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Where Should I Travel to First?
It’s a question that enters everybody’s mind in the beginning. You have already established the fact that you want to travel, and have gained a lot of knowledge about various places through books and travel sites, but need to finalise a place to start. It isn’t easy to decide, and given how much choice there is, it can feel like you are going round in circles. But for what it’s worth, here is my opinion.
You may be travelling alone, in a group, or with one other person. There are certainly advantages and disadvantages of each, and there is never a right or a wrong number of people to travel with. But being in a group is definitely an advantage for first time travellers. You needn’t make all the decisions alone, and you will never be left high and dry without anyone to turn to. But too many voices can lead to frustration in the decision process. Being alone means you may want to travel somewhere less risky. Somewhere that speaks your tongue, and where the people are friendly and helpful, and somewhere that isn’t difficult to find your way.
Generally, whether on your own or in a group, for first time travellers looking to have a good time without the stress, heading to somewhere like New Zealand or Australia may be just what you need. My first trip was to New Zealand, and I am happy I chose this country. I was planning a trip to Canada, but decided on a change right at the point of booking the flights. This was a great decision on my part, but it’s not to say I wouldn’t have enjoyed Canada. I simply do not know, as I have not been there as yet.
I say Australia and New Zealand for several reasons really. The first for me is that the language is English, so easy for me to find information when needed. I have to admit that nowadays I rather enjoy learning and speaking a different language in countries that are not English-speaking, but certainly for my first trip, I didn’t want this extra hassle.
The distance from the UK to New Zealand couldn’t be further, and seemed the perfect distance for me. It was a way of throwing myself in at the deep end, albeit with help if I needed it. My family couldn’t help me directly, and all the decisions would have to be mine, and mine alone. This was a great thing for me, and looking back, this is the time where I discovered a new me, one that was capable of much more than I realised. We humans are built to survive, and when times seem tough, we always find some way to get through it. Now, though, the things that once caused a little worry in terms of travelling are the things that make a trip a good trip for me. The experiences, both good and bad, are the things you remember, and the things you end up talking about (or writing as I am here).
The first hostel I stayed in – The Aspen Hotel in Auckland – was by no means my favourite place to stay. In fact it was pretty awful, but that’s maybe because I chose a room to myself, and I don’t think there were a lot of people sharing the same corridor as me. I felt alone, and I was. I needed people around me now more than ever, yet people were the last thing on my mind. This has always been the hardest part of travelling for me, but a great lesson to learn. This is when the body and mind go into overdrive, and the survival instincts kick in. You just know what to do, because no matter what you do, it will get you through the day. Anyway, I digress.
One thing I learned very early on was the abundance of help on offer. A network of hostels all offering information about yours, and nearby hostels, as well as all the information you could possibly need about what there was to do in each place. You don’t need a plan when coming to somewhere like New Zealand. The plan finds you. Within days I had a good idea what I needed to do, and how to do it. And doing it was much easier than I had imagined. This is true for both Australia and New Zealand. There are so many hostels, most with outstanding facilities, and at prices you come to love, being a backpacker. And help is never far away. The amount of hostels, and the ease at which to book each place, and to travel between places, makes this part of the world a sure winner for the place to begin your adventure.
Most people will offer their own opinions about other countries being just as good, if not better, and they are all drawn from personal experiences. It’s true that everybody will have a different experience for their first time, and nobody is right or wrong, and we will all offer our little piece of gold to the conversation, but you won’t find many places easier to find your feet than Australia or New Zealand. This gives you more time to relax and enjoy yourself.
Take time to choose your first place, but don’t think about it so much that you never actually get there. It will undoubtedly be a positive experience wherever you decide to go, and just how good depends on you and your openness to embrace a world that has been sitting on your doorstep since the day you were born. Go out there and see all there is to see, and come back here to let me know how awesome your first travelling experience was.
Written by Daniel Stevens,
Founder of Roundtheworldtrip.org.
Find out more about the author
in my About page.