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Any advice for a young, inexperienced traveler?

If you could offer advice to a young, inexperienced traveler, what would it be?  Any advice would do. :)

34 Answers

top answer by
Alex from London

Hi Christian,

What a great question! Here are a few tips:

Push your limit but don't loose your sense of comfort

Start small if that helps you get comfortable about travelling.  People always say jump right in and I couldn't agree more but your common sense of things keeps you safe and allows you to understand your environment better.  You need to get used to travelling so you don't feel like you're hopelessly lost (I mean mentally not directionally).  Feeling comfortable when in a strange place is the best lesson travel will teach you ;)

Stay safe

This isn't just about not getting pick-pocketed. You should always read about health risks and vaccinations you must take when travelling to different parts of the world.  Make sure to take appropriate medication with you.  Also, keep your valuables (enough money to survive one day, embassy and emergency contacts, travel document, addresses) on your body at all times, and keep a copy of your passport somewhere else. Lastly, some countries have higher crime rates than others so do your research in advance and make sure to plan travel and transfers with accredited safe sources (and avoid nighttime and isolated pick-up/drop-off points).

Interact and engage

Stay in hostels, travel by public transport, visit local bars and restaurants... and meet people. Travel will afford you some amazing sights. More importantly it will offer you the amazing experiences and different perspectives of people you meet along the way. Remember to be respectful of different cultures and accept that you may not always agreed with a stranger's idea, but that you will grow by letting them share it with you regardless.

Look for opportunities

Travel is expensive so look for ways to experience the world on a budget. There are loads of companies that help young people find work or volunteer opportunities aboard.  Also, ask your parents and friends who they know in different countries, you would be amazed at how long lost friends may jump at the chance to host you. Lastly, you can always experience a different city as a student, with study abroad and exchange programmes.

Start now

Really... start as soon as you can

11 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Courtney from Los Angeles

Great question, Christian!

Keep two different journals--one of what you did each day and one of what you were feeling. I did that when I went to live in Paris on my own and I look at both at least once a year. 

I would also say not to spend money on souvenirs but instead, try to hold on to a few significant pieces of paper ephemera or other unexpected tokens like, say, a bus ticket from a special day or even a leaf from a park (as long as it's dead!). 

7 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Christa from Bolingbrook, Illinois

Stay in a hostel or a bed and breakfast to save money! Before you book a tour make sure there isn't a cheaper way to do it on your own! For example I almost paid 25 dollars for a tour through a National Park when it turns out I could go through the park on my own for like 2 dollars! Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Check for picture ID's when you get in a cab and if there is no meter ask how much the trip will be before you let them take you anywhere. Don't use the currency exchanges. The best exchange rates are the ATMs in other country! Always email a scanned version of your passport before you leave and call your banks and let them know where you will be going! Do research on high seasons and low seasons and if your strapped for cash maybe go during the low season if you don't mind the weather being off a bit. Go to trip advisor to plan your trip! Use Kayak when planning your flight. And make sure you start an airline rewards program! You don't necessarily need  a credit card to do this but I hear you rack up on points faster this way. MAKE SURE you have enough money left after your trip to get by in your everyday life :) This might mean not going out to eat as much while at home. Getting roomates. Buying less clothes. Using a lot of coupons and so on and so forth. Hope this helps!

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answered by
Kim from San Francisco

These are amazing answers you've been given!! Way to go community!!

Take a Tour

My best advice is to take a tour of the city one of the first days you are in a location if they are offered. You'll get an understanding about what is going on where and the areas you'd like to further explore. This way you don't find your favorite place on your last day there.

Be Wary of Cab Fares

Step into a local hotel and ask if you can get help catching a cab. They'll often arrange the fare for you too so you don't get charged too much.

DK Travel Guides

I LOVE these travel guides. They show you everything important to see in most major cities with lots of photos and the layout of most major sites. (No, I don't work for them, they are just the best!) They'll show you the must see places in any location.

Take Common Medicines Along

I carry natural remedies to ward off any local bacteria I can't handle especially in third world countries where the water isn't great. Visit your local health food store for more information.

Eat Locally!

Tourist food is fine but you'll get the true flavors of the area by eating off the tourist circuit. I search for the favorite restaurants of the locals and give them a try. I learn so much about the culture this way!

