Some people can go their entire lives and never set foot on an airplane. They simply don’t have the desire to travel. But that’s not you. You’ve got a taste for the wanderlust, and you’re just getting started.
But just like with anything, you probably shouldn’t overdo it on your first trip.
Even in the first three, I’d suggest that you steer clear of exotic locations where you may not know the language and culture. But don’t worry. That still leaves an almost endless array of opportunities.
Here are my favorite 3 must-visit destinations for rookie travelers:
- London, UK
If you want a major trip, but don’t want to feel completely out of your element, London is a natural choice. You get to travel to Europe, and you’ll speak the language. Well, mostly.
One of the best things about traveling is that you will be out of your comfort zone, and you can’t quite get that feeling in the states.
By the end of your trip, you will have visited places most people only read about in books or see on television. Get a glimpse of the royal palace, take the metro and take a self-guided tour around Piccadilly Circus.
One thing I quickly learned is that London weather can be extremely unpredictable. My best advice to you: Carry sunglasses and an umbrella wherever you go. You just never know when you might need either.
London has an amazing underground rail system, and it’s probably how you’ll get around most of the time. You can also take black taxis or Ubers, but you’ll rack up a big bill this way. My friend and I spent the equivalent of nearly $80 on Uber rides in one day of sightseeing (ouch!).
If you’re opposed to taking the underground rail and don’t want to spend a fortune on taxis, you may want to rent a car. Or if you’re going to be there for a longer period, you may consider buying a cheap car and selling it when you leave. Even when you consider the cost and factor of routine service, this is often cheaper than a long-term rental.
London tops out this list because it’s a relatively safe city where you can get away with speaking your native tongue. But whenever you travel, be sure to take safety precautions. Avoid walking around late at night, especially alone. And mind your belongings wherever you are.
- Mexico City, Mexico
When you’re standing in the presence of ancient ruins, you really get a feel for how small of a leading role you play in the dance of time.
And in Mexico City, you have access to historic sites like the Teotihuacan Pyramids, Museo del Templo Mayor, and the Metropolitan Cathedral. All with the benefits of having an authentic Mexican experience while you explore.
Condesa is a nice residential neighborhood where you’ll find many other tourists and expats. It’s also packed with bars, restaurants, and clubs, so it’s convenient for those nights out on the town.
Friends and family members have probably warned you about traveling to Mexico. It’s true that there’s a lot of cartel activity and violent crime, but Mexico City is relatively safe. It’s not immune to crime, not by any means, but it’s probably a lot safer than you think. Still, it’s important to take caution when you’re in any foreign land. Only take the government licensed taxis marked with “CDMX.” And avoid traveling with valuables or large sums of cash.
- Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Amsterdam boasts 60 miles of canals and nearly 7 thousand buildings that were built in the 18th century or earlier. If you’re at all interested in architecture, this might well be your dream destination. For me, it was the vibe of the city that made it feel special.
Even if you aren’t yet used to traveling, you’ll find it relatively easy to navigate this city. You’ll get to experience the culture, shopping, cutting-edge design, and maybe even the marijuana scene – if you’re into that kind of thing.
Amsterdam is a thriving metropolis, but it has this earthy feel that helps keep you grounded. For an authentic experience, book an Airbnb and rent a bike, so that you can whiz around the streets like a local.
Amsterdam is generally considered a very safe city, but watch out for pickpockets. Bikes are always the best way to get around, but the public transportation system is excellent. Just remember to mind your belongings on the metro or bus. I had my wallet swiped on the metro, and that really put a damper on the trip.
Whether you choose one of my recommendations or go with something on your own, your first trips should be places you feel relatively comfortable exploring. Happy travels!