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1 9 Tips for New Travelers Travel-Made-Simple.com

2 Travel can be scary, overwhelming and frustrating. But it can also be empowering, exciting and lots of fun. If you ve never traveled before, it s understandable that you might be hesitant to book a trip. It's a big, scary world out there, or so you've been led to believe. But it's really not as scary or dangerous as you might think. Much of the world is safe, safer than the media makes it seem, maybe even safer than where you live. Most people are genuinely good, friendly and helpful. And you still really want to see other parts of the world, right? Where have you been dreaming of visiting? What destination stirs something inside of you and makes you long to see it in person with your own eyes? With a little encouragement and some helpful advice, you ll soon be on your way to seeing the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum or the Greek Islands. You can make it happen! Here are 9 tips to help make your first trip less frightening and less frustrating.

3 1 Travel Slowly With limited vacation time, you might be tempted to squeeze in as much as possible. But if you ve never traveled abroad before or you ve never traveled solo before, traveling too quickly can be a disaster.

4 If you re nervous about traveling in the first place, you don t want to be constantly trying to catch your breath. Traveling too quickly means added stress every time you have to move from one destination to the next. There s nothing wrong with spending a week in one city, or two weeks between two or three cities. Take time to figure things out and soak up the atmosphere. You can become a regular at the corner coffee shop and chat with the employee who recognizes you each morning. You can take an afternoon to sit in a square, read a book and watch the world go by without feeling guilty for not visiting another museum or monument. You can accidentally go the wrong way on the metro or the bus without panicking about losing time. Getting a little lost along the way can be fun. You can actually relax if you re not rushing from one place to another. That s what vacation is for, right? Read more about why you should travel slowly here.

5 " I recently spent a week in Budapest, Hungary. I saw castles and the Parliament Building, but towards the end of the week, I was a little tired of sightseeing. Instead I spent an afternoon sitting in a square just chatting with my husband and watching people go by, and I enjoyed it just as much as any of the sightseeing. Staying for a week gave me that flexibility.

6 2 Day tours are your best friend Booking a half- or full-day tour can give you some of the benefits of a full blown organized tour the structure and the information without the disadvantages. They will take care of the details for you. You just have to show up.

7 Try food tours. They teach you about the local cuisine in a fun way and you get to taste some delicious new foods. Sometimes it's hard to figure out what certain foods are in a new country, but a food tour will put you at ease about what to eat. Other good day tours can include behind the scenes access you can't get on your own. Some get you in before or after opening hours, or let you skip the long lines. If you're going to be near water, look for boat tours. Enjoy cycling? Try a bicycle tour of the city. Day tours are also a fun way to meet other travelers. Whether you're traveling solo or with someone else, talking to new people can be interesting and fun, and they might even have some tips for you about a restaurant or activity they enjoyed where you're traveling. Want more info on tours? Check out how to choose which tour is right for you here.

8 " Rome was a wonderful city for day tours. I took a behind-the-scenes tour of the Colosseum, which also included skipping the long lines. The guide told us so many interesting stories, and we avoided most of the crowds. I also took a fun food tour where we tasted local vinegar, salami, cheese and so much more. We even made pizza at the end, which I really enjoyed. It was an interesting way to learn about the culture.

9 3 Learn as you travel Signing up for a class can be a great way to experience a culture. And, like with day tours, someone else is taking care of some of the planning for you. Classes are also a fun way to meet other travelers.

10 Spend a week (or two!) in one city and take a language course. Most language schools will also set you up with accommodation. This can be with a local family, which is an interesting way to practice the language and get a glimpse of life in that city. If you're not comfortable with that, schools can often find you an apartment, hotel or guesthouse to stay in for the week. Another option is to sign up for a cooking course and learn to make a few local dishes on your own. Cooking classes can range from a half day to a week depending on your interests. Learn to ski or do water sports. Give horseback riding a try. Look for photography courses or art courses designed for tourists. The possibilities are endless. The types of classes will vary depending on where you go, but if you have an interest in something the destination is known for, learning about it while you travel will enhance your experience.

11 " I studied Spanish in school, but I never really used it after I graduated. When I was 30, I decided to take a trip to Quito, Ecuador as part of a language school program. I found a school that sounded good, they placed me with a family for the week, and I brushed up on my Spanish. The school also provided a walking tour of the city and they organized an excursion to see the equator monument. It was an educational week and a fun way to see a new city.

