It’s Okay to Travel Like a Beginner and Ignore the “Pro Tips”

The travel industry is awash with influencers and bloggers who seem to have cracked the code for the perfect travel experience. They often push products or resources they say will help you “travel like a pro.”​ But the narrative of “pro travel” can be misleading and even discouraging for those who simply want to enjoy their own unique travel experiences without worrying about whether they’re “doing it right.”

Young woman wearing jeans and a short-sleeved T-shirt sits on a wall overlooking a green and scenic landscape below.

The Myth of the “Pro Traveler”

An attitude of exclusivity and superiority often accompanies the concept of traveling like a pro. The so-called professional travelers brag about how many countries they’ve visited and/or mastering the art of scoring free upgrades and elite hotel status.

While these achievements are impressive, they can create an unrealistically high bar for what it means to travel well. Reaching a certain number of countries visited or an elite airline status is not the only way to experience the joy of travel.

To be honest, I used to push the “travel like a pro” narrative too, but I stopped when I realized a couple of things:

  • It can make others feel like “inferior” travelers if they don’t do things just like “the pros.”
  • I don’t want to travel like a pro, so why would I think others want to hear that?

When you constantly see others showcasing their seemingly perfect travel experiences, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself and feeling like an inferior traveler if your adventures don’t measure up.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to travel. You don’t need to have a passport full of stamps or a Tumi bag full of travel hacks to be a “good” traveler. Remember, travel is a deeply personal experience, and there is no universal standard for what makes a trip successful or enjoyable.

Embracing Your Unique Travel Style

The primary purpose of travel should be to bring joy and fulfillment to your life. Whether you’re exploring a new city, relaxing on a beach, or immersing yourself in a different culture, the goal is to create memories and experiences that resonate with you, not others.

It’s perfectly okay if you can only travel once or twice a year. Each trip is an opportunity to learn, grow, and enjoy yourself.

​Here’s the thing: don’t compare yourself with other travelers. You don’t need to travel like a pro. Ignore those who act like they’re superior because they’ve unlocked all the secrets to being a good traveler.

  • Who cares if you haven’t been to 50+ countries?
  • Why would it matter if you’ve never spent 3 months backpacking through Southeast Asia living in hostels for less than $30 a day?
  • You don’t need to couch surf, hitchhike, or do any of the other extreme things people do to save a buck on their travels.
  • You don’t need to have all the insider info on how to score free upgrades to lie-flat business class or have lifetime platinum status with World of Hyatt or Marriott Bonvoy.

None of that matters.

The key is to find what works best for you and what makes you happiest. There is no right or wrong way to travel, as long as you are experiencing the world in a way that brings you joy.

Young woman in straw hat with small backpack in airport terminal, looking at information board

The Value of Being a Beginner

It’s important to remember that it’s okay to be a beginner. Every experienced traveler started somewhere, and making “travel mistakes” is a natural part of the learning process. Each trip offers new lessons and opportunities for growth. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, seek advice, and learn from your experiences.

Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on celebrating your own travel achievements. Whether it’s your first international trip or a weekend getaway to a nearby town, each journey is a milestone worth acknowledging. The memories you create are what truly matter. Celebrate the small victories, like navigating a new city on your own or trying new foods.

If you want to spend your vacation lounging by the pool, that’s your choice. If you prefer a packed itinerary with sightseeing and activities, go for it. The beauty of travel lies in its diversity and the ability to tailor your experiences to your own preferences.

The bottom line

You don’t need to travel like a pro to be a successful and fulfilled traveler. The most important thing is to explore the world in a way that brings joy to you. Embrace your unique travel style, celebrate your achievements, and remember that every travel experience is valuable.

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