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Tips for the Novice Traveler: Get Out There!

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

By Annie Emanuelli, Bucket List Travel

Travel is exciting, enlightening, and fun. But if you don’t travel a lot, it can also be terrifying. You WANT to go, but you find it too intimidating. Here are my top 10 tips for new travelers.

1. Plan Ahead.

Experienced travelers are often able to get by in unfamiliar locations with very little planning, but beginners may do better with a more solid plan. By all means, do your research well in advance. Read guidebooks and Trip Advisor Reviews. Talk to friends who have been to the location you want to visit.

2. Organize your documents.

Put just the documents you will need for the first leg of your journey (transportation to airport; plane tickets; passports, transportation from the foreign airport to your hotel, hotel vouchers) in an easily accessible location and an easy to spot package (I use a bright pink plastic envelope). You can reorganize papers after you get to your first hotel.

3. Prioritize attractions.

Consider how long you will be in each location and make a list of things you’d like to see. Prioritize what is most important to you and do those things first. Group attractions that are close together to avoid traveling back and forth.

4. Location, location, location.

Choose hotels that are near the attractions you want to visit. Often the cheapest hotels are far from the city center, making it necessary to take cabs or walk long distances to the attractions you want to visit. This eats up valuable time, and the added cost can make a bargain hotel seem like a bad deal.

5. Know where you are staying.

When you check into your hotel, grab a business card and put it in your wallet. If you forget the name of your hotel, or where it is, you can show the card to a cab driver or police officer, and they will be able to help you get back to the hotel.

6. Pack light.

Frequent travelers often take very little luggage. They know you don’t need as much stuff as you think; and huge or heavy bags are always a nuisance. Don’t assume there will always be a porter to help you with your bags. I often see people wrestling huge suitcases up stairs and over cobblestones. Trust me: lighter is ALWAYS better. Put together what you think you’ll need several days before your trip, and then pare it down to about half. You CAN wear things more than once, or wash things out by hand, or use the laundry service at the hotel.

7. Schedule some down time.

It’s tempting to go, go, go when you are in an exciting new place. But pay attention to how you feel, and rest when you need to. There’s no rule against taking a nap in the middle of a busy day of touring, or sitting in a café and resting your feet for half an hour. You will feel happier, more alert and better able to enjoy the sights.

8. Learn a few words of the language.

Being in a foreign country where you don’t understand the language can be disorienting and scary. Try to learn at least a few important words in the language. These are my top 10 words to learn how to say in another language: hello, please, thank you, yes, no, you, I, bathroom, goodbye, and how much? I listen to Pimsleur language CDs in my car in the weeks before a trip to learn a few words.

9. Understand the local currency.

Check the local currency and the conversion rate to US dollars. I make a little cheat sheet, and put it in my wallet so I can refer to it when I am negotiating a price, like this:

· 15.71 Egyptian pounds to $1 US

· 157 Egyptian pounds to $10 US

· 785 Egyptian pounds to $50 US

10. Trust a travel professional.

If you are intimidated or afraid, work with a travel planner or tour operator (yes, like Bucket List Travel!) We can share dozens of helpful tips and help you avoid potential travel pitfalls.

The world is an amazing place: get out there and explore it!


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