Tips For First-Time Travelers: Copy Your Passport, Ditch The Itinerary

Friday, August 13, 2010

We were all travel virgins once. Not quite the — awkward lying next to each other, not knowing where to look, thinking of something romantic to whisper in your ear — kind of travel virgin. More like the — guide books awkwardly lying on top of each other, not knowing what to pack — kind. Even for the most well-seasoned world rompers, that first big trip is one that no one forgets.

For me, I was 19 years old, I had arrived in Germany, my luggage for this ten-day trip to Denmark and Sweden was far more than I could handle alone, everyone was wearing strangely tight jeans, and all I wanted to do was find the family friends I was to meet. I was abroad, on the other side of the planet, and I was still alive.

I ended up finding my friends — two brothers that studied in America when I was a toddler — and we were off to Denmark. The next ten days was a fairy tale, and it stoked a fire in me that has since taken me throughout the world. Taking that first step wasn’t easy– we all remember this, despite how suave a traveler we want to come across as — and I can understand how taking that first leap into travel could be intimidating for a first-timer.

To make it not as intimidating (queue the “Ta- Da” music), I stumbled upon an article from Travel Blissful that gives 7 tips for the first-timer. There may be a few more than just seven things you should be aware of before heading, but this list is a good place to start.

The best piece of advice they give is to double up your documents. I’ve made this mistake in the past, and don’t want to again. Let’s say your passport gets “left” at the bar where you drank 549 rum runners to celebrate your arrival in the island. Worst-case scenario is that you have a copy of it to help the process of getting a new passport a little faster (and you’ll have proof of your age for rum runner round two).

Worst tip on the list: Make an Itinerary. Why is this a bad tip? Three words for you: spirit of adventure. Plus, all that should be covered in your friendly neighborhood Expeditioner website.

[Image by ~Duncan~/Flickr]

  • Vl


    now that is a good advise.


  • Jenn Rowell

    A trick I use is to cover my guidebooks with scrapbook paper or brown paper bags or something to make them look like journals or reading books, versus a guidebook that screams “I’m not from here!” That way I have my maps or guide or key phrases handy without being pegged as a foreigner.
    Also, bring a roll of toilet paper. You just never know.

  • Oh, shoot you said "travel virgin" Yes, I was that once….sorry, I was skimming and, well, I read wrong. My bad.

  • "We were all travel virgins once." No Jon, I was never a virgin. Please correct.

  • How about making sure you know the value of local currency so that you don't get ripped off and don't over inflate the local economy.

    Definitely agree with the comment about not planning too much.

    Paul @

  • TheExpeditioner

    Let's see, first-time tips. Make sure you speak to at least 3 strangers every day (locals, hostelmates, etc…); pack a flashlight, ear plugs and travel alarm clock; and take copious amounts of pictures.

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