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When it comes to planning a holiday, most people aim to tick off the essentials – tickets, accommodation, and itinerary.

However, there is a lot more involved with traveling overseas, and it’s not uncommon for first time travelers to make a few mistakes.

Mistakes First Time Travelers Make

Not Making Bookings Early Enough

Booking hotels Online Laptop TRVL

Spontaneous travel is a romantic and wildly adventurous notion, though it also has the potential to go disastrously wrong (ie not being able to find a bed for the night), and if you’re traveling for the first time, we highly recommend you make your bookings early enough.

As a first trip abroad, it’s likely that you’ve chosen a reasonably mainstream destination to get your toes wet with the whole travel concept, and as such, things like air tickets, accommodation, and attractions are likely to sell out the closer you get to your travel dates.

Booking early not only means you avoid missing out, but last minute bookings can end up being a lot more costly and might throw your journey off if you are traveling on a tight budget (prices rise during periods of increased demand).

Early bookings are usually within 4-6 weeks of your journey, though hotels will often allow you to book up to a year in advance. Flights tends to be cheapest 56 days before your departure.

You’ll also find cheaper flights by booking on a Tuesday. Airlines tend to announce deals on Monday evenings, which means by noon the next day, competing airlines are scrambling to match the lower prices so they can stay in the game.

Packing Stuff You Don’t Need

Bag Suitcase luggage RF

Packing stuff you don’t need is a common mistake first time travelers make, and it’s understandable, because, after-all, you’ve never been on a trip before! But overpacking, or replacing unnecessary items for things you actually need can make a trip really frustrating.

It’s a really good idea to make a checklist of the essential items you need. This ensures you don’t miss anything, and don’t need to waste time shopping for a replacement when you land in your destination.

It’s important to do proper research when forming your checklist; information like the weather in your destination will help you carry the right type of clothes and shoes. Country specific packing advice is also a good idea to research, ie if you’re traveling to a conservative country you may need clothes that cover you.

You’ll want to avoid too much weight, and aim to pack within the airline baggage limits. Excess kilos are charged by airlines these days at often ridiculous rates, but not only that, having heavy luggage can be a pain when trying to move around from place to place.

Always pack an ‘emergency kit’ in your carry on, which should include a spare change of clothes and underwear, toothbrush and basic toiletries, as well as your phone/laptop charger. Having a backup makes a world of difference when the unexpected happens.

Not Being Safe

Hitch-hiking for free transport

Staying safe overseas is a big concern for those who travel, perhaps even more so if it’s your first ever tip abroad. But the biggest secret to staying safe abroad has, and always will be, traveling with street smarts and common sense.

First time travelers make many safety mistakes, like drinking too much abroad (know your limits and only drink within reason. If you’re heading out, travel with a business card of your hotel and hand it to the taxi driver at the end of the night), and choosing to forgo travel insurance.

Above all, use your common sense and listen to your gut instincts. Don’t walk alone into dark alleys at night. Don’t pull huge wads of cash out in public and avoid leaving anything valuable in your back pockets. Download city or street maps before any outdoor excursions.

Leave a copy of your itinerary with someone you trust and try to blend into your surroundings as much as possible. Learn some basics of the local language and learn to recognize the uniforms of police officials.

Not Setting a Budget

Pexels Money

Budgeting for travel can be one of the most exciting parts of a trip – it’s the first step in the planning process, and a great way to get psyched about your destination as you start your research.

Though it can also be quite intimidating, especially if you’re traveling for the first time. There are a lot of costs involved and can be quite a lot to consider.

But it’s incredibly important to sit down and run numbers before you commit to taking a trip – there’s nothing worse than running out of money halfway through and having to max out your credit card, beg family and friends to send money, or clean toilets to cover the hotel bill (been there, done that, you don’t want to follow in my footsteps!).


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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.



  1. You definitely need to be all over those early bookings to see the places you want to see Meg. Especially for popular tourist spots. Newbies sometimes think they can book a few days or weeks ahead; usually months, sometimes a year out, for rare treks like gorilla stuff, etc.

    • Absolutely Ryan, I was writing a post on visiting Antarctica yesterday, and found out that now cruises are starting to book out more than a year in advance! So that’s an excellent tip about expecting you’ll need even more time to book in for an experience where the availability might be limited :)

  2. I’m going on a trip this May and I definitely didn’t budget enough in the planning stage! Hoping to save and budget as much between now and then

    • All the best! I think it’s one of those mistakes we all make, I came back from my first trip abroad oweing about $3,000 on my credit cards because I hadn’t budgeted enough. Now I try and overcompensate when doing up my budget :D

      Happy travels, and happy savings between now and May!

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