1. Where to goThere are lots of travel packages on offer, from a whistle stop tour of Europe to a full around the world package. Some offer flexible flight tickets which allow you to move dates around if you find a place during your travels that you want to stay for longer, it costs a bit extra but it’s worth it if you’re going away without a set plan. I had 2 months so I chose to be strict with myself and had to fly back on a certain date. Go to the travel agent with an idea of where you want to go. If you're travelling with someone, I'd recommend just booking your flights and researching your own route. If you're going at it alone like I did but lack confidence planning it yourself, you might want to consider adding on a tour package that includes you with a group of backpackers going to do the same thing. It's a great way to meet new people and it puts your parents' mind at rest! If you’re not a keen flyer, think about places you could stop off for a few nights in between and ask your travel agent for suggestions.
2. Where to stayHow organised you need to be with booking your accommodation varies depending on which countries you're travelling to. If you're somebody that would prefer to know that there's a bed waiting for you when you get off your flight, I'd recommend looking at hostels to stay in. They're crazy cheap, plus a great way to meet people from around the world who are doing the exact same thing as you, travelling. Particularly when I travelled alone, I found Hostels to be really beneficial for making the experience seem less lonely - you're all there for the same reason, which means you've all got something great in common.
3. What to packThe key to travelling is to pack light. Girls, I feel your pain, it's a struggle! Lay out what you think you need to take with you, and half it. I was adamant that I needed to fill my backpack and that I’d wear everything I took but you really don’t. If you’re travelling to somewhere warm, you need nothing more than beach shorts, a bikini and some flip flops so aim to fill your backpack with no more than 12kg for a trip lasting a couple of months. If you need extra bits of clothing whilst you're on your travels, you can easily pick some bits up for next to nothing, so there’s no point spending a fortune before you go and lugging it all around with you. I suggest getting a proper travelling backpack with comfortable straps and easy access, you’re going to be living out of it and carrying it everywhere you go so its crucial that it’s comfortable. My top packing tip is to separate your clothing into different plastic bags and pack them into your backpack that way. Have your underwear in one plastic bag, your shorts in another bag and your tops in another etc. This way everything remains dry and it’s so much easier to pull out the individual bags to find things that empty your whole backpack every time and end up losing things (and annoying your 9 other dorm mates with the mess). A couple of essentials I’d really recommend to any traveller is a sleeping sheet, a warm jumper and some flip flops. I always take a single duvet cover with me as a light sleeping bag! This saved me in sleeper trains and in hostel's that weren’t the cleanest. The same with flip flops - a must have to take in the shower when your hostel's not very nice! Remember, the less you pack, the more room for souvenirs to bring home! As you can tell, I found out packing light was a good idea after I took my life with me...
4. What to doWhether you want to sightsee, get a job or volunteer, there is plenty to see and do for everyone of all interests. In Europe, I signed up to a group tour that covered multiple countries around Europe that was all expenses paid. If you're interested in touring your desired destination, take a look at Geckos Adventures and save 10% on their packages with your UNiDAYS discount! I also did other activities such as scuba diving, sky diving, mountain climbing, motor biking and everything in between. The beauty of going travelling is that you can make it the experience you want it to be and I’d highly recommend it to anyone!
5. How much money to takeHow much money you need to take depends on the country you're travelling to, I’d recommend researching into the cost of accommodation, internal travel and food to get a better idea of how much you need to take. If you’re planning on going for a month or longer you might wonder how you carry around your money and keep it safe. I suggest getting a money card which is used just like a bank card wherever you go but it’s not attached to a bank account so it protects your money at home. You can get these from most travel companies when you book your flights. It’s sensible to take some cash with you but don’t carry a lot at one time, young travellers are already a target in foreign countries so it’s important that you separate your money in case something does get stolen, you always have a backup. Keep some cash in your backpack, some in your money belt and some on your card. Money belts look totally uncool, but they are such a good idea to wear them under your clothes! I also suggest taking a padlock with you. Many hostels around the world have lockers for you to put your personal belongings and money. However most don’t have their own padlocks so if you take one yourself you’ll have peace of mind that your belongings are safe!
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