8 Don’ts for the New Traveller

I’m no expert traveller. I am still on my way to learning the ropes and ins and outs of being a savvy expert traveller. After travelling for more than 15 countries now and since that first solo travel to Boracay, Philippines six years ago, I’ve had my bucket of lessons learned along the way.

To you who booked your first airline ticket, I am sure that there are no words to describe your excitement coupled with anxieties. I am with you in counting the days that leads to your first travel out of your comfort zone and excited for your upcoming solo trip. I share with you solo travel tips to make your first adventure a memorable one, full of new discoveries, funny and worthwhile experiences and make you tough enough to do it again!

Don’t Be Afraid

new traveller tips

Travelling may be all new to you. It’s treading the unknown. It’s getting out of your comfort zone for the first time. When I was new to travelling, I felt like I was exposed and vulnerable. Like every human being out there will mug me. Travelling is a wonderful experience.

Being scared is normal. But you are just as capable of taking care of yourself as anyone out there. Have faith in yourself and believe me when I say, you got this. Other people have done it, why can’t you?

Don’t Pack Too Much Stuff



Another day, another destination. #itsmorefuninthephilippines #ormoc #travels #wanderlust #glt #nomad #beachbumlife #wheretothistime

A photo posted by carla abanes (@justtravellingsolo) on

Don’t overpack too much clothing and gear thinking you might need it “just in case”. You will end up lugging those extra weight and not actually use them in the first place.

For 5 days in Paris, do you really need to bring 4 pairs of shoes? Do you really need to bring a laptop? As much as possible pack light and trust your judgement on which gear to bring and what extras to bring. You don’t want to be that traveller who forgot to bring extra memory card to an island hopping tour. Happened to me in Krabi!

Must Read : Packing 101: What not to pack

Don’t Live by Your Guidebook

Travel Guidebooks

I understand that this may be your first time to travel and the destination is totally unknown to you. Guidebooks are great source of information for the destination you are travelling to. It’s good to be guided how to get around Wellington by bus or how the Metro in Paris works. 

But do not let the guidebook take control what your travel experience will be like. You need to experience the festivals and the colours and the food on your own. You need to interact with locals and discover new places and off the beaten path routes. Most of the information that you will learn and discover about the place will come from the locals and other returning travellers and not from the guidebook.

Don’t Plan Too Much

Itinerary planning can be exciting at times. It’s good that you plan for the activities you’re most interested or excited about when you get to your destination. It’s also good that you planned how to get from one destination to the next. You planned it all, meals and hours are all accounted for. You exactly know what you’ll be doing at 4PM in Helsinki.

While it’s good that you have your itinerary all sorted out, it is also good to be flexible with your itinerary. You’ll never know if they opened up a new stand-up paddling with pilates day tour next door to your hostel. Or what if an annual festival is happening that you didn’t know about?  Are you willing to make changes to your itinerary to experience new things?  

Don’t Be in a Hurry

Stop Here in Amsterdam

Stop Here in Amsterdam

Do not pack too many activities in one day. Or you’ll end up stressed and tired which is not why you are travelling in the first place. Don’t be that tourist who keeps on taking photos and not actually seeing what is there to see. Don’t be that guy who is rushing from one touristy spot to another spot just to take lots of selfies.

Travel slow. You’re on a vacation. Admire the new surroundings around you. Stop for a while and breathe. Grab a cold beer, lie on the sand and watch the sunset. Look around you and observe. Go get coffee and seat outside and people watch. It’s the only way that you can appreciate the entire essence of why you are travelling in the first place.

Don’t Be Shy

Roadtrip to Kiruna

Roadtrip to Kiruna

You may be travelling solo but you are not alone. There are millions of solo travellers out there who like you are new to this place. Don’t think so much about what other people will think of you. Approach another solo traveller and say hello. 

If you feel that they want to be left alone, just say “You have a nice day.” or “See you around.” and move on. Make friends. Smile. Go and dine with them. Take a day tour with them if possible. You wouldn’t believe that it’s more enjoyable and at the end of the day you have better memories of the trip and better photos!  

Don’t Be A Cheapskate

We all know that we need to travel cheap and save money while travelling. When travelling it’s important to bring some extra cash with you for emergencies or sudden change of itinerary. What if you found out that a new bungee jumping activity opened up or an annual festival is happening and that you need to stay an extra day?

Travel wisely and be smart about money matters. It’s more rewarding to experience wild water rafting tour and keep that memory with you forever, than going shopping for branded leather bag along Avenue de Champs-Élysées that will only last you for a few years.

Don’t Get Trapped

sleep accommodations solo backpacking

You are not, at all. If you really don’t like spicy food in Thailand. Then don’t eat it. If you feel that this travel experience is not your cup of tea, you can always go back. You can always rebook your flight.

Do not be afraid of what other people will think. Click To Tweet

The great thing about solo travel is that your are the captain of the ship. If don’t feel that you cannot go on and want to go back home, you can always go back. The important thing is you tried. You made the trip. And I congratulate you still for taking that trip. It’s a very brave thing to do.

