By Vicky Anscombe on 28 April 2015

We’re a big country. Scrap that - we’re a massive country. In fact, we’re such a sprawling, diverse, untameable and unforgettable country, you’d forgive most Aussies for ditching their passport and dedicating their travel time to getting to grips with Australia. However, as much as we love Down Under, there’s a wider world out there and we love exploring it.

We all remember the first time we left Oz and visited Thailand, the States or Europe - especially if we were backpacking, and planning on being abroad for a few months. Life lessons were learned, but we wish we’d known these five things the first time we enthusiastically packed our bags.

  • Things will go wrong. You’ll spend more than you want to, you’ll miss trains and planes, you’ll find out you’ve forgotten to book a room, you’ll end up sharing with unpleasant people and you may, if you’re very unlucky, get fleeced. Our advice to you? Let these things happen to you and don’t beat yourself up; travelling is a way of learning how to make sense of the world around you. Nobody’s perfect, and nobody expects you to come home with stories of how everything worked perfectly for you.
  • Londoners and Parisians aren’t rude or unfriendly. However, you’ll soon work out that they don’t like you dawdling on the street during rush-hour; and they won’t take kindly to you starting conversations on public transport, end of. It’s a different matter if you find yourself in the pub with them after-hours; they’re brilliant fun.
  • Never underestimate the value of small change. From using public toilets and tipping to being able to buy water or snacks without revealing a wad of notes in your wallet, small change is indispensable. Don’t forget the $20 trick in the US; when you check in and you hand across your credit card, you ask if there are any complimentary upgrades available. If there aren’t any, they’ll return your money.
  • Free Wifi is available - you just have to be clever about it. Stop using your 3G! Are you made of money? Lots of restaurants and cafes will have WiFi, but you may have to purchase something small in order to sit in and use it in peace. Keep an eye out for a Starbucks or a McDonald’s; these two chains can be found all over the world, and they both consistently provide free Wi-Fi.
  • You won’t get on with everyone. Many of us set out with big dreams of meeting the world, bonding instantly with everyone we met and sharing a connection with everyone, from airline staff to fellow travellers. You can put that idea to bed right now. Don’t worry - the world is wide, and full of fascinating, wonderful people - but you’ll come across quite a few wallies, too. When it happens, move on, and don’t let it ruin your day - or the trip!

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