her country and did not expect her to speak English! We had a delightful conversation and she expressed how nice I was for an American. Sad that Americans have a bad reputation overseas!

        1. What a wonderful experience Virginia. Thank you for sharing! It is sad Americans have a bad reputation overseas as I don’t find that here in the country at all.

  14. Very useful tips not only for first-time travelers but also for those who are always on the go!

    Do you like traveling? You should try to go to Indonesia. Many places interesting choices there.

  15. If you are travelling as a couple it’s always a good idea to split up your clothing in both suitcases. In the event of one piece of luggage being misplaced, you’ll both have clothing to last you a few days until it’s recovered.

  16. Great tips if you are travelling lone. I agree with travel insurance, its a must thing to have. Funny you say about using the squat toilet, it comes handy if you learn how to use it.

  17. Great travel tips guys! I especially agree with this one “If you get robbed or bad things happen, don’t get hung up on it. As long as you are safe and well, let it go and continue to enjoy yourself”. I got robbed once but in the end it all worked out.

    1. Yep. The old “Don’t cry over spilt milk” saying here rings so much truth. Don’t let it disturb the rest of your amazing adventures.

  18. I definitely agree with #40- Learn how to use a squat toilet. πŸ™‚ Practice keeping your balance in private…. eventually you can do it with your pack on! I don’t think you’d want to put your bag on the ground near a squatty potty. πŸ˜›

  19. Love the tips πŸ™‚ What strike me most is No. 15.

    World is definitely large to cover everything in one day. Even back in home, there’s always something new & interesting to see each day and yet to be discovered.

    Do you mind if I translated some of your tips (to my local language) & link back to this post? Thanks!

  20. I read the title “43 travel tips for first time-travellers”,
    not “43 travel tips for first-time travellers”

    I guess I read too much science-fiction.

    πŸ˜‰

  21. Hi Caz,
    Enjoyed reading the tips – they are very helpful.
    A question – do you have any suggestions on taking people pictures and publishing them in blogs or social media ( of coursse, with proper respect to the individuals)..we just returned from a two week travels in China..in areas, where yo do not know the language, your communication is via smiles, hand gestures and nods..and in crowded places or when you are traveling by bus , etc..you do not even have time for that..but some of the captures of people at work, kids enjoying food items or at play are very interesting..any of your own rules while you post them..Many thanks..
    Jay Bhandary…fellow traveller

    1. There aren’t any rules I guess as such. This topic could actually be explored more by travellers and people in the community as I don’t really know the answer. I think as a general guideline always ask the person if you can take their picture and then mention you have an online publication you may put it on and if it is okay. I know with the language barriers we can’t always do this, so ask in the best way you know how with charades!!! IT might be a good idea before you go to a country, to get those questions written on a piece of paper in the native language to cover yourself.

  22. ” 8. NEVER complain that the people of the country you are visiting do not speak English. Remember where you are.”

    I love this quote and I always remember this thing when I travel

  23. Lots of good tips here. I love the ones that talk about being open-minded and respecting the country. I know many times, when people begin to travel, they except it to be like their own country – not true! Embrace those differences! =)

  24. You can never have too much insurance! I’ve had a few “accidents” along the way and thankfully they have all been covered. You’re right in saying it isn’t sexy, but necessities like that usually aren’t. πŸ™‚

  25. Judith Twitchell

    WONDERFUL web page & tips – THANK YOU so very much! Some are just common since, but we so often need to be REMINDED of just such logical protocol.

    I wholeheartedly agree with your #5. Learn the basics of the local language. Use them often. It is the best way to show respect, break down barriers and start conversations.

    I had that forefront in mind when I visited Germany (I don’t speak German, but learned to say “Please, thank you, how much? Excuse me & I’m sorry” expecting to use them often. I took a side trip to France (I do speak French, yay!) and was eager to get to use the language. When I stopped in the Post Office to mail some post cards, I asked for the stamps in French, but stumbled on the word for “stamps”. The clerk just rolled his eyes at me and said, “Oh, just speak English!” most disgustedly. LOL – he was the rudest person I met the whole trip; but later that evening, when I got lost walking back to the train station, a lovely elderly woman walking her dog (and who did not speak English) graciously showed me the way. She was by far the kindest person I met on the whole trip! πŸ™‚

    1. Great stories Judith! Thank you for sharing. Unfortunately rude people in any country is something you can’t avoid. What a shame he had that attitude towards the respect you were showing. I love the kindness of strangers you meet when travelling. The Universal language

  26. These tips are just not only make your travel more enjoyable but also taught a good lesson to live a life the way you want. There is no point of regretting things later which you haven’t done in your life.

  27. Let me just add one thing which many many people overlook and subsequently often have grief over … Always read the terms and conditions when purchasing travel services especially air tickets, it is important info.

  28. Nice Sharing and very useful tips. I have learned many things today, i have visited your blog first time. I give it a big thumbs up. Traveling provides an education in life that you cannot obtain in any other way.

