10 Things First Time Travelers Should Know

10 things first time travelers should know

1o Things First Time Travelers Should Know

As the graduation season comes to a close, high schoolers become college students, college students become adults and both have a passion and lust for what will come next. This exciting time in life often leads these fresh new minds to develop a sense for adventure. They crave to seek out what’s around the corner, across the country or even around the world. This post grad season is a great time for “wanderlust”.

While the feeling of “wanderlust” is intoxicating, there’s a lot to know before setting off on any kind of trip. Especially one that will have you traveling internationally. When you consider logistics, it can often be daunting or even discouraging. Before we set off to start our life of full time travel in 2012, we came up with many excuses why it wasn’t the right time to start traveling.

However, it doesn’t have to be. First time travelers should know the world is easier to navigate than one might think. There’s no reason to hesitate. With a few simple tips on how to prepare yourself, what you’ll actually need when traveling, and what’s possible, you can hit the road or catch that flight ASAP!

Here are 10 Things First Time Travelers Should Know to help prepare for their first international trip:

1) First Time Travelers Should Know: You’ll Need Less Than You Think

10 thing first time Travelers should know.
All of our gear for a year of travel. It’s not much!

Pack everything you think you’ll need or want: clothes, electronics, toiletries, shoes, etc. Once you feel like you’ve got everything just how you want it, get rid of 1 item from each category. This will start your thinking about what you actually need. Then try to pare down even further.

Once you get out traveling, your experiences will begin to take over and you won’t care what you’re wearing or what you have will you. You’ll care about what you’re doing and your priority will be living and capturing every moment.

Another tool we use to help us pack light are “packing cubes” or “packing cells”. Not only do packing cubes help you keep your gear to a limit, they will help you stay organized, working like a set of drawers within your backpack. We love these packing cubes from e-bags.

2) First Time Travelers Should Know: Use Traveler Networks

You are not the only one who loves adventure. There are thousands upon thousands of others out there dreaming, exploring, and discovering the world of ours. Why not connect with those people? Learn what they know? Share an experience you had. These networks are one of the best things that social media provides us with. Check out Facebook groups for backpackers, forums on sites like tripadvisor.com. Become a member of the vast network of travelers that want to share and learn along with you!

3) First Time Travelers Should Know: Travel Insurance is Worth It!

First off, it’ll make your parents and loved ones feel a lot better while you’re on the road. Not only will travel insurance give them peace of mind, it can give you peace of mind and be a valuable tool if something goes wrong. Travel insurance can cover you if you get sick, if your trip is interrupted or have some of your things stolen. It’s great to have an ally when things are stressful in a foreign place. Good travel insurance can be that ally.

The folks at World Nomads will be your best friend when you’re in a pinch. They provide coverage for regular travel and will even cover you for over 150 different adrenaline pumping adventure activities. They can also cover and protect your tech gear from damage and theft. Plus, it’s a company formed by travelers. They know what it’s like and have built a company for people just like them. World Nomads is also a very socially responsible enterprise that gives back to communities in need all around the globe!

If you’d like a quick quote, fill out the information below and see how World Nomads can help you travel better.


4) First Time Travelers Should Know: A Travel Blog Can Make You Money

Imagine that your travels could earn you money for even more travel. Even if it’s just a little bit to cover travel insurance for your trip and few nice meals in epic foodie cities like Paris or Tokyo! Creating a travel blog is an easy process and anyone can do it. Your family and friends will love to hear about your adventures. If you’re good at it, perhaps you can turn it into a money making revenue stream that will keep your back account full to fuel even more epic travel.

The first step to starting a blog is choosing a host. We use Site Ground to host our site because, simply put, they are the best for what we need. It’s easy to use, the customer support is top notch, and the service is a great value. Check out siteground.com and get blogging!

Web Hosting


5) First Time Travelers Should Know: Learn Skills Before You Go

The first time I traveled, I knew nothing. I didn’t know what to expect. I surely wouldn’t know how to keep myself safe or healthy while traveling. Thankfully, the Global Travel Academy is helping people prepare to go abroad safely. They offer courses in both Travel Health & Safety as well as International Volunteering for those looking to give to those in need during their travels.

Check out these short trailers for the Global Travel Academy Programs!

