Whether you’re traveling to a new country or returning to a favorite destination, the first day of a trip can be really exciting. At the same time, it can also feel a little overwhelming. There’s the logistics to figure out, battling jet lag and even adjusting to a new culture. The first 24 hours can make or break your vacation.
Here are 10 things you can do to make the most of your first day and get the trip started off right.
1. Download an offline map
One of the most difficult parts of experiencing a new place is finding your way around. Downloading an offline map in google maps is a game changer. I use it to save locations in my favorites so they’re easy to find when I start exploring.
2. Take public transit
We stayed in Taipei during our one week in Taiwan and used the metro to get pretty much everywhere. There’s no better way to get the layout of a new city than by riding public transit. It’s cheaper than taxis and you’ll get up close and personal with locals.
3. Learn the language
You don’t need to be fluent, but learning basic words and phrases can go a long way. Focus on what you’ll be using the most: hello/please/thank you, where’s the bathroom, how much, etc. If you really want to dive into learning a new language, book a homestay like we did in Bali.
4. Do a food or walking tour
I love eating when visiting new places. Sometimes it can be confusing on how to order, prepare and eat the food. You can use the tips learned on a food tour during the rest of the trip. Likewise, a walking tour is great for discovering a new city. We did a free walking tour in Valparaiso and you’ll find the same in many other places.
5. Engage with locals
It can be intimidating, but don’t be afraid to have a conversation with a stranger. Who knows, you may end up in a community sauna surrounded by naked Finns like I did in Helsinki. In my experience people are friendly and curious when interacting with foreigners. Don’t let your guard down completely, though. Scammers are rampant in popular tourist areas and may have an alternative motive.
6. Look up the exchange rate
How much is that in USD? I find myself asking that question multiple times per day. Avoid the unnecessary confusion by looking up the exchange rate and making an easy formula to covert in your head. It doesn’t need to be exact. For example, we did a road trip through Southern Africa, and I divided the prices in ZAR by 10 to get an estimate in USD. The conversion was actually 12 to 1, but it was close enough.
7. Notify your family and friends
Once you’ve arrived at your destination, send a communication to your loved ones back home. Let them know where you are and that you’ve made it safely. I’ll admit that sometimes I forget to do this one (sorry Mom!).
8. Check the weather
This is perhaps the easiest on the list and can make a big difference. Don’t let all that time and money go to waste thanks to bad weather. Check the forecast for your entire trip and plan accordingly.
9. Adjust to the new time zone
It can be tempting to take a long nap or sleep-in until noon. Your internal clock is out of whack and your body says it’s time to rest. You must fight the urge and power through it! My best advice for combating jet lag is to carry out your day according to the time zone you’re in, not the one back home.
10. Charge your electronics
One of the benefits of traveling is being able to look back at the pictures and videos you captured. It brings back the joys of travel and inspires you to plan your next trip. So don’t forget to charge your electronics, especially after a long flight that may have drained the batteries.
What do you always do on the first day of a trip? Let us know in the comments!