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The Newbie Traveler's Top Ten Tips for Other First-Time Travelers

August 6, 2010 at 11:12 AM | by | ()

What would your life be like if you hadn't yet traveled internationally? If you'd spent years reading travel novels and fantasizing over guidebooks, but hadn't made the big leap? This is the case for Andy Miles, who in his late twenties is embarking on his first trip abroad and walking us through the emotions and observations of a true Newbie Traveler. Follow along all week as Andy takes us along on his inaugural foreign journey. Today in the final installment, the Newbie Traveler shares some priceless insights.

For my last post, I thought it would be a good idea to share my top ten tips for other newbie international travelers. These are simply things I learned, observed, or thought would be important enough to share with you. Here we go...

· Get a passport. While I assume that most of Jaunted's loyal readers have valid passports, I did an informal poll amongst several of my friends and came to find that a shocking 80% of them don't have a passport! I'm making this my number one "tip" for newbie travelers because you can't do much without one. Get started.

· Not all power adapters are created equal. Double-check yours. Yes, the United Kingdom is a part of Europe, but UK power outlets differ from other European countries. I would check this adapter guide before making any purchases.

· Make the necessary phone calls before your trip. As I stated in my first article, there are some phone calls you'll definitely want to make before departing. Your bank, cell phone, health insurance and such would be the key contacts to make sure you won't be cut off while abroad.

· Meet a local. I was lucky in that one of my friends was able to introduce me to someone in London. If you're not this lucky, you may want to check out CouchSurfing.org. You can do a search for anyone that's interested in having a coffee or drink with visitors to their city! I did a quick search for people in the London area and over 1,000 results came back.

Andy meets the locals

· Don't be ashamed to use a map. I get lost in San Francisco all the time and I don't think twice about using a map. Why should it be any different in another country? Do what you need to do to have the best trip possible and don't care about what other people might think of you.

· Never forget you're in another country. Be open minded and ready for new experiences while showing respect for your host country. Newbie world travelers (with iPhones) might find the World Customs & Cultures app useful.

· Fight jet lag. Did you travel to sleep in a hotel room? No! After several hours of research (i.e. Googling), I've found that the general consensus on beating jet lag is "try to sleep on the plane and once you get to your destination, adapt to the local schedule ASAP." I know, I know, my parents think I should have been a doctor too.

· Use public transportation. If your destination offers public transportation, I suggest you take it. If the locals can figure it out, you can too.

· Be in the moment. Don't keep your head buried in guidebooks. You're traveling to participate, for the opportunity to experience other cultures and ways of life. You want to look back on your journey and remember that you really existed there—if only just for a moment.

· Oh, and bring comfortable shoes. Vans, while awesome looking and comfortable for days on the beach, are not meant for day in, day out high-mileage traipsing around a large city.

Bonus tip: It's okay to take touristy photos of yourself at places like the fictional Harry Potter Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station.

Now that I've reached the end of my Newbie series, I'd like to take a moment to answer the question: "What is a newbie?" A newbie is someone that has desire. A newbie can be surprised. A newbie is prepared to experience things as they're not entirely sure what to expect in the first place. They might not always like what they find, but at least they had the opportunity to find out. A newbie has a thirst to learn and share. In my opinion, we should all maintain at least a little of that newbie spark.

I want to extend a sincere thank you to those that have enjoyed reading about my first journey abroad. The next time I'm entering a new country, I will proudly pull out my passport, place it on the counter, and say, "I know the drill, I've done this before."

Sadly this is the final installment of The Newbie Traveler series. Got any comments or questions for Andy? You can follow him on Twitter at @yikes or over at his blog, Andydotcom. Be sure to check out all five Newbie Traveler stories here!

[All photos: Andy Miles]

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