‘How do I start travelling for the first time?’ ‘What should I do if I want to start travelling for the first time?’ ‘I am so scared to start travelling but I really want to’. I have seen plenty of these posts in Facebook groups and have been asked this many times myself. I remember the first time I travelled without my family. I felt a mixture of excitement and nervousness. My friend and I booked tickets to Malaysia and planned to spend 2 weeks abroad. It was daunting but most definitely what sparked my desire to see more of the world. After travelling to Vietnam in 2012, I knew that this is what I wanted to be doing for the rest of my life.
Fast forward a few years and here I am. I’ve travelled to nearly 30 countries and am living my dream life. If I had a dollar for every time a person said to me, “I’m so jealous, I wish I could travel like you”, I’d be a millionaire (slight exaggeration but you get the point). Though my usual response is, “just go!”, I understand that for many of us, it isn’t so easy to up and leave. So, here are my tips on how to start travelling for the first time.
Start by picking a destination
My best friend and I made a pact in high school to travel when we finished year 12. She picked Europe and I picked Asia. We mapped it out in a scrapbook and it would be the ultimate 3-month Eurasia trip. It never happened. What I realised though was that I really wanted to travel Asia and this became a goal for me.
Rather than just saying “I want to travel the world” (which I do), pick a destination that’s at the top of your list and plan for that one first.
Do you want to go alone or with someone?
Pros and cons to both but ultimately your decision. I find that travelling with a friend is a great way to ease yourself (and your parents) into travel and to learn about your travel style. If you opt to brave it solo, pick a destination is popular among travellers so that you can find ample information. If you are going with a friend or a group of friends, make sure y’all want to go to the same destination, have similar interests and have a similar budget. Travelling together can seriously ruin friendships.
Pack lunch, cut down all unnecessary costs, write up a budget and stick to it. Put whatever excess money you have into a savings account, no matter how small that amount may be. Travel is truly one of the best things I’ve spent my money on and yes, you do need money to travel. Don’t be a “begpacker” and pleeeeeease, DO NOT whack it on a credit card and end up in debt for travelling. If you can’t afford to save up too much, start small and pick cheaper destinations (like Vietnam).
SAVE. Seriously. I know it can be hard but trust me, once you’ve started travelling for the first time, it gets easier to save after that.
Have a chat with your folks
For some parents, the idea of their kid travelling the world is awesome but for others, it’s their worst nightmare. The first time I travelled without my parents, I sat my mum down and told her my plan. I asked her what her expectations of me were and we came to an agreement. She wanted a list of every detail – my flight itinerary, accommodation bookings and a plan of everything I’d be doing and everywhere I’d be going. It was a bit much but I knew it came from a place of love so I typed up as much info as I had and told her I’d check in daily. I did and she began to ease off slowly.
With every trip after that my mum became less and less anxious. 8 years on from my first trip and I now go months without checking in sometimes (oops, sorry mum!). The point is, sitting down with your parents during your planning stages will help you both communicate any expectations, fears and worries. It also means you won’t get 50 missed calls and messages freaking out if you haven’t texted the minute your flight arrives.
Go! Do it!!
Book and GO. It might be absolutely terrifying but it’s going to be totally worth it. Whether you’re a planner or a spontaneous traveller, just get out and travel – you will love it.
For more tips on check out our 10 Must Knows for First Time Travellers.