Keep Your Eyes Open

No matter how you travel, pay attention to what is going on around you. The cultural rules and local customs are not the same as the ones you have back home. Treat the people in the places you visit with respect and courtesy and you'll likely keep yourself safe. Don't allow yourself to be lead off the beaten path if you are concerned.

I hope you have a terrific time!!

4 thanks

answered first by
Joanna from Oakland

Just start and go! =) 

For young people, limited money can be a reason for not traveling. You can travel on a budget and live creatively. If there's a will, there's a way. 

And where ever you go, take the time to know the local culture. Just don't have out with people from your country. Immerse yourself in something new. 

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answered by
Alay from London

Travel with an open heart

Wherever you go have respect 

Whoever you meet, smile

Travel with an open heart

But keep your wits

Its good to trust but the world is not your playground

Be safe, be good, and have fun

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answered by
Karen from Dallas

Don't wait until you're old to start. If you have the opportunity to travel while you're in school, do it. Learn as much as you can about the rules (how to get into a country legally, what to do/not to do to stay out of trouble) and then experience as much as you can within those basic limits. Talk to locals and buy stuff from them if you can - don't just see the major tourist attractions unless that's all you have time or money for. (Anyone who says there's a "right" way to travel is full of it.) Travel light - you will need much less "stuff" than you think you will. GO GO GO GO GO!!!! :)

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answered by
Max from Venice Beach

Do not believe the well-perpetuated idea that your actions committed towards the people around will remain forever where they occurred. You will carry everything with you wherever you go for the rest of your life. Whether it be ditching the hostel in the early morning to avoid the person you just slept with, screaming profanity at the train conductor who ripped you off or even taking a book from an exchange without giving one back. While traveling for long periods of time there can be a sense of timelessness where you feel like you can do anything and never have to pay the consequences. But you will. Maybe not then, maybe not for years. But it will catch up with you and it will hurt. Big time. So always do the right thing even if you don't feel you really understand why you are doing it yet. It'll save you a lot of expensive bar tabs or therapy down the road. But maybe you have to mess up to understand anyway. Who knows. That's all I got. Good luck!

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answered by
Amanda from Canmore

Hey Christian,

I'm a travel podcast host, and on our podcast, we discuss topics around traveling on your own, and traveling for the first time. Check out The World Wanderers on iTunes under podcast or visit

Some of my best advice for someone who has never traveled before is to just go. It's going to be awkward, scary, and uncomfortable at times, but it is also going to be life changing in more ways that I can even describe. Hostel World is one of my best resources for finding a good place to stay with other young people with like interests. There are hostels in almost every corner of the world now, and Hostel World is the best site to book through, in my opinion. I would also recommend checking out Contiki Tours, G Adventures, or Bus About, depending on where you want to go. These are such great tour companies for young people, and it is such a great way to see a place (or places), to meet people, and to become comfortable with the idea of traveling.

Where is top of your list to travel?

I would love to chat further, so feel free to shoot me a message if you'd like :)



2 thanks

answered by
Tina from Bainbridge Island

Memorize your Social Security number! If you don't know it and are stranded, and have nobody to call for help, you will have problems trying to replace documents. Also check your passport's expiration date if yours is one that was issued for just five years and you haven't used it for a while. While it sounds like a no-brainer, this advice is provided by a mom whose college-aged daughter was not allowed to fly to meet her family at a destination vacation because her passport had expired. While the rest of the family was chilling on a faraway beach, she was stuck in a passport office trying to get an emergency renewal and everyone missed her desperate messages asking what her social security number was. Yes, she should have known it and, yeah, she could have checked her passport. Bet it never happens again!

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answered by
Jenny from New Jersey

make copies of your passport and credit cards before you go

take pictures of your luggage inside and out before checking

2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Justin from Phoenix

Pack well. I use a bunch of stuff sacks to group everything together. And the stuff sacks also smash down to a way smaller size than you'd believe. Extremely handy.

Also, a Camelbak or collapsible water bottles are a huge help. I've never regretted bringing them.

Oh, and a headlamp of some sort. Invaluable in so many situations.

2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Billy from Chicago

This is just a minor point but I have always found it helpful to arrive in a new city during the day to give myself at least a few hours of daylight to find whatever it is I am looking for. Also, read "vagabonding". 

