Nothing can ruin a once-in-a-lifetime vacation faster. Depending on your personality and FB status, frustration can take you from romantic to complicated to single within a few airport layovers and missed trains. Make sure your first-time travel companion knows what to expect.
Letting people know what they can expect beforehand can eliminate a lot of frustration. People with low patience tend to freak out when the waiter doesn’t immediately bring the check. Giving them the heads up of the cultural differences they’re about to experience OR getting them involved in the trip by doing their homework can keep the little things from adding up.
- In country: A guidebook can provide a wealth of knowledge before you go. Get one.
- In the airport: Expect it to be busy and prepare them for some serious standing in line. Have something to occupy your time. *Oh, and always ask before you pet the airport security dogs.
- On the plane: I usually request a window seat so I don’t have to get up every time someone wants to use the bathroom. Also, in a window seat you’re harder to reach, so if a terrorist wants a human shield they’ll have to reach over your seat buddy to get to you. SeatGuru has an awesome site describing the best seats.
- TSA: They have a whole website dedicated to prepping flyers. Read it. Also: Changing lines looks suspicious, don’t do it; don’t get behind strollers or first time travelers; never reach into the scanner machine to grab your bag.
- Local culture and norms: Do your homework first and pack your patience.
- Holidays: A quick google search can tell you if everything will be closed when you show up.
- Strikes: Be aware that you may have to get creative with logistics.
- Weather: Honeymooning in hurricane alley? Know what weather is expected. Weather Underground, Flood List, Quakes Today, etc.
- Demonstrations: Any political unrest, upcoming contentious elections, severe poverty or general unhappiness? All are recipes for demonstrations.
Sense of security:
Nothing is more calming than letting your travel buddy know you’re ready for the unexpected, so give them some pointers as well.
How to react to potential situations:
- Pickpocket: If you made a cheat sheet, you’ll have all your credit card info on hand and can start the process of calling and cancelling your cards. Obviously you want to avoid this in the first by blending in and not being a target.
- Getting separated on the metro: Agree that if this happens you should rally at the next stop.
- Demonstrations, riots: Avoid them. Literally turn around and go the other way. Better yet, know if there may be one beforehand – controversial elections or social unrest is a good indicator.
- Rally points during festivals or concerts: Set them up beforehand.
Keep your first time travel buddy up to date and it’ll prepare them for what they’re in for – flight delays, time to kill in airports, sold out rental cars and cultural differences. This will ensure that you keep your vacation a fantastic experience and keep your relationship status from backsliding.
Traveled with a first time traveler? What would you have done differently?