Guidelines for travelling alone, or with friends, for the first time
Article submitted by Yipworld, Eurodesk UK Partner.
To be able to travel overseas independently for the first time in your life is a very exciting opportunity. Travelling to another country without your parents/carers is, it could be argued, one of the foremost indicators of having left childhood behind, and having become responsible for yourself, whether you choose to do so with a group of friends, with a partner or even by yourself.
While it is definitely exciting, travelling overseas independently for the first time in your life can also, for many people, be an intimidating experience. This needn’t be the case though - there are a number of things which can make the process a more enjoyable, less stressful one - it is simply a case of knowing what to do.
(This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these pieces of advice will make your time abroad a far more pleasurable experience).
Choose to go somewhere that you are already comfortable with!
It is advisable for first-time independent travellers to choose to go to a country with which they are already comfortable, or of which they already have some knowledge. This might be a country to which they have already travelled with other people at some point, and therefore have some prior knowledge of where things are.
Alternatively, the person might be travelling to a country from which they have previously met people in some capacity. This is useful in the sense of enabling that person to obtain some second-hand knowledge of the place itself, or of the culture of that place.
Another option may simply be for the traveller to carry out their own research on the place to which they want to travel, although it is advisable to tread carefully when doing this. The mass of information available on the internet can result in vastly conflicting information being easily accessible, depending on the site the traveller uses, so if you are going to use the internet as a guide, please spend a lot of time looking at a variety of information in order to get an informed opinion.
After your research, if you are still not sure what to do, you can get in touch with a local Eurodesk information point for tailored advice.
Book accommodation and travel before leaving!
Lots of us have probably had conversations with people who managed to save lots of money by simply turning up to the airport, finding a cheap flight to a random destination, and going on an exciting, spur-of-the-moment holiday. While this is an exciting idea, it is not advisable for the first-time traveller!
It is essential, if you are going to be travelling alone or with friends for the first time that all of your international and, ideally, domestic travel is booked before you leave. You should keep your passport and all your travel documents (such as boarding passes for flights, confirmation of hotel bookings etc) together in a folder, which can be stored securely.
This way, you will avoid the stress of having to find accommodation or travel at the last minute while you are away, and you will probably avoid paying expensive rates for last-minute options. It is best to make bookings through price comparison sites, in order to get the best deals possible.
Let someone know where you are travelling!
This may sound boring to some readers, but it is important that someone - be they a friend or family member in your home country - knows where you are likely to be at all times. While you may understandably want to assert your independence, there are few things more stressful than not having an idea of where your loved one is at any particular time, especially if that person is in another country.
If you have any form of travel itinerary, let someone at home have a copy of it. Failing that, make sure that you stay in semi-regular contact with people at home- even if it’s just a text, email, or message on social media, it will let them know that all is well with you. You may not even need to do this on a daily basis, but it will mean a lot to them.
You don’t have to see everything!
Obviously, you will be excited to be in a new place, either by yourself or with others, for the first time. That does not necessarily mean, however, that you have to do everything in the space of this one trip! It is important not to exhaust yourself by trying to cram too many activities and/or destinations into your trip.
You have your entire life ahead of you, and there is a good chance that, if you have a positive experience on your trip, you will return to that destination again, at which point you will get to see and do more of the things on your to-do list.
Plan your itinerary carefully - this way, you will avoid burning yourself out by doing too much, and you will also avoid spending too much money!
On that note…
Try to be careful with your spending!
When you are in a new, exciting place for the first time, it can be very tempting to buy every unique item that you see in the shops. The reasons for feeling this way are perfectly understandable - you may come across things that you have never seen in the shops back home, or things that will remind you of your travels.
The absolute last thing that you want to do when you’re abroad for the first time is to run out of money. If you have an idea of what you’re going be doing on specific days, you can at least make some kind of budget, and this will hopefully avoid your overspending TOO much.
Take out insurance!
You need insurance. This is an unavoidable fact. If you are involved in an accident; if one of your possessions goes missing; if you become unwell while you are away etc., you’ll really be pleased that you took out insurance.
Taking out insurance is relatively inexpensive, and, if something bad should happen (obviously we hope that it won’t), you’ll be really glad that you did.
If you are a EU citizen and are travelling withing the EU, you are entitled to medical help in case something unpredicted happens - find out about the European Health Insurance Card.
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