The Best Advice for New Travelers

When you want to start something new, remember this: Every pro started as an amateur! You may not get it all right the first time, but you’ll definitely enjoy yourself along the way. If you’re thinking of trying out this travel thing, here’s my best advice for starting your travel journey. 

Don’t let anyone discourage you from traveling, ever. 

If someone doesn’t understand why you’d ever want to go anywhere, remind them that they are not required to come along. If your dream is to travel somewhere on the other side of the world, do it! Don’t let anyone talk you out of it. They’re probably doing lots of things that don’t make sense to you either, and they wouldn’t stop if you told them to, right?

And remember, anyone who’s criticizing you is likely doing less than you. People who are doing more don’t have time to criticize. 

More here: Solo Travel Come Backs for Rude People

Don’t let jet lag determine your travel duration. 

Before COVID, my husband and I used to take long-haul weekend trips. That’s right! We’d happily take a long weekend in Singapore, spend Valentine’s Day in Verona, head to Hawaii for a holiday weekend in January, etc. People think we’re nuts, but my husband can’t always take more than a few days off work at a time. A weekend away is always better than a regular weekend watching TV! 

When I was planning a “long” trip to Hawaii for a week, someone once told me, “Oh, you have to spend at least two weeks. Otherwise you never get over the jet lag in time.” Y’all, if I let jet lag determine my travels, I’d never go anywhere! Drink extra coffee during the day, take melatonin to help you sleep, stay outside during daylight hours to make your body know it’s time to be awake! Do what works for you, but don’t let jet lag be in charge!

Quick weekend in Singapore? Go for it!
More here: The Best Things about Jet Lag

Get a rewards credit card, and learn how to play the game correctly. 

How did my husband and I fly Business class to Verona for Valentine’s Day? Redeeming points! How did I get to stay at the only 5-star hotel in downtown DC? Redeeming points! How did I pay for an entire trip for four to Mackinac Island, only to be able to have it fully refunded with no penalties due to COVID? Credit card points! You can seriously score some amazing travel if you just know how to play the credit card game and harness those rewards to your advantage. Do a little digging. As long as you never carry a balance, it will pay for itself!

Verona on points for Valentine’s Day? Yes, please!
Keep reading: What to Consider When Applying for a Travel Rewards Credit Card


Listen to fellow travelers, listen to locals, listen to the announcements at the airport, listen to your body when it tells you to rest. Every time you listen, you’ll learn something—maybe something big, maybe something subtle. But truly, it’s never a bad thing to listen. 

You learn 100% more while listening than while talking.
More here: Things Every Traveler Needs to Know

Have an open mind. 

There are very few instances where there’s only one “right way” to do something. When we travel, we find that sometime our way is, in fact, NOT the best way to do something. Try the food, listen to the music, enjoy the moment. Spending time thinking someone (or an entire country’s people) is wrong only lessens the time you have to appreciate an enjoy a new experience!

There are Christian murals and mosaics inside the main mosques in Istanbul. Did I blow your mind yet?
Read on: 5 Ways to Embrace Cultural Differences

Learn the word for “thank you.”

The only language I speak fluently is English. But I can say “thank you” in over a dozen languages! No matter how independent you are (and I’m one independent girl!), you can still be thankful when someone helps you. They will most likely know a little English, so if you thank them that way, they’ll know what you mean. But if you even just TRY to thank them in their own language, they’ll love you for it! 

This guy got such a kick out of it when this American girl thanked him in German!
More here: Words to Learn in the Local Language

Everyone messes up!

It’s true! Even after over a decade of travel, I still get it wrong sometimes. Don’t let that get you down! Just pick yourself up, learn the lesson, and move on to do better the next time. Give yourself some grace!

The two of us have over 40 years of travel experience between us. We accidentally took the (very) long way around Diamond Head, but we still made it to the top together!
Read on: Solo Travel Mistakes (and how to avoid them!)

Take out half the clothes you think you’ll need. 

No, really. Half. Even better if you can mix-and-match the half that’s left! If you take a fresh outfit for every day, you’ll be surprised at how many of those clothing items you never wore at all by the time you get home. Trust me on this one. 

Would you believe this is all I packed for a week of travel through three countries?!
Even better: How to Pack the Perfect Carry-on

If your friend drops out, go anyway. 

It happens to us all if we travel with friends or family enough! Whether it’s financial reasons, an unexpected thing that happens, or just not adequate planning on someone’s part, your friend’s drop-out doesn’t mean you have to stay home. Go solo, take a different friend, or come up with another out-of-the-box idea! You got this. You don’t have to let someone else dampen your travel parade!

Solo trip to Wales? Why not?!
Essential info: What to Do When Your Travel Buddy Drops Out

Wear real shoes. 

I know, this one’s boring! But you’ll be kicking yourself (pun intended) if you make your foot fashion decisions based on what looks better instead of what feels better. Bring a pair of sandals or flats in your purse if you need to, but take it from a double foot surgery pro: take care of your feet so they can take you where you want to go!

Appropriate footwear could make all the difference!
Don’t take my word for it; trust my podiatrist!
Your Ultimate Guide to Travels and Your Feet

Want more? All my best travel hacks, tips, and advice are on my dedicated Travel Tips Page!

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