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answered by
Brenda from Long Beach

Get a flight rewards card now. Whoever you end up flying, make sure you get ff miles from that airline. If you can get one credit card, I would look at Chase's options. Never ever leave your luggage out of sight. Not even above your head. Underpack and take me. Don't change money until you have landed, don't overplan, and walk around a city before you decide what to spend money on, be it museums or entertainment or dinner. Have a smile and open attitude and the world will be your oyster.

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answered by
Sneha from Gurgaon

Proper Planning: Once you have decided to go to a place, read all the information available, be it through blog, online travel guides, or travelers’ reviews. If you are travelling to a foreign country learn basic etiquettes. Plan your journey in advance so that you can bargain or get good discount. While finalizing for a place to stay, try to stay in local hostel or bed and breakfast options because travel always comes with a cost. Websites like airbnb and hostel world provides good options. Look if local people can host you so that you can come to know about place, culture and stories. Believe me local people will always surprise you with their information and stories and you can save good amount of money.

Interaction is the Key: Whenever you go to a new place interact with locals, don’t feel like as if you are tourist or dress as a fancy tourist, try to be one of them. This is how you learn. Eat local food, try new cuisine, be respectful about local people and culture and try to imbibe difference. Look for volunteering opportunities it gives many new opportunities for interaction.

Stay Safe: Every place is different so don’t keep all your money at one place. Once you are travelling you will mostly be in hurry or lost in happiness of seeing new places so carry less and manageable stuff with yourself. Don’t Carry expensive items and keep extra copy of tickets and paasport.I always note down  emergency numbers and keep them in bag, in case if I ever loose my phone or if battery drains unknowingly, i can always have these numbers in hand.

Read Weather reports: Pack your bags according to weather reports and carry necessary medicines especially if you are going to remote place.

And most important follow your instincts, pack your bag and share your travel stories with us.


1 thanks

answered by
Lyn from Manhattan Beach

Make your first trip abroad to a country that speaks your language (more or less).  It is hard enough to get used to a new culture without having to deal with the language issue.  So if you are from America, start with somewhere in the UK

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answered by
Peter from Salt Spring Island

Lots of good answers toa great question.

I think you have more advice than you will know  what to do with.

here are my 2 cents worth:

Take a deep breath and do nothing but observe the first day you are in a new country especially if its in a very different environment. Most mistakes, rip offs take place in the first 24 hours . Sit at a cafe and watch to get a feel for the place and absorb the atmosphere before getting involved or moving on.

Don't always use a guide book esp the Lonely one as everybody else has the same one and you will be traveling in a circus. Talk to people and follow your instinct and get lost. It will deepen your experience, allow you to meet different / local people and will not just be another place to tick off on your list . You will look back at those times as the best times.

That's it from moi. Have fun and bon voyage!!

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answered by

I think everybody's experience is differnt. I travel to Europe as much as I can. I have lived in the UK and Germany for a number of years also. I usually research what I intend to do. I figure out where I want to go, alternatives. I usually only book my first and last location. Usually where my plane takes off and lands at. I figure how I'm going to travel. I usually get a Eurail pass good for the countries I plan on going to. But I have rented cars, but try various combinations of city drop off and pick up points. The cost can vary greatly. I've used Europcar in the past. Big cities and cars don't mix. On one trip I landed in Berlin, visited for 2-3 days. It was more expensive to rent a car in Berlin. So I took a train to Wronclaw, Poland. Spend a few days there and rented the car. I drove to a castle, Krakow, Zamosc, Wolf's Lair (Poland)Vilna, Kaunas, Memel (kailopedia?, Lithuania). Then I dropped the car off in Tallinn, Eastonia. If You travel with 1-2 other people, it can be less expensive or equal roughly to a train. I stayed in Tallinn a few days. Then ferry to Sweden, stayed in Stockholm, train to Oslo, went acrossed Norway. Then Denmark. So I got the Eurail pass for Scandinavia. I bought my ticket from Berlin to Wronclaw. Only big city I had Proublems in was krakow. I usually have a rough idea of where I want to go. I usually book the next few days of a trip as I get to the one before. So when I was in Wronclaw, I booked Krakow, when I was in Krakow, I booked Zamosc. Although when I go around holidays. I tend to book everything. It has caused me minimal Proublems. For Europe there is some crime there. Mostly it is passive crimes. Pick pockets, they'll pick things up if You lay it down. But I've rarely had Proublems, even with years of experience there. Be aware of surrounding if they are shady and don't leave Yourself open to be a victim. I've also experienced that when I go some place. I try really hard to learn some basic language skills. Even 12-20 words will be extremely helpful in my experience. Usually I learn like good day, thank you, how much, where is. Excuse me. Just basic words. But it has been my experience if I make the effort to speak in their native tongue. If they speak English well. They will engage me in English.

