I've been alive for 20 years, but until a week ago, I've never been to any place beyond Luzon. I don't even have a vivid memory of going to a beach. There's no sad backstory to this though, my family and I just aren't fans of traveling, save for my dad who used to travel the country for work. So when my boss told me that I'll have to fly to Singapore for a press trip and go on a cruise, which I also have zero experience of, I was terrified. Terrified of what, I wasn't really sure, but I did feel a serious pang of anxiety. By the grace of whatever though, I did manage to make it out alive and have lots of fun, flying jitters and a couple of blunders aside. And here's how I did it:
1. I asked a lot questions and researched beforehand.
Before my trip, I basically interrogated my friends about everything they knew about traveling. The limits for liquids, how to pack, where Terminal 2 in NAIA is, etc. I admit it can be quite embarrassing when you drop the bombshell that you've never flown before, but what do you have to lose, right? Smart people ask questions. For my online researching, I looked up first-time traveler guides online and virtually stalked my cruise roommate on Instagram just to be safe. (Hi, Alex!)
2. I watched and learned.
When I got to the airport, I met up with our contact for the trip first and watched my co-travelers check their luggage in and fill up immigration forms before doing it myself. I didn't care if I was tailing people creepily and watching them because I knew that if I watched, I'd learn. The result? No lost luggage and hold-ups at the immigration counter.
3. I rarely deviated from the group.
I never once thought of going my own way and touring the place I was traveling to alone. If the tour group had rules, I'd follow them. If they had a schedule, I won't be too late. Thing is, if you have no idea what you're doing and you're far away from home for the first time, it's always better to trust your brain over your wanderlust gut. You can roam free on your travels when you have a lower chance of messing up, like on your third flight, maybe.
4. I readily told people it was my first time traveling overseas.
At first I was hesitant, scared of getting the "Oh really? Why? That's so weird!" response. But turns out, people don't really care, and telling them works more in your favor than anything. The people you're with will be less likely to leave you alone if they know you're a travel novice, and in my case, I was with a lot of travel bloggers who were experienced and didn't hesitate to answer my questions. However, if you're literally traveling alone, it'll probably be safer to only reveal this information to hotel concierges, flight attendants, and other trustworthy personalities who won't take advantage of your innocence.
5. Despite everything, I still tried my best to be independent.
I may be a travel noob, but I'm an adult. Make your own decisions when you travel and trust yourself when you feel certain about something.
So if you have a travel plan coming up and you're nervous, do relax! Take this from someone who was terrified of even entering a plane: it's not so bad. Just stay hydrated and moisturized and make sure your carry-on doesn't have any liquids over 100ml. Other than that, you can go have fun and finally experience the joys of travel.