Remember how you felt the very first time you travelled? The rush and excitement of the unknown? You knew it was going to be amazing, but perhaps no idea how addictive it was going to get. The more we travel, the more we enrich our lives. From the relationships, we make with others to the relationship we end up having with ourselves, as well as life values and new perspectives – travelling changes everything.

Experience and wisdom also come from travel. After roaming thousands of kilometres across the world, have you found yourself wondering: how many of the things do I know today that I wish I knew when I first started travelling?

Here are some of the things I wish I knew:


One of the biggest things we wish I knew when I started travelling is that places are often very different than what they appear in photos or in the media. This could have been a good or bad thing.

For instance, some of the most picturesque places are often nothing more than a tourist trap. Trying to capture “that” gram worthy photo can prove impossible without something crowding your shot. On the other hand, some places that are painted as “dangerous” in the media turn out to be completely the opposite. In fact, I’ve encountered overwhelming hospitality in some of the most unexpected places.

First Time Travelling
Otter Trail Balloon flight – Hoedspruit (c) Chris Kirchhoff


The first thing I wish I knew when I started travelling (solo) is that it is OK to talk to strangers! It’s so ingrained in us from childhood to be mindful of talking to strangers, and you should. But when travelling talking to and meeting new people will make or break your experience!


If I knew that travelling opens many more doors in the places I’m visiting, I would probably choose to travel solo to more destinations when I started travelling. Usually, when I was travelling alone I got more help from local people, more invitations, offers to go to places that only local knows. Travelling alone also helped to find more about local culture. I was invited by local families to go to celebrations, and places that I did not know to exist.


At the same time, I would have been glad if someone had told me that I should keep my eyes open for people whose behaviour looked much too friendly. More often than not, if someone has already been too friendly instantly upon meeting them, you should pay attention. Stay safe and aware at all times.

First Time Travelling


One of the two things I wished I knew before travelling is that I don’t need to have it all figured out before I go. As things rarely go to plan, it is best to have a rough idea then go with the flow to have the rest fall into place. Some of my fondest travel memories are those which were unexpected. 


I also wish I knew that money could be stretched and there were unique ways to replenish it. I thought I needed that trust fund to get started and keep going, but once I started, I met others and found my passion. It was easier than I thought.

First Time Travelling
The Old Outeniqua Pass Road on your way to the town of Herold (c) Rodger Bosch


Travelling is a wonderful opportunity to discover different cultures, different customs, different food. When I started travelling I wish I would have known that no distance is too far.

Author Trevor

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