Monday, 13 February 2017

FIRST TIME TRAVELLER: TOP TIPS


I thought I would put together a little post answering some of the questions I initially had when I embarked on my first ever backpacking trip as sometimes it can be tricky to source the answer's to some of the questions you may already be thinking, especially if you are planning a trip anytime soon!


1. SAVING

I think every one of us can agree that saving at times can feel like the worst thing in the universe, but you don't necessarily need to become a recluse for months on end just to fund your backpacking trip. I started prioritising wether a round of VK's at a crappy club for a night I will end up barely remembering was really worth it? Maybe... Probably not... But none the less start thinking about what you are spending your disposable income on and start cutting down. For a university student I rarely actually go out anymore, and started changing my spending habits, substituting for experiences rather than crap that I don't really care about, or is bad for me. 

Its just as important when saving to be realistic with your plans. Booking a trip that is fairly soon for a long duration with not much saved isn't going to be very fun, although you can travel cheap as chips you want to have enough to actually embrace where you are and do fun and exciting things. There is no point trying to tick of as many countries for as cheap as you can, as you will be left feeling like you didn't get to feel the full experience. Be realistic with the amount you can earn and save, and the amount of money leaving your account for rent and food etc, you will have to actually make changes to your lifestyle in order to see the saving. 



2. SPENDING


Its ever so easy, especially on your first intimidating trip away, to get carried away with booking every fine detail of your trip to the extent that you've ended up pre booking every nights accommodation and every day trip before you've even left the country, all in the means to make you worry less when travelling in the moment. Sure it's great to be organised, but it pays to have flexibility in your itinerary as random and in the moment opportunities may arise in your presence. 

Research before your trip to give you an idea on how much the average hostel is, transport, or even the cost of a average beer, for a better understanding of how much you will be expected to spend in each place you visit. I would say for a month in SE Asia, having spending money to do activities such as a day tour's, scuba diving or kayaking for example, a good amount to have would be between £800-1000 spending money. Bearing in mind everyone's spending habits and travel plans will be different, going on the basis of how I managed to budget and spend, as well as other travellers I have met, this is a comfortable amount to live off. Again as locations differ, a hostel shouldn't cost any more than £10 a night, then on average depending on how much you eat, around £4-7 spent on food a day, then the rest on transport and activities. 

Unfortunately budgeting is essential to travelling, it is ever so easy to get carried away consuming way too many Bintang's on a night out in Bali or too many cans of Tiger in Vietnam, but being aware of how much your money has got to last you weekly is the best way I have found of managing my spending habits. Buying food and drinks at supermarkets and drinking at the hostel rather than out makes so much difference to the amount thats left in your wallet. As is eating and trying street food which is usually unbelievably cheap, and ridiculously tasty!




3. ACCESSORIES 


Just a list of a few of the accessories you'd find in my travelling backpack, and a few handy accessories which you might not consider bringing which will benefit you in the long run. 


LUNCH BOX
Now you may think this is a completely random and odd item to bring with you on your travels, but if like me you are a bit tech obsessed, having a lunch box works a treat when protecting all your electrical chargers and any other small electrical devices you have. The lunchbox not only stops these items from water damage or being crushed or broken, but keeps all your wires and electrical goods organised in one place. 


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GOPRO FLOAT

If you have a go pro or are planning on getting one, and plan on doing water sports or just general swimming in the sea, then I would strongly advise getting one of these floats for the camera. I've heard of too many stories about people loosing their go pro on the sea bed and its just not worth risking. I got mine from here.


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PORTABLE CHARGER - MOPHIE POWERSTATION PRO

Can’t stress how great these portable chargers are, I charge mine for about a day and get several uses out of it. I took it skiing with me back in April which was perfect considering the power station PRO is completely water proof. Also comes really handy if like me you are using your camera or phone to instagram lots… and obviously need stay in contact with the family on the other side of the world.

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MICRO TRAVEL TOWEL


These highly absorbent quick drying towels dry much faster than regular towels which are perfect for active travellers who are constantly on the move. Being lightweight and compact they hardly take up any room in your backpack as compared to a regular towel which does. 



4. HOW TO FIND THINGS TO DO

Its great to have a guidebook that helps influence and inspire your trip towards the right direction, but it's equally important to not treat and preach your Lonely Planet guide like the bible. I admittedly made this mistake not long ago, and its easy to forget that the recommendations within these guides are an opinion of someone else's, and just because it has the stamp of approval by being in a guide, that it's top hostels for example, might not cater for my own vibe. Some of the most magical places I have seen or been too have been from exploring and getting lost. There is something quite authentic about getting lost and going to tranquil off beat surroundings where there are no tourists about. 

When sourcing inspiration prior for a trip I mainly use other blogs, trip advisor and a lot of YouTube videos. I find the best form of finding out about things to do is speaking to other travellers and locals themselves. It can benefit you hugely going out of your way and speaking to locals and majority of them find you equally as interesting. 



5. ACCOMODATION

Majority of the hostels I've stayed in have been incredible, like some are worthy of being a 4* hotel. I find majority of them on the HostelWorld app, TripAdvisor (just searching in the location) and from word of mouth. When using apps to book my hostels I tend to try and give myself 2-3 days until check in as the top hostels are usually still available then.

If you follow me on Insta you'll see that some of these hostels I've stayed in have been unreeeeeaaaaaaaal! But you also don't see the accommodation which doesn't quite make the gram which have been pretty awful *remember people are in control of what they show you on social media*. Don't expect much from hostels and you won't be let down is the way I look at things, once you get over the initial comfort difference its really not that bad, I think I'd rather take a dodgy cold shower in a island on Indonesia than be stuck at home!

or just take a shower in the sea...
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