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Travel tips for first time travellers

Visit Australia with STA Travel
So you're about to finally make that first step into the weird and wonderful world?  Good for you - you won't regret it!  There are a few things you should know before you leave to help you on your way. Whilst on the road we recommend you follow your gut-instinct, but here are some things are worth knowing about before you leave...

Avoid jetlag and airsickness 

Flying internationally causes jetlag because of the fact that you are crossing several time zones. Some precautions to take include:

- Drink plenty of water and consume no alcohol
- Stick to a bland diet.
- Adjust your watch according to your destination's time clock and attempt to adhere to your arrival schedule (the sooner, the better)
- Take some sleeping pills on the long flight over - sleep is golden and you'll be thankful for it when you arrive.

Travel light 

Don't pack what you don't need, especially if you're backpacking. There's nothing worse than lugging around a pile of bricks on your back when arriving in a new city and trying to find a place to stay.

Just remember, if you need something, you'll be able to buy it on the road. It's easier to travel with a pack than with a suitcase - suitcases don't like crowded streets, rocky roads or stairs (and subways have a lot of them)!

Don't draw unwanted attention to yourself

When travelling in some countries, it is best to leave your jewellery at home - the richer you look, the more of a target you'll become for pick-pocketers.

You also might want to take one 'nice' outfit in your backpack to blend in with the locals. Wear shorts and hiking boots in cities such as Venice and you stand out like a sore-thumb. And don't forget to spend some time away from the tourist traps - immerse yourself in the local way of life!

Carry the correct forms of currency

Exchange just enough money to cover your expenses for your travels. There's nothing worse than being stuck in a new country on your first day with no local currency. Make sure your ATM card can be used in the places you are visiting (you'll find a logo like the 'Cirrus' one on the back of your card) - some places in South America won't accept this so ensure you have enough cash on hand.

It is safest to take a mixture of currency with you - a credit card, some cash, and perhaps some travellers cheques. This will cover your butt just in case that credit card declines or a machine won't accept your ATM card.

Respect the local customs

Some countries, especially in the Middle East and Asia, dress more conservatively than we do. You shouldn't wear shorts or sleveless tops in these places, so ensure you have some other forms of clothing packed in your bag.

It is also handy to have a long-sleeved top packed in your daypack - places like St Peters Cathedral in Rome require you to cover your arms when entering the building. You don't want to miss out on the opportunity to see such fabulous places just because you don't have the right top with you!

Be educated about where you are going

Always read up on the city before you get there. It pays to know a little about the basics such as transportation, weather, do's & dont's and an orientation of the city.  Check out our travel blogs for inspiration, read your Lonely Planet guidebook, ask mates who have been there (ask us, we're travellers too!) or research online sites such as Go Girl

Once you're there, go to a Tourist Information Centre first - that way you can get an idea of what is going on, so you don't miss out on the good stuff. 

Carry the right things with you Always take an extra pair of clothes in your hand luggage. There's nothing worse than being in a new country, where you don't speak the language and where the airline has lost your luggage - at least you can have a clean change of clothes this way.

In light of all these tips, just use plain common sense and intuition. Travelling should not be overwhelming or dangerous. In fact it should be one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences in your life... enjoy!

Do you have any tips to share with first-timers? We would love to hear them! Send us an email to team@statravel.co.nz and you could win yourself a $50 STA Travel voucher.

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