Global Travel Academy’s Certificate in Travel Health & Safety from Global Travel Academy on Vimeo.

An Introduction to the Global Travel Academy’s Certificate in International Volunteering from Global Travel Academy on Vimeo.


6) First Time Travelers Should Know: Invest in Great Shoes

10 things first time travelers should know

This is just real practical stuff learned from lots of nights spent nursing sore feet. We walk a lot because walking is usually free. It’s also a great way to get a feel for where you are and really immerse yourself in the culture of a place. We usually travel with 3 pairs of shoes each. 1 pair of flip flops, 1 pair of casual shoes and 1 pair of “adventure shoes”. This way we’re covered for just about any situation we encounter. Here are a couple of suggestions we offer for each kind of shoe:




Flip Flops – Birkenstocks saved Kari’s feet during our 6 months in Europe.
Casual Shoes – Kari rocked these Vans Solanas in over 40 countries.
Adventure Shoes – Adidas Boost technology are the most comfortable shoes on the market right now. They will be our next adventure shoes


Flip Flops – Reef Smoothy is the best flip flop I’ve ever worn.
Casual Shoes – Sanuks are my all-time faves & have been around the world with me.
Adventure Shoes – Adidas Boost technology will keep your feet comfortable day in and day out

7) First Time Travelers Should Know:Invest in Rain Gear

The weather can be unforgiving and unkind to a traveler. Rain is probably the #1 culprit in wasting days on your travel schedule. Don’t let rain keep you from making the most of everyday. We make sure that we always have our rain coats and an umbrella with us at all times. This way, the rain never steals a precious travel day from us. I will admit, playing in the rain isn’t always the most pleasant. But, if you’re on a time budget, it’s better than losing an entire day.

Simple rain jackets are the way to go. We like to make sure ours are good for all conditions and very packable. We like ours to have some venting in the case you’re in a tropical places and the temperatures stay warm when it rains. Also, we like to choose bright colors because they look great in pics.

10 things first time travelers should knowHere’s what we rock in the rain:


Marmot Precip – Packable and great in most conditions.


The North Face Venture – Excellent all round choice

8) First Time Travelers Should Know: The Language Barrier is Thinner Than You Think

Lots of people balk at the thought of travel because they worry they won’t be able to communicate. In our over 4 years of full time travel, rarely have language barriers kept us from accomplishing our travel goals or communicating with locals. Also, if you speak English, there’s just about always someone in earshot who can speak English to some degree. Plus, there’s a few translation technologies out there, like Google Translate, that can help make communication possible.

10 things first time travelers should know
You can make a lot of friends by being kind and inquisitive.

9) First Time Travelers Should Know: “Take Your Time”

Your first travel experience will be one you remember for the rest of your life. It’s special and should be treated that way. Don’t try to get too much in your first time out. Be realistic and flexible with your itinerary and plans so that you can enjoy whatever you’re doing to the fullest. We suggest to make fewer plans and prepare for maximum flexibility. Don’t be too rigid in your planning and box yourself into a schedule that will have you on the run through the whole of your travels.

It’s easier than ever to make plans on the fly with flight booking sights like Momondo and accommodation sites like booking.com

10) First Time Travelers should Know: The World is Still Mostly Safe

Yes, we see it on the news day in and day out. They bombard us with how dangerous things are out there and how everyone wants to hurt you. Statistically, your chances of being seriously injured abroad are extremely low. Especially, if you take precautions and are smart when you’re out exploring. It’s true, people will try to pick your pockets or attempt to scam you. Use common sense to avoid this. A little common sense will go along way and keep you safe while abroad.

Get Out There & Go For It!

Now, go forth with these ten things all first time travelers should know, get out into the world! Dream, explore and discover the many sights, sounds, cultures, foods, drinks, activities that you’ve only read about in books or seen on TV! These places are real and all within reach and waiting for you to enjoy!

10 things first time travelers should know

What else do think is important information, knowledge & gear for 1st time travelers? Leave a comment and let us know!



Looking for more Info!?!?!

If you’re considering an European Adventure, check out how we were able to lease a car in in Europe for an Epic 6 month Road Trip!


