For most, this is a pipe dream that often floats through the mind on a Monday morning as they sift through hundreds of emails that came through over the weekend. But it simply doesn’t have to be, with the common reasons being used. In fact, after running a survey to 300 people, the most common reasons for not going travelling are highlighted below:
- Wouldn’t know where to start – 47%
- Scared of finding a job when I return – 21%
- Can’t afford it – 12%
- Family commitment – 8%
- Relationship issues/reasons – 7%
- Other – 5%
The stereotype plays that financial reasons are the biggest burden, however this only scored 12%, highlighting that this isn’t the biggest reason people aren’t taking the leap. The biggest factor was simply not knowing where to start and how to take on this daunting mission, which is certainly something I can help with. I’ll try to break it down into different segments so anyone can take something away from this article.
How much you need to save all depends on where you are going and how long you will be staying for. To offer a slight idea, when I travelled for 2.5 months through the USA, I spent about £4,000, while in South America I spent £4,200 over 2 months. I made friends with other travellers who spent £5,000 however that lasted them 9 months.
There are so many factors in play when it comes to your expenditure, but you have to work out what luxuries you can afford and what type of accommodation you would prefer.
I actually loved staying in cheap hostels, which saved me a lot of money, as they forced you into conversation with others around you and helped me to make plenty of new friends every day, something that I couldn’t say about hotels. Having said that, I’ve now reached my 30’s and earn a decent amount, so now I might choose to switch to hotels, just so I can have my private space, but for the majority I do recommend hostels. In fact, in many less developed countries the hostels offer you great value for your money.
When visiting the Grand Canyon, I found an opportunity to get a helicopter ride from Las Vegas over the Canyon to the bottom, where you could do a 3 hour white water rafting session, before being flown back to Las Vegas! It seemed like an amazing, once in a lifetime experience, however I hadn’t budgeted for this and had to leave it. This is one of my only life regrets I have, which is why I budgeted a bit higher in South America and managed to do a helicopter ride over the Iguazzu Falls.
What Do I Pack?
As always, the location you are going to will shape the answer quite significantly, however for the basis of this article, I will offer a general packing list.
Wherever you go in the world, mosquito’s will always be a nuisance, so make sure to pack both a deet heavy mosquito repellent, as well as sting remedy to stop it itching. You don’t need to go crazy in quantity, I have used the same bottle of mosquito repellent for several trips and it still has some left.
You should keep clothes to a minimum, it is the number one thing people tend to regret packing so much of when they are having to lumber around a heavy bag. Many will go missing or will be damaged along the way, so don’t go for overly nice clothes. I normally buy a number of plain cheap t-shirts before I fly out. You will want something in case its cold and something in case its hot, as who knows what you might face as you go on an extended trip. Something waterproof, like a cagoule, should help to protect your clothes when it pours down.
You will want a separate bag for all of your toiletries, which might include deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush (not electric), brush/comb, lip balm with SPF, sun tan lotion, moisturiser, shampoo bar, make-up, perfume, shaving kit, gel, mini mirror feminine hygiene products plus any medication you may require. You should also pack a towel, as most hostels won’t offer this unfortunately.
Oh, but one of the most important items YOU NEED are wet wipes! They are one of the most multi-faceted items ever made!
You need to pack plenty of medicine that might come in use along the way, including diarrhea tablets, rehydration medicine, a first aid kit, after sun, painkillers and motion sickness pills if you suffer from this.
Your Carry-On luggage should keep to things you might want to hand when on a long travelling experience, such as a laptop, chargers for…well, everything, travel pillow, deck of cards, water bottle, snacks, magazine/book/Kindle, ear plugs, small blanket, go-pro or camera equipment, headphones, plus a guide book of the area you are visiting so you can prep on your way.
What Travel Documents Will I Need?
You need to ensure your passport has a significant amount of time before it expires for when you leave. That should be your first step, as it can take notoriously long to come through at times.
You should also research what VISA you may require to enter a country. It would be ridiculous to do all this planning and then find out you don’t have the right documentation or can’t get hold of it in time. Being British, I’m quite lucky in that most countries are very open to tourism and are happy for you to arrive without anything prepared.
If you’re a student, then you should make sure to pack your student ID, as this will work all over the world where they offer discount.
A number of hotels and hostels will require a print of your passport, therefore I like to print some off before I go, so I can just lend them that at the desk and then get the print back when I leave. I have actually visited a number of hotels that demanded the print and wouldn’t let you stay unless you had one, which seems ridiculous, but it taught me a valuable lesson.
Getting Travel Insurance
You should arrange travel insurance before you go, but this is the one most people make a mistake on. Don’t be fooled by cheaper prices, it’s normally cheaper because virtually nothing is covered. Each provider will be able to offer a list of activities that are or are not covered. Take a deep look through, as you will find many of the activities you might try while travelling (e.g. swimming with dolphins, riding a camel, quad biking, zip wire, hiking) are not covered unless you go for the most pricey option. But what is the point of travel insurance if it won’t cover you in an emergency, so spend the extra.
You also need to ensure you print off a couple of copies of your insurance and pack it safely. If you do end up in a hospital, you will have to show evidence you have insurance to cover the costs.
