Caught the travel bug? Not too sure how to cure it? Well, from personal experience I would say, SEIZE IT AND MAKE THE MOST OF IT! Now, obviously it is easier said than done. But, if you want it, I can personally say it is possible to make it happen!
By no means am I a professional â€˜backpackerâ€™ or â€˜travel expertâ€™ but let me put it this way. I wanted the adventure, I saved the money, I found the group, I found the locations and I made it happen…
Disclaimer: I caution you that if you intend to travel on a budget versus a fancy luxurious style, then you have come to the right place. But the stories and the experiences include minimal opportunities for bathing, urinating in proper toilet facilities, and maximum opportunities for creating life long memories, and enduring life altering experiences and adventures.
Well, first and foremost ASSESS the situation! Think it through as much as you can before you go any further. I know most people will say, â€˜donâ€™t think, just doâ€™ when it comes to adventures and backpacking. You can definitely approach it this way, OR you can think things through so you donâ€™t run out of money Â¼ of the way through your journey and have to beg mommy and daddy to fly you home or wire you some money. I donâ€™t mean plan out every second of the trip, because what fun is that? But, if youâ€™re going to go on this journey, you may as well put the thought into it before going any further. Perhaps youâ€™re in your last year of university, or your brother is getting married next month…think about all the surrounding situations before you jump right into it!
For example: My buddy took me out for dinner, told me about her backpacking adventure coming up to India and Thailand after our graduation and and then invited me! I didnâ€™t think TOO hard about it, but I thought to myself, â€œHey, Iâ€™m graduating, Iâ€™ve saved the money, I have the time, I want a cultural experience and nothing crucial is happening in life, so GO FOR IT!â€ I didnâ€™t sit for a month and think about it, or it never would have happened, but I did give it the well deserved once over!
A. Is it an ideal time in your life?
B. Do you have the money, because let me warn you it will cost an arm and a leg (depending on the number of locations, the parts of the world and the classiness of your journey…but that is a whole different ball game that we will walk into later)
C. Â Are you prepared to be in your OWN company for an extended period of time or is there a group you can see yourself travelling with?
After youâ€™ve spent your three minutes thinking about the above, and hypothetically have chosen to PURSUE your dream, then go on to the next step. There arenâ€™t many steps but following through with them is crucial in the way that I see it if you want to maximize your opportunity and experiences!
There is a lot to do to make the adventure happen. But, by no means is it boring! Rather, it is the lead up to an extremely memorable experience. A third of the fun is the before, the other 1/3 is the during and the last 1/3 is of course the after when you are reminiscing, browsing through photos, and laughing while running through your experiences again on your own and with family and friends!
A. Are you going alone or with friends?
If you are choosing to travel alone, great! That means you already love yourself enough that you can be in your own company for extended periods of time and love it! That is truly commendable! It also means you a) prefer travelling on your own or b) are a social butterfly and prefer potentially finding some travel buddies along the way.Â If you choose to travel with another person or group, think really hard…how flexible are these people? Is it a bestfriend(s)? Do you clash a lot, or can you handle travelling together? This is probably the most important part of your trip! Who you are with, how you feel and your mood can really make or break your trip! I would not have survived my nights in the campervan with rain pouring down, nothing to eat but a cold can of beans and a bottle of flat coke, unless I had good company, which I sure did!
B. Communication is key
If travelling in a group, do you have the same goals in mind? Talk it through! You donâ€™t need to write down every single place you want to go and what you want to do, but if you have certain goals, make them known!
For example: A friend I travelled with thought we were going to stay in luxury hotels every once in awhile, in between hostelling and grunging it up, I had no idea! I had intended to grunge it the whole time…so TALK IT THROUGH or you could hit some major road blocks when you are far away from the comfort of your own home, your own language and somewhere ideal to settle an issue.
Think about the place that you are going and the cost of everything!
When I went to New Zealand, I knew I would be spending a lot more than I would have been in India. Donâ€™t go travelling blindly…make sure you are aware of the basic costs of living, eating, and luxury wherever you intend to go. For example, I could easily survive on $15 CAD a day in India, but oh dear, that was not enough to even have a roof over my head per day in New Zealand! Be practical…or youâ€™ll pay the price during your trip…
Example: My friend ran out of money (luckily towards the end of the trip), so he ended up rationing out how much of a piece of bread and how much of a banana he could each everyday…trust me you DO NOT want to get to this point…itâ€™s slightly sad.
Look for deals on your tickets. I found GOOGLEÂ to be my best friend, I just continuously searched for cheap flights until I found the right one. Now, in Thailand we knew some of the dates that we wanted to get to certain parts that required flights, so we found local thai airlines and looked for deals on those flights. Booking ahead of time is key to a cheaper flight.
Think about the places you are travelling to and what form of transportation you will require. In New Zealand for example, we rented and drove a camper van that we lived in for a month. However, in Thailand and India we used local buses, local airlines, and local boats. Shop around for prices, donâ€™t just settle for what you find right there and then!
When I say this, I donâ€™t necessarily mean you have to know every city, village, town and attraction you will be going to ahead of time. But, for example, if you are travelling to India, have a map, know the key places and how much time you will need in them. Leave time to explore too though! BUT, what I really mean when I say â€œknow where you are goingâ€ is, know the way of the land. For example, bearing in mind India is a more conservative like and â€˜old-school mentalityâ€™ location, you probably wouldnâ€™t â€˜blend inâ€™ if you walked around in booty shorts and strappy tops right? Also keep in mind that most people in India, or Portugal, or anywhere that doesnâ€™t have English as their first language may or may not speak and understand English so have a phrase book or learn the basic key words that will get you through. Itâ€™s a sticky situation, when you arenâ€™t even able to order a bottle of water let me tell you!
Also, knowing where you are going means being aware of and abiding by the laws and customs of the region you are entering. Singapore for example has a million and one common sense laws that maybe your common sense hasnâ€™t abided by back home, so look into it. The last thing you want is a fine or being arrested in a foreign region, or at all for that matter!
There is so much to know about back packing and travelling through a world youâ€™ve never encountered, but you wonâ€™t know it until you try it. The first time I went, I had no idea what I was doing, the second time I went, I knew a little more, but it was a new location, new scene, new everything, so I just winged it all over again! Thatâ€™s the fun of it though isnâ€™t it? Regardless though, please donâ€™t be ignorant, make sure you have a grasp of the basics described above, along with anything else you or someone you trust can think of!
This is just the prep guide, so up next…the specifics of backpacking/campervanning through New Zealand and Australia, followed by a third world adventure through the local buses and boats in India and Thailand! Two entirely different adventures, but two wicked and memorable ones nonetheless!