So you’ve done the hard yards, jeopardised your social life, and worked your backside off for the last year to save for your first ever trip abroad. You’ve bought the Lonely Planet companion guides for every country you intend to visit, the pages are dog-eared and almost falling to pieces you’ve read them so many times. You can hardly contain your excitement.
The time is here for you to leave behind your worries, meet new people, discover new places, and have an adventure. But before you jump all in and find yourself overwhelmed in an unfamiliar place, take a step back and make sure you’re prepared for this exciting new chapter of your life.
Here are our top tips to help your survive your first overseas adventure and end up returning with a rotten case of the travel bug.
1) Respect cultural practices
One key thing you should remember whilst travelling overseas is that you are a visitor within a foreign country. You need to respect the culture of wherever you visit, and understand that the locals will have different practices, beliefs, morals, customs and understandings than you.
For example, if you’re travelling to a deeply conservative country and you wear short-shorts and a crop top, you’re being downright disrespectful. In worst case scenarios, in some countries like Qatar indecent clothing is illegal and punishable with up to six months in prison! One innocent yet ignorant remark or gesture could cause a great deal of embarrassment or come across offensive. Familiarise yourself with the culture and do your best to adhere to their practices and customs and it will make your trip a whole lot easier.
2) Learn the lingo (or at least a little bit)
Travelling overseas for the first time can be hard. You’re in an unfamiliar place, probably half-way across the world, and to make matters worse there’s a language barrier, which can make the simplest task of ordering a coffee seem impossible.
You might think because you speak English, you don’t need to brush up the local language. But actually, much of the world doesn’t speak the language so instead of getting frustrated at the miscommunication take it upon yourself to learn a few basic words or phrases. You don’t want to get stuck somewhere with no idea how to find, let alone ask for directions to the closest toilet. On top of how useful learning the language can be, it can also win you the heart of the locals.
3) Keep in contact with back home
There are many ways you can contact people back home whilst you’re overseas. These choices range from being ridiculously overpriced (a whopping $571,000 AUD) to reasonably affordable roaming options - https://www.finder.com.au/roaming-data-budget. Remaining in contact with loved ones and friends will not only help you with that homesickness, that let’s face it you’re bound to catch at least for a brief moment during your trip, but will also give your relo’s some piece of mind.
4) Don’t overbook
It’s your first trip abroad so you’ve probably booked everything from your accommodation and flights, to day trips and where you’ll be eating breakfast, lunch and dinner for the entire trip. You’re feeling organised and like everything’s under control, which is totally fine, understandable even, considering it’s your first trip.
But if i were you, i’d try to get out of this headspace. It can pay off to be more flexible during your trip. Not only will you score some great discounts by booking once you’re there, but you’ll also be able to take every opportunity that arises. Going with the flow can sometimes make an overseas trip. You may meet a great bunch of people who are all travelling to Greece after they’re finished with Croatia, and if you hadn’t have already booked your non-refundable flights to London perhaps you would have joined them. Go in with open eyes and a flexible itinerary to make the most of your time away.
5) Channel your inner chef
Accommodation with cooking facilities such as hostels are great for saving some extra dosh while you’re away. Instead of eating out every night you and your fellow hostel-ians can head down to the local supermarket and grab what you need to make a cheap and healthy meal (definitely important when you’re trying to lay off all that bread and pasta - how do the Italians do it?!).
6) The best things in life are free
Just because you’re on holidays doesn’t mean you have to spend heaps of money on tours or touristy activities. There are heaps of activities that will cost you little to nothing, what about a walking tour, or checking out whatever markets are on, or even catching the sunset on the beach with a beer and good company.
It’s the little things that make the best memories, and spending ridiculous amounts on day tours or activities that will likely be rushed and overcrowded is not a great way to spend your trip. Do make time to see the most beloved tourist attractions, but don’t think this is what your holiday should be all about.
Your first trip abroad will always be crazy, you’ll probably get lost, spend more than you think and lose a few pieces of clothing along the way. But you’ll also meet so many new people and come back with a number of new life lessons and stories to tell. With these tips, you’ll be prepared for your first big adventure. Have fun and good luck!
Guest Blog Author: Bessie Hassan is a Money Expert at finder.com.au, Australia’s most visited comparison site. Images provided by Author.