Tips For First Time Travelers to Austria

Dear Alice,
Today I would like to talk to you about some useful tips, which I hope will come in handy when you decide to travel to Austria for the first time or to any foreign country in general.

Traveling is a great friend of ours: adventurous, full of surprises and of promises, full of dreams and of opportunities. If you are traveling to Austria as a tourist or just as a new comer who plans to either study here, to work here for some time or to just start a new beginning, it does not matter, here are some pieces of advice concerning your first time travel experience to Austria (and in general to a foreign country) that I learned over the years and that I hope will come in handy. And which I would have preferred to know myself before coming to Austria.

So here is my list, to check for, when you decide to travel to Austria (or to a foreign country) for the first time (I do believe some of these tips only apply to Austria but I am sure that some of them apply for the first time traveling experience to any foreign country in general):

  1. Stay calm and don’t panic whenever difficult situations arise your way: This is the general rule of thumb, which you should always follow. Life is to short for us to pollute it with unnecessary concerns. Just think about your problems as challenges, and try to solve them with a lot of calm and patience.
  2. Save some money before you travel and do not underestimate the costs: Traveling abroad or starting a new beginning abroad will require some expenses that you have to be ready for. So make sure to save some money before planning your trip. And make a list of the future costs you will have, e.g. you can check for the accommodation prices, for the traveling expenses, etc.
  3. Always make sure to have a health insurance policy with you: This one is very important. Even if you are abroad for only one day or for only a couple of hours: always have health insurance with you. Even if it costs a bit more, do not hesitate to make a health insurance and do not think twice about it: insurance is something necessary when traveling to a foreign country or when you want to start a new fresh in another country, and your health is the most important thing you have to look for when abroad. Plus, you never know when a toothache, a back pain or a throat-ache will come your way: usually it is when traveling abroad for the first time.
  4. Pack just the necessary things you will need with you: Packing, packing and more packing: always a big problem. Remember pack only the necessary things you will use. Make a list of the things you need to pack, this way you will not forget anything important. Always bring comfortable shoes. Make sure to pack a good book with you for reading. And remember: when in doubt, don’t pack it.
  5. Do not be scared of locals: You can learn a lot from locals when abroad, and you should not be scared if they have different opinions or suggestions than your own.
  6. Always be polite: Manners are in general very important, and in particular in a new foreign place. Politeness and smile go a long way, do not forget this.
  7. Respect the others’ point of views and the local customs, even if you disagree: Remember that for the time being you are a guest in this country. If other people share different ideas and opinions than your owns, do not see them as bad or wrong, but just consider them interesting and challenging to assimilate.
  8. Do not be afraid or be ashamed to ask for help, whenever in need: Whenever in need, just ask for help. You will be amazed how many people out there are ready to help you and to share their own experiences. Just reach out for help, and admit it that from time to time we all need a little bit of help and support. You do not have to come up with all the solutions by yourself.
  9. Be curious: Always be curious and ready to assimilate new things and experiences around you. This will enlarge your horizon and will bring a lot of useful information to your daily life and routine.
  10. Over time, be ready to join a regular Stammtisch (i.e. in German: regulars table) group meeting in your town: This is just a friendly get together with people who mostly share the same problems, the same needs and the same fears as you. You can learn a lot about the new country you are visiting or you are living in. For me, this was a very good experience: I met some of my best friends in Graz to such a local Stammtisch. I am of course very grateful for this, even if I do not join such get togethers for a long time now. Still, always a good idea.
  11. Over time, be ready and start to learn and to use the official language: Even if in Austria you can use English almost everywhere around: at the doctor, in the office, at school, even in the supermarkets, (it is amazing how everyone here speaks English and they are also switching to English and try to help you as much as they can, when you cannot communicate in German), I still do believe that after some months here you should start learning and then using the official mother language for communication. It is something that I would expect to happen if it would be the other way around. Communicating in one’s official language will also bring you closer to the new mentality and to the new community you are now part of, and slowly this will help you to assimilate it and to adhere to it as your own.

What about you: what tips do you recommend when traveling abroad for the first time?
Sincerely yours,