So it’s your first overseas trip ever… are you excited and scared at the same time? If yes, then good—that’s normal. Traveling is one of the best and most fulfilling things to do in life. Stepping out of the bubble you’ve been living in for many years will make you realize how truly big the world is. Experiencing the rich culture of each country you visit will leave you in awe and you will feel a sense of wonder and a different kind of happiness by going on a new adventure.
Your first voyage won’t always be smooth sailing though, and this is the harsh reality of traveling that no one really warns you about. We’ve helped you reflect on the things you need to consider before going on a trip before, now we’re uncovering the seven golden truths that every rookie traveler must embrace because trust us, these things are likely to happen and y’all need to come prepared.
Getting in and out of the airport won’t always be smooth
It is always advised to be at the airport at least 3 hours before your flight (especially if you’re flying out of Manila). This is so because the process to get to your plane from the airport gates can be quite a hassle—there will be tedious airport security, long lines to check in and deposit your baggage, (sometimes) douchey fellow passengers and of course, there’s the highly-dreaded immigration. Sometimes you will be unluckier than others and might take a bit longer in the immigration counter—especially when traveling to countries that require visas, you could get questioned a bunch of things—but don’t panic, it’s all part of the process. Just always be mindful of what’s going on and stay calm. Your airport experience will be different for every trip, depending on the time and the place you’re visiting.
Flights could get delayed
You get to the airport early, survive the long lines and immigration… and then you find out your flight is delayed for two hours. You will either 1) want to kill someone 2) take this opportunity to ~chill~. I don’t know about other travelers but it’s actually quite fun to have a few hours to spare before boarding time, because (in most international airports) there are lots of things you can do to keep yourself entertained—you can stroll around, grab a bite or coffee, shop for your travel necessities or just simply browse the Internet as most airports have free Wi-Fi access. Personally, waiting in the airport makes everything more exciting knowing that you are about to embark on a new adventure.
You will get lost
You’ve reached your destination and you’re mad excited to go sightseeing and 100% ready to explore straight away. But remember that you will be going around unfamiliar places and seeing unfamiliar faces, and know that you will get lost at one point and that’s normal—even fun for some of us. You gotta do research before any trip and plot where you want to go for each traveling day, although even the most detailed and thought-out itinerary doesn’t always guarantee that everything will go as planned. You might miss a train stop (or two), take the wrong bus, or get caught in rush-hour traffic, but again don’t you worry! Getting lost or experiencing delays are some of the best things about traveling, you never know what you will stumble into. A hidden café? A strip with cool boutiques and vintage finds? A hip alley with lots of art? Anything goes, and you might actually find something on your own that most tourists wouldn’t know about.
You will be forced to meet a lot of new people
Whether you’re traveling with a group or solo, being in a foreign place pushes you to go out of your comfort zone and forces you to meet new people. You will connect with locals and fellow travelers whether it is to ask for directions, recommendations or any helpful information that you need when exploring your destination. Of course if you are alone and, say, staying in a hostel, you will be in an environment where it’s a must to interact with fellow guests and meet new friends. Traveling is no time to be shy. You’re going to need to talk to strangers, and once you do it, you’ll realize that it’s not that bad after all. If anything, it’s when you travel that you build the most meaningful relationships and find friends for keeps.
There could be a language barrier
Sure, English is the most common spoken language in the world, but there are a number of countries where fewer than 10 percent of their population speak English, such as China or Japan. So depending on which city or region you’re going to, there could be a bit of difficulty asking for directions, ordering food, etc. when talking to the locals. This is a big part of traveling, so prepare those language apps and don’t get frustrated, because you will eventually get your point across (via charades maybe?), and it’s a fun experience.
Converting currencies can get confusing
Converting currencies will be one of the things you will need to be on top of, especially if you are planning to do a lot of shopping and want to compare prices with your hometown’s currency. Buying and selling currencies vary in terms of where you will have your money exchanged. Best to always compare the exchange rates and to check multiple places to get the best value for your money. E.g. some currencies are better exchanged in your local bank, asking traveler friends (who’ve been to your destination) where they exchanged their money for your reference.
Budgeting won’t always be easy
Your first time traveling abroad will be exciting, and once you do your research, you will be hella pumped to check out all these tourist spots, visit all the must-try restaurants and coffee shops and what not. And if you’re traveling with a budget, you have to look into the entrance fees, tour fees and other expenses that come with all the activities. Although when it comes to your daily expenses like food and shopping, this will be tricky because prices always vary, so always 1) have a daily budget limit in mind and 2) bring extra pocket money, for when you really need to spend some more. You don’t have to spend your entire budget, but it’s always a good thing to have emergency cash when you’re in a foreign place, so saving up big time before you trip is a total must.
Overall tip: You shouldn’t stop yourself from experiencing everything you want to experience because you’re already there—and that’s the point of traveling to begin with! Knowing your goals and doing simple accounting of your funds daily will help guide you to spend wisely and not go broke at the end of your trip.
Trying new things is a MUST
If you haven’t already figured it out, yes, you’ll be forced to try new things. And that’s not a bad thing—this is your adventure after all and you’re still in control. Skydiving? Swimming with the sharks? Okay, maybe not the extreme ones (at least not right away), but immersing yourself in their culture and being open to doing as many “local” things as possible is the best way to experience a foreign country at its fullest. Remember to be mindful of your actions, too; you are a visitor in their country, so it is best to always be alert and respectful of their laws and traditions.
These are the basics that all you Cavemen need to know, the bigger lessons of traveling, you will experience yourself once you start going out there. Now get to work and do your research about that upcoming trip. Don’t forget to enjoy the process and take in all the experiences. Warning though, once you’re done with your first, you’re going to want to keep traveling again and again!
Header image courtesy of Intrepid Travel