The Top 10 Best Travel Tips for Beginners: How to Start Traveling Right Now!
Updated: Feb 8
U.S. Travel Tips for Beginners: Starting Your Own Travels
Traveling opens up a world of opportunities and pushes you outside of your comfort zone in the best ways possible. I truly believe that if you have the opportunity, you should definitely travel!
You will see places you thought only existed on the internet, you’ll meet incredible people, you’ll eat better food than you ever thought you’d find, and you'll experience life in ways you probably didn’t think were possible.
Everyone and anyone should be able to travel, and yes, it can get expensive, BUT…it doesn’t have to be. Have you tried exploring your home state or home country?
Travel is different for everyone, and that is the beauty of it. There is no one right way to travel, but there is a wrong way...if you refuse to travel at all.
If you’ve never really traveled or been somewhere far from home, the thought of traveling might be very scary to you. And that’s okay! We all have to start from somewhere and that’s why we’re here. We’ll help you plan your first trip and gain the confidence to book that trip by giving you our best travel tips for beginners!
We’ll cover flight tips for people who have never flown, packing tips, other beginner travel tips, and photos for inspiration! That’s often how we pick where to go. We see where others have traveled, where they’ve had a great time, and then we plan our own trip if possible! So enjoy, and hopefully, you’ll find somewhere perfect for you to go explore.
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Travel Tips for Beginners
Start small - look close to home
Research - find where you're going
Organize - save all your plans in one spot (i.e., google docs)
Luggage - what’s best for your trip
Packing - bring only necessities
Flight tips - bring a book, headphones, etc.
Have a plan - where are you going, staying, doing, etc.
Transportation - how will you get around
Safety - stay smart, stay aware, and be present
Prepare - for the unexpected for budget, weather, canceled plans, etc.
HAVE FUN!!! - the most important tip
1. Start Small
To start traveling, you don’t need to plan a grandiose, expensive vacation to Bora Bora. Think about what’s around you if you’re living in the U.S.. Look into state parks or national parks near you. They offer incredible views and amazing activities. Most national parks have guided tours you can sign up for or even activities such as white water rafting.
If you don’t particularly want to go on a nature vacation, then look at what major cities are relatively close to you. You’d be surprised by how cheap flights can be between U.S. cities. Just make sure you book in advance!
Also, remember that road trips are a great way to travel for cheaper. Plus, they make for great adventures. Driving to your destination allows for flexibility, and if you want to, you can make a whole trip out of your drive. Rather than just driving straight to one place for a few days and heading back home, you can stop at multiple locations and enjoy lots of different views, food, and experiences.
Another perk of road-tripping is car camping. You can easily camp in your car to save money if you have a larger car, such as an SUV. And trust us, you won’t stick out if you’re car camping at a campsite. You’d be surprised by how many people do it. Just make sure you have all the right gear!
Read Also: Car Camping Necessities
Key tips for picking a location for your first trip:
stay closer to home
state and national parks
cities close to home
Where are you going? What might you do there? How much will it cost? These are all things to keep in mind when traveling, especially if you’ve never done it before. You definitely want to know where you are going and how you’re going to get there.
Unless you feel like hopping in your car and just driving until you get somewhere, you’re definitely going to want some sort of basic travel plan. Start by thinking about where you want to go. Maybe you’ve had a destination in mind for the past 6 months, or maybe you have no idea where you want to go. You just want to go!
I suggest looking at social media for inspiration. You can search hashtags such as #ustravel on Instagram to see where other people are going and what they’re doing. You might see a photo that inspires you to go to that exact location for that exact purpose (that’s one good thing about social media).
You can also look on Airbnb for inspiration; they actually have an “Inspiration for Your Next Trip” section where you can browse places that are close by or the “I’m Flexible” filter if you have flexible travel dates. This allows you to look at places in your price range while still inspiring you on where to go. Plus, Airbnb has some really cool, unique stays that are worth visiting just for the house itself!
Key tips for researching your travels:
find a destination
look for inspiration
Our blog and socials!
Once you’ve started actually planning your travels, you’ll want to keep track of it all. We recommend using Google Docs and creating a chart like the one below. It doesn’t have to be exactly like this; you should definitely personalize it to fit your needs.
