New to travel? Start here!

New to travelling? Not sure where to start?

Over the past few months I’ve had quite a few friends who are new to travelling ask me for advice.

Instead of continuing to individually email each one all of my advice and tips

I’ve decided to put it all together in an easy to read guide for anyone who is interested.

I’ve divided it into sections so you can read the whole thing or just skip to the section that interests you. It covers most of the basics of travelling and I’ve also thrown in a few more advanced tips that I’ve picked up over the years.


p.s. This Guide is still under construction and should be finished soon!

Table of Contents

Where Should I go?


Where Should I go

Most people already know where they want to travel to or they have a rough idea.

If you don’t have a clue then it’s time to hop on google and start taking a look at whats out there.

This site (

has lots of great info on individual countries.

You may also want to read some travel blogs for inspiration.

Here’s a list of some pretty good ones.


Before you leave you need to figure out how much your trip is going to cost you.

You’ll need to budget for accommodation, food, transportation, shopping, and any activities (tours, museum entrance fees, drinking etc.) that you’d like to do.

I like to break my budget down into a cost per day and then I do my best to stick to that.

Some days I’ll be way under and other days I’ll be a bit over. If I have a baseline for how much I should be spending per day I find it a lot easier to stick to that.

This tool ( can help you determine a few basic daily living costs you’ll encounter.

If your backpacking around Europe or North America I’d suggest you budget $50-$100 USD per day although you can do it on much cheaper (under $10 a day) if you bring a tent and take advantage of “free camping” opportunities

Once you have your average daily budget figured out multiply it by the amount of days you’ll be travelling for. If your going to more than one country then figure out an average daily budget for each country. Take this number and add anything to it that your daily budget can’t handle . For example travel costs that won’t fit in your daily budget (like a long distance train or bus). It’s fairly easy to find out how much these types of transportation will cost by doing a quick search on google. If there’s any big ticket activities you want to do (like skydiving) make sure to budget for them as well.

Once you have everything accounted for, add it all together and don’t forget to put in an amount for the cost of your flight as well (check out our flight section for more info on this). This is how much money you’ll need to travel. I recommend having 20%-50%more than this available in case of any emergencies or if you just end up spending more than you anticipate.


How much money do I bring with me? Cash? Travellers Cheques? Visa Card?

My general rule of thumb when travelling is to have enough cash on me for one week of travel (based on my daily budget).

I also bring a debit card (or two) and a credit card with me.

The majority of places I’ve been to have either had an ATM (cash machine) nearby or within a couple days of travel.

If there isn’t one it’s not likely that there will be a lot of stuff for you to spend your money on anyways or the cost of living will be relatively low.

Withdrawing money while in a different country can be expensive. I usually get dinged 2-4 buck by my bank and another 2 bucks or so by the machine. So it makes sense to withdraw larger amounts less frequently. Not every ATM works with my cards but I’ve usually been able to find one that works with one of my cards without too much hassle.

That being said, do your research and check with your bank to make sure your cards will work overseas. Almost all banks (even the smaller ones) and credit cards work overseas but be sure to check as I’m sure there are a few exceptions to this rule.

Also, call your credit card companies and let them know that you’ll be travelling so that they don’t freeze your card for “suspicious activity” when you try to use it while on the road.

-Storing your money

I usually keep enough cash in my pockets/wallet for that day. I keep the rest (along with my passport) in either a Money Belt

around my waist or locked up at the hostel (most places have lockers) where I’m staying.

If your going to be in a dodgy area it may make sense to carry a dummy wallet consisting of a couple bucks and some expired cards (grocery store membership cards etc.)


Creating a rough itinerary for your travels is fairly important.

It gives you an idea of where you’ll be going and when and can really help

you with planning your budget.

Do some research and write down where you want to go, how long you want to stay there for, and what you want to do while your there.

You can find out most things about your destination online but sometimes getting a guidebook for the area you’ll be in can be a good idea as well. I like the Lonely Planet series of books.

They have information on sights/activites, eating, accommodation, and transportation.

I don’t follow them religiously but If I find myself looking for a place to stay in a strange town I’ll often take advantage of their handy maps and hostel recommendations. Their suggestions for what to see can also serve as a good baseline for planning your trip. Make sure you also talk to some of the locals though for their insight on what makes their part of the world unique or awesome.

One more important note:

Make sure your itinerary is flexible. You may get somewhere and realize that one or two days isn’t nearly enough time to spend there. Or you’ll meet some cool people and decide to travel with them for awhile. Either way, you don’t want to be locked into travel plans that you can’t change.


If your planning on doing any international travel you will need a passport. Your government should have a passport office near you or information on how to get your passport. Sometimes it can take awhile to get your passport so make sure you apply for it well before you begin to travel.

Many countries also require you to have a visa before you can travel to them. Visas can be short term tourist visas or longer term working holiday or student visas.
shows you which countries you’ll need visas for based on where you are from. Once you know where you want to go, check this site to find out which visas you’ll need. The application process for visas can also take some time and usually requires a fee of some sort.


There are a lot of different websites that will help you find and book flights.

My favourite (by far) is Kayak. They offer a simple, attractive user interface and their “explore” feature is a really nice way to find cheap flights from any destination. I’ve also been able to find pretty good deals by using I’ll usually figure out where I want to go and when using Kayak and then do a quick search on cheaptickets and google to see if I can find a better price on the flight. If your somewhat flexible on your dates you can often save a few hundred dollars.

The best time to book a flight online is 21 days before it leaves (or more). You can sometimes find last minute deals but this is not always the case (especially during the holidays). Book a flight that leaves midweek (Tuesday or Wednesday) will usually be cheaper then one that flys on the weekend.

Before You Leave

Before you leave for your trip there are a few things you should take care of.
If your going for a short trip (week or weekend) then you’ll just need to make sure your house is locked and the lights and heat are turned off/down.

If you’ll be gone for a month (or longer) there are some other things you should do.
Depending on your housing situation you may want to line up someone to rent your house/room so that it’s not an added
expense for you while your traveling. Also, arrange to have your bills paid for while your gone (get them set up to automatically pay or set you can access and pay them online). You may want to cancel any monthly subscriptions you have as well as your phone. It’s also a good idea to line up someone to check your mail. If you don’t want to bother someone or don’t have someone you can trust to do this then a company called Earth Class Mail offers a great solution. They can collect your mail for you and scan it so you have a copy you can access online. They’ll also forward parcels to you wherever you are in the world.

Finally you’ll want to make sure you have everything you need for your trip and you’ll want to get it all packed and ready to go.
Here’s where our packing list creator can help you. Just put in some information about your trip and it will generate a personalized
packing list for you which you can add to or modify in any way you see fit. Once you’re packed and have made any other leaving arrangements all that’s left is to throw a farewell party and hit the road!


Coming Soon!


Coming Soon!


Coming Soon!

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