Tips & Tricks

Travel Tips for First-Time Travellers

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Traveling – it’s invigorating and eye-opening, but it can also be pretty overwhelming. With travel so centered on relaxation, adventure, and eating to your heart’s desire, it’s easy to forget how to handle even your most basic needs. You aren’t expected to know your destination inside out before your travels, but you should know how to deal with certain likely situations. Here are some basic tips for traveling:

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  1. Make sure your bank knows what you’re up to.

You’ve just landed. You’re seeing clear blue skies for the first time in months, or maybe you’re getting your first glimpse at snow-capped mountains. You go to the airport kiosk for a coffee, and your bank texts you saying that your card is in the middle of an international hack. Don’t let your bank be fooled. Call your bank before your travels and request that a travel notice be put on your card. This way, when they see transactions occurring in a country you’re not based in, they will know it is you. Also, if there is even the slightest possibility that you could be traveling anywhere else during your trip, notify your bank about these countries too. Better safe than sorry!

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  1. Cash over card.

It may be easy to depend on your card in your home country, but using your debit or credit card abroad can be pretty tricky. Some restaurants don’t allow bills to be split on different cards, which can leave you and your friends in a tough situation. Plus, smaller cafes, food stands, and souvenir stands may not accept cards at all. To avoid the hassle of constantly looking for a bank logo, take out enough cash upon your arrival so that you can use cash more often than your card. It’s common for travelers to be told not to carry cash on their person, but this is only a risk if you don’t store your money properly. Taking out cash guarantees that you’ll be able to spend as you wish – and avoid foreign transaction fees.

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  1. Take advantage of public transportation.

With companies like Uber existing across the globe, it’s pretty easy to depend on the app to get you through your trip. However, if you avoid public transportation, you’re also avoiding the chance to pay a cheap fare to travel all over your destination. Public transportation is also home to entertainment and other interesting sights you definitely won’t see in a cab.

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  1. Explore neighboring regions.

Your destination may be a specific city, but trains and buses to neighboring villages and cities can run for pretty affordable prices. Make your trip even more worthwhile by taking day trips to other towns. You’ll get to see more of the country you visit and be exposed to more of the culture.

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  1. Take advantage of walking tours.

Exploring regions aimlessly is always fun, but getting some background information never hurts. In many cities, you can find walking tours of different neighborhoods free of charge just by searching online. It can make visiting landmarks, neighborhoods, and museums more interesting since you’re in for more than just a good picture.

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  1. Carve out time for relaxation.

When you’re on vacation, you will want to visit landmarks, spend a bunch of time taking pictures, or spend hours in famous museums. However, don’t forget that vacationing should also involve relaxation. Try to carve out downtime. It will make you less stressed by the end of the day, and if you’re staying at a hotel or Airbnb, you’ll be making the most of what you paid for. If you want to relax but don’t want to go home, try visiting a garden or park. You’ll get to sightsee without the crowded environment of most tourist attractions.

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  1. Save money by cooking breakfast.

If your trip is longer than three days, chances are, you’ll want to pick up some budgeting techniques. To save money, try making use of your amenities. If you’re staying at an Airbnb with a decent kitchen, cook breakfast. It isn’t easy getting your friends to head back to the apartment in the middle of the day for lunch, but you can get away with cooking breakfast first thing in the morning. Go to the local market, grab some groceries, and have a breakfast date with your friends. You’ll be loaded with energy – and the money you saved – throughout the day.

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  1. Invest in a crossbody bag.

Don’t want to look like a nineties soccer mom by wearing a fanny pack? Invest in a crossbody bag instead. Crossbody bags are practically as important as a passport for traveling. They allow you to keep an eye on your stuff and are way less of a hassle than backpacks, which take up space on public transport and don’t even let you keep an eye on your things. To be extra careful, if you’re traveling somewhere cold enough for a jacket, wear your crossbody underneath your jacket. You won’t look strange at all and you’ll be able to keep your things closer to you.

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  1. Say basic words in the native language of the country you’re in.

It’s tempting to keep speaking your language abroad, especially if you know the other person is aware that you’re a foreigner. Still, as a matter of courtesy, try saying basic words like “hello,” “thank you,” “you’re welcome,” “goodbye,” “excuse me,” and “please,” among other words, in the native language of the country you’re in. It’ll show your respect for the country and will allow you to immerse yourself more in the culture.

P.S. Make sure to know your help words. Know the emergency number(s) in whatever country you’re in and make sure to know just the word “help,” in case an emergency comes along.

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10. Don’t expect people to speak your language.

Even if you’re aware that you’re in a foreign country, there’s always a temptation to be disappointed when you need help and someone doesn’t speak your language. You might even groan audibly or look disappointed, especially if you’re in a situation where you’re lost or need assistance. Don’t fret. It might come across as you being annoyed by the native person. Be patient. You can always go into an establishment with WiFi if you are lost and need to look up any kind of assistance. Europe’s public WiFi game is super strong, so don’t worry.

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