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12 Tips for First-Time Travelers – Part I

We’ve always wanted to share our “ways of the world” and travel tips with anyone willing to learn and listen.

Before Michelle and I started to travel on our own together, we followed whatever protocol our mother laid out for us during our annual summer vacations to Puerto Rico. When we started doing everything ourselves, no help from our parents (for which we thank them), we were in for a wake up call. We had to learn the ‘how-to’s’ the hard way.

A few panic attacks and screaming matches with each other later, we figured it was time to lay everything we learned out on the table for the next round of first-time travelers, so that their first trips outside of their comfort zones — no matter how small a step — can come and go with a little more ease. Without further ado, here is Part One of our ‘First Time Travelers‘ series:

1. Check-in online.

This is the first and one of the most important steps. Check-in with your flight details up to 24 hours before your departure. Skip the wait at the airport (especially if you’re running late, as we always are). It’s quick, easy and gives you the option to have your itinerary personally printed or emailed. Both are accepted and scan when boarding. And in some occasions, you’ll also be able to choose your seat beforehand. Major perks when you’re responsible.

2. Use a carry-on.

Over the summer last year, during our first big trip together, we traveled to 6 different countries with weather varying from 50º to 80ºF with one carry-on and one personal item each. Using a standard carry-on (be sure to double check on the airline’s website as sizes vary), means you don’t have to check your luggage beforehand or wait after landing to claim it. For your personal item, a medium sized backpack to pack items you wouldn’t want getting ruined elsewhere, like laptops, cameras, makeup, even more spare clothes, definitely makes do. And with that said comes #3.

3. Pack light.

Only the essentials. Yes, we know it’s hard. Pack clothing that is versatile ie: 2 pairs of jeans, leggings that you can wear by themselves or underneath trousers/jeans if it’s cold, a few light sweaters, a jacket, and shirts that you can layer up and wear alone. Packing a few dressy outfits should suffice (if needed). And try not to pack more than three pairs of shoes. Skip the heels — you will NEVER wear them if you’re walking around a major city. Trust us.

4. Avoid carrying more than 3oz (100 mL) worth of liquids.

Anything weighing more than that amount in a personal/carry-on will likely be trashed. Doesn’t it suck when the TSA throws out your favourite one-of-a-kind magic hair conditioner? We recommend buying the appropriate sized travel bottle (from any travel/convenience store) to pour all your essential liquid into. And be sure to label it! Nothing worse than shampooing your hair with face wash. That or you can easily opt to buy the travel size of the product itself.

5. Plan an itinerary before you go.

Planning is a huge (and yes, also stressful) part of travel. But doing research will keep you from wasting time looking for things to do when you arrive at your destination. Find the best sights that are closest to each other and tackle those in one day. Do the same for other areas over the next few days. Find places to dine that have good vibes and great reviews. Do the same for museums, parks, clubs, etc. We also highly recommend utilizing the ‘Places’ feature on Instagram! And pay close attention to activities that hold everyone’s favourite word: FREE.

6. Call your bank.

There’s nothing worse than not being able to access all the money you saved up whilst abroad. Make sure to call your bank at least two days before you’re expected to fly out. This of course only applies internationally, so don’t worry if your flight is within the same country. Usually, the banks ask for how long and what countries you’re heading to, so be as specific as possible. Some banks work better than others abroad but I’ll save that for another time. Do some online bank research beforehand if you’re not sure.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments and make sure to stick around to read Part Two.

Happy travels!

Diana Signature

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