Here are some of our top tips for travelling and making the most out of your Gap Year provided by Budget-Backpacking.
1. Keep Your Plans Flexible Planning is all well and good, for instance who wants to turn up to a train station and realise the only ride they could have caught was the day before, and the whole place is closing for a holiday. DO NOT however over plan.
When you leave home you should only have a general idea of where you’re going to go and the flights for them places booked. A good idea is to say ill give myself 3 months to get from Nepal to Singapore. Apart from the flight in and the flight out travel anywhere you want and stay as long as you want.
The best travel guide you can own is from speaking to other backpackers. Most likely within a few days people will have told you the best places to visit and you’ll be getting an idea of the route to take in your head. Planning everyday in advance before you leave your trip will only make you miss the best places, stay longer in places you don’t like and not spend long enough in the places you love.
This is by far the most important travelling tip you can have. Make sure you use it!
2. Money Isn’t Everything Money is not everything. Don’t get me wrong it’s very important to keep within your daily budget and make them coins go as far as possible. All that i’m saying is don’t miss out on an opportunity for the sake of a bit of money.
A gap year is a once in a life experience. Don’t decide to not have these experiences because you can’t afford them at that time. Get yourself into debt, scrounge off your family, work overtime for years to come, just make sure you aren’t looking back on the trip of a lifetime saying I wish I did that.
3. Get to Know Each Other Travelling is a social extravaganza. Think about it. Almost every day you are meeting strangers from countries far and wide. Your gap year is just as much about seeing the country as it is meeting locals and fellow travellers. If your a bit shy getting to know people don’t worry, it’s not as if you haven’t got anything to talk to them about. You will find the same conversation starters always pop up: Where are you from? Where have you been? Where are you going? These 3 questions, as annoying and repetitive as you may find them at the end of your trip, will let you start to know your other travellers. Friendships will shortly follow after and this is what is guaranteed to make your trip fun.
4. Keep an Open Mind Be it with eating some strange exotic food or throwing yourself out of a plane above the glorious beaches of Australia. Managing to keep an open mind and fully enrolling yourself in all the amazing experiences will ensure you never get bored on your gap year. It’ll also give you loads of amazing stories to impress people back home.
5. Guide Books Are Only Guides You’re likely to take one of the Lonely Planet guide books with you on your travels. Although as useful and informative as these are, remember they are only meant as a guide. Don’t treat it like the bible!
Many people get to a place, look in the guide book, and do exactly what it says. Resist the urge to follow it completely and go explore yourselves. Of course i’m not saying don’t do anything that they recommend, actually I’d suggest to do them, just don’t think that’s all there is to see.
6. Make Memories Your gap year trip is going to be a once in a lifetime experience that you will remember forever. Well not necessarily. Within a few months or even weeks of being somewhere you’re likely to forget certain things. To ensure you capture every detail, take a digital camera and go snap happy. I find its better to take lots of pictures with you in them, preferably doing stupid poses, and then when you look back at them in years to come it will bring a smile and remind you of that time. Taking pictures of just a building or view, may be nice but don’t make it your whole collection. These pictures could just have easily been taken by someone else or seen in a magazine. Make it personal, you won’t regret it.
On the same note, don’t just stick to photos for memories. Get souvenirs from every place you go. It doesn’t have to be something big due to the problems associated with carrying it, just some jeweler or even a pebble off the beach. This reminds me of something seen on Saving Private Ryan where he collects sand from all the countries he’s been to.
7. Have Some Alone Time If you’re travelling in a small group say 2 or 3 people for a long time, you will annoy each other. The close proximity, and being with them for the majority of the day, every day will soon take its toll. This is bound to happen however good friends you are. To try an avoid this, once in a while have a day to yourself and do whatever you want without the others. Your friendship will be strengthened and you’ll all be much happier.
8. Beat the Boredom Unfortunately as exciting as travelling is, there is also huge amount of boredom. Waiting around will undoubtedly take up a large portion of your holiday. To beat the boredom take an iPod, book, pack of cards and pen and paper. You’ll be grateful for them.
9. Keep a Diary Try to keep a diary of what you do and how you feel. Although boring and time consuming at the time of writing, you will definitely look back on it when old and wrinkled and make it all worthwhile. As I mentioned in another section of this site Off Exploring do a great online diary that you can also post picture on and let people back home send you messages. These all then get printed out and put in a book for you at the end of your gap year.