Top tips for travelling the world
If you’ve been considering biting the bullet and finally going on the trip of a lifetime, there’s no time like the present. While the future of the country is in turmoil, it’s the perfect moment to escape and make the most of your freedom of movement – while you still have it. For anyone who is ready to satisfy their wanderlust, here are our top tips.
Of course, the most important thing to establish is where you are going. Some of the most popular backpacking destinations for young travellers include South East Asia, Australasia and North and South America, all of which are easy to get around both for groups and solo parties. The season is extremely important: do you want to catch a tan in the heat of the summer, brave the biting winter for a glimpse of the Northern Lights, or find a more temperate time of year? Remember that Asia is effected by the Monsoons and Canada is under snow for half the year, so you have to plan your dates wisely if you want to avoid extreme conditions. The crucial thing is to do your research: look up the best travel sites to help you choose an ideal location based on when and how you want to travel, and with whom.
To determine how and where you are travelling, it’s also extremely important to work out how much you have saved up in the bank. Some of the more affordable options are South East Asia, South America and Eastern Europe, where food and accommodation are cheap enough to afford you a longer stay once you’ve covered the initial flight expenses. New Zealand and the USA are far more pricey, not to mention Scandinavia, where a cup of coffee and a Danish pastry could set you back considerably. Draw up a spreadsheet of all your costs, including rough estimates for meals and activities. Remember, you need to have emergency reserves just in case something goes awry, so don’t plan any trips that will suck up your safety allowance.
While you are drawing up a budget, it should become clear how long your visit is likely to be. If you travel cheaply with a tighter fist, you could make your money stretch months, or for those who want to soak up every experience, you may find your trip is cut a little shorter, with a stricter itinerary. In the end, it depends on how you like to travel. If time is an issue but money is not, you might consider a whistle-stop tour. If money is an issue but you’ve got all the time in the world, consider a Working Holiday Visa, which would allow you to either settle and pick up a job whilst travelling over weekends, or to pick up seasonal jobs as you go along (New Zealand, for example, offers a lot of farm work picking fruit and vegetables).
If you’re opting for a shorter stay, there are many global tour companies such who will sort out shuttles for the entire trip for a more time-efficient holiday. While some companies are rather costly, STA offer tours on a budget which can be tailored according to the area and time frame. You can even join many small tours together for tailor-made adventure. If travelling with strangers isn’t your thing, they also offer a hop-on, hop-off option so that you can book your transport in advance and then use it whenever you want, with a live travel app for bus and boat schedules. Alternatively, for the ultimate freedom, you might want to consider car rental. In New Zealand, it’s common to see bright green Juicy camper vans, which come in various sizes and are available to pick up across the islands.
Where you stay is another personal preference. It’s pretty easy to hop from hostel to hostel if you want cheap accommodation, or alternatively, you could look into slightly more costly hotels. Airbnb have properties across the world if you prefer to live like a local and have a bit more personal space. If you are very short on money or love the great outdoors, camping could be a perfect option providing you have a decent tent, and in many countries, huts are available to rent out for a slightly upgraded experience.
Whether you are camping or living in luxury, packing the right gear is essential. If you need a sleeping bag, consider if it’s suitable for the season, and make sure you have the means to inflate an airbed if that’s your preferred mattress. Packing lightly is key, so only take the essentials if you are carrying a large backpack. You can always wash clothes, so prioritise anything fundamental like a lightweight microfibre towel, waterproofs and comfortable shoes for walking. The bag itself is also key: make sure it’s something you can carry for a long period, and that you have something smaller to carry around on a regular basis. It’s possible to buy backpacks with unzippable day packs at Mountain Warehouse, among others.
The most important thing to look after is yourself. If you end up having an accident somewhere in the middle of nowhere, you want to make sure you are insured for any medical cover you might need. While Europe is currently covered by the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card), if you are travelling further afield you will need additional cover. It’s also crucial that in this situation you can give as many details as possible, so make sure you are aware of the language of the region, and perhaps verse yourself in a few important emergency terms with an app like Duolingo. If you are travelling to disease-prone areas, keep yourself safe before departure by booking an appointment with a practice nurse and getting any necessary vaccinations beforehand. Simply tell them where you are going and they will provide you with all the right jabs, but make sure you go a few months in advance as you may need multiple visits.
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