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answered by
Gary from Scottsdale

I'm an experienced traveler, and I think the answers you have gotten so far are absolutely great! If you follow them you will have a good time and be safe. I will add or echo a few things that I am reminded of after 5 weeks of wandering in Western Europe.  

Stay in hostels or use AirBnB, it's a great way to meet new people. Download the Hostel World app and join, it's cheap and valuable. If you need a cheap hotel, look for ones around the train station, which are usually 2 star. They are just fine. Take the city bus. You'll see more, it's cheap, and fun. Same for metros and trolleys. Try to get a credit card with a chip in it because many machines there require it, such as the metro stations.  

When traveling between cities, take the train. If you do, and you are traveling a lot in Europe, download the train schedule to your phone. if you Are traveling between many cities, a rail pass may be your best bet, and it is so easy, you just get on the train.  

Don't be afraid to eat at the little walk in, open front places, that's where I got the kebobs and pizza. Don't be afraid to ask for help, I never found anyone who wasn't willing to help me, and some really went out of their way to do so. A smile and a friendly attitude go a long way.  

try to see the famous Places, but give yourself time to just walk around the cities and look and talk to people. 

Good luck

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answered by
Anneli from Sweden

I know this is a bit cliché but to get experience with traveling, you just have to get out there. Take a leap of faith, if you will.  :D

Everyone has been a baby penguin and every world traveler once were on their first big trip.

I would say stay open and positive through your trip. Thing wont always take the turn you wanted or expected but it's how you handle the experience that matters. Who knows, it might turn into your lives best adventure.

The fact that you are young doesn't really matter, I would advice to not go on any world-trip while you are still in school or under the age of 18. Mostly because that's the legal age in most countries.

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answered by
Roxanne from Montreal

Explore, make contacts and most of all enjoy !

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answered by
Tania from New York City

Here is a tip from Booker Mitchell taken from an article he wrote for National Geographic Intelligent Travel at age 15: "The biggest lesson that traveling has taught me is that the best trips are either the ones you make yourself at home — or ones that make you extremely uncomfortable because they involve taking big risks." 

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answered by
sham from Oregon

Write things down! You think you'll remember funny stories or peoples names but time takes its toll on the mind. Doesn't have to be much...I'm not much of a writer but just a couple sentences in a travel journal can bring back great memories.

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answered by
abi from Egypt

-Don't be scared to try new food.

-Pick a place your excited about.

-Make sure you have money because being stranded isn't always fun

-Don't be scared to try new food

-Interact and try to learn the words for "hello", "please", "thank you", and "cheers"  in whatever language they speak

-Try to stay open minded to new cultures no matter how different

-Don't over plan, just start

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answered by
Melanie from Dallas

Be flexible.

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answered by
Fontella from Cardiff

Take a travel guide in book form that lists different hostels, this is less likely to be nicked than your phone or tablet and is very useful! Also if you spot any fellow travellers on your journey, find out where they're going and where they've been for advice on where to stay and go. Recommendations from fellow travellers are the best.  

Make friends with as many people as possible once you get to a hostel, they will advise you on where to visit, what to do and keep you company if you want any. If you can speak the lingo, even better, get to know some locals so they can show you around, however, be wary, just in case.

Keep your wits about you and do not lose sight of your everyday travel bag. Keep your important docs and cards in your money belt and don't put all your valuables in one bag when travelling from one place to the next. When you have reached your destination, lock your valuables away in a locker and only take out with you what you need. You are more likely to get mugged than have your locker or safe broken into.

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answered by
Cristóbal from Puerto Morelos

Plan your travel and travel your plan. 

It is expected that the first times you do this you try to push to much and bite a bigger chunk than you can chew... but you will learn. And will improve. Keep this in mind but:

Be Flexible

Sometimes it rains and then you can't go walking outdoors, but you may have indoor options that you won't pay attention to if you're too busy feeling sad for the rain.

Save for it and expend it all.

You see that little apparently worthless-yet unique souvenir you like? Buy it. You will never see it again. And you saved for it, right? There's nothing more frustrating that coming back home with extra 100 in cash that you would expend buying that souvenir or that beer for that beautiful girl... 


