The pictures are pretty and the places are amazing, but one thing a non-traveler doesn’t know is what to expect when you’re traveling. This post is written for all the first time travelers out there. I took my very first vacation abroad when I was 20 years old. My best friend Judy (and yes you have to say my best friend Judy when you talk about her) and I went to the Bahamas. We planned this trip by contacting a local travel agency and it was very convenient for us both to book this trip, although I was in college in Rhode Island and she was at home in New Jersey. Because we booked through a travel agency we were given the ability to make payments on our vacation. After making our initial deposit, I was sure to follow up with payments to the agency on a monthly basis. Paying for the trip was only a small fraction of traveling.
The mistakes we made…
Mistake #1 – Don’t tell anyone where you’re going
We asked my best friend Judy’s dad to take us to the airport. He asked us a few questions but not much. We have been independent since our early teens so it didn’t seem unusual that we made plans and didn’t give anyone any details. This was the first mistake we made, always make sure that someone at home is aware of your travel plans. We boarded the plane and after three short hours we arrived in Nassau Bahamas. The first thing we were greeted with in the Bahamas was the warm weather. It was humid but still enjoyable. While we were in Nassau we were quite adventurous. We met nice people, we went to great nightclubs, and even spent a little time in the casinos.
Mistake #2 – Don’t pay your bills in advance
The highlight of the vacation was when I met Carlos. He looked just like the rapper Biggie. He happened to see me while I was out looking for a bite to eat and offered to buy me dinner and well we all know I’m a big girl so you know I obliged. Carlos was a great host. He took us to some of his favorite Bahamian eateries which served delicious authentic food. He was even nice enough to buy me a calling card so I could call and pay one of my bills over the phone, since of course this was before Wi-Fi and smartphones. This was the second mistake that I made, not paying bills in advance of travel.
Things to think about…
Our travel agent at Liberty Travel knew that we were first time International Travelers. Because of that information she treated us with white glove service which is very important when you’re spending your money. I bring up this point because after dealing with a few people, and as they planned their very first vacations, it has been apparent that not every travel agent treats first time travelers with white glove service. As a first time traveler you have many questions such as where should I go, how many days should I stay, what is going to be the highlight of my trip, what do I do once I get there, and how do I get from the airport to the hotel?
If your travel agent doesn’t go above and beyond while planning and explaining your very first trip outside the country, that’s not the travel agent for you.
When I’m dealing with the first time traveler, I know that they are going to have many questions. It is my job to make sure that they are fully aware of different obstacles which may arise throughout their trip. Because I want my clients to be super-satisfied with my planning their travel plans, I make sure to think about all the things I wish I would have known the first time I traveled. One of those things is explaining the local currency and customs. Many of us take it for granted that you can simply pull out your phone and figure out exchange rates while you’re traveling but we know that because we’ve already done it before. Make sure your agent takes that extra step to inform you of the currency that’s in your local area and explain how you can obtain the currency before you leave for your trip. If a person is traveling to the Caribbean for their first international travel, I also like to ensure that their stay is at an all-inclusive resort which means that their beverages and meals are included. However, if someone is taking their first trip abroad and they’re headed to Africa or Europe most hotels don’t operate that way. It’s important to set someone’s expectations. If my client plans to be away for 5 nights and has a budget of $2,000 I need to take into account that if you’re headed to Paris while your breakfast may be included that’s likely the only meal that is, and you need to set aside money to pay for the rest of your meals during your stay.
Do your research. You are spending your hard earned dollars and I hope your travel experience is worth it.
Are you a first time traveler? Or do you have a mistake from your first travel experience? Comment below!