The Newbie’s Guide To What Seasoned Travelers Have Learned About Traveling

The Newbie’s Guide To What Seasoned Travelers Have Learned About Traveling

Hindsight is always 20/20. What is it about traveling for the first time that causes Newbies to hesitate to take the plunge? We’ve all been there; wanting to see the world, but for whatever reason, we talk ourselves out of it.  Some reasons were internal….some external.  At the end of the day, only Only the individual can ascertain what is keeping them from following those long held dreams.

I wanted to get to the bottom of this and perhaps help others who may be stuck to see themselves in the comments that I solicited from several of my travel blogger friends and people who simply love to travel and have been doing it for years.


seasoned traveler


I posed this question: “If you could go back in time, what mistakes did you make as a newbie traveler that you wish you could change? Of if you were to give a new traveler advice, what would it be?” Here are their responses:

Pack light

“On our first ever ‘real’ trip to Asia, we have four suitcases and a camera bag with a rolling, fold out rack to carry them all–not to mention the zippered case for the rack.  Lesson Learned: Pack Light.” – Greg Gross

“Become an efficient and light packer.” – Shelia Scarborough

Pack right

“Consider where you are traveling and pack appropriately. I remember my first trip to Alaska. A 1-month car and camping journey. I was 25 – with a girlfriend at the time. EVERY…. EVERY single thing we had (clothing, gear, etc) was W-R-O-N-G for Alaska. My sleeping bag rolled to the size of a trash can and was probably rated to 70-degrees. I remember cooking out campground while wearing my checkered ‘muscle pants’ and my big warmth layer was my classic jeans jacket with fur collar….. OH YEAH !!! If I could go back in time I’d bring my nice 0-degree sleeping bag… but you know what…. I think I’d still rock the muscle-pant / denim-coat-with collar look!!! “ – Joe Staiano

seasoned traveler

Stop trying to find the right time to travel, just do it!

“The main thing I would tell myself is to start traveling sooner.” – Michaela Hall

“I would have taken time out to travel before getting caught up in a career.” – Colleen Williams

“I would not have been afraid to travel abroad with my kids. Although we did a lot of U.S. travel when they were young, we only ventured abroad once when they were teens, so they were deprived of so many wonderful adventures. But, then, as a couple we didn’t start traveling early enough, either”. – Vera Marie Badertscher

“My mistake in the beginning: Waiting for the best opportunity to visit a certain place or region to see the most. There is no best opportunity. Just go.” – Andreas Susana



Take Advantage of Programs that will save you money

“I regret not taking advantage of Frequent Flier Programs and Hotel Loyalty Programs.” – Michael Simms

Travel “off the beaten path”, don’t just hit the tourist traps

“Oh, be sure to get off the beaten path. So many travelers experience the same attractions, events, locations. Now I know to create my own, unique travel experiences.” – Michaela Hall

“Be open to experiences that are vastly different than what you’re used to! “- Ellen Hickey

“Say “yes” to things outside of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to get lost in a country where you don’t speak the language. And, if you are afraid, do it anyway. The amount of satisfaction you will feel as a result is incredible.” – Diana Edelman

“’Life’s what happens while you’re making plans’ – even more true for travel. You can’t know what you’re going to see, experience and enjoy so do your research but be equally prepared to throw it out the window when something more interesting comes along!” – Jaillan Yehia


Take the time to stop and smell the roses

“Don’t think of traveling as a race and not taking to time to breathe in every place I went.” – Michael Simms

“Stop and look, listen, and photograph when I feel like it instead of continuing on to where I’m supposed to be going.” Kathy Mendes

“You don’t have to see everything in one trip.” – Darryl Musick

“Travel slower and without a plan.” – Erica Kuschel

“Regimenting my time … we must be here by x:00, and then there by x+3:00; must make it to the hotel I already booked; passed by that really cool-looking thing but no time to stop and see b/c we have to be to dinner at the restaurant I already researched; etc. … I had to learn to chill out and go with the flow, be willing to redirect plans and seize the opportunity. :” – Skj Traveler

