Planning a trip can seem like a mine field of tasks to begin with. Having planned multiple round the world trips, here are my tips for a stress free departure.
Where to go?
How to choose where to travel to is obviously largely personal preference. However, having now visited most of Europe, Scandinavia, Asia, Australasia & South America I have certain preferences as to which I would choose as a first time travel / gap year vs travelling in your mid – late 20’s.
- South East Asia & Australia have a big backpacking culture. You will constantly run in to people who are about to go to uni or have just finished uni and are partying their way around the countries. There are of course hundreds of activities to do. Travelling Australia in our late 20’s we found that we had the money to do activities some of the younger travellers didn’t but there are only so many times you can watch 18 year old mess up cooking their ready made pancakes for breakfast before it starts to get a little annoying!
- Europe when you are not travelling with Contiki or another tour provider allows you to meet a mix of ages. Accommodation is usually of a decent level and it is easy to move between countries relatively quickly.
- Scandinavia I personally travelled as a road trip from the UK in my own car which allowed for easy transport. Food and accommodation are some of the most expensive I have come across around the world but are always great quality.
- South America is the most breath taking continent I have travelled to date for many reasons. The scenery and culture are out of this world and every time you cross a border you are immersed in a totally different experience. Personally I am glad I didn’t travel it as a solo female traveller. Some of the safety issues are blown out of proportion, it is generally absolutely fine but on the occasions where we did hear gun fire from our room and walking the streets I was glad I wasn’t alone. I also feel that as a more mature traveller I got considerably more out of the historical and cultural nature of the sites than I would have done as a teenager. For this reason I would always choose to travel South America as an older traveller.
For more inspiration on where to go and what to see check out my travel blog.
In my view budgeting can make or break a trip. There is nothing worse than getting to an incredible location with no money to be able to participate in any of the activities on offer; or see the sights you have travelled all the way there to see.
Things to consider:
- Do you want to work during your trip or will you save for it before you leave home?
- What sort of accommodation are you aiming to stay in & how much does that cost?
- Is there cheap food readily available at your destination or will you be required to eat in restaurants and cafes? (e.g. Cuba)
- Is public transport on offer or are you in a very remote location and needing special arrangements?
- Do you have a back-up fund in case of emergency?
For my last trip I made a calendar spread sheet of how many days I thought we would be in each country and how much we may need to budget for each of the above items. It was only a guide and we didn’t always stick to it but it helped us not to have any nasty surprises.
Budgeting On The Move
Budgeting whilst on the move can be a lot harder than you first imagine. You can take your budget figure and minus accommodation to work out the remainder left for food & activities but you need to remember to count all the small things you buy during the day. Bottles of water here and there or a quick snack even less than £1 can soon add up. If you want to keep track of exactly what you spend, try Trail Wallet app.
The kind of accommodation you stay in whilst travelling is a very personal choice. Are you someone who needs certain things to be comfortable? Do you want to be in party central? If you are a couple do you mind sleeping in a room at night with lots of other people?
Personally, I don’t mind how simple my accommodation is providing it is clean. Hostelworld has ratings for things such as security, location and cleanliness which can be extremely helpful when choosing accommodation. But beware! Things like location can put the price up a lot in bigger cities. You need to weigh up room price vs costs to travel in to the city centre.
The bottom line is you need accommodation every night, so work out a budget and standard you are happy with and can afford and stick to it.
Flights are usually the largest cost of any trip. Often it is much cheaper to travel between cities by bus, but you may not have the time to spend multiple days just arriving at your next location.
When planning my routes – particularly for South America, first I used Skyscanner extensively to research which countries & cities it is actually possible to fly between. This also gives you a guide cost to put in your budget but you should definitely shop around!
My last 6 month trip STA Travel saved me a huge £1000 off my flights – the exact same ones I would have booked through Skyscanner. Be aware that sometimes these cheaper flights are less flexible even than the standard flights bookable online. However, STA travel also offer packages for extra flexibility if desired.
Top tip for transport:
Rome to Rio website combines info on flights, buses, boats and trains all over the world. Type in your location and destination to find out the best way of getting from a to b. Often the site also links you to timetables and costs to go with it – genius!