Traveling by yourself for the first time is a scary thing. A very scary thing.
I learned this earlier this year when I left the country by myself for the first time to take a two-week trip to Amsterdam. As I prepare to study abroad in just about one month, some of that fear is resurfacing again. Which is why I decided to put together a list of first-time travel advice (mostly to help my own sanity).
So, here it goes:
It is OKAY to be scared.
I was pretty nervous in the days leading up to my trip, and pretty much terrified saying goodbye to my parents in the airport. But, that fear goes away pretty quickly and is replaced with adrenaline that lasts pretty much the entire trip.
It is OKAY to have a plan.
I am definitely an over-planner. Before I left for Amsterdam, I bought two travel guides and spent hours on Pinterest planning every restaurant, shop, and attraction I wanted to visit while I was there. It is okay to have a solid plan, as long as you’re okay with not always sticking to it. Which brings me to my next point…
It is OKAY to NOT have a plan.
I’ll admit it, some of the best experiences I’ve had have not been planned. Almost my whole time in Amsterdam was scheduled out, either by myself or (mostly) by the teacher who took us on the trip. But those few times that were spontaneous & unplanned were some of the best memories I have.
It is OKAY to go off the beaten path.
And actually, I encourage it. I guess this goes along with my last point, but I would definitely encourage every traveler to step away from the tourist hot-spots and find a tiny cafe hidden in the corner of a city. Those are always the best ones.
It is OKAY to take a breather.
I barely slept while I was in Amsterdam. I maybe averaged four hours per night, seriously. Because of the time difference, I never quite adjusted to fall asleep at a regular time. Then I had to be up early every morning to make it to our group’s planned activities. Plus, why would I want to sleep? I had much more fun staying out late with my friends, staying up writing in my travel journal, or even just staying up to call my family. This being said, I DID stay in one night and sleep while some of my friends went out to dinner. As someone who is constantly going places while traveling, I needed this to be able to make it through the rest of the trip.
It is OKAY to be homesick.
Most of my time in Amsterdam, I was too busy or excited or tired to even realize how homesick I was. But yes, there were times when I missed my own bed, my family, drinking water with ice, and having a bedroom bigger than a closet. Still, my trip out of the country was 100% worth it.
I cannot wait to travel abroad for four months, and see how well I can follow my own advice and maybe pick up some new tips along the way.
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