Hope. Anxiety. And Excitement. Such emotions are inevitable for any newbie traveller. I remember when I quit my job to travel and booked a one-way ticket to Bhutan, I was scared too. No one I knew had ever done it before. And to compensate my unpreparedness, I followed a few guidebooks and hoped for the best. I was not just new to travelling but I was confused about it too.
But now, after years of full-time travelling, I have learned the art behind it. And if only I could sit my younger self, I would give him this advice:
Don’t Be Scared
Walking off the beaten path and travelling places you’re not familiar with, might sound a little scary, but you aren’t the first person doing so. There are hundreds of online guidebooks and other resources to walk with you along the way. And if thousands of people can make their way around the world, and to the place you’re going to, why can’t you. So don’t be scared.
Look Beyond The Guidebook Experiences
Guidebooks are helpful. But don’t completely rely on them for shaping your travel memories. They will never talk about the hidden, off-the-beaten-path experiences. For the best information, connect with locals, or speak to fellow travellers. People are always the best information source when it comes to travelling. The best experiences can only be learned, and not studied.
It might initially feel boring to a few, but slow travel is addictive. So don’t try to squeeze your experiences. ‘7 countries in 10 days’, or ‘around the world in a month’ will only give you a handful of photos to share on your Instagram, but no real knowledge of the place. So don’t rush your trip. Make time to lie down under the mountains, or sit in a café. Watch people behave. Slow travelling, is far more compelling, and a lot more educating.
Don’t Carry Too Much
When I visited Bhutan last year, I carried with me a 90 ltr rucksack – full of stuff that only sat in my bag all across the journey. And I learned a simple lesson the hard way: Pack Light. Don’t carry everything you owned back home. Because if you really need something, you can pick it up on the way. Travelling, moreover, is not only about seeing new places or meeting new people, but a part of it also teaches you about self-governance. You learn to live with whatever little resources you have.
Further Reading: Travel Packing Tips
Go With The Flow
If there is one thing I believe, it is – a journey is only best experienced when unplanned. Because when everything is planned, and you’re following an itinerary, there is no room for happy accidents. So just go with the flow and let the random moments shape your memories. Let serendipity do its work.
And having said that, I would also like to admit that this remains the most useful travel advice I can give to a new traveller.
Keep Some Extra Cash
Every time I go somewhere I carry some extra cash with me because no matter how well you plan, there are always some unexpected expenses. And disasters, like losing your waist pouch or breaking your pair of shoes, are always inevitable. Carrying extra cash saves you from those disasters, and even give you the freedom to explore a little more than what you initially planned.
I know you’re an introvert. But no matter where you go, there is a network of travellers who want to be your friends – for they might be travelling solo, just like you. So don’t be afraid, just say “Hello” and everything will fall into its place. Ask fellow travellers in a hostel, if you can join them. No one ever says no. Take the first step and you’ll see how easy it was to make friends.
Get People’s Contact Information
When you will start travelling, meeting new people will become an everyday thing. Some people will stick with you for a long time, while others won’t. But if you find someone interesting and worth keeping in your life, make sure you get their contact information, because if you won’t, you will regret it forever. Add them on Facebook or take their email it doesn’t matter, but just find a way to reach out to them if tomorrow you want to.
I regret not asking for so many people’s contact number whom I met on the road. I hate every single thought of letting those new friends fade away in memories.
One of the best things about travelling is that it allows you to overcome your fears. When you’re on the road for a long time, you do things that you never imagined doing when you’re back home. This may just be travelling on a train or riding a motorcycle as a pillion. I mean I never imagined myself trying something like Bungee Jumping or Skydiving as an adventure sport, but I did. It is true that both the times I screamed like a girl but in the end, the feeling of overcoming my fear was so great that nothing else can match it.
So challenge yourself. Take risks. Try new things. It is possible that you may not like everything, but in the end, you will appreciate the idea that you at least tried. You’ll come out of those experience more self-confident.
These remain a few things I would tell a new traveller. Do you have anything to add in the list? Any useful travel tip you learned during your journeys? Spill in comments below!