  29. Loving these tips guys, especially the ones about being respectful of the local culture, and language. Nothing bugs me more than when I see disrespectful travellers, or people moaning about English not being spoken in South Korea/Poland/Turkey/wherever.

    Also, I’m interested to hear where that shot of rice wine tip comes from…that’s too specific for there not to be a story behind it πŸ˜‰

    1. Pet Hate Tom!! I find it so bizarre that people even find it annoying that local people don’t speak English. How could you be that ignorant?

      Yes the rice wine shot came at the end of a hot hike through the local rice fields near Muang Ngoi in Laos. We did not want to upset the spirits so had to oblige the local chief’s request to shoot it down and then join him for lunch and a chat! They rarely had white people pass on through. Great experience.

  30. I always think the smile is number 1 must for first time travellers.

    In any situation smile and always find the funny side and you’ll get through it.

    Great List!

    1. Totally agree!! You can always find something to smile about even if it is simple how ridiculously absurd your situation is.

      It’s probably way more interesting and enjoyable than being stuck in a cubicle. At least your creating a story to tell.

  31. It’s so inspiring, caz.and These are amazing thoughts. And it’s true that we need to relax while we travel.Getting after it and seeing the world is truly living…

    Cheers!

  32. Thanks for the great advice and tips!

    I would like add
    Travel light! Nothing worse than hauling around clothes that you never end up using.
    Buy a pair of the most comfortable walking shoes you can afford, European cobblestone streets can be a killer on your soles after walking around for hours.
    Travel in the season which matches what you mainly want to see and do.
    I have to say though when you get home you will only remember and focus on the positive experiences….

    1. GREAT tips! The shoes is a great one. I still have a pair of hiking shoes I brought 7 years ago in China. They are a great brand and so comfortable. I’ve walked everywhere in them and they still look brand new. It was so worth spending the extra money.

  33. Elle of Solo Female Nomad

    All great points; although I have to say that point 40 is the most important though – lol! That was the biggest adjustment that I had to make and a real shock to the system. If anything, it makes you appreciate home more πŸ™‚

  34. Excellent tips – I especially like the tip of “travel for longer in fewer places” – too many people make the mistake of cramming a whole heap of places to visit in a very short space of time, and then don’t see much of those places at all. Much better to travel slowly, and travel extensively.

  35. This list is fantastic. I always love finding great travel tips. My favorite tip is number 38. I think it is super important to not plan each second of the day while on vacation.

      1. I had to double check what I wrote. I was saying I agree with you! I love NOT planning each second of my vacation. I would have missed out on a lot of great things had I not been flexible πŸ™‚

  36. Hi there,

    Great list, thanks. I wanted to add one more that you left out: take some self-defense classes, whether male or female. I think it’s really important to have this kind of training since it will help you have that confidence in knowing you can protect yourself should anything unexpected happen while traveling.

    Alana

  37. #19 is so true! I ate so much street food in Cambodia that I got a little scared. I “played it safe” the last night by eating in a nice restaurant…and got sick!
    #16 is really hard to remember, but probably the most important thing to do.

  38. Very nice job . These things will help me in my traveling and transportation.. It really and simply great . Enjoy the Thailand beaches with motor yacht charter from Phuket Charter Boat visit Phuket Yachts and Charter

  39. LOL! I read the title like this:

    43 travel tips for first “time travellers”

    I want to travel through time so badly. πŸ˜›

    Excellent article by the way. I love your blog!

    Cheers,
    Liv

  40. Never travel without an open mind. Never live without an open mind, it is the greatest gift for growth you can ever give to yourself and others.

  41. Great tips! Do your homework before setting out on your travels, and find out about whether or not you need to get immunized against certain diseases beforehand. And remember immunization doesn’t mean you don’t have to be concerned about selection and handling of food and water.

  42. Good stuff to know. I just got my passport and I’m starting to read more blogs to get some ideas of what to expect at the end of the year when I head overseas.

  43. This is good advice. In South Africa, it is customary to say hello first before asking for directions. It helps if you know how to say hello in Zulu or even Tswana.

  44. For me those first 3 tips are the most important. If travelling doesn’t feel like one big stressful adreneline rush… then you’re probably not having enough fun πŸ™‚

    I never stay still, never stop looking for something never new to see or do and never feel like I’ve done enough travelling to be happy!

    1. Great to hear that this morning Andrew! I’m going through the stressful adrenalin rush at the moment in our lead up to our big Aussie road trip. Now I can relax and know it means I’m having fun and on the right track! Thanks for the boost

  45. 10. Do not over bargain. 50 cents is nothing to you, but may mean a days worth of meals to the person you are haggling with.

    This is my favorite, many people dont think about how arogant they sometimes act.

  46. #43 is by far the best advice! I never realized that reverse culture shock was a thing until I got home two summers ago for Europe. Don’t be upset if you cry a little or feel lost when you get home, it’s still hard sometimes!

