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Top tips for first-time travellers from a travel expert


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Travelling abroad for the first time is daunting, whether your trip is to a far-away country or to somewhere closer to home. The responsibility of preparing for a trip can seem overwhelming, but this does not need to take away from the fun of your first adventure.

Travelling is a great way to relax, build your confidence, and increase your knowledge of other countries, but it is important to do so safely, sensibly, and respectfully. To help you conquer your first trip, travel expert and founder of Travideo, Paulo Palha, has revealed his top tips for first-time travellers.

Image credit: Paulo Palha at Travideo

Research, research, research

You guessed it, research is key to enjoying your first holiday. Make sure you take the time to explore options for accommodation and transport in your chosen country. This way, you can find the best deal, save time when you arrive at your destination, and, most importantly, you can travel without worrying about how to get to the next destination safely.

Plus, researching your dream holiday destination is a great way to cheer up after a dreary day at work.

Websites such as STA Travel and Lonely Planet are convenient aids for discovering student-friendly deals in addition to learning about the coveted places to visit. Travel bloggers and vloggers are also a fun and informative way to learn about your destination, with many blogs suited to your personality and preferences so that you have relevant information to tailor your holiday to your interests and needs.

It is important to investigate the climate, culture, customs, and main attractions of a destination. If a destination's main attractions are largely historical but you have no interest in history, it might be better to look for a destination more in-line with your interests. 

Never forget to research information on the jabs, visas, and payments required for your destination. Without prior attention to this, you might find your holiday crumbling around you. Your home government’s website will provide up-to-date information on which countries require visas, and bear in mind that the application process may be lengthy.

Mind the culture

Travelling is fun and rewarding pastime. However, it is essential that you remember that you are a guest in someone else's country and should respect their way of living. This might mean dressing a certain way, not entering certain buildings, or behaving in a friendly and respectful manner.

Image credit: Paulo Palha at Travideo

If you are unsure about what you can and cannot do in a particular place or situation, it does not hurt to ask the people running your hotel or hostel or do some research online to find out. The last thing you want to do is offend neighbours, new friends, or locals... or worse, find yourself in trouble with the local authorities for disrespecting sacred sites and customs.

Work out your budget before departure

Your budget will depend on your financial circumstances, the length and destination for your holiday, and your personal preference for luxury or budget travel. To avoid financial anxiety while travelling, work out a brief daily budget, and consider extracting cash using a debit card every couple of days to monitor your spendings.

Pack with precision

If you are planning a trip visiting several destinations, the likelihood is that you will not want to drag along a heavy suitcase. It may be worth considering investing in a large, sturdy, and waterproof backpack which is more portable.

Whether you are taking a backpack or suitcase, packing sensibly should be your number one rule. Begin by packing essential items such as underwear, medication, toiletries, copies of insurance and your passport, and clothes and shoes which can be mixed and matched. After that, start adding luxuries such as makeup, entertainment, and anything else you think you will need. Remember, everything that you pack will have to be carried by you, so less is more.

Be smartphone savvy

Smartphones now carry many handy apps to help you plan your trip and navigate new countries. If you want to take your smartphone on your travels, be sure to protect it with insurance, screen protectors, and a reliable shock-absorbant case. If your phone is top-of-the-range, it might even be a good idea to buy a cheap alternative to take abroad to avoid the heartbreak if it is lost, broken, or stolen.

Image credit: Paulo Palha at Travideo

The best thing to do if you are visiting more than one country is to ensure that your phone is unlocked so that you can purchase a local SIM from any network. These will hook you up to local network providers, allowing you to use the internet and make calls as you wish, making getting from A to B far easier.

Safeguard your stomach

Venturing into local street food and small restaurants can play havoc on your stomach. To combat the stomach blues, Paulo recommends taking essential medications such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, as well as indigestion, constipation, and diarrhoea relief tablets.

Live in the moment

While basic research is essential, try not to let yourself miss out on the excitement of your first adventure by burying your head in maps and apps. Leave room for spontaneity in your trip; this is where some of the greatest adventures and most memorable events will occur!

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