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mark - last year Reply

I sometimes think that “dont pack too much” even applies to seasoned travelers. We have a habit of over packing especially for the kids. Ah well we get better everytime we go

    Carla Abanes - last year Reply

    Yep, with each trip we learn a few things and improve on to the next trip! We all are a work in progress. Thank you for dropping by and come again soon!

Sara | Belly Rumbles - last year Reply

All perfect don’ts for travelling. I will add one more, don’t be scared to travel on your own. Though, I am still to this day struggling with “don’t be shy”.

Curious Claire - last year Reply

Great list. Perfect advice for new travellers. I made the mistake of being too cheap when I first set out travelling. Thankfully by my 3rd trip I started opening the purse to experience more of the place I was visiting.

    Carla Abanes - last year Reply

    Hahaha me too. I was too cheapskate when I first travelled to Thailand. On my second trip I adjusted my budget and joined 2 island hopping trips. It was a blast! Thanks for dropping by and come again soon!

    Carla Abanes - last year Reply

    yep, me too. sometimes still shy to approach but all it takes is practice and keep in mind that you’ve got nothing to lose. Thanks for dropping by and come again soon!

sabrina - last year Reply

You’re so right. Don’t be afraid… nothis easy at all for a new traveller , even more so if solo. I think that accepting fears can be a good way to get along with it and don’t let Worries prevent youn from doing an amazing experience! Absolutely and fully agree with all the rest! thank you!

    Carla Abanes - last year Reply

    yeah, what I do is I promise myself to approach just one at a time. No biggie. Just one at a time. If it doesn’t work out, then I move on.
    Thanks for dropping by and come back again soon!

Mar Pages - last year Reply

I am sometimes guilty of overpacking, but I’m trying to change! Also on being a cheapskate, sometimes I worry about spending too much but I have to remind myself that sometimes it is more than worth it. 🙂

    Carla Abanes - last year Reply

    is it shopping? hahaha who doesn’t? thanks for dropping by and come back again soon!

Julie - last year Reply

All great tips! I especially like the reminder not to be a cheapskate – so easy for me to fall into that trap, and NOT do something because it seems like an unnecessary expense. (This happened today, in fact!)

Lotte - last year Reply

Great post! One of the most important lessons traveling taught me is to let go… So the ‘don’t plan too much’ advice really touched a nerve:-) Live in the moment and enjoy things that go different than you planned, these experiences usually become your fondest memories!

    Carla Abanes - last year Reply

    Exactly!! more often than not, the unplanned one is the most awesome thing that actually happened on your trip! Thanks for dropping by and come back again soon!

Natalie Deduck - last year Reply

Great list!
After 2 years travelling I learned to “not pack too much” and to not be a “freak planner”.
But I have to admit that is easier to travel light and with less clothes here in SEA than in Europe. (last year in Europe I felt so “under dressed”!)
Happy travels 😉

    Carla Abanes - last year Reply

    I felt the same! In europe i feel that i have to be so dressed up i mean with boots and all. In SEA, put on a tank top and shorts and you’re good to go! Thanks for dropping by and come back again soon!

Aileen Adalid - last year Reply

That’s a great list! I totally would advice the same for any new traveler. I also love that quote that says: “Take half the clothes, and double the money”. Works for me all the time 😀

    Carla Abanes - last year Reply

    Thanks for the additional tip! I will keep that in mind for my next trip to Tokyo. Thanks for dropping by and come back again soon!

Trisha Velarmino - P.S. I'm On My Way - last year Reply

I used to have my own apprehensions about every new destination or trip I embark on but solo and long term traveling has taught me to live by my own rules, trust my intuition and be open and resilient to the challenges I might encounter. Thanks for sharing these practical tips, Carla! Continue inspiring people!

    Carla Abanes - last year Reply

    Aaaawww, what a nice thing to say. Yes in every travel we also bring home a lot of lessons learned and a better us. Thank you, and thanks for dropping by and come back again soon!

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Jane Rosewood - last year Reply

Couldn’t agree more with these travel tips. I also mentioned some of them in my blog.
I’m not a newbie in traveling but I do hope to implement them in my next up coming trip without falling into old habits, like moving from one place to another to fast.

Sam - Journo and the Joker - last year Reply

I particularly like the one about don’t be a cheapskate. I’m all for budget travel, but you have no idea how often we hear people trying to argue a tuk tuk driver down from a $2 fare to $1. Seriously, these guys probably earn between $2500 and $5000 a YEAR. They have to pay for fuel, wear and tear and maintenance as well as rent and putting their children through school. And if you can afford to be travelling the world you can afford to pay a fair price. And yes, sometimes they ask more than the going rate. But be realistic. $1 doesn’t go far by the time they start up the tuk tuk, pay for fuel, use the brakes etc etc. That’s my little rant.

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