I want you to have a think back to your first overseas adventure. For some of you, this will be a little harder to remember than others. Some, because it was long ago and others because it may have been one big boozy haze. But give it a go!
Do you remember how you felt when you booked that plane ticket with your hard-earned savings? What about when you said goodbye to loved ones at the departure gate? Or when you landed and smelt the foreign smells of an unknown land for the first time? Do you remember the sights and sounds from your hotel window? The feeling of excitement so strong that it enticed you to get out and explore even after a long day of travel?
My first trip overseas sparked an intense fire within my soul. One that has lasted a lifetime. A true love for travel.
I often ask myself though: If I could go back and show my then 21-year-old self the ropes, would I? What would I say? Knowing that sometimes, the mistakes are really what make the journeys memorable, would I really want to change that? and let’s be honest my stubborn 21-year-old self would likely not listen anyway.
If you are reading this before you head off on your first adventure, be it your first ever overseas trip or a trip to a new unknown land: Here are some tips to make sure you get the most from your journey.
Plan, but be flexible.
Planning is one of the most exciting phases of your first big trip. I remember almost weekly catch-ups, message groups, and emails going off almost 24/7! and why shouldn’t it? Planning is exciting. Learning about the destination, Picking the perfect hotel, Planning your day trips! That’s all part of the fun.
But, what I wish someone had told me is that overplanning will ruin your fun. Almost entirely.
You see, what planning fails to consider is that you honestly have no idea what you will like and dislike about a country. You may think you need 32 hours in one city, but land there and it speaks to your soul.
You will meet people along the way that will suggest some bonified traveler hot spots to get to, but if you have to move on the next day because you have every single day mapped out to the second.. you will miss some truly amazing opportunities.
Having a plan and being prepared is a great way to start a holiday, but make sure you allow enough flexibility that should you be pulled in one direction, your itinerary doesn’t stand in the way of a good adventure!
If you meet people who suggest a thrillseeking activity for the next day, but it’s not usually something you would enjoy. Say Yes! If they suggest a super cool curry bar, but you’re not a spice kinda chick. Say Yes! Not a fan of the idea of an off the beaten track hike… you guessed it, Say Yes!
Now I should point out a few very important factors here. If you feel like it may be a dangerous situation. You, of course, do not under any circumstance put yourself in harm’s way. I am not referring to the questionable person who appears from the darkest of alleyways to ask you to come down and visit his new puppy, I just want you to put yourself out there! Don’t be afraid to try things you wouldn’t normally try at home. Being a million miles away from home is both daunting and invigorating. You will discover things about yourself that you never believed imaginable and it all begins with Saying Yes!
Fun Fact: I once woke up in a different country to the one I had planned to go to sleep in, based on saying yes! It was close to midnight and we were a few hours deep in an intense traveler card game with a group of kiwi friends I had met a few days prior. Another backpacker waved us farewell as he left for the overnight bus to Malaysia. Wouldnt it be funny if we just went to Malaysia right now? asked one of the boys. Yes! let’s do it. and with that, we all ran to pack our bags and make sure we had our passports while racing through the streets of Singapore to the bus terminal. Okay, so we arrived with no Malaysian Currency and searching for a hostel in a new unknown city. But to this day, that night remains one of my favorite memories. Why? because I said yes!
Be Unapologetically you!
Be you, don’t apologize for it, and certainly don’t let anyone make you feel bad for it. Most people will head overseas for the first time with a group of trusted friends. It’s likely, that back home you all like to do similar things, I mean that’s why you are friends right?
But what happens if when you are overseas you start to notice you are pulled in different directions. You may feel like a walk in the park, while they want a walk in the mall. You may want to explore the museum, while they explore downtown markets. No two travelers will want to experience the same trip exactly the same and that’s okay. Its what makes you unique, what makes you, You.
Don’t be afraid to venture off. If you want to see a cultural show, speak up. Let them know. Two things could happen: They also want to join you and its a group outing, or they aren’t interested and you make plans to meet them for dinner that night. Honestly, don’t miss out on something you enjoy because it’s not what others want to do. Your mates love you for you, and if anything gives you something exciting to talk about at dinner!
Live In The Moment
When you are overseas living your best life… it’s super easy to fall into the trap of wanting to share every single moment with loved ones back home. Trust me, I know this one better than anyone (just ask my friends). But if you spend your time shackled to your phone, you will find that you miss out on half of the fun! While you are trying to hunt down WIFI or filter the day’s images you miss out on simply looking around, soaking in the atmosphere, and opening yourself up to new adventures and people.
I remember sitting by a pool in Bali one time with my best friend, both of us engulfed in our screens with no real idea of what was going on around us. A lady came over to us and made some snide remarks about how we shouldn’t even bother to travel if we want to experience the journey through our screens. It resonated with us both so much we put down the phones and went off in search of local cuisine.
Save the photo editing for long bus rides, or calls home for airport wifi and spend your days in the moment, trust me you won’t regret it later.