We add hyperlinks to our spreadsheet, so if we need to look at something specific, such as an address for our next accommodation, we can just click on the text, and it takes us to whatever we need to look at.
You don’t need to plan and write everything down like we do, but trust us, it doesn’t hurt to. If you’re planning your travels way in advance, you might also forget exactly when your flight is or the address of your hotel, so having it all in one place will make your life easier when you actually begin your trip.
Key tips for organizing your travels:
4. Best Luggage
You want to make sure you have the right luggage for your trip. You don’t want to bring a really small suitcase or just a backpack if you’re going away for over a week, but you definitely don't want to over-pack and bring a giant suitcase for a 3-day vacation. I will say you need less than you probably think.
We like using our backpacks for shorter trips, around 2 to 4 days. We have found that we can fit quite a bit into our backpacks, and then we don’t have to worry about lugging around a suitcase. It also makes flying super easy if you only have a backpack; it fits under your seat, and you don't have to find a place for your bag overhead or wait by the baggage claim.
It also depends on where you plan on staying while on your travels. If you’re going to be staying in one spot, it’s easier to bring a suitcase as you can leave it at your accommodation. If you plan on moving around and staying at different locations, then a backpack is much easier.
We absolutely love our Osprey travel backpacks (Kyte - Women's and Farpoint - Men's) as they hold quite a lot, enough for 3 months of travel, and they’re easy to travel around with. You can have all your belongings on your back and still have your hands to do things with! This makes catching a train or bus or walking a mile to your accommodation much easier.
Key tips for luggage:
pick a bag for your length of stay
longer travel = bigger luggage
backpacks make great luggage
smaller means easier
If this is your first time traveling, packing might seem very overwhelming. Will I need extra clothes? What if my shampoo runs out? Will I need all of my electronics? You might be surprised by how light you can pack and still have plenty with you while traveling.
The best tip for packing right is to look at the weather where you’re going! We recommend researching what the weather is generally like at your travel destination during the time of year you plan on visiting; add that destination to your weather app to keep an eye on it as it gets closer to your departure date!
With that being said, the weather is always unpredictable. We suggest bringing a lightweight jacket and compact rain jacket with you. Unless you know, you’ll be needing a big winter coat on your travels. Then you can skip these lighter layers and stick to the warm ones!
Another tip we like to follow is packing clothing items that all go quite well together. This way, you can bring, for example, three shirts and two different pants, but have multiple different looks.
We both have packing cubes, and they've seriously been a game-changer. They keep everything organized, and they can compress your clothes some to create more space. When it comes to packing, just remember to keep it light and plan according to the weather. You can re-wear clothes and mix and match them for different outfits.
Key tips for packing:
use packing cubes
pack mix-and-match outfits
6. Flight Tips
If you’re just starting your travel adventures, you might be going on your first flight soon. And that’s cause for celebration. You might be wondering what to do on your first flight, what to bring on your first flight, and what to expect on your first flight.
Just think of it as a long bus ride because that’s honestly quite what it’s like. You’re just in the sky! You might have a window, aisle, or middle seat, so you’ll be sitting next to one or two other people.
Our favorite things to bring with us on a plane are a book or a Kindle (with endless books!), headphones, a game system for longer flights (like a Nintendo Switch), an activity book such as a word search, and a drink and a snack. If your flight is several hours, you may want to bring some kind of pillow.
Neck pillows are nice to have when on a plane, train, etc, and this one packs nicely and compactly. It’s never a bad idea to catch some z’s on a flight; it passes the time faster, and you’ll arrive at your destination well-rested and ready for adventure!
Most importantly: dress comfortably. I promise you don't need to dress up for flying. We like to wear joggers, tennis shoes, and a t-shirt. Also, bring a hoodie or jacket! It can get freezing on airplanes any time of year, and you don't want to be cold for your entire flight.
Key tips for your first flight:
book, headphones, etc.
it's like a big bus
bring a drink or snack
7. Have a Plan
You’ll want to have some kind of schedule for your trip. It doesn’t need to be very in-depth or extremely planned out by any means, but having a basic idea of where you’ll be and what you’ll be doing is a good idea if you want to see and do as much as you can on your vacation.
