A Beginner's Guide to Traveling

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A Beginner's Guide to Traveling

Written by Erich Allen Apr 21, 2022 12:00 PM

You're hungry for your first taste of freedom. You're dying to get out of town and see the world. You've been saving your pennies and you've finally got enough cash to jet off on an adventure. But hold up — before you throw caution to the wind and head out into the wilderness, there are a few things you need to know.

We've rounded up the ultimate beginner's guide to traveling on a budget, so you can make sure all your hard-earned money goes toward once-in-a-lifetime experiences, not toward unexpected costs or fees. If it's your first time traveling solo (or even if it's not), here are a few tips for making sure your first trip abroad is as fun and stress-free as possible. 

Planning a trip? Try our free, easy-to-use trip planner.

Make A Plan and Stick to It

A solid trip starts with a solid budget. It's especially important when you're traveling internationally. Before you leave home, decide what you want to see, when you want to see it, and how much you're willing to spend.

If possible, book your hotels and excursions before you leave home so that you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing exactly where you'll be each night. Then, once you're on the road, stick as closely as possible to your ideal travel itinerary. A little flexibility is great (and leaving room for unexpected discoveries is part of the fun), but having a big-picture plan will help keep things running smoothly.

Prepare Your Passport and Visas Early

Passport applications take longer to process than you might expect. Not having the right documents can result in being denied boarding by the airline in advance or being denied entry at the border of your destination country. Depending on where you are going, be sure to apply for any necessary visas in advance of your trip as well. 

Pack Smart and Light

It's tempting to pack everything but the kitchen sink when traveling, but having too many items can leave you over budget, tired from carrying heavy luggage around, or both. It's better to pack light and smart: take only items that are absolutely essential and use packing cubes (on Amazon) or zip-lock bags to keep everything organized.

If you're planning on traveling for two weeks, then carry enough clothes for about 10 days only. Don't forget to carry an extra pair of innerwear and socks. Some other essential items include sunglasses, sunscreen, hoodies, a first aid bag, and non-perishable items. Also, make sure that you don't carry liquids more than 100ml (even though it's tempting), as most airports won't allow it through. And, don't forget to pack your camera!

Decide Your Budget

If you're planning to travel for a week or longer, you'll need to figure out what your budget will be. It's best to sit down and consider all of your expenses, from hotel costs to food and sightseeing. Do some online research on the average prices in the city where you're going and add it all up. When you have an approximate number, add another 30% for backup and extra spending money.

Keep An Eye on The Local Currency Exchange Rate

Most people look at the U.S. dollar vs. local currency exchange rate as soon as they get off the airplane. After all, that's what determines how much everything costs. If you are going to be somewhere for a while, it's a good idea to keep an eye on the exchange rate from home. That way, you can plan your budget accordingly and see if the exchange rate is getting better or worse. You can use Google to check the current exchange rate between any two currencies with one simple search. If the rate is bad, then consider other payment options like credit cards.

Many credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee of 3% on each purchase made outside of the U.S., which can add up quickly. If you plan on using a credit card while traveling abroad, look for cards that don't charge international transaction fees.

Don't Forget About Vaccinations

Depending on where you are going in the world, there could be certain vaccinations that are required for entry into the country or even for just traveling through an area within your own country. You should always check with your doctor before traveling anywhere new to make sure that you are up-to-date on all of your vaccinations. Some diseases can be fatal, so it's better to be safe than sorry.

Research About Airline

When booking a flight, it is important to find which airlines fly where you want to go. Use a flight search engine like Kayak or Google Flights to find out which airlines offer nonstop flights from your city. Then, check their websites or call them directly to ask about baggage fees and carry-on allowance. If possible, try to book your flight as soon as possible to avoid high prices due to the scarcity of seats on popular routes.

Use Apps and Technology to Make Things Easier

There are many apps out there that can help make traveling easier for everyone involved. For example, Planiversity allows you to create itineraries from travel confirmations sent via email, so having all your trip information organized in one place is a breeze! You can also use Uber if you don't want the hassle of renting a car for your trip.

Book The Right Accommodations

Accommodations can make up one of the largest parts of your trip budget, so it pays to find the best deals you can. That said, you should have an idea of what kind of accommodations you prefer before you start booking. Some people like staying in private apartments, and others like being in hostels with dorm rooms and free-for-all kitchens where they can meet other travelers. Using sites like Booking.com or Airbnb is also a great way to find accommodations while traveling. 

Learn Basic Language

If you are going to a place where the local language is not English, then it is a good idea to learn a basic language so you can communicate with people and ask them for directions if needed. Make sure that you check the web to find out how they speak in their native language and how they respond to people when they ask for any help on the streets. You don't have to become fluent in the language but knowing some words like "hello", "goodbye", "thank you", etc., is extremely important if you want to avoid offending anyone or looking like an ignorant tourist.

Get Insurance Done

Before traveling, make sure you get your insurance done to stay safe from any unforeseen circumstances while on your trip. Travel insurance will cover all your losses, including loss of baggage, flight cancellations, etc. It also covers medical emergencies, including hospitalization and any other health-related issues.

Save Money with Public Transportation or Car Rentals

When traveling abroad, it's usually cheaper to use public transportation or car rentals than taxis and other ride-hailing services. Using public transportation will not only save money, but it will also let you see more of the city as well as meet locals who can give great recommendations to visit places off the beaten path!

When renting a car, be sure to check how much the rental company charges for gas per gallon and compare that rate to the national average (usually posted at your local gas station). Also, consider whether there are toll roads in the area — if so, find out whether the rental company offers electronic tolls or not!

Tips To Deal with Jet Lag

If you're traveling for the first time, then you might not be familiar with the concept of jet lag. Jet lag is a change in sleep patterns, energy, and alertness that results from travel across time zones. It can have a physical and mental impact on your body and make you feel exhausted, even if you have had plenty of sleep. But to get rid of jet lag, follow these tips.

  • Try to adapt to the new time zone as quickly as possible by staying awake until bedtime in your destination's local time zone.
  • If you're too tired to stay awake until bedtime, try taking a short nap when you arrive at your destination. But keep the nap relatively brief — 30 minutes or less is ideal. Sleeping longer will make it more difficult to fall asleep at night.
  • Expose yourself to sunlight or bright light during the day because this helps reset your biological clock (circadian rhythm). Avoid bright lights at night if you're having trouble sleeping.
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Eat light meals at regular times.


Whether you are thinking about eloping, going on vacation, or planning a honeymoon, the process of preparing for and going on vacation can be a bit scary. But with a little knowledge of where you are going, what sacrifices might have to be made, and preparation, taking that dream vacation could be within reach.