Throughly Research Your Trip – The first thing I do before any trip is go to a bookstore and log onto the web and read up about the place I’m traveling to. Usually I go right to the safety/danger sections and get a feel for what I’m in for. Then I read about each place I plan to visit so I have a good understanding of what to expect. And more often than not, the place isn’t nearly as chaotic as I thought when I arrive. Also, it helps to have a specific itinerary so you know where you’re headed as well as a hotel for your first night so you can get from the airport to your hotel and then get acclimated to your new environment.
Travel with a Non-Nervous Traveler – A group of all NervousTravelers will ultimately lead to a very un-enjoyable trip. Choose a more relaxed travel partner but also one who understands your nervousness and is willing to accommodate your requests. You want someone who will push you a bit in order to really get the most out of your experience but at the same time, you don’t want to be pushed too hard that you’ll panic.
Pack Accordingly but Light – The less stuff you have with you, the less you have to worry about. But I do recommend some simple things like wearing a money belt, as it will make you feel better. And for some of the more exotic places, take the 80-100% deet and mosquito netting or whatever is recommended. And pack luggage locks. But try to reduce the amount of clothes and other personal items. It will reduce your stress and be more comfortable.
Try to Blend In – The best way to experience a new place/culture is to do your best to be a part of it. Make an effort to dress and act like the locals. And try to use the local language. It’s not only a sign of respect which the locals will appreciate, it will allow you to truly experience a new culture while at the same time reducing the somewhat obvious fact that you’re a traveler.
Have Fun – I know it’s easy to say and sounds simple but sometimes you get so caught up in worrying about your trip, you forget why you’re there in the first place. There are some many amazing sights, unique cultures and incredible people to experience, so do your homework above and relax and enjoy.