The Fairytale Traveler

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Occidental Xcaret, Christa Thompson, traveling for the first time, Mexico

An Easy Travel Guide for First Time Travelers

If you have decided on setting foot outside of your home country and traveling the globe, congratulations. You’re about to make unforgettable memories and participate in awesome adventures. With that being said, if you’re traveling for the first time, there’s no doubt that you’re a bit anxious; Sam was scared before leaving The Shire, too.


Lucky for you there are travel blogs (cough) with pointers on how to conquer your first travel experience like a boss. Oh, look! You’re on a travel blog! And I just so happen to have prepared a quick guide to set you on your way for a great adventure. From booking your flight to getting lost in a strange city, this list will get you well on your way to wanderlust. 


Ireland's Ancient East, Loughcrew, Christa Thompson, places to visit in Ireland, traveling for the first time
Enjoying the view from the hilltop hike at Loughcrew, photo by Ed Hannon


Things to Know If You’re Traveling for the First Time


There’s a first time for everything, and that means traveling for the first time. Albeit, traveling might be a bit nerve wracking, but it’s really good for the soul. I promise. When you travel, you not only conquer your nerves, but you get to explore places you’ve never before been to. This is inspiring to say the least and usually addictive, but moreover, it’s enlightening. When you begin to see the world beyond your daily commute, you begin to open your mind to new culture, people, foods, art, landscapes, and really the list goes on. 


But beyond the new flavors and landscapes, there is something very special about travel. The moments you don’t plan. They make the best travel stories. Stick to the pre planning in this list so you can explore later.


Ireland's Ancient East, The Rock of Cashel, Christa Thompson, traveling for the first time
At the Rock of Cashel, photo Ed Hannon


Be Booking Savvy About Traveling for the First Time


If this is your first time traveling, you’re probably waiting until a week or so before your travel date so you can book a flight, right? Well, we’re here to tell you that this is a bad idea. Seasoned travelers know that the earlier you book your trip, the less you’ll pay for your flight tickets; it’s all about supply and demand.


Since we’re on the topic of cheap tickets, where you get the ticket matters, as well. Most first timers go through travel agencies, we advise you to stick to booking websites for simple reasons. According to, you can easily find a lot of offers, packages and discounts online. Booking on your own will guarantee you complete freedom of choice. Plus, you won’t be paying a commission fee to a travel agency.


The Fairytale Traveler,
My then six-year-old son and I hiked this mountain together and the view was so worth it.


Think Before You Pack, Like Really Think


When you’re traveling for the first time it’s totally natural to want to pack a million things. After all, you’re about to leave your comfort zone for days, maybe even weeks. What if you need this? What if you want to suddenly wear that bathing suit you haven’t worn in four years? What about the weather? 


Before you start packing, take a look at the weather conditions of the country you’ll be visiting. Then, start making up a checklist of everything you’ll be needing. And I do mean need. Start with how many days you’re going to be away and divide that number by three. That’s how many bottoms you need (but never more than five). Add in your shirts (keep this to seven), your one pieces (keep this to a minimum too). Remember you can wash things, especially undergarments. 


If you’re heading for warmer weather remember that the lighter clothing packs smaller. That’s a bonus. But it goe the other way around too. If you’re heading for colder weather, you’re going to have much more fluff to pack. Wear your thickest items, bulkiest shoes and carry your jacket. 


When you start the packing process, make sure you don’t shovel everything directly in your suitcase. Place everything you’ll be taking to your bed first. After you check everything off of your checklist, start the actual packing. Why should you do this? Simply, because in doing so, you’ll be double checking that you didn’t forget anything, and packing at the same time. It diminishes the chances of you forgetting something out of excitement.


make money while you travel, Christa Thompson, earn money while traveling
Having a Guinness in Ireland, go figure.


When You Travel for the First Time You Need to Do Your Homework


What we mean by homework is visiting some online resources to gather information about your destination. Sure, you can go to the famous travel blogs; yet, for the best information, go to expat forums. Expats tend to know what life is like for foreigners where you’ll be going. If there are any cultural taboos, expat forums are the place you’ll find out more about them. Especially, if you’re going to a country in the middle east or Asia, it is important that you know about the culture there. The last thing you want to do is get in trouble with the authorities or offend anyone.


Another thing you can do is check out the destination’s tourism site. There are often articles and links to helpful resources where you can learn about the things to do, places to eat, shop, the culture, and the customs. Plus this is usually a really great way for you to plan out your travel itinerary. And if you want to be EXTRA, find the social handles of the destination where you are heading and follow them. You will find a wide range of photos and travel ideas.


In Closing 


With all of that being said, if you’re traveling for the first time, the most important thing you should keep in mind is to have as much fun as possible, and live in the moment. I can’t stress this enough. Nothing kills an adventure like too much cramming or planning. Allow yourself some time to get lost, meet new people and wander. When traveling, you’ll experience a lot of new situations which may be overwhelming; don’t let it get to you. On the off chance that anything bad happens, remind yourself that these situations are what make the best memories. After all, what makes a better story? The time your phone died and you had to navigate using the stars? Or the time you ordered a cab and got home at 9 P.M.? For more travel tips, be sure to subscribe so you never miss a post.

Christa Thompson

Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

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