12 4 Pack Light Seriously, you don't need all that stuff! Lugging around a huge suitcase will add more stress and frustration to your vacation. Cobbled streets, dirt roads and centuries-old buildings with no elevators will all make you wish you didn't have such a heavy load to carry around.

13 In general, a week's worth of clothes will be sufficient for your trip, even if you're traveling longer than that. You can do laundry in a laundromat or send it off with your hotel or guesthouse. You can wear the same shirt twice and wear your jeans for several days. A three ounce bottle of shampoo will last you a lot longer than a one or two week vacation. Leave the full-sized bottle at home. Don't pack to many just in case things. Almost anything you forget or run out of while you're traveling can be purchased on the road. They have stores where you're going. Hair dryers don't convert electricity. If you're traveling from the US or Canada to Europe or Australia, leave your hair dryer at home. See if your hotel or guesthouse has one, buy a cheap one when you arrive, or just let your hair air dry while on vacation. Need more packing help? Check out my book Packing Made Simple here.

14 " I didn't always travel light. I used to pack tons of stuff just in case but I never needed any of it. I had to carry my heavy suitcase up several flights of stairs in hotels that didn't have elevators. It was a big hassle to have so much stuff for no real reason. It was so liberating to finally start packing less stuff. Now I almost always travel carry-on only, and on the rare occasion I don't have something I need, there's always a store around the corner where I can buy what I'm missing.

15 5 Reduce Layover Panic Layovers can be a big hassle, but sometimes you just can't avoid them. Before you book a flight with a layover, make sure it isn't any more stressful than it needs to be.

16 Aim for at least an hour, if not more, for domestic connections. For international, try to book at least two hours, more if possible. You have to get off the first flight, find your way through the airport to the next flight, and it always seems to take longer than you expect. Short layovers also mean baggage handlers might not have enough time to get your luggage off the first flight and onto the second flight. Reduce the chance of lost or delayed checked luggage by making sure your layover is long enough. (Or go carry-on only!) If your layover is in another country, you might have to go through passport check and customs during your layover. This can take quite some time, especially at busy times of the day. A short layover will stress you out, and there is a real possibility of missing your connection if it takes too long. Look out for layovers with airport changes. Some cities have more than one airport. If you are flying through these cities, check if you have to switch airports. Avoid connections with airport switches if possible, but if you have to do it, make sure you have at least four or five hours for your layover. Read more here to decide if your layover is long enough.

17 " On a trip back from Alaska, I ended up with a 25 minute layover in Las Vegas before continuing on to Atlanta. That's hardly enough time to get off the plane let alone finding the next gate. The first flight somehow landed early, I scrambled off the plane to the other side of the airport (where I even had to go through security again!) and I was the last person to board, just as they were about to close the door. It was pure luck that my first flight landed early and I didn't miss the second flight, and the experience was really stressful. Never again.

18 6 Book ahead to reduce unknowns Much of what frightens people about travel are the unknowns. It's an unfamiliar place, so it's difficult to know what to expect. Those unknowns become scary and even paralyzing. Getting a few things out of the way ahead of time will reduce your stress about the unknown.

19 Once you know where you're going, start searching for a hotel or guesthouse. Use Google street view to check out the neighborhood. Use maps to make sure you're booking something close to public transportation and not too far away from the sights you want to see. Going to more than one city? Book transportation ahead of time. Compare flying versus trains or buses to make sure you're not wasting too much time in transit, and remember that flying isn't always faster. Then book your transport and print the tickets ahead of time so you don't have to worry about it while you're traveling. While I definitely recommend leaving yourself some flexibility, it can be helpful to book one or two day tours ahead of time, especially if they're only offered on certain days. Buying tickets ahead of time for popular attractions, like the Vatican, Anne Frank House or the Eiffel Tower, can save you from spending lots of time waiting in line. Some things aren't necessary or even possible to book ahead, but you can still do some research and know what your options are when you arrive. Being prepared will help you feel less panicked.

20 " Sometimes it's worth it to spend a little extra money to reduce the unknowns. On my first solo trip, I splurged on arranged transfers so I wouldn't have to worry about how to get from the airport to my hotel, from the hotel to the ferry, etc. At the airport and ferry docks, someone waited for me with my name on a sign, and there they were again collecting me from the hotel lobby when it was time to move on. It made me more comfortable and let me focus on enjoying myself.

21 7 Go outside your comfort zone This doesn't have to be anything major, but pushing yourself, even a little, will build confidence. Travel is a good time to try new things because you're already in a different setting.

