Everyone has traveled with their parents as a child, but setting off on your own first big trip is a whole different matter. For the first time, you are in charge of your itinerary and your budget, a thought that is both supremely exciting and quite terrifying. Whether you are jetting off abroad or finally setting off on that cross-country trip, here are a few ways to make your trip awesome.
Pack Like a Pro
If you are going on a longer trip (say, over a week or so), then you need to refine your packing strategy. Just cramming everything you may possibly need into a huge backpack is tempting, but you’ll be tired of hauling it all around within a few days.
If you’re up for the challenge, try to fit everything into a carry-on. This will make it a lot easier for you to get around and save you fees on flights. Pack clothes for a week (and do laundry as you go), use compression bags to save space, and only bring items that can work as several outfits.
Get Some Variety
Design an itinerary that allows you to experience a bit of everything, especially if you’re going on a longer trip. For instance, here in New England, we love that we can combine beaches, mountains, historic towns, and cities for a wonderful experience. But this really applies to anywhere. Going to Europe for the first time? Throw in some exciting day trips from the major cities, whether its seeing tulip fields near Amsterdam or the English coast near London.
Balance Planning and Spontaneity
The perfect trip combines solid planning with enough wiggle room to be spontaneous. Popular travel blogger Nomadic Matt recommends only planning around your “must-dos” and letting the rest unfold. Since this is your first trip, you may want to plan more than that. At the very least, have your first accommodation booked and an idea of where you might want to go next.
Bring Some Home Comforts
It’s almost inevitable that a first-time traveler will get a bit homesick. So, bring something to comfort you in these situations, such as a favorite T-shirt, family photo or a book you love. You will also want to bring along some entertainment in case you find yourself stuck indoors, or if you want to unwind at night. Many people bring travel tablets or laptops, but if you’d rather leave these at home, a portable streaming stick that provides access to a wealth of digital content can be an excellent solution. Watching your favorite television series is a great way to battle homesickness.
Know Your Budget
Budgeting isn’t the fun part of travel, but it’s very necessary. Research is your best tool here — resources like the Lonely Planet are an invaluable reference point. Their website has a “daily budget” section for every destination in the world, which is the easiest way to get an overall feel for how much money you’ll need to save.
Embrace the Hostel
Some people find the idea of a hostel offputting, especially after hearing stories of dirty beds and obnoxious roommates. The reality is that hostels are some of the coolest places to stay, and they are a great way to make friends. Also, most of them have private rooms, so you can socialize while still getting a good night’s sleep. Have a look at some of the best hostels in the US, many of which offer free daily activities, cool interiors, and a fun party vibe.
It’s also important to stay safe! Some general safety points to remember are:
● Always travel with proper insurance.
● Note the local emergency numbers for wherever you visit.
● Keep family and friends updated on your plans.
● Be on your guard when alone in strange places, especially if you are alone.
● Pack a basic first aid kit for minor wounds.
Finally, have fun! Your first big trip as an adult is an unforgettable experience, and it is your first opportunity to figure out what kind of traveler you are. Just follow your instincts, keep an open mind, and try not to spend all your money on souvenirs.
Contributed by Henry Moore