From getting your Malaria tablets to topping up all of your jabs, this is a crucial step that has to be taken in advance. You will want to contact your GP around 8 weeks before travelling, as some of the injections will need to be ordered in, while they should be predominantly covered by NHS. You will then probably get another appointment for 4 weeks beforehand where you will be given the injections. Many people leave it too long and then they have to pay extortionate amounts elsewhere, so make sure to jump on this in advance.
With the Malaria tablets, these actually need to be started before you even head out there, so this needs to be considered when arranging a meeting with the GP.
Picking A Country
There are so many to choose from, it is hard to know where to start. I have therefore listed some positives and negatives for each continent.
- Pro – Extreme blend in culture
- Pro – Deep history to learn about
- Pro – food varies quite drastically
- Negative – Struggle to get ‘off the beaten track’
- Negative – Long queues for top tourist attractions
- Negative – Quite expensive compared to other continents
- Eiffel Tower
- Buckingham Palace
- Acropolis of Athens
- Budapest Thermal Baths
- Big Ben
- Giant’s Causeway
- Amalfi Coast
- Anne Frank House
- Pro – No need to learn a new language (if English speaking)
- Pro – Whether Canada or USA, it’s a very safe area to travel
- Pro – Some of the most friendly people you will ever meet
- Pro – So many tourist attractions to see
- Negative – Poor public transportation (people mainly drive)
- Negative – Unlike Europe, you will have to travel long distances between cities
- Negative – Like Europe, you will struggle to get ‘off the beaten track’
- Statue of Liberty
- Golden Gate Bridge
- Las Vegas Strip
- Rocky Mountains
- French Quarter in New Orleans
- Yellowstone National Park
- Hoover Dam
- Empire State Building
- Hollywood Walk of Fame
- CN Tower
- Banff National Park
- Pro – Safety fears are HEAVILY overrated, it’s completely fine
- Pro – a different experience to others who have travelled
- Pro – incomparable experiences, such as Machu Picchu trek
- Negative – Long bus rides
- Negative – Good coffee surprisingly hard to find
- Negative – Not as cheap as first presumed
- Machu Picchu
- Iguazu Falls
- Salar De Uyuni
- Christ the Redeemer
- Sacred Valley
- Angel Falls
- The Witches Market
- Cerro Torre
- Yungas Road
- La Boca
- Pro – Wildlife is the best you can find
- Pro – Beautiful landscape
- Pro – Cuisine will be very different to home country
- Negative – safety concerns in a number of areas
- Negative – Extreme heat
- Negative – a number of diseases that you should be aware of
- Kruger National Park
- Table Mountain
- Boulders Beach
- Victoria Falls
- Banana Islands
- Cape of Good Hope
- Cueva De Los Verdes
- Giraffe Centre
- Giza Pyramid Complex
- Hell’s Gate National Park
- Lake Malawi
South East Asia
- Pro – Cheap as chips (albeit it is getting more expensive with time)
- Pro – Stunning beaches
- Pro – Amazing nightlife and cheap beer
- Negative – Overcrowded nowadays and very touristy
- Negative – Can be very hot and humid
- Negative – Seriously, I have to say the tourist thing again!
- Angkor Wat
- Ha Long Bay
- Phi Phi Islands
- Coron Island
- Siem Reap
- Chiang Mai
- Kota Kinabalu
- Gili Islands
Of course, there are more areas than what I have highlighted, but I wanted to lay down some thoughts and help you to find the place that might be right for you.
You should try to book your flights around 6-8 months in advance, in order to get the best price possible. It’s also worth mentioning you should get your travel insurance at the same time, so it 100% covers your flights.
An extra recommendation is to purchase the tickets with a credit card, so if something goes wrong, you have extra financial protection.
When choosing which flights to book, make sure the brand you are buying from is ATOL protected (if you’re from the UK) or whichever is the equivalent for your country. This will ensure you don’t lose money if the cease trading. When LowCostHolidays went under, people were shocked to find out they hadn’t been ATOL protected for over a year, but it was all public knowledge and people could have found out straight away, so it meant £50 million pounds of spend was potentially not going to be returned. What is quite remarkable is that they continued to sell flights even up to the day they announced they were going under, completely aware of their scenario.
Sort Out Your House
If you are timing it so you will be moving out then you could place all of your items in storage and that should save a fair amount of money compared to paying rent when you’re not there.
You should alert the post office that you will be travelling and you can get them to hold your mail, I can’t remember the cost but it is most likely worth it.
You should also stop any regular deliveries you have, whether it be a subscription service like Degustabox, or your regular magazine delivery.
You need to alert your bank and anyone else, so they don’t send letters to the old address. In fact, you should alert the bank anyway, to let them know what dates you will be leaving, so your bank card isn’t cancelled the moment you get out there (this has happened to me).
Try to pay up some of your bills in advance, so there are no issues if you struggle to while abroad.
Make sure your fridge is emptied of all food, as well as the cupboards being emptied of anything that could go off.
You should setup an out-of-office if going on a sabbatical, while you might even want to do the same on your personal email account.
If you have the heating on, make sure to turn it off, in order to save you some money. Unplug any appliances that might be on. If you’re worried about a burglary, you could setup timed lighting to come on (because we all know burglars are scared of lights).