22 Maybe you've never tried snorkeling, or perhaps certain foods scare you. Give it a try while you're on vacation. Traveling will make you realize you can handle more than you thought, and that's the perfect time to try something new. Travel can be about so much more than just seeing the sights. It can be a big confidence booster, it can break you out of your shell, it can show you ways of doing things you haven't thought of before, and it can alter your view of the world. Most of the time, it will make you more open to new ideas and experiences. That might seem a bit uncomfortable at times, but new experiences help you grow. And sometimes the best way to tackle a fear is to face it head on. Embrace this opportunity for breaking down fears. Don't be unsafe, but aim for just a little past the point where you're comfortable. Afraid to travel? Check out this post on what's holding you back.

23 " On a trip to Santorini, I didn't think I could handle hiking up a steep dirt path. (I'm not the most athletic person.) A girl I met on my volcano tour was going up that way, so I decided to go for it and tagged along with her. I even did it a second time later that afternoon. I had to stop several times to catch my breath, but I did it. I made it to the top, and I was so proud of myself for accomplishing something I didn't think I could do. It remains one of my favorite memories from that trip.

24 8 A little extra money can go a long way We all want to save money, and no one wants to spend more than they have to. But know when to splurge or when it's worth going a little over your budget in order to fully enjoy your trip.

25 When you book that trip, you know it might be a once in a lifetime experience. You don't want to go into debt to travel, but you don't want regrets either. If you skip that hot air balloon ride over the gorgeous landscape, will you cherish memories of the money you saved? If you book a hotel far from the city center to save a few bucks a night, will you think fondly of the time spent on that long bus ride to see the sights? I'm guessing the answer to those questions is NO. But by splurging even a little on a breathtaking experience, you will create memories you'll hold onto forever. By spending a little extra a more convenient location, you'll gain valuable hours that you can use to explore more of the city you came so far to see. You don't have to break the bank, but remember that time and joy hold value, too.

26 " A few years ago, my husband and I spent some time in Sevilla, Spain, and to save money, we stayed quite far from the center. We got so frustrated with how long it took us to get into town to see the cathedral, the Alcazar, Plaza Espana, and everything else on our list. We did and saw less than we wanted to, and it taught me that we should have spent a little extra. Now I remember the sights, but I also think about what that trip might have been like had I not been trying to save a few extra dollars.

27 9 Just book the trip! If you're nervous or scared about traveling, sometimes the best thing you can do is just book the trip. Get online, find a flight to the place you want to visit and click purchase.

28 Think of it this way, you're just clicking a button, right? Take it one step at a time. On its own, booking a ticket isn't scary. Let that sit for awhile. Give yourself a few days to let it sink in that you've just booked a ticket to your dream destination. Then start filling in the details. Find a hotel. Find transport to get from one city to the next, if necessary. Pick a day tour or a class to get excited about, and sign up. Just think of it as clicks on your computer. You're not doing anything scary yet, you're still on your comfortable couch. Focus on all the fun stuff you're going to do on your vacation. Focus on images of finally being there in person. Picture yourself in front of Big Ben or the Leaning Tower of Pisa or wherever it is you're going. Let this fuel you until it's time to pack and jump on that plane, and enjoy! Need help? Send me an at if the details are overwhelming you.

29 " A few years ago, I was planning my first trip to Asia. I had traveled to Europe many times, so that felt comfortable, but Hong Kong seemed a bit overwhelming. So once I found a decent flight, I just reminded myself that all I was doing at that moment was booking a ticket. That didn't feel scary. And it gave me time to let the idea of Hong Kong sink a little. Eventually the idea had been floating around in my head long enough that it didn't feel so scary when it was time to board the flight.

30 Travel Made Simple is a site that makes travel less complicated and shows people how to travel. The site will help you plan your next trip, pack light, travel solo, overcome your travel-related fears, and more. On the site, I also provide suggested itineraries, tour reviews, and advice for visiting various countries. I understand how confusing all the details can be when planning a trip. I've made many mistakes in my own travels, and eventually I learned a better way. Now I share my extensive travel experience with you so you're less overwhelmed. Travel Made Simple can help you get out there and see the world, one simple step at a time. I'm Ali and travel is my passion. I believe our world has so much to offer, so many sights to see, so many cultures to experience, so much food to taste. I love to encourage others to travel, and I enjoy the planning aspect of travel as much as the trip itself. My first trip overseas was when I was 14 years old, and I visited all seven continents before my 30th birthday. I am the editor and publisher of and I'm a writer, travel addict, and American expat living in Berlin, Germany.

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