1. Create a plan
We don’t mean create a minute by minute play of how you want your trip to go down, that will never work, there’ll be missed flights and underestimated time on excursions and trips, and you’ll just end up being disappointed with how wrong your plan ended up being.
What you need to do is sit down and think about where it is you want to go and key activities you want to do, you need to leave time for spontaneity (we’ll talk about this later). But the important things to plan are where you are staying, flight times and transfers, when/if you’re going to work and how you are going to find the job (either before you go or while you are there).
There’s a benefit to ‘winging it’, and we’re all for throwing caution to the wind and exploring in the spur of the moment, but there needs to be a skeleton plan in place so you know the basics of what you are doing.
2. Save, save, save
We saved for a year to fund the first part of our adventure, even with a plan to work while we’re away, having savings to fall back on in case of emergency, or to compensate when you inevitably go over budget is essential. A healthy initial travel fund can help you to pre-book all your flights in advance, which often gives you the best deals.
3. Get vaccinations
There is nothing worse than being struck down with an easily preventable illness, trust us. After being hospitalised with typhoid, we are big believers in getting any and all vaccinations possible, we must be the most vaccinated people in the world by now after having nearly every jab possible. Some countries won’t allow you to enter without a yellow fever vaccination certificate, so make sure you check before you travel, and don’t leave it too close to your departure date.
Malaria tablets are a must and it is so important to not just go for the cheapest option, we were religious in taking our discounted antimalarials and Krissy still ended up contracting the disease while in Ghana. Speak to your doctor about any vaccinations and antimalarials.
4. Find a partner in crime
There’s definitely a benefit to travelling alone, not having to compromise on where to go or what to do, having the time to really find yourself and not be hindered by a person from your life back home. But travelling with someone by your side is an experience like no other, there will be fights, there will be tears, but more than that there’ll be laughter and love. In our case, we set off on our journey with a friend and gained a sister along the way.
5. Keep in touch
You will meet so many new people on your adventure, speaking to locals and other travellers will expand your circle a million per cent but these relationships are fleeting and chances are you’ll never see these people once you hop on your next plane, bus or boat. Keep in touch with people back home and make sure those relationships remain solid, if you ever end your adventure and head back home, it provides a strong foundation for transitioning back into normal life.
It’s also super important to let your family, or anyone back home, know where you are and where your next destination is. While we don’t believe in being scared of the big wide world, it’s a sad fact that travellers often find themselves victims of horrendous crimes, which isn’t noticed because it was ‘normal’ to go weeks without hearing from them. Check in regularly on Facebook or send an email if you don’t have an international phone.
6. Travel light
We started our journey two years ago in Asia with a 70-litre rucksack, a small suitcase and small backpack each, for a six-week trip, we thought this was travelling light!
As time went on we threw out more and more unnecessary items, our bags got lighter and lighter and journeys became so much easier. When you’re packing your bag, think about every single thing you are taking and ask yourself ‘do I really need this?’, if you even have to think about the answer, then chances are you don’t and it does not need to be packed.
Most amenities will be available to buy at your destination, but toiletries in small bottles when you arrive and throw them away, or leave them at your hostel for others to use when you leave.
7. Immerse yourself
Most people take to travelling to learn about the world around them and experience a life that is different from their own. Immersing yourself fully in the culture is the best way to do this, so try the local food, speak to the locals, respect their customs. Being open minded with a willingness to participate will give you a much better experience than if you were to stick to your hotel, eat at English themed restaurants and not speak to anyone (come on, how boring does that sound).
8. Speak the language
We’re not suggesting you learn 70 languages and be able to speak them fluently before jetting off around the world. If you can, great, but more likely than not that would be impossible.
Get a phrasebook and learn the most important phrases, or have a quick search of the internet for translations.
We’ve found these to be the most useful phrases:
- Please/Thank you
- How much
- Where is…
- Do you speak English
- I would like…. (water/bread/rice/beer/coffee/any other foodstuffs you’ll be eating a lot)
9. Always have a backup
Can you imagine losing all of your cherished photos in a freak iPhone water related incident (RIP Krissy’s iPhone 6), or having your laptop stolen at the hostel? It’s absolutely heartbreaking to lose months, weeks or even days worth of memories so make sure all your phone photos are being immediately stored in a cloud and keep an extra copy of laptop photos on an external hard drive. You never imagine the worst could happen, but it can and it will.
This also applies to keeping copies of all your important documents. Keep a digital and physical copy of your passport, insurance papers, health insurance card, and any other documents that are essential to your travels.
10. Be patient
Things are going to go wrong. You have to expect this. There will be missed buses, plans that fall through, towns that suck. Trust us when we say it is all part of the experience, it may be frustrating at times, and it may cause tears at others, but it’s all part of the journey to make these mistakes and learn from them.
Don’t take it too seriously if something does go wrong, laugh it off, come up with a new plan and start a new adventure. It’s going to be ok.
11. Stash your cash
Money makes the world go round, make sure it’s safe. Hide varying amounts in various places so if one batch gets lost or stolen, there is always a backup. Hide it in socks, in a money belt, stitched into bag linings, under the soles of your shoes.
No one wants to lose any amount of money, but losing a little is so much better than losing a lot, and if the worst happens and someone mugs you for money, you can calmly hand over your wallet, safe in the knowledge that it’s not your entire life’s savings that you are losing.
12. Take all the photos
Don’t be scared of looking like a tourist. These are your memories you’re creating and photos are an amazing way of keeping a memento of your travels, take photos of your new friends and take photos of the breathtaking views, get people to take photos of you and keep the memories forever.
13. Don’t be scared
The news may make it seem as though the world is constantly on the edge of total apocalypse, but did you know we live in one of the most peaceful periods of time ever? There’s always going to be risk wherever you go, keep an eye on shady situations, but don’t let it hinder you or stop you from doing what you want to do.
There are countries that have a higher level of danger, but just remember that the majority of people in the world are just human beings who live the same life as you do.
As a traveller, there will be people who want to take advantage of your situation, but use common sense and be aware but not afraid.
14. Keep a journal
You’re going to have a lot of stories to tell. You’re going to forget something, or a lot of things, keep notes of where you’ve been, what you did, what you’ve seen. It’s a great way to keep track and reading over the entries months down the line makes for a fantastic read.
Or you can start up a blog, we’ve found it to be a much easier way to store all of our journal entries, and this way, we get to share it with the whole world!
15. Get the travel insurance
‘I never get ill’, ‘I’m not clumsy enough to break a bone’ and ‘my bags will never get lost’. We’ve all used these excuses when scrimping on travel insurance, sure you may never have to use it, but would you really risk not getting it? Especially when rates can be as low as £2 for two weeks.
Forking out less than a fiver is so much better than paying £10,000+ for medical bills if disaster strikes.