Skills for the first time traveler

Backpacking your way around the country, or even the world
Backpacking your way around the country, or even the world

Hitting the road for the first time is as exhilarating as it is intimidating. There’s so much to think about, and so much to learn. If you’re a first time traveler, your head is probably buzzing with wanderlust and soaked in self doubt. So many things could go wrong, but what if it’s alright…


first time traveler open road
The open road

Traveling is like dancing, it’s a real artform. Whether you’re on a week-long road trip or an unending adventure around the world, it takes skills.

If you’re about to embark on your first big adventure, we’ve got your back. We’ve put together this guide to help you hone your skills and prepare for whatever may come. After all, travel is far less about where you go, than it is about how you get there.


Research, don’t plan

It’s very important to know what you’re getting yourself into. You should definitely read the guidebooks and research your destinations. Having a general plan is a great way to ensure that you don’t miss out on incredible experiences.


first time traveler map
Where do you want to go?

However, as a first time traveler, it’s easy to get attached to your plans and miss out on incredible experiences that are right in front of you.

If you want to truly make the most of your time, have a plan and be ready to throw it all away at a moment’s notice. Research all the options, but be open to anything.


Natural beauty
Natural beauty

Who knows, you may get offered an opportunity you can’t pass up. Your plans may fall through and force you to improvise. Or you might change your mind based on another’s recommendations.


Give before you receive

Positive travel experiences are based on connections and relationships. Once in a lifetime opportunities come from the people you meet and the things you do.


If you think only about yourself as you travel, people will care little for you as you pass along your way. However, if you give back to each community you find and you make an effort to help people each day, you will soon see your kindness repaid.


first time traveler camera
Shared experience

Just the experience of helping others who are different from yourself will enrich your travels. The relationships you will build on this foundation of kindness will be deeper than any you’ll find at the hostel bar.


first time traveler giving flowers
Be generous

Pick up after yourself, offer your services, hold doors, say please and thank you. Little kindnesses can go a long way on the road. You never know when you might be about to meet someone who will change the course of your travels or life. As a first time traveler, always remember, anything can happen.


first time traveler tree planting
Be helpful

Ask lot’s of questions

The best way to learn about where you are and where you’re going is from the people around you. By asking questions at your hostel, on the train, or in the local market you will get to know the place and people far more intimately than if you simply observe.


first time traveler
Don’t be afraid of asking

Asking questions shows a genuine interest in culture and individuals. Ask people about their lives, about their families, and about their beliefs and passions. The more you focus on talking about other people’s experiences, the more you will learn from them.

Don’t overshare about your own travels and adventures. You will come off as stuck up, self absorbed, or uninterested in what others have to say.


first time traveler friends
Traveling with friends

By asking lots of questions, you will not only learn more about the people and places you encounter, you will also find people are also more interested in sharing with you.


Make genuine friendships

Remember, traveling is not a checklist, and you are not collecting experiences. Each person, place, and thing you encounter along the way is unique. You should engage every interaction with a genuine openness and attitude of interest.


first time traveler guitars


Be kind to everyone you meet and develop genuine friendships along the way. Don’t assume you’ll never see these people again. You might meet a would be business partner, a guide who can take you up that mountain you wanted to climb or your future spouse along the way. If you aren’t open to each interaction, you could miss the opportunity of a lifetime.


first time traveler high five


The greatest experiences you will have traveling will come about in ways you least expect. Just as you shouldn’t close your mind to experiences, you shouldn’t close your mind to people. Treat everyone like a new friend who you may know for the rest of your life. After all, maybe you will.


Don’t be afraid

We saved the best for last.

There are so many things that could go wrong out there. Before you even leave the house or board your flight the entire trip could fall through. You can get sick, you can get injured, you can get robbed, you can get lost. If you really start to think about it, there are more reasons to be afraid than you could possibly count. I’m not going to tell you otherwise.


first time traveler jump


The truth is, that travel can be risky, it can be unsure, and it can be difficult. You may have to deal with some really challenging or uncomfortable situations. Your trip might wind up very different than you planned. That’s ok.

If you wanted to do something easy, you would have stayed home. If you weren’t up for the test, you wouldn’t hear the call in your heart, you wouldn’t be reading this article. You can overcome incredible obstacles, challenges you could never imagine. You will surprise yourself.



Fear can easily stop the first time traveler dead in their tracks. It can keep you from taking risks and seizing opportunities.

Just remember why you walked out the door in the first place. You wanted to see what the world had to offer. So when you’re on the road and the world makes you an offer, don’t be afraid to take it. It might be the only chance you’ll ever get.


If you have any comments or want to share your experience as a first time traveler, then please drop us a message on our Outdoor Revival Facebook page

If you have a good story to tell or blog let us know about it on our FB page, we’re also happy for article or review submissions, we’d love to hear from you.

We live in a beautiful world, get out there and enjoy it.

Outdoor Revival – Reconnecting us all with the Outdoors



ian-carroll is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival