How to go travelling

Travelling is something I have always wanted to do but throughout my time at uni, I found it difficult to save money for the summer whilst making the most of my time there. For my third year I decided to do a year in industry as part of my university course which helped me to save money for my travel plans. I then planned my route, deciding I wanted to do a 2 month trip to Thailand and Australia and fly back via Hong Kong. Telling my parents I was travelling alone didn’t go down too well but I planned things to make them feel at ease, like doing an organised volunteering trip for part of my time there! If you’re considering travelling next summer or after you finish uni, be brave and go for it! It's something you'll never regret and have memories to last you a lifetime. Here are 5 things you need to know to go travelling:

1. Where to go

There are lots of packages that travel agents can offer you, 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. If you’re considering travelling to Australia, I highly recommend stopping in Hong Kong, it’s an unbelievable city, and the food’s amazing! If you're an adrenaline junkie, spend a day in Macau and do the Skywalk with views over the city. If you're even braver, you can do the world's tallest bungee jump!

2. Where To Stay

Depending on which countries you're travelling to depends on how organised you need to be with booking your accommodation. I travelled South East Asia and Australia and the two are completely different! In Asia no planning is needed, I bought my flight and nothing else before I went and it's the norm to arrive and search for a place to stay and book in on the day! I'm a total organised freak so this took some getting used to but I found the best places by wandering around and seeing where it’s at. If you visit Ko Phi Phi (you must!) and enjoy the party scene, I highly recommend staying at Blancos, you will meet the best people, play the best drinking games and have the time of your life! Australia on the other hand needs far more research and organisation and you definitely need to think about planning ahead. During peak seasons the best hostels get booked up quickly so get prepped early. A few of my faves were Gilligans in Cairns and Base on Magnetic Island!

3. What to pack

The 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. In places like Asia, if you need extras, clothing (and of course the cliche travelling trousers) are everywhere and cost next to nothing to buy so there’s no point spending a fortune before you go and lugging it all around with you. Of course, stock up on your must-have ASOS swimwear and New Look sandals but try not to over pack. 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. Blacks have a great selection of travel gear, plus you get 10% off with your UNiDAYS® discount! 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 a Topshop bag, your shorts in a New Look bag and your tops in a H&M bag 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 Do

Whether you want to sightsee, get a job or volunteer, there is plenty to see and do for everyone of all interests. In Thailand I volunteered for a week with elephants which was incredible and an experience you should definitely think about doing if you love animals and want to meet new people who have similar interests. A lot of companies do charity volunteering experiences in whichever country you are thinking about travelling to, so do your research and get something planned! This can be organised by researching organisations online or through a travel company. 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 take

How 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 debit 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 the Post Office or most travel companies when you book your flights. It’s sensible to take some cash with you but don’t carry a lot on you, 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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