“Don’t rush through itineraries (less is often more).” – Margalit Francus

“Travel the way you want and see the things you want to see rather than traveling the way someone else thinks you should. Don’t come home at the end of your journey only to realize that you didn’t travel your way.” – Mary Jo Manzanares

“Limiting my travel due to the whims/needs/fears of others. Limiting my travel, at all.” “Not going b/c I didn’t have anyone to go with.” – Claire Bear

“Don’t listen to the fears and limitations of others.” – Monique Wills

“Limiting my travel due to the whims/needs/fears of others. Limiting my travel, at all.”  – Danielle Fabulosity

“I regret not going more places on my own and being scared to leave my family due to whatever issues were going on at the time, had a chance to go to Kenya in college and was too scared to go” – Africa Hannibal

“Don’t stop traveling because “other people can’t go” …. when you do travel alone, there are no witnesses for other people to put your biz on front street. work with that. do it enough, and you might end up reluctant to travel with people. lulz”- Rob Crawford

“I would have just taken the dive to go places without waiting for other people to be ‘ready’. Basically, I would have had more faith in my instincts!” – Colleen Williams


Don’t Overplan!

“I’ve learned not to over plan my trips. One my first visit to Latin America – I booked an organized immersion that included Spanish classes, homestay & volunteer opportunity. I was happy until I got to Guatemala and found out I could have made the same arrangement once in the country for more than half the price. I was pissed. Since then I just plan for the first few days and take it from there once in the country.” – Kunbi Adefule

Don’t Under plan!

“I would plan a little more. I bought a one-way ticket to South America 3 weeks before I planned on going to Southeast Asia. I had zero plans and no idea what I was doing day to day for the first month till I hit Medellin, Colombia and stayed there for a couple weeks. I do like the go with the flow, but next trip, I am planning slightly more. This last one ended up more of a “first-hand research of my South America” trip.” – Skj Traveler

Take a cue from the citizenry

“I would tell newbies to be cautious and use common sense, but to also trust in the goodness of most people” – Ellen Hickey

“Be open to new experiences and people are not what they seem (most are actually helpful).” – Margalit Francus

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General Information

“Take public transportation whenever possible (oh the money I wasted on taxis back then. Befriend locals AND other travelers (both types of friendships are important) and save contact info electronically (learned that the hard way). Write, write, write, write…There are so many things I wish I had written down in the moment that I’ve now forgotten.” – Jackie JP

“Don’t skip popular sights but try to avoid the crowd. For example, ask locals when is the best day/time to visit a museum or a certain place.  For example, there are evening openings in museums which are not that known among tourists.” – Andreas Susana

“Take more money than you think you will need.” – Durant Imboden

“If you’re going the “sell everything and travel long-term” route – really do sell everything. Because when you finish up, you’ll have a totally different relationship to your stuff than you used to and it will become a burden if you decide to keep going.” – Andrea Spirov

“Housing doesn’t have to be so damn expensive, and I wish I had known about hostels, renting flats, etc., because it’s WAY cheaper when you can prepare your own meals.” – Windwalker Duo

“Study airline fares for at least a month before you book.” – Margalit Francus

Are you a seasoned traveler? What advice would YOU add to this list?



Renee King
[email protected]
  • Kent
    Posted at 10:15h, 18 December Reply

    So many great nuggets here. I especially love: “Don’t listen to the fears and limitations of others.”

  • Wil
    Posted at 18:38h, 21 January Reply

    I just graduated college and am trying my hand at traveling the world for an world for an extended time. While I’ve researched a ton about my destinations I keep my itinerary pretty light to allow for whatever happens to happens. Good Tips!

    • Renee King
      Posted at 18:47h, 21 January Reply

      Congrats, Wil!! How exciting for you! I wish you the very best as you become a global citizen and I am glad that these tips were helpful to you. I think you will come back ready to tackle whatever life throws at you. Bravo!

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