So you’ve just completed university / high school, or just taken a break from the University of Phoenix and you have decided to take a gap year backpacking, you will need to know if you are going alone or with a friend or partner, have a rough idea of where you want to go and how much you want to spend. All of these need to be thoroughly researched as you need to remember that you will be away for the better part of a year and having a plan of action will be key to maximizing the enjoyment of a holiday.
Where Do You Want To Go?
The truth is, a lot of travellers hit the same places so depending on your confidence levels, go where the crowds are, where reputations have been built around the welcoming of travellers and the lifestyle surrounding. The popular locations are that of Thailand and most of South East Asia, there you will find so many other people in the same situation, travelling, trying to find themselves, or enjoying the freedom of the time before starting university or full time work.
You have South East Asia as a popular destination, and then there is Australia, the other extremely popular destination for it’s year round nice weather, surf, sea and sand, and some impressive natural and man made wonders across it’s entirety.
How Much Money Do You Need?
You’ve deferred a year of University so there is a specific deadline to meet, and the chances are you might have worked for a while during college or sixth form and have a bit of money saved up, the round the world ticket or flights to whatever destination and insurance will cost about £1000. Then you need to budget how much you expect to spend a day. Whilst this will vary a lot from day to day and from place to place, a safe amount to budget a day would be around £25 or 1220 Baht whilst you can live a lot cheaper than that per day, there will be experiences that may bump you over budget.
I would recommend not being stingy on your hostel, paying that bit extra for a hostel with air conditioning and a courtyard for all the residents to hang around in and socialise will make the experience that much better, and it is in these courtyards that you learn where your next experience or destination should be.
Australia sure isn’t as cheap as living in Asia, but there are plenty of opportunities for working whilst out there, from picking grapes to bar work. Hostels, food and travelling between locations cost more than in Asia, but there are options to save money with bus passes. If you are going to spend a lot of time in Australia then working might have to be a serious consideration. There are plenty of job walls once you get out there in all the hostels.
Whilst you might dream of going backpacking for the whole year, it might be worth working 6 months prior to leaving, you’ll have a better time with the money you’ve stored from working than trying to spread a smaller amount for longer period of time.
Are You Planning Or Dreading Backpacking Alone?
You might have a partner to travel with, whether in a relationship or just a friend. With someone by your side there will be someone to watch your back, hold your bags whilst you go to toilet and second guess some of your map reading. Even if you want to see the world and the timing just isn’t right for your friends to come with, you don’t have to travel alone. Visit the travel forums around the web, the back of travel magazines and even Gumtree has a section where travellers are looking to find people to travel with.
If you are happy to travel alone then you will find it gives you an enormous sense of achievement of finding your own way and cutting your own path so don’t worry if you haven’t got a group of people to travel with.
Better Plans, Less Worry
All in all, travelling has changed in the last decade where you used to be able to just grab a backpack and find your way around the world. The more planning and research you do before the leaving, the more time you will have to enjoy the locations you are in.
The best advice you can get is from people that are already out there or have only recently come back, so do your research and network with people to make the most of your travels, chances are you will only get this one opportunity, so do it right!