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Ready to head out on your first big trip? Excited? A bit anxious? Learn how to prepare for your first big trip, whether that’s a summer in Europe or a year around the world. Have questions? Ask below.
Quotes on this article came from our rocking Facebook community who chipped in with what they wish they knew before starting long-term travel. Join us there!
During the planning stage
This bit’s the most difficult: there’s so much to read, so much contradictory advice, so much to save, so much to organise. Rest assured, it’ll be worth it in the end!
[I wish I knew the] cost of all the medical shots. It can be more than your plane tickets ~Leanne Woodmass
Costs can be more than you expect; and while there’s lots of areas you can save a few (hundred) bucks, there’s three real essentials:
Areas where you can save money, or put that cash back into experiences:
- Save on accommodation by hosteling or couchsurfing
- Don’t buy lots of “essential” travel gear. Pack light.
- Look carefully into your visa requirements; sometimes slightly shortening time in one country can save you a lot.
- Use a library and the internet to research; or look into ebooks rather than paperbacks.
You should have a fall-back fund as well: enough money to get you on the next flight home + 10% is enough for most people.
A program like Evernote is great for pulling together all the articles, information, government advisories and little snippets of advice you get from people. At some point, go through all your trip tags, and start mapping out your plan.
We can’t say it enough: pack light!
Make sure you start with space in your bag, rather than having it overflowing on day 3! ~Heather Rodgers
Take a carry-on sized bag and nothing more. There’s a list of the best backpacks for travel here — all around 30 litres, which you should be able to pack with 10-12kg of stuff.
The unimportance of socks and underwear ~Barefoot Wallets
Three pairs of each is enough. You should definitely wash though. Learn how to wash clothes while travelling.
On airports and arriving
I don’t know about you, but airports make me nervous. I’ve been through dozens without problems (and hope to continue that unbroken record), but they always appear menacing to me. They don’t have to be fraught with stress though: they can be places to get excited about the adventures that are soon to come!
I wish I knew more about international airports and how immigration, customs, quarantine etc works. My parents really didn’t travel overseas when younger, so when I arrived at Hong Kong, I was just a sheep following others and luckily the airport staff were friendly and understanding. Trusting strangers in airport staff. Also about all the shonky people who hassle you for business outside the airport like foreign currency exchange people, taxi drivers, illegal taxi drivers etc. so a general better understanding of the arrival and departure processes and also different cultures etc. ~Guy Spouge
To cut down on airport-related stress:
- Read up about your airport online, and get an idea of where you’ll have to be, and where you’ll have to go.
- Plan your transit to the airport with delays in mind. We normally arrive an hour or so before the ‘recommended’ time.
- Be careful and intentional while packing your bag. You know you can’t carry a knife, bottle opener, and — in some places — liquids over a certain limit.
- Read up on the customs rules for both your departure point and about what you’re allowed to bring into your destination.
- Be careful! Having your head screwed on is your best bet for a safe trip
- Relax! There will almost always be someone around to help you out.
- On arrival, don’t let people take your bag, or usher you into an unlicensed taxi. Take your time, check your options.
Go on… have the time of your life.
I’m sure you still have a million questions about your first big trip abroad (or more advice for those going). Fire away…