Hope. Fear. Excitement. Traveling for the first time provided me with wave of conflicting emotions. When I left to travel the world, I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t well traveled and was as green as they come. No one I knew had ever done this before. To compensate for my lack of preparedness, I followed my guidebooks and wet my feet with tours. I was young and inexperienced, and I made a lot of rookie travel mistakes.
Now, with 10 years of travel under my belt, I know better. If I could sit my younger self down before he left for his world trip, I would give him this advice:
It can be tempting to try to see it all. With limited vacation time, we are always trying to squeeze everything in, rushing through 20 cities in 20 days, or 100 countries on our round-the-world trip. In the end, all we have to show for it are photos, stress, and a whirlwind of experiences but no real knowledge of the places we went.
Get people’s contact information
You will make a lot of friends on the road. Some of them will become lifelong friends. But sometimes you don’t get their contact information and you regret it forever. Facebook and e-mail make it easy to stay in touch with people for years after your trip, so get people’s contact information! Don’t let your new friends fade into memory.
Get a phone
You’ll meet a lot of people on the road who you will want to see again. While Facebook can be handy for staying in touch, it isn’t ideal for planning meet-ups when people are constantly on the move. Did your friends get the message? Will they be there?! Who knows!
Take extra money
Travel isn’t as expensive as you think, you’ll travel through Asia on $15 a day or Europe on $40, but you’ll learn there are always unexpected expenses.
Don’t be scared
Fear is a powerful deterrent. Taking the leap into the unknown is scary, but you aren’t the first person to travel the world. You aren’t discovering new continents or exploring uncharted territories.
You are not alone
Wherever you go, there is a network of travelers who will be your friends, give you advice or tips, and help you out. They will guide you, point you in the right direction, and be your mentors. You aren’t out there on your own. You will make friends. You will be OK. Though you are traveling alone, you will never be alone.