One of the most common questions I get asked here on Nishaantishu, and sometimes outside of the internet too, is how to get started on traveling when you’ve never done it before. There are lots of steps to take in terms of saving, visas, logistics, etc… but where do you go? Where do you even begin to look?
I was talking to my friend the other day who has just landed an awesome new job, but she has a few months before she starts and wanted to do some traveling – and she will be traveling on her own for the first time with some, but not loads, of experience.
Now, when I say traveling I mean going somewhere far afield, on a budget. Going to a faraway country and staying in a hotel to sit by the pool, or on a resort, or hop from hotel to hotel – that’s lovely, but I would call that more a holiday. Travel to me makes me think of having a real adventure, the kind you have to work for, of getting a bit lost, getting your hand dirty, and being a bit less comfortable than you would be if you had access to room service. I usually like to combine adventure travel with a holiday at the end, for me that’s the best option - a few days to decompress before I have to go home.
However, when it comes to picking a destination for your first real adventure travel (solo or not), I have a formula. Combine a culture that is fairly different to your own, with a country that is very friendly and safe, if English is commonly spoken that’s would be helpful too, easy transport, and easy access to police, hospitals, and your embassy.
The idea is to get you out of your comfort zone, but not make you feel unsafe. Challenge yourself by having to communicate with people who are friendly but may not immediately understand you, but don’t put yourself in a situation where you may be taken advantage of if someone realises you’re a bit vulnerable. For example, navigating the Tokyo underground system? Yes! Climbing into a matato in Nairobi when you’re unsure of your destination? No!
What will be challenging to you will depend on where you’re coming from, but I’ve put together a list of first time traveler trips I think would be a good option to kick-start your adventures - some are for long adventures and some are shorter ones. Of course trouble can strike wherever you are, so it’s always important to be extra careful and for goodness sake get travel insurance! The more your get your confidence up, the more you can travel into countries that are a bit more challenging.
Where to start...
Travel Through Europe
Costa Rica (on the more adventurous side)
American Road Trip
Canadian Road Trip
Once you have your destination you are free to start saving and planning the logistics: where you're going to stay, places to visit, how you're going to get around - that's the fun part. But if time is on your side, feel free to show up and plan as you go along! That's always fun too.
I've been to all of these destinations apart from Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and Costa Rica, so if you have any questions feel free to ask in a comment and I will reply in the comments section.