I just started a month or so ago with my T3i and I love it, been using the typical 18-55mm kit lens and got myself a 55-250mm lens also_ I combine the two together on my trip to China and I love it. Although my photos are not near professional, they look damn good compare to a point and shoot. I've learn so much and learning more as I go. Starting to learn how to use the Manual mode and adjust a few settings here and there, but you got to start somewhere. Reading and Youtube videos really help with the learning process too.
I say, start out with a basic starter setup, a good starter Camera with good starter set of lens, get yourself a comfortable camera Bag ( I learn this quickly because carrying around everything can be a pain after a while ) Extra batteries ( I bought 2 extra cheap batteries off eBay, really good quality for the money ) Get a 16gb high quality Memory card(You'll need it, I filled mine up within 2 weeks of vacationing. Just shoot anything and everything that peaks your interest, you'll learn which settings you like best and which settings fit which ever picture your taking, its a fun learning process
A nice travel tripod will be good to carry around, I got tired of asking people to take photos for me and my wife and majority of people don't know how to properly aim and shoot a DSLR camera so our photos together didn't look very good ( most of them were tilted or too tilted
Everything cost me about 1200 dollars to startup =] and I never regretted it. Perhaps when my skills set gets better I'll be aiming to get me my first L-series lens