Knowing where you’re going to stay, at least for the first couple of nights, is a good idea. You don’t need to plan out every minute of your trip unless you really want to. But keep in mind things change, sometimes you spend longer doing an activity than you thought you would, and sometimes there are unpredictable changes.
However, it can be a great plan to research where you’re going beforehand, so you have a list, whether it be physical or mental, of things you want to do, places you want to see, and what you might want to eat. Unless you want to look last minute for things to do, which can be a fun adventure.
But from experience, we’ve found that trying to book tickets for specific activities last minute does not always work. After the world shut down and is slowly reopening, most activities have a set number of tickets to sell each day, and you might be surprised by how fast they sell out. So keep that in mind when planning, or not planning, your trip!
Key tips for planning:
where are you staying
what are you doing
buy tickets in advance
where do you want to eat
Get our Free Travel Planner here!
Transportation differs slightly everywhere you go. Make sure you have an idea of how you’ll get around when you’ve arrived at your destination.
If you’re flying during your travels, ensure you know how you’ll get to your accommodation when you arrive. Can you walk there? Are there taxis? Public transportation? Car rentals? There are lots of options, but they all differ depending on where you are.
Public transportation is often a great choice, especially in bigger cities. It's usually cheap, and it can get you nearly anywhere. Some places don’t have reliable public transport so you might have to hire a taxi or rent a car if you plan on sightseeing further than walking distance from your accommodation. One tip: taxis or cabs generally upcharge tourists. So just do some basic research on transportation where you’re going!
You'll be golden if you’re driving to your vacation spot. You’ll have a mode of transportation your entire trip. Just make sure your hotel or Airbnb has parking available. You can add a filter to your search on Airbnb, so it only shows you places with free parking!
Key tips for transportation:
Uber or Lyft
your own car
Stay aware, and you’ll be good! You might have heard stories of pickpockets and robberies in other countries, but it still happens in the United States more than you might think. Even if you’re traveling domestically within the U.S. just remember to keep an eye on your belongings.
I recommend opting against carrying your normal purse while traveling. These are generally much easier to pickpocket from, especially if they have an open top, and they are easy to grab off your shoulder and run off with.
A crossbody purse would be your best bet or a fanny pack that you can wear across the front of your body and hold onto. I also have this amazing waist pack that hides well under clothes; no one can tell I have it on.
Stay present and be aware of your surroundings, but also remember that the world isn’t out to get you. Have fun, and enjoy your trip!
Key tips for safety:
watch your belongings
find the right bag
10. Prepare for the Unexpected
Plans can and will change when you’re traveling, and that’s okay! It can be hard to stay calm if your plans change drastically but know that everything will be okay. That’s part of traveling and a huge part of learning to be adaptable!
You can plan out your trip as much as you’d like, but allow for some flexibility as weather can be unpredictable, shows can be canceled, and traffic can be heavier than expected. Sometimes you'll end up spending more on food or a really cool show than you thought you would. So make sure you allow for "extra spending" if you're budgeting out your trip.
I’m not saying something will always go wrong while traveling, but be prepared for it to happen. And be okay with it happening.
Coming from someone who likes to know exactly what the plan is, having a change of plans can be hard to handle. But the more I travel, the better I become at being flexible and adaptable, and the more I’ve realized that as long as you make the most of your trip, whatever way that might be for you, it’s definitely worth it.
Key tips for being prepared:
heavy traffic can occur
Most important of all...Have fun!
Traveling is an amazing experience. Enjoy your time in a new place, learn as much as you can, and see and do as much as you please! Travel is all about making wonderful memories, and you'll make countless from exploring this world.
Now you can start planning your own travels! You’ll be surprised by how incredible traveling is; the places you can see, the people you can meet, the food you can eat, and the things you can learn. It’s truly an amazing experience getting to see more of the world than just what you know.
There’s so much out there. You’ll never see it all, but why not see as much of it as you can? We hope you no longer have to ask “how to start traveling” and that these travel tips for beginners help you feel prepared to start your journey.
Now pick where you want to go, get planning, and hit the road! Don’t forget to take some pictures so you can always remember your travels. This is something we love doing and looking back on, and it inspires us to keep exploring, to keep traveling, and adventuring around the world! Happy and safe travels to you, my friend.
Where are you thinking of taking your first trip to? How will you be getting there? What will the weather be like?