If you’ve never really traveled anywhere but want to start now, it is important to make the right choices. A first trip is very much like a first impression — if you get it right, it sets the tone for future travel, but if you get it wrong, it can put you off traveling for a long time. There are a few simple things to keep in mind when planning that all-important first trip so that it goes as smoothly as possible and gives you a positive feeling about all the wonderful things travel has to offer.
Selecting a destination and time frame that fits your personality is important. Two weeks in rural Myanmar may sound exotic and life-changing, but if you’re the kind of person who freaks out when the barista accidentally forgets the chocolate sprinkles on your latte, you might want to choose something a little more in keeping with your preferred lifestyle. If you rely heavily on a support network of people close to you, it’s probably not best to wander too far on your first vacation — perhaps at least staying in the same country is the best idea. That’s not to say you can’t become more adventurous in the future, of course. It’s simply better, if you’re nervous about traveling, to test the waters with a small trip and expand later if all goes well, than to take the plunge into long-haul travel and find that you’re miserable the whole time without any familiar comforts.
Always be liberal with your budget measurements. Don’t plan a trip that stretches your finances to the limit, because then you’re not leaving yourself any leeway for things like shopping and unexpected changes of plan. Spending has a way of snowballing when you’re relaxed and enjoying yourself, so make sure you’ve left enough money to account for that. Have an emergency fund ready as well, because you never know when you might have to fly home unexpectedly. Travel insurance may pay for any mishaps, but in the case of emergencies they often expect you to front the cost, and they will reimburse you later after you file a formal claim.
A packaged trip or an all-inclusive resort can be an excellent choice if you’re finding the amount of variables in travel logistics overwhelming. Packaged vacations are quite popular throughout Europe, and with good reason. All you have to do is select your vacation out of a catalog, and for one set price, the travel agency takes care of your flights, hotel, transportation, and sometimes meals and entertainment. You are still free to do as you wish when you get there (it’s not like a guided tour or anything), but you can relax in the knowledge that if something goes awry, all you have to do is phone the agency or speak to their local representative to get it taken care of. Packages like this are less popular in North America, but they are still readily available, and having everything taken care of by a reputable company before you leave can give you some much-needed peace of mind, especially if you’re nervous about traveling for the first time.
If you’re not sure yet whether or not you like adventure, avoid signing up for anything too extreme the first time around. There are millions of fantastic places where you can engage in all manner of adrenaline-inducing activities, but if you get there and discover you don’t like the fast lane as much as you expected, it can put a damper on the rest of the vacation. It may feel dull selecting something you’re fairly sure about, but since the whole point of vacation is relaxation, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with knowing ahead of time that you’re going to like everything you’ve planned. It’s better to have a good time doing things you know you like to do, than to plan things you hope you like and then be disappointed to find out you don’t like them after all.
Most importantly, don’t stress. Vacationing is fun, so don’t get too wound up about all the planning (that’s supposed to be fun, too!). If you’re apprehensive, keep your first trip relatively short and simple, and that will help you build a foundation of confidence to spread your traveling wings more fully in the future.