Travelling opens you up to so many new things – new cultures, new people, new foods, new experiences. Everything’s new. This can be really exciting, but it can also feel unfamiliar, overwhelming, and even lonely at times.
We’ve put together our top tips for making the most of your time overseas and staying safe while you’re at it.
1. Be prepared
As well as sussing out the best coffee places/surf breaks/local restaurants/must-see views, take some time to check out Smartraveller.gov.au. It’s got you covered with tips on everything from planning, money, phone coverage and travel insurance, to managing medications and getting help if you need it.
In the event of an emergency such as an accident or a natural disaster, you don’t want to be stressing about what to do. Here’s a few practical tips:
- Register your travel plans with Smartraveller.gov.au and sign up for email updates on your destination.
- Email a copy of your itinerary to close family or friends.
- Keep a written note of emergency contact numbers at home, and of your travel insurance policy details, in case you don’t have your phone or WiFI.
2. Stay connected to friends and family at home
When everything else is new and a bit daunting, it’s really important to stay connected to the people who know you best. It can help to set up a regular Facetime or Skype call; that way, you can plan for it in your week and your friends and family won’t worry about you so much.
If you miss a catch-up call, your family and best mates can check in with you and ask how you’re really going. We all know those Insta snaps don’t always show the full story.
3. Look after the basics
Let’s face it, your body and mind don’t shut off from the effects of stress just because you’re overseas. In fact, being away from home can add a whole other layer of stress. It’s important to look after yourself by getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet (it’s not a holiday from fruit and veg) and getting some regular exercise. Establishing some healthy routines is the key to maintaining your sense of wellbeing.
4. Party safely
Think back over the past few months. Were there times when you drank more than you meant to, felt pressured to drink, or drank because you felt uncomfortable or lonely?
If you’re going out binge drinking and partying, it’s going to take a toll on your mental health and wellbeing (hello, hangover anxiety).
And when you’re drunk, you’re more likely to do something risky, such as going to an unfamiliar location with people you don’t know, having unsafe sex or getting in a physical fight.
It might seem pretty boring, but it’s important to use your common sense: know your limits, don’t mix drinks and drugs, make sure to eat something, drink water or soft drinks, let someone know where you’re going to be, and plan how you’re going to get back to your hostel or Airbnb.
5. Talk to someone – anyone!
If you’re feeling really down and isolated, and not like your usual self, the best thing you can do is let someone know how you’re really doing. Before you head off travelling, think about who you would trust if you weren’t at your best. This could be someone you’re travelling with, or someone back home such as a parent or mate.
It can be really hard to admit you’re not having the time of your life, but if you open up to someone you trust, you won’t have to face it alone. Together, you can work out your next steps.