Top Ten Pieces of Travel Advice for Novice Travelers
It's hard to be a novice at anything but if you've never done it before traveling can be one of life's most daunting experiences. With this in mind, travel website VirtualTourist.com has asked its membership, most of whom are veteran travelers, what they would tell the novice traveler if they could only offer one piece of advice.
1. PACK AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE
More mantra than advice, "pack lightly" is a hard and fast rule most experienced travelers are unwilling to break. Traveling is about letting go of baggage, not carrying it around so why weigh yourself down? Especially with airlines charging serious fees for heavy bags there's never been a better time to get in the habit of lightening your load.
2. NEVER SPEND FOR THE SAKE OF SPENDING
Perhaps it's just the freedom we allow ourselves while on vacation, but traveling tends to make people shop much more than they ordinarily would. Remember that if you're on the fence about something while abroad, bringing it home isn't going to make it any more appealing. Take the money you would spend on "stuff" and treat yourself to a great meal and an even better memory.
3. LEARN A FEW BASIC PHRASES
Worried about getting along in a country with a language that's different from yours? Learn just a few basic phrases along with please and thank you in the local tongue and you'll be absolutely fine. People the world over always appreciate the effort!
4. USE THE RESTROOM AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY
Not only can restrooms be few and far between, they can be virtually nonexistent in some places. Even if it's a pay toilet, if it's been a while and you have the opportunity, just go!
5. ACCEPT THAT YOU'RE SOMEWHERE ELSE
If you really want to ruffle the feathers of someone who's traveled a lot, complaining that nothing is the way it is at home is the way to do it. Whether it's the food, the customs, or even the color of the sky, traveling is infinitely easier and more enjoyable when you get in the groove so adjust to your surroundings rather than wait for your surroundings to adjust to you.
6. BRING THINGS TO TOSS
Virtually every seasoned traveler has had the experience of returning home with much, much more than they started out with. A good idea is to bring some pieces of clothing (especially sleepwear) or shoes that were close to going in the donation bin anyway. Let them go once your vacation is over and you'll clear a lot of room in your suitcase.
7. MAKE SURE YOUR NAME IS ON YOUR CAMERA
It's less heartbreaking to lose or be robbed of a passport than it is to be separated from a camera full of memories. The first shot you take with any new camera card or camera should be of your name, address, and phone number just in case it ends up in the hands of a Good Samaritan. Also, a small sticker on the back with the same information isn't a bad idea.
8. USE SCENT TO HELP MEMORY
Little brings back the memory of a place like scent, so before you go, pick out a candle, incense stick, or even magazine perfume sample that really appeals to you. Take it with you and make a point of taking a whiff every now and then. When you get back you can use it as a way to instantly jog your vacation memory. Just make sure not to leave anything burning at the hotel!
9. THE ONLY THING YOU HAVE TO FEAR IS FEAR ITSELF
Fear of the unknown can literally paralyze potential travelers from ever fulfilling their dreams but the truth is, with careful planning, and even not so careful planning, traveling really isn't as mysterious and scary as many people believe it to be. If going abroad is too frightening as a first trip, try venturing out on the local level until it starts to feel like old hat; before you know it, you'll be crossing borders.
10. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX FOR SOUVENIRS
Most traditional souvenirs are pricey, junky, and almost always eventually end up in the trash. A really great postal stamp, elegant business card, or even piece of hotel stationery looks beautiful framed and weighs a lot less than ashtrays or sweatshirts.
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