  47. Excellent post! Just what i need! Especially #1 “Don’t expect things to be like they are at home”…Should always always keep that in mind. πŸ™‚

  48. Thanks for the great tips! These are things people should always keep in mind but often overlook. Will be putting many of them into place when I begin my perpetual travels in a couple months, rather nervous and very excited. Might have to bookmark this one.

  49. Great tips but # 40 just isn’t going to happen. #17 hope you have parents that like to travel I was in diapers when I started traveling. #19 I was eating Tacos in TJ at 14 TJ is on the border of the US and Mexico. Never have I gotten sick off street food Bangkok has to be one of the best places for street food you can eat for about 5.00 a day. #35 for sure don’t keep moving from place to place stop to see where you are. I will add # 44 find a friend that works for a major US airline that’s older with at least 40 or more years flying and see if they will add you to there pass rider list.There’s 1000’s that have benfits for free flying and discounts on hotels that have no one that uses them and they are happy too add you.

  50. As I read down your list, I was secretly trying to find something that you missed, but you were spot on. Numbers 1 is the most important. It’s amazing to me how many people travel away from home and expect everything to be as what they are used to at home. Once a person can get past this; then they truly become a traveler.

  51. Thanks guys, great tips, since we have started our journey recently, is nice to read them πŸ™‚
    couple of them they actually have appeared spontaneously, like using sign l’ge, smiling at people, being always polite… some of them worth to be aware of, like the one with a village chef πŸ™‚

    Take care and many happy tips to you all πŸ™‚

  52. Hello,
    Great tips. Really! its fantastic and good tips.
    32. Celebrate local customs and festivals with the local culture in their traditional manners.

    33. Learn about other religions, not necessarily to believe something new, but to understand and perhaps to bring light unto your own beliefs.

    34. Don’t rely on technology to help get you around, you will end up lost when the map app crashes.
    Thanks for share…

  53. Chanelle Boshuizen

    I’ll take it from the expert travelers. I’m in awe of everything I read from your post. These are the things that every traveler should keep in mind. Thank you for pointing these out and I hope you still share more of the tips and ideas about traveling.

  54. Thanks, very useful Blog.

    Our company (hipfig.com) just started with video guides for first time International traveler. Right now, there is ONE travel video series with 6 videos for the first time International traveler…. from baggage packing tips, departure process, layover to arrival process.

    Idea is to make First time International travel easier for First time traveler.

  55. I am from the United Kingdom, travelling alone in Thailand for the first time during that time. I have a lot of experience travelling in Europe, but not in Thailand. So Thank you for sharing such a great and helpful tips about Thailand with me.

  56. I’m 20 years old and thinking of places to travel out of country for the first time. Anyone have any place in mind that would be cheap and good for a first time traveler?

  57. This is a wonderful list of important things for travelers to do. I especially love the Eat the Street Food one. If you are going to experience a new place, do it all while you have the chance. Thanks!

  58. Hi! I am not finding the info I need so maybe u can help me πŸ™ I am a first Time traveler and I am a Canadian citizen and just got my passport, we are leaving April 10th and really need some help I am kind of nervy leaving Canadian soil. I am wondering do I need to bring any other form of id with me with my passport? and what can I expect when I am coming home? really need some guidance

    thank u Kim

  59. Beautiful. This should be given to every young adult out on their first trip abroad (which should be mandatory).

  60. Awesome tips! At first I am very nervous of going solo on my trip abroad but that change a lot today. I now enjoy getting lost on foreign cities and meeting wonderful people along the way. I also enjoyed trying different, interesting and sometimes weird dishes!

  61. Your comment:pls kindly help me out am a first timer,i want to take a trip to cyprus any moment from next week pls what is the trip advice from nigeria

  62. Like tip 32 when possible. As a first time solo traveller recently I’d add that you need to manage expectations and take it all on with a sense of humour! Bad experiences are part and parcel to long trips but they’re not to be dwelled on πŸ™‚

  63. Kaziranga National park a world Heritage sites by UNESCO and popular tourist hot spot in Jungle,these national parks and wildlife reserves are the safe heaven for a wide range of rare and endangered animals, birds and rich floral diversity, if you visit in future in this National park then contact us we are provide best cheap customised Holiday packeges and car rental with expert tour guide driver, from Guwahati Airport. best visit time Nov – May

  64. Thanks for sharing, Its fantastic resources for first time travelers. I love this post Especially #11. Respect local customs. It is not about your way, you are the visitor.

  65. Each one in the list is recommendable tips, Some of them are basic rules and manners to follow visiting tourist locations, different cultures, different people. I am also going to make a list of travel rules to follow in each country soon. Thank you for writing this wonderful post CAZ, i already bookmarked and shared the must learn travel tips for first time travelers.

  66. Yes you are right. Whenever any first time travels in an unknown place, then it comes with a lot of trouble. But i read your blog and i learn the how solve the travelling problems. It is very supportive and useful post. I would like to visit the post once more its valuable content. Thanks a lot for this beauty Enjoying article with me. I appreciate it very much!

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