When I was little my mother told me several times not to trust strangers. The reality is: while I travel I have to trust strangers and it has been just plainly awesome. There's people willing to help everywhere. 

Follow your instinct.

I live in a country that has been punished with bad news coverage, lots of drug lord wars and stuff like it, however: where I live I have none contact with this, but people don't know it. I like to use this analogy: you won't go into the red district of your hometown, right? So stay away from the red district of the place you're visiting. Is that simple, really.

Probably there's a lot more... but right now I can only think on this.

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answered by
Kim from Canada
  • Be fearless - BUT be smart! Say yes to things outside your comfort zone as that's where the greatest adventures are to be had but don't throw common sense out the window. Being fearless doesn't involve walking down dark alleyways at night by yourself counting a wad of money. 
  • Don't be afraid to reach out for help. Not sure if the taxi is legit? Got turned around and not sure how to get back to your hostel? Need to find the closest ATM in a hurry? Don't hesitate to approach locals and ask.You'll find most people are friendly wherever you go.
  • Ask questions. One of the best things about travelling is experiencing different cultures. You'll want to learn and immerse yourself in new cultures and the best way to do that is to ask questions. Locals are usually happy to share and teach you whatever you're willing to learn. 
  • Second guess all your purchases. Novice travellers will often over buy. Save your money by questioning your purchases. Sometimes a quick "do I really need this?" or "is there a cheaper option?" will stop you in your tracks and save you some coin. 
  • Arm yourself with info. Do you know your flight booking confirmation? Do you know your passport number? How about the location of the nearest hospital or the toll free number to your travel insurance company? All things that are handy to have with you.
  • Bring a flashlight/torch! A pocket sized one will come in handy more often then you'd expect especially in rural areas or countries that experience frequent power outages.

But most of all soak it up and enjoy every minute - you only live once ;)

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answered by
Einn from California

Start traveling when you can.  Don't wait till you're "older" or "retired" to travel/vacation, by that time your health may not be up for the hikes, food or adventures.  Do plenty of research ahead of time so that you don't put yourself in compromising situations.

Lastly... have fun with an open mind!

1 thanks

answered by
Panos from Stockholm

The longest journey begins with a single step. Just do it.

answered by
Mike from New York City

Hi Christian, I guess I would recommend not to be afraid of going on a journey and trying new experiences but make sure to take it one step at the time and don't put yourself in danger meaning do your due diligence about a country, a place...know what you're getting yourself into. keeping an open mind and trusting your heart and your gut feelings that you'll make encounters that will change your life...don't wait for the perfect moment to travel just decide and go, One book that's been very helpful and that I've taken everywhere is Vagabonding by Rolf Potts, maybe it will guide you too. Enjoy your travels, share your stories and keep track of where you're going, make it more interesting!...

answered by
Amro from Cambridge (England)

I have to agree with those that said just go. There is nothing better than just going to give one experienced. One could, of course, start by going to fairly nearby places, but to be honest, it makes little difference. 

Are you talking about yourself? 

You could go on city-breaks to start with. Just flying to a city and spending a short time there. Though to be honest, there's nothing like a few weeks on one place to really get a feel for it. 

Travelling with friends is also another way to gain confidence. One gets confidence from the others one is with. 

answered by
Tonco from London

Just one: World is your Oyster ;)

answered by
Michelle from Melbourne

I'd never travel without insurance. You might think you won't need it but I wouldn't take that risk.

Basically, anywhere there's a decent public transport system, I avoid cabs. Having said that, there are countries where you can't really avoid them. I agree with Christa below - find out the cost upfront, even in taxis that have meters. Even here in Melbourne (my hometown), cab drivers have tried to take me the long way home - and, of course, I know exactly where we're going so I can do something about it, but in a new place, you're at their mercy.

There are great apps/online resources to build your own tours, especially some great city walking tours. If there's no free wi-fi where you're staying, there are lots of free hotspots around the world, or find a cafe where you can log on for the price of a cup of coffee to do your local research. It's also a great way to start chatting with the locals. We've found some of our most fun experiences talking to the staff in cafes and other patrons.

If you're going to be in a city for a reasonable length of time, getting a local transport pass can also work out much cheaper than buying individual tickets.

Don't travel with anything you're not prepared to lose - or isn't covered by your insurance policy.

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