Since announcing my travel plans for next year, I have been talking to countless friends and family who have all either just finished their gap year or are about to embark upon it – some were even messaging me excitedly from the side of the world to share their tips and recommendations. I’m so pleased I know so many people who have been travelling and in the same areas I plan on visiting because that means that outside of the guidebooks, there is a wealth of information for me to pick through from real-live experiences had by people who know and understand my tastes. I can judge the recommendations based on the tastes and preferences of my friends and family which helps me understand better which parts I’d be happy to skip and which places I simply must visit.
Throughout all this talk, I keep getting given tips on things to look out for and ways to approach travelling, all of which are very welcome and are a big help as I plan my route around South-East Asia, Australia and New Zealand. I found some of these tips so helpful that I wanted to share them with my readers, some of whom I know are also planning their travels and others who are just in the daydream stages. I feel that these tips, from experienced travellers who have learnt first-hand, are valuable to anyone planning a trip – whether a weekend break to Paris, a two-week holiday in Greece or backpacking around America.
Here’s the top tips I have been given by fellow travellers:
- Throw yourself into absolutely every experience. Never say no, unless you don’t want to, get out of your comfort zone and push your boundaries by doing things that you wouldn’t normally do at home.
- Don’t obsess over money – yes you need to budget and make sure you spend wisely, but don’t let that prevent you from doing the above and enjoying yourself. Spend wisely the rest of the time so you can splash out on an elephant trek or white-water rafting experience.
- Don’t let your travel buddy dictate your experience. If you’re with a friend or in a couple, don’t be afraid to say no to some activities and go off and do your own thing, don’t be afraid to explore opposite sides of the country and meet up later. Likewise, don’t limit your experience by spending all your time with one person, get out and meet people at every opportunity.
- Don’t be afraid of being lonely or not meeting anyone. Everywhere you go you will meet like-minded individuals and make friends, many of them also travelling alone.
- Use your time the way YOU want to. You cannot be on the go 24-7 for months on end, you need some downtime to really appreciate and enjoy the country you are in. But just like staff in overworked offices at home, you can get burned out on the road too and it is important to have days of lazing by the pool as well.
- Try everything – similar to number one – but in terms of food. Don’t shy away from local cuisine, it is a huge part of the experience and a little spice never killed anyone.
- When preparing for your trip, don’t plan every detail, give yourself a guide of where you would like to go and what you would like to do, with an estimate of how long you will spend in each area – but be prepared to drop it all if an opportunity arises – don’t be afraid to go off the map.
- Shop around for flights, accommodation and activities – there is always somewhere cheaper and be prepared to barter to get the price you think is right.
- Capture every moment with photo, video, blogging, any form you want – even just in your mind’s eye. Just make sure you remember everything and everyone.
- When packing, get all your clothes and money together. Then half the clothes and double the money to keep going as long as possible.
Have you got any more top tips you would like to share with me or other travellers? Share them below in a comment.