Adventure

9 Things I Learnt On My First Trip Abroad

Never ever miss a buffet breakfast.

Your first time abroad can be a daunting and scary – albeit exciting – leap into the unknown. But if you kick start your journey with an open-mind, a decent amount of cash and some common sense, you’ll be cruising around with the laissez-faire attitude of a seasoned traveller in no time. Here’s what traveller SOPHIE FERGUSON learnt on her first trip abroad.

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Never miss a buffet breakfast

You’ll regret not having that complimentary ham and cheese omelette when you’re forced to fork out half a day’s budget on an emergency lunch. This will sting even more so if last night’s pub crawl has left you a little worse for wear. Don’t let one missed breakfast ruin your whole day. Get up early, organise your bag, drink plenty of water, have those three Beroccas if you need to and catch that hostel buffet breakfast.

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Fair shake of the sauce bottle

Visiting other countries can give you a quick culture shock of the condiment and spread variety. If you don’t think you can last a whole trip without your beloved Vegemite or tomato sauce, make sure to pack some extras because the ones they have overseas won’t taste like home. Think ahead so you don’t get caught short trying to enjoy your chippies without.

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Keep your passport close 

There’s nothing worse than getting to the airport on time and realising you forgot your passport at the post office. Yes, this actually happens more than you think. You also don’t want to get stuck overseas because your passport is due to expire in the next six months. Get that business sorted and keep it strapped to your body at all times to avoid a harrowing trip to the embassy.

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Make sure you can eat

It sounds simple, but if you have any sort of allergy or food restrictions, it pays to do your research before dining at restaurants overseas. It might mean that you have to forgo the copious amounts of gelato, pizza and pasta for something a little more, ahem, agreeable. Sure, you have to opt for a salad while everyone around you is gorging themselves on a triple choc gelato, but at least you’ll be avoid the food coma enough to partake in lots of activities.

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Get down to the local watering hole

Making friends abroad isn’t as scary or as hard as you may think. If you make the effort to immerse yourself in the culture, you’ll suddenly find that solo travel is far more fun and carefree than you anticipated. One easy way to do this is to find the nearest drinking hole.

Getting down to the nearest café or pub and socialising is a fast way to learn, grow and network while holidaying. It also doesn’t hurt to learn the local language, or at least brush up on some basic phrases. The locals will love you for it and it’ll ensure that your meal order comes out correctly.

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Pretty fly for a Wi-Fi

Trying to find Wi-Fi is the true task of a seasoned traveller. Unless you’re really savvy, finding decent Wi-Fi can be near impossible or worse, expensive.

You’ll soon become a pro at wandering into Starbucks “just to look” or learning what the cheapest item on a restaurant’s menu is just to have access to the holy grail of an internet password. Sourcing chargers and power points may also be difficult, but most chain restaurants should have wall slots available. Don’t forget to check under seats as they’re often hidden away.

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Small change

No-one works for free overseas, so be sure to carry some spare change that can be used to tip tour guides, wait staff and taxi drivers. Generally, as a rule, tips of 15 to 20 percent are acceptable and save you from looking like a penny-pinching jerk (even though you actually are on a strict budget). Also, a lot European countries make you pay before using the bathroom so spare change will come in handy then too. Another tip is to look for a “WC” sign – it means water closet, i.e. toilet.

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High season = less beds

“Winging it” can sound like a fun, spontaneous adventure, but it doesn’t become quite as fun when you’re lugging around an 18 kilogram backpack looking for anywhere to drop it. Peak season travelling can mean even your last resort, a ten-bed shared hostel room, will be booked out before you land in the country. It definitely works out to be cheaper and less stressful to book accommodation for the first leg of your trip far in advance during high season.

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Home is where the heart is

There’s nothing like coming home from your first trip overseas to make you appreciate what you have. After showering in thongs, dodgy bed springs poking your back, sub-standard hostel meals and experiencing anxiety every time you get in the passenger seat of a car, you won’t take your bed, your shower, those home cooked meals or left-hand driving for granted ever again.

Book your next overseas adventure with Qantas.