It’s true what they say about Millennial’s; they really do think they know everything. I’m just about to head home after 6 months abroad and boy, did I learn a lot about travelling while I was gone. This has been my first time out of Australia and before I left I spent hours bickering with my Mum to settle down and stop stressing out.
The reality? No one could have prepared me for my first overseas trip. No amount of advice can ever compare to experiencing travel problems first hand. To give you an idea, a few things that have gone wrong include;
- Almost being denied entry into the US for not having the right paperwork
- Almost missing a flight because I wasn’t paying attention to updated gate changes
- Almost missing a flight because security was extremely backed up and I forgot that I had a water bottle in my backpack
When I say I ‘almost missed’ a flight, I literally mean running for the gate, being last to board and receiving death stares from the entire plane for holding everyone up. As for my entry into the US, the only thing that saved me was that I’d never flown internationally before, yet alone on my own. (For the record, I was travelling on an exchange VISA but needed an ESTA to transit through LA to Canada).
Now I know I’ve just said nothing could have prepared me for my first travel, but I’m hoping I can at least help others who find themselves preparing for their first big trip.
1. Get a job at least 6 months before you plan to leave: This sounds pretty straight forward but I know plenty of people who have great and huge travel plans but look at you blankly when you ask them how they can afford something that like. Please, at all costs avoid relying on your parents to fund your travel dreams. While it’s convenient, you won’t learn a lot in terms of independence and the true value of making your money last.
2. Make sure you have a valid passport: Again – simple, but essential. Don’t start your trip on the wrong foot by not making it out of the airport.
3. Get advice from a travel agent: This doesn’t mean that you have to book your holiday through them, but they will have valuable insight and input about smart times to travel, most efficient routes, etc. If they’re experience they might even give you advice based on their own travels.
4. Buy a good quality suitcase: Don’t cut corners here because you do not want to see your suitcase glad-wrapped doing laps on the conveyer belt. True life horror story: this happened to a friend.
5. Make a budget – and commit to sticking to it: Money is the most stressful part of travelling. You’ll probably find yourself questioning wether or not you should buy that dress or those shoes or that makeup and thinking about what you’ll have to sacrifice to make it work. Not being able to control your shopping and spending habits can get you in trouble later down the line.
6. Buy a portable bag weigher: I bought one from The Reject Shop for $3 the day before I left and I can honestly say that it was the smartest pre-travel purchase I made. It saved not only me, but everyone I’ve met along the way both time and money. For just $3, we saved hundreds by making sure our luggage was underweight before leaving to the next destination.
7. Pack, unpack, repack: Pack all of your clothes and then unpack them. Try and remove at least 3 or 4 items. It’s a rule of thumb that you always over pack, even without realizing. You’ll be thankful for the space towards the end of your trip.
8. Get to the airport EARLY: I can’t stress this enough. Travel everywhere with the mindset that you’d rather sit in a terminal, at a bus stop, train station, etc. then miss my boarding because of an unexpected delay. This is so unbearably important. Don’t waste your money and precious travel time by being late.