Advice for people new to traveling

Have no expectations

Having expectations leads to disappointment.  I cannot tell you how true this is.  Start your travels with an open mind.  Things will not go as planned, things may not operate the same as at home and things will not always be as expected but that is part of the fun of travel to just enjoy.

Have backup bank cards

This is a huge mistake that many rookies travelers make, they bring only one bank card and one credit card.  Except what happens if your card is compromised, stops working, or you get robbed?  You have no access to money. Bring at least 1 back up of each from different banks (we always bring 2).  Make sure they are new chip cards with your name embossed if possible.

Bring some extra USD in cash

US Dollars are accepted worldwide and can help get you out of a pinch.  I know we have had to use our USD many times over the years due to a variety of unexpected circumstances.  You don’t need much, about $100 for a trip up to a month (more if you are gone for longer).  It should be treated as emergency cash only.

Don’t bring too much cash or traveler’s cheques

One thing I often see travelers doing is bringing huge amounts of cash to exchange and I have no idea why.  Have they never heard of ATM’s?  ATM’s almost always give you a better rate than exchange booths, even with the fee’s and there is little to no chance of you being ripped off.  Same goes for traveler’s cheques, get with the times and use the ATM.

Don’t over pack

Another staple rookie mistake is overpacking, in fact you will probably still make after reading this.  I cannot tell you how many people we see with an 80L bag for a 2-week trip.  It is ridiculous.  Our bags are 36L and 45L for a year and we have enough space for our stuff! Unless you are bringing camping gear there is no reason to lug an 80L bag around.  It will be heavy and make you miserable on travel days. Trust me, pack what you think you need, remove half then do it again.  If you need something you can buy it wherever you are going.

Don’t bring stuff you care about

Travel is hard on clothes and gear.  Don’t bring anything with you can’t live without like your family heirloom or favourite top. Clothes will get ruined by spills, laundry or adventures.  Things will get broken or possibly stolen.  Be smart and leave the good stuff at home.

Don’t go crazy buying travel clothes

Bring clothes you would wear at home and like.  Nothing is worse than buying new travel clothes for your next trip only to find out you hate the way they make you look (I am looking at you zip off pant people) or feel uncomfortable.  While I think some travel clothes are amazing (see favourite gear) most travel clothes are a waste of money.

Do some quick research on local customs

Learning about the local culture and customs is an important thing to know before you arrive.  Sure, you will learn more while you are in the country but you should know the basics before you arrive so you don’t offend anyone or do anything illegal.  My favourite way to do this types the country name into Pinterest, I look specifically for posts by wandershare (or visit  As an example in Singapore, you can get a hefty fine for j-walking or in Thailand you could even end up in jail by stepping on the money. These are important things to know before you arrive.

Learn Hello and Thank you in the local language

Learning these two simple phrases can help you a lot in a new country.  I cannot tell you know far it goes with the locals.  Google it, use a guide book, or ask a local, but try you best to use at least thank you in the local language everywhere you go.

Is there anything else you think a Rookie Traveler should know?  Did anything surprise you? Let us know in the comments below.


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