10 mistakes every first time traveller till make (and how to avoid them)

Gearing yourself up to go travelling for the first time can be daunting. Whether you’re backpacking for a year or just for a few months that first adventure is a whirlwind of emotions and planning.

And yes you are going to mess up a few things – it’s only natural!

We can give you a heads up on a few common mistakes we’ve seen heaps of first time travellers make so you can hopefully avoid them and streamline the stress out of travelling…and yes we are guilty of making a lot of them ourselves!

Taking Too Much Stuff

Even now we have this problem! Figuring out what to take and what to leave behind is a nightmare – but what if XXXX happens, how about XXXX?! It’s stressful simplifying your life into a single backpack.

The old saying goes “lay all out your stuff out on the bed and halve it” ….and it works!

The worse thing though is if you’re heading through a variety of climates – sure it might be swelteringly hot in Asia but New Zealand will have snow by the time we get there. The best advice on this we can offer is remember you can always buy new stuff on the road and offload some old stuff.

We are still guilty of trying to over pack now, it’s a hard habit to break. You’ve got to be ruthless! Trust us you might pack 10 t-shirts but you’ll probably only wear 5. If you REALLY have to pack heaps of stuff we are sure you’ll soon get tired of lugging it around and you can always lighten the load by donating clothes to charity shops en-route.

Not Saving Enough

The other half of the saying after halving your clothes is to double your money. Many people underestimate how much travelling can cost – especially when you’re budgeting in flights and travel insurance too, so do some solid research. Our best advice on this is to budget around $1,000 a month – as it tends to even out across countries. The worst thing you can do is leave quickly and suddenly realize you don’t have enough dollar behind you – worrying about money will wreck your trip.

So even if it means delaying your planned departure date it’ll be worth it in the end.

Not Researching Costs

Along with the budgeting research make sure you have a rough idea of how much things like taxis, hotels/hostels and food should cost you. That way you hit the ground running and wont end up paying $40 for an airport taxi when you could’ve bartered to $20 or even got the shared shuttle for $10!

Planning Too Much...

Ok so we’ve told you to do some planning to avoid some mistakes and save some money – but on the flip side you can over plan.

Don’t land somewhere and have the next 3 months of your travels planned out day by day, where’s the fun in that! 

Make sure you have a rough idea of where you’re heading but enough flexibility to embrace opportunity. 

…Or Too Little!

If you haven’t over planned the extreme you might fall into is to land in a place with NO plans. That’s just as disastrous, especially if you’re only just starting out on your travels. We always have a few things in mind for each place – whether is some restaurants, places to stay or a couple of day trips.

Suddenly landing in a new place with no idea on where to stay or what to do is the worst way to start any adventure!

It’s also important to make sure you know what the deal is with visas too. Some airlines wont let you on without onward flights (we’ve experienced this first hand with Singapore!) but also make sure you know if you can get a visa on arrival or places if you’ll need something like the ESTA visa for the USA and have to apply before travelling.

Along with this comes the length of stay (usually in days, which includes the day of arrival!) and many countries such as Thailand will impose hefty fines if you overstay and in some cases you can even get banned from re entering for a certain period of time.

Travelling Too Fast

This is a personal pet peeve of ours! I’ve met people who have travelled to 50 countries…sounds good hey?

But then you learn they did that in like 2 months and all we can think is “well you cant have really travelled them much if you’ve blasted through them that quickly“!

This isn’t a race guys, nor is it about collecting passport stamps! The whole point of travel is to embrace the country, the culture, the food, the experiences.

a lay-over in a country doesn’t count, so get over yourself!

Our advice is always that it’s better to spend more time exploring less places than rushing simply for the sake of saying you’ve been there.

….so yeah – take your time and really enjoy everywhere, you’ll avoid backpacker burnout too…travel slow, travel far!

Underestimating Distances

Maps can be pretty deceiving sometimes and we’ve met a lot of people who have massively underestimated the distances between places – both actually distance but also travel time.

Before you set plans into stone do some research, ask some people. A mistake here can really mess up your trip and feel you left totally drained and stressed out.

Waiting Too Late For Jabs

When it comes to travelling it’s always good to keep some boring stuff in mind too, especially insurance and vaccines. It might not be the most exciting stuff to deal with but it’ll certainly make life easier.

As soon as you know where you’re going book an appointment with your GP or travel clinic and let them know where you’re heading. Some places you might not need anything, some you’ll need a heap of needles to be stuck in you – it all depends on location and your personal medical history. The main thing to keep in mind here is that some vaccines – like rabies – need a course of jabs across a few weeks.

So basically the earlier you get started, the less stressful it’ll be. Don’t leave it to the last minute!

Worrying About The Small Stuff

Worrying about travelling is totally normal – it’s part of the fear and excitement that we’ll all love about travel so much. The unknown is daunting but don’t let it get to you too much else you’ll be stressing out before you even get on the plane.

Breathe guys!

Not Finding Out For Yourself

When you’re on the road for the first time you’ll be chatting to heaps of new people, hearing about where they’ve been, where they’re going and of course sharing where you want to go to as well. But in every travel conversation there’s always one person who thinks they know everything and are now a walking talking Lonely Planet. They’re usually this self righteous people who are trying to find themselves or after a culturally immersive experience, or try to avoid the tourists.

In short they’re stuck up their own ass and will judge every part of your itinerary and look down at their nose at your newbie backpacker status. The worst thing you can do is take everyones advice on face value. At the end of the day this is your adventure, your money and your life – so if you want to do something don’t let anyone else’s judgement stop you!

Our lives. Our rules.

Now I’m not saying don’t listen, just take everything with a pinch of salt.

Everyone has their own style, agenda, passions – so by all means take their opinion into account, but don’t let others dictate your trip or make you feel bad about your plans.

The bottom line with all of these common mistakes is be prepared!

Do your research, chat to people and give yourself plenty of time to get everything in order.

…but the most important thing you need to remember to do is to enjoy every part of it – the fun and adventure starts at the planning stage!


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