Everyone travels at a different rate. What we mean by that is that some like to take it easy and calmly experience what they can while others want to see as much as they can in the shortest possible time and still others are after excitement and tons of adrenaline.
You need to be aware of the type of traveler you are and make sure you plan a holiday and choose travel companions who are of the same mind. Go to the wrong place with the wrong people and it will not be what you had hoped it would be. Can you imagine getting caught up in a white water rafting holiday down the Yukon River in mid-winter when all you wanted to do was see local native artifcats and take pictures for the bird-watching club back home?
So if this is your first time traveling then we advise you to take it easy. Select a destination that will help you ease into travel. Take you time in planing a trip that you will enjoy but that will also teach you about travel and what to expect from it.
Be aware that the biggest difference in destinations is not whether they are from East or West but rather if they are rich or poor. If you are not ready to confront abject poverty and the emotional and psychological effects it can have on you then be advised NOT to go somewhere where you may be confronted by real poverty – it can be traumatic! Know yourself and your destination before you go. No amount of money, knowledge, background or forethought can shield you from the effects of real poverty if you are not used to it.
Do some basic research before you leave home. There are a wide array of travel guides available. We do not suggest you go and buy them. What we advise is borrowing them from your local library first. Find the one that suits you best (Fodor, Blue Guides, Lonely Planet, etc.) and the destination you are interested in (if you don’t find the right on in the shelves ask the librarian and they may just get it in for you). Once you know your destination and the guide you like then go and buy it but not before – you will waste a lot of time if you buy before you try.
In the poorer nations you experiences will be more people-centred and in the richer nations more program oriented. For example: a visit to Paris will probably revolve around places (Museums, Palaces and events where there are large groups of non-interacting people) while a trip to India may be more aligned to meeting the people and visiting rural towns, temples, etc. where you will be with large groups of interacting people.
Do not bring your cultural or religious prejudices with you when you travel! You will be going into cultures that have very different ideas on morality, manners, politics and religion. Be aware that their beliefs are as valid as yours; just different. To act otherwise can be considered rude and can even, in the wrong place, be very dangerous. Listen before you speak.
Always check out the Travel Alerts that are available from your governments before selecting a destination.
Find events that might interest you and plan your trip around one or more of them. Check out http://www.festivals.com/search/map.aspx for a list of events from around the world.