Pack your bags! Here’s our ultimate first-timer travel guide!

first-timer travel guide

Feeling the travel bug bite but overwhelmed by the planning? Don’t let first-timer jitters hold you back! This ultimate travel guide is your ticket to a smooth, unforgettable adventure.

We understand the mix of excitement and anxiety that comes with planning your first trip (or your first in a long time!). This guide cuts through the confusion, laying out essential tips for every stage – from planning and packing to navigating your journey and exploring your destination. So, grab your passport (or start browsing for flights!), because with these travel hacks in your pocket, you’re ready to conquer the world!


There are five fundamental rules one must abide by in the planning phase:

1. Research on everything!

  • Certain countries have rules and regulations that they require foreigners to follow. For example, some Muslim countries ban it, North Korea has rules on Internet devices for foreigners, chewing gum is illegal in Singapore, and some countries have rules against the LGBTQ community.
  • Research the local cuisine, so you have an idea of what to expect. Research local markets, tourist centres, and anything you’re unclear about.
  • Don’t forget to research tourist scams to avoid falling for one. These scams go from overcharging to illegal payments, so make sure you’re informed.

2. Documents

  • Get a passport if you don’t already have one, or renew if you need to. Other essentials vary depending on your destination, so ensure you have all the documents required to avoid running into trouble with the immigration department of your host country.
  • Make copies of all your documents and email them to yourself and a friend to avoid being stranded if you lose them.
Traveling with a Nigerian passport via The Ufuoma

3. Money

  • If you’re on a tight budget, consider travelling outside peak seasons. Certain locations have peak seasons, and services become much more expensive and of lesser quality during such times.
  • Even if you’re going on a fully sponsored trip, it is also important to make your preparations.
  • You might also need to inform your bank ahead of your trip so they know not to cancel your card when they notice transactions from a different country.
  • Keep cash stored in different locations just in case you avoid being stranded, saving up by travelling off-season.

Book in advance

  • Book flights directly from the airline or with trusted travel agents to avoid scams. Booking a round trip is more advisable to ease your stress so you don’t have to worry about how to get back home.
  • Secure your accommodation in advance. Whether you are travelling for work, school, or leisure, ensure you make proper plans for your accommodation and compare prices.
  • If you can, book a cab-hailing service ahead of time, especially for your trip from the airport to your accommodation, to ease your stress when you arrive.


4. Pack appropriately

  • Check the luggage instructions for your airline so you’re not exceeding the limit. But if you do, be prepared to pay extra fees for the extra weight.
  • Pack essentials first. If you’re on any medications, pack those first to avoid being in a location that doesn’t have them. First aid like aspirin, band-aids, and painkillers also come in handy for travellers, and contraceptives are not the stupidest idea in the world either.
  • With clothes, pack light and take into consideration the weather your host country.
  • A little trick that works with clothes is to wear your bulky clothes to make room for more clothes and consider packing a change of clothes in your hand luggage.

The journey

  • Arrive early: It is advisable to arrive at least four hours before your flight to allow ample time to make corrections and sort out any issues that may arise before your flight.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but ensure you’re asking the right people. The airport staff receive training to handle any issue and provide you with the right assistance. Remember to be polite when approaching them.
  • Entertainment: As limited as your options seem, there are ways to improve your situation. Read a book, see a movie (if your airline has provisions for movies), and engage in conversations with the person beside you if they’re up for it—friends meet that way, too!
  • Be considerate of other passengers: As much as you are excited about your trip, remember that passengers want to enjoy theirs.
  • Speak quietly, sit in your assigned seat, and avoid inconveniencing others. If you have a baby/toddler, ask the staff for entertainment options.

Your destination

1. Health and Safety

  • If you’re on medication, keep them on you and carry a medical alert card so people know how to help you if the need arises. Send your itinerary with addresses and phone numbers to your friends and family so you both feel secure.
  • As much as you want to enjoy your time and have fun, avoid suspicious crowds and avoid getting drunk. First, you’ll wake up with a very bad headache and secondly, you must always be conscious of your surroundings.

2. Talk to the locals!

  • They know the area better than you do and can recommend amazing secret spots and restaurants, which will make your travel experience much more interesting!
  • A pro tip is to learn a few phrases in their local language to impress them!
Asian woman helping a stranger via Adobe Stock

Be flexible!

Even though you’ve already planned your itinerary, leave room for spontaneity. You never know what might happen, and your best experiences might not always be the ones you plan.

Travelling for the first time can be an interesting experience if you’re well-prepared, and these tips are just what you need. So go ahead and book your flight. I hope you have the best travel experience!



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