***Disclaimer: The links to the accommodations in this post are affiliate links. That means if you complete a booking through these links, we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Being an affiliate is a great way to spread the word about awesome places and things we experience when we travel. As a result of the affiliate program, you can help support Travelin’ Stiles. Rest assured that we would not recommend something to you that we have not used or think would be of value to you, our readers.***

18 comments on “10 Things First Time Travelers Should Know

  1. July 22, 2017

    I need to work more on number 1! I’ve been on a few trips now and I still haven’t worked out my perfect travel wardrobe! Hopefully I’ll get there as travelling light makes it so much easier!

    • Rob Stiles author Beth Jarrett
      July 24, 2017

      Keep at it. It’s tough for long term travel stints. But you can pare down with some practice. It’s really tough though.

  2. July 23, 2017

    Agree with all nine points here, but point 4 is only if the traveller is a blogger and can only make money if their blog is a success. First time travelers wouldn’t get to this point so I dont really agree with it. But travel insurance is a must, that has safe my assed on a few occasions.

    • Rob Stiles author Danik
      July 24, 2017

      Thanks for the comment. We included it because we want people to know there are ways to fund long terms travel. If we knew the benefits of starting a blog before we started traveling, we would have started sooner and learned more about the nuts and bolts of blogging before leaving home. Lots of people who don’t travel ask how people are able to afford traveling long term…a blog is a way to do it.

  3. July 23, 2017

    You have put down some wonderful tips for first-time travellers. I specially like the one where you mention that ‘the world is still mostly safe’, provided one exercises caution and care.

    • Rob Stiles author 100cobbledroads
      July 24, 2017

      I think travelers…people in general… forget they need to be responsible for their own safety and the choices they make can impact their well being.

  4. July 23, 2017

    fab tips! we are still learning that we need less than we think but we’ll get there!

    • Rob Stiles author twotalltravellers
      July 24, 2017

      Cutting back is a tricky one. Especially if you’re traveling long terms and will be facing different climates and conditions.

    • Rob Stiles author twotalltravellers
      July 24, 2017

      Cutting back is a tough one. Especially for long term travel where you’ll see different climates and conditions.

  5. July 23, 2017

    I agree with all of these but Shoes and Insurance are the top tips for me. Uncomfortable shoes can ruin any holiday, make sure you get really supportive ones and break them in before you leave. I also would never travel without insurance – one major holiday mishap could send you broke for the next 10 years.

    • Rob Stiles author Paula Morgan
      July 24, 2017

      Great points, Paula. When traveling, you’re on your feet so much, it makes sense to invest quality and comfort. Travel insurance…I’ve done it a few times…but never, ever, ever again!

  6. July 24, 2017

    Yes I agree to all these things that travelers and especially first time travelers should know! And especially about the Birkenstocks because I spent 6 weeks backpacking through Europe and I wore my birks always!!

    • Rob Stiles author Audrey
      July 24, 2017

      Birks were Kari’s lifeline. You spend so much time on you feet while traveling and exploring you have to take care of your feet.

  7. Katie @ Zen Life and Travel
    July 25, 2017

    Good tips – I totally agree with #1. I never use everything I bring!

    • Rob Stiles author Katie @ Zen Life and Travel
      July 25, 2017

      It’s so tricky. We’ll get it someday! Happy Travels!

  8. ilive4travel
    July 27, 2017

    Some great tips for first time travellers. I totally agree with packing, 5 years on the road and I still take too much stuff when I have my backpack!! I can travel Europe for 5 weeks with hand luggage but go long haul with a bag allowance and I still take too much stuff, half which I never wear!!! Always buy travel insurance too, I hear so many horror stories and something might happen out of your control. I would hate to burden my family with tens of thousands of pounds trying to get me care and get me home because I didn’t want to spend a few hundred pounds!!

  9. July 27, 2017

    Well, a travel blog isn’t quite instant money. It’s true (in a sense) that “anyone can start one,” but it’s important to let people know it really is hard work, and if you’re not willing to put the time into it, and learn A LOT about digital marketing.. then it’s not really for everyone. Other than that, these are good tips 🙂

    • Rob Stiles author Miranda
      August 4, 2017

      Fair enough. It sure is a lot of work. But, if you really fall in love with traveling, it’s a way to help subsidize that lifestyle.
      Thanks for reading.

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