As much as I love reading travel blogs, it can sometimes feel like an insider’s club that I’ll never be a part of. Trekking through the heart of a jungle or spending a month in a Nepalese village sounds fantastic, and it’s really interesting to read about. But it’s not exactly relatable for the majority of travellers. And if you’ve never been travelling before, it can seem pretty intimidating. But travelling doesn’t have to mean going to the most distant and least touristy countries. If you love the idea of backpacking but you’re also feeling a little trepidatious, these 5 countries are the perfect places for you to start your travel love-affair.
There’s a reason why Vietnamese tourism increases year on year — the country has everything you could possibly ask for. Whether you want to explore vibrant cities, chill out at the beach or discover the amazing wildlife, Vietnam is the place for you. And if you’re a history buff, you won’t be short of things to do here. As well as the many museums and landmarks dedicated to the American War, you’ll also find a number of museums that detail the country’s colonial past. And of course, I can’t discuss Vietnam without mentioning the emerald paradise. Halong Bay was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, and the natural beauty has been captivating tourists ever since.
Vietnam was the first country I ever travelled through, and I’m so glad for that. Not only did the wide variety of activities and sites give me a perfect introduction to travelling, but I got plenty for my money too. It’s generally agreed that Vietnam is one of the cheapest countries in the world to travel, and it’s far better value than its more popular neighbour, Thailand. And if safety is one of your main concerns, you can relax as Vietnam is one of the safest countries for backpackers too. Aside from the inevitable scams and petty thefts in big cities, the country’s crime levels are extremely low. Maybe I’m biased, but I truly couldn’t think of a better country for travel newbies to explore.
Everyone has that one country that they’ve wanted to visit for as long as they could remember. For me, Italy was that country. And when I finally went in the summer of 2016, it didn’t disappoint. Like Vietnam, Italy has something for everyone. The main attraction for most visitors is the country’s rich culture and fascinating history — world renowned landmarks such as the Colosseum and Pompeii are evidence of this. But there’s far more to Italy than just the city life. From the breath-taking Lake Como to the mesmerizing crystal clear waters of Lake Braies, the country is brimming with natural beauty. And it goes without saying that the food is absolutely out of this world. Italian pizza will definitely spoil pizza for you from literally anywhere else, but it’s definitely worth it.
What makes Italy so friendly for new travellers is how easy it is to get from A to B. The country is set up for tourism, so you shouldn’t find it difficult to figure out short or long-haul travel. And like most of Europe, Flixbus operates throughout Italy, so affordable transport will always be an option. Speaking of affordability, it’s safe to say that Italy is not a budget destination. But compared to other central European countries, it’s definitely on the cheaper side. Budget hotels and hostels are relatively easy to find and seeing the major landmarks shouldn’t set you back by too much either. Even the mouth-watering cuisine is great value — so make sure to eat up!
- Costa Rica
There’s no better way to describe life in Costa Rica than by using the country’s proverb: ‘pura vida’. Literally translating to ‘pure life’, the true meaning of the saying is to appreciate life, no matter the circumstances you find yourself in. The laid-back atmosphere and easy-going nature of Costa Ricans is in part what makes the country so amazing. Life moves at a different pace here, making it the perfect place to sit back and relax. But if you’re an adventure seeker, don’t worry because you won’t get bored. There are plenty of activities on offer throughout the country, including ziplining, scuba-diving, hiking, canyoning and so much more. But for me, the best experience by far was going on a tree top walk. You really feel like you’re on top of the world, and the views were simply unbeatable. If you’re scared of heights, just make sure not to look down.
You’d be hard pressed to find a country as effectively set up for tourism as Costa Rica. The bus system in the country is superior to its Central American neighbours, and information about public transport is relatively easy to find. It’s easy to find information about the various activities on offer too. All the tourist destinations have at least a handful of tour operators operating – if you’re stuck for choice, make sure to ask the reception at your hostel or hotel for some advice. Although the country comes with a bigger price tag than any other Central or South American country, it’s definitely worth the extra cost if you’re a first time traveller.
There’s so much to see and do in Spain, it’s impossible to fit it all into this article. Whether you’re after a beach getaway or a city break, this country is perfect for you. One of the highlights of Spain is its most popular tourist city, and one of my favourite cities of all time — Barcelona. The city is full of awe-inspiring architecture, designed by the cities’ most famous former resident, Antonio Gaudi. Despite dying almost 100 years ago, his most well-known piece of work is not yet complete. The Sagrada Familia isn’t expected to be complete until 2026, so be sure to get there soon to take a snap for a before and after picture! If adventure is more your thing, you’ll find plenty of activities to keep you entertained, from kayaking to mountain climbing.
Much like Italy, travelling through the country is made easy and affordable thanks to Flixbus. If your Spanish isn’t perfect, don’t fret as a lot of the transport ticket booking machines can be operated in a range of languages. Additionally, many Spanish citizens have a great grasp of the English language, but don’t rely solely on their knowledge. It’s important to make an effort to speak the language of your host country – and they’ll definitely be thankful for it too.
- Your Home Country
Last, but certainly not least, there’s no better way to ease yourself into travelling than by making the most of what your home country has to offer. When we think about travel, most of us tend to think about exploring an exotic international destination. But this isn’t the only way to travel. In fact, travelling your home country is a really important thing to do. Because it doesn’t matter how many countries you visit or how long you spend backpacking — if you can’t learn to appreciate your own home, then you won’t be happy in the long-term. It’s easy to claim that your home country isn’t interesting or exciting enough to spend a month travelling through it. But once you start to explore, you’ll discover the diversity and beauty that attracts other tourists to your neck of the woods.
Not only is exploring your home country far more exciting than you may think, but it’s so easy too. Firstly, you already know about the culture, customs, and how to communicate. This sense of familiarity is something that you can’t get in other countries, which makes your homeland the perfect place for your first travel experience. Secondly, there’s a lot less planning that needs to be done in comparison to international trips. When travelling to a foreign country there are so many things to consider, including dealing with a different currency, visas, vaccinations and so much more. Whereas when you’re travelling at home you just need to account for the basics: accommodation, transport and budget. This allows you to get experience of travelling whilst not having to deal with all the admin hassle.
Finally, and most importantly, travelling in your own country is great for the local economy — and after this awful year, supporting local business is more important than ever. So many industries have taken a hit this year, but none have been dealt as bad a hand as the travel industry. With international travel becoming almost impossible, tourist businesses are heavily relying on domestic travel just so they can keep themselves afloat. So, take some time to explore your homeland, and help out local businesses as much as you can.
Where are you going first?
Are you going to be visiting one of these countries for your first travel adventure? Or are you going somewhere completely different? Let me know in the comments below!