The view from here
Overseas excursions can be overwhelming when it's all brand new. Remember these tips to help make your friend's first-time trip a fantastic one.
New Zealanders are pretty well-traveled considering we come from a little cluster of islands at the bottom of the world. It’s not uncommon, however, to come across people who haven’t been out of the country before. While a lot of us head into the world for our big 'Overseas Experiences', not everyone can or does.
In 2015, I jumped on a plane to Tokyo to spend a week in Japan with four friends. One of them had traveled to Greece with me in 2013, but the other two were on their first adventure outside of New Zealand. With the little knowledge I had of traveling in Japan, I set to planning what was going to be the best week in Tokyo ever.
And not to toot my own horn, but it was pretty great. It was an absolute joy to be a part of my friends’ first big trip overseas, but it got me thinking about travel newbies and all the things that experienced travelers can forget when taking their friends around a foreign country for the first time.
If you’re planning a trip overseas with travel newbies, here are some tips which may help.
Double check that they have all their relevant documents.
Luckily I haven’t had the drama of a) ever having forgotten a passport or important document, or b) being a part of a group that has. I’m forever in anticipation for such a time, but sincerely hope it never happens. Double - nay, triple - check with your newbie travel companions that they have everything they need and it’s in a secure place. This includes country visas, passports, insurance, reciprocity fees, etc.
Reassure them they don’t need to bring their entire wardrobe.
And neither do you. Packing for an overseas trip can be difficult. I find that the shorter the time, the harder it is. Perhaps it’s the thought of being away for a week but knowing that you don’t want to have to do laundry just once. The longer the visit, the more likely it is you’ll do washing - or at least that’s what I’ve found - so remind your friends (and yourself!) to pack as lightly as they can.
Encourage them to try new things.
One of my favourite things about traveling the world is discovering new eats. Sure, not all of them are going to be added to your ‘favourite food of all time’ list, and a few might even make your stomach churn. However, you’ll never know if you don’t try it out. Best to lead by example and take a bite yourself.
Leaping over the language barrier take practice.
If you’re an old timer when it comes to traveling in places where they don’t speak your mother-tongue, give your newbie friends some tips for communicating with the locals. Together, learn a few handy phrases, but be prepared to jump in and help them out if need be. You might have more confidence in this area than they do.
Culture shock is very real.
Even if you’ve been traveling all your life, new cultures will both amaze and overwhelm you. While you, seasoned explorer, may have better ways of dealing with your own culture shock, those traveling with you may not. Just be aware that your friend may be silently freaking out as you adventure around. Perhaps take an afternoon off - or even a couple of days - to regroup the mind before heading out again. Splashing out for the occasional hotel room with a bubble bath and room service can be a very welcome and healing break from days or weeks of being in the thick of things.
For me, traveling is one of life’s most rewarding adventures. I love being able to share experiences with other people, and bring those who have never been overseas before along for the ride. The most important thing, I’ve discovered, is to have fun. Make every expedition an adventure and roll with the punches no matter what gets thrown your way. Hopefully your love of the world will wear off on them, and they’ll be out on their own crazy adventures in no time.
Author - Anjali Kay
Anjali Kay is a Kiwi in her 20s, whose love for travel started when she was just 18 months when her parents moved with her to Mongolia. That was just the beginning. You can follow Anjali’s adventures on her blog,thewanderingjandal.com.