Earlier this year, I spent 4 months hopping around Australia, some of Indonesia and SE Asia. Such a truly incredible experience, so many adventurous to be had, so many pristine beaches to discover, waking up in new dreamy destinations each day, yes yes yes, so amazing, but this takes a lot of planning and organisation! It isn’t all set out for you, you make your own journey and plan your own route!
I wanted to share some things that I picked up along the way to help with the planning and just generally being a traveller. Some are pretty simple, but when you feel like a million miles away from home, you can’t find any wifi and you’ve got barely any cash on you, small tips will feel like lifesavers!
- Packing. This is the first thing that will probably cross your mind once you’ve booked your flights and you know you are going. What the hell do I need to take? I overpacked, of course I did, and my rucksack absolutely killed my back. It was so heavy, any coach drivers having to load my bag on, or anyone else who picked up my bag, always had to make a joke about how heavy it was. You aren’t going to mars, there will be shops where you can buy things from so don’t over pack.
- Random things that I found super handy; nail clippers, sudocream, nail varnish remover pads (in the little tub, pre-soaked in remover), a torch, plasters, 1 plug adapter that had several different adapters on and a small coin purse.
- Ask for a map. Each time we arrived to a new hostel/hotel, I always asked for a map. You get a good overview of where you are. Always mark on the map your hostel/hotel just in case you ever get lost, you will be able to find your way back. I LOVE to research restaurants, bars, coffee shops etc, so I always plot these on the map too. Any attractions/tourist spots you want to swing by, add these on there as well. The map becomes your bible and when you are out and about, you can see that the cute coffee shop that you were recommended is only down the road! There is probably, I say probably, I’m pretty sure there is, an app where you can do this, but I like to stay traditional and use a map. Its a great thing to keep as well so you can always remember where you visited!
- Don’t be a control freak. Before I left the UK, I wanted to have at least 2-3 weeks of accommodation booked up, all our trips sorted and everything done. Nope you got to go with the flow a little bit. I only had the first weeks accommodation sorted before I left the UK in the end. Sometimes you meet people and want to stay in the next place with them, and you will always be able to find accommodation, even if you book it on the day you are arriving, there is always something. This way, you can be more flexible and be that free spirited traveller you wanted to be! I’m not saying be unorganised and leave everything to the last minute at all because personally I find that stressful. I usually booked 2 days in advance for accommodation. No need to pull your hair out if you haven’t got everything booked in and sorted. With some popular trips, you will need to book further in advance as they have limited spaces, and thats fine, you can work your timings out according to the trip.
- Create a planner. Now although I said not to be a control freak, you still need to be organised. You will need to have a rough idea of where/when you are going to be, because if you are travelling more than 1 country, its likely you are going to need to book a flight and usually they are cheaper in advance rather. I had a little book and I had a list of all the places I was going with roughly how long I wanted to spend at each place and anything I needed to book for that place, once booked, give it a little tick. Such a satisfying thing isn’t it, that simple tick! I hope that doesn’t sounds contradictory to the above, what I mean is, you don’t need to be over top super planned person, you just need a rough guide and stay on top of your ‘travel admin’ so you don’t get too stressed and forgetful!
- Visas. Remember to check visa requirements for the countries you are visiting. Some countries you will get a certain amount of days for free, and then you may have to pay to stay longer. Usually you need to apply for the visa before you enter the country so always check this out. You can easily check this out by visiting this page here.
- Money. You are likely to be needing several currencies for your trip. There are so many travel money cards out there, not everyone will be looking for the same thing so it is personal preference. I used Revolut as I could top money up from my phone, it had an in-app chat which was super helpful, you could withdraw cash for free and use it in all the countries I was visiting. Some travel cards have charges to withdraw so make sure you read the small print! Although the card was free to withdraw cash, some cash machines charge you for using their ATM, so if this was the case, I would always withdraw the maximum amount so I wasn’t having to visit the ATM again tomorrow and paying the charge again.
- Diary. This doesn’t need to be a daily thing, but I just bullet pointed key things from each place I visited. You always think, ‘Oh I won’t forget this’, but months of amazing memories, do slightly blur in to one and it is something you can keep forever and always look back on.
- Accommodation. It comes in all sizes and shapes. Sometimes you can be staying in a dorm room with anywhere from 4 people up to 20 people, sometimes there will be a ‘shower block’ or sometimes there will be a bathroom in your dorm. If you pay more for a private room, sometimes you may have an ensuite, sometimes you will need to use the shared showers. The variation of accommodation is very wide! As I travelled with my boyfriend, sometimes we stayed in dorms, but other times we paid a little more for a private room. Australia’s accommodation was a lot more expensive than the other places. In Indonesia and SE Asia, we could stay in a hotel for the same price as a dorm room. So if there is more than 1 of you, always have a look at hotels as well, you’ll be surprised sometimes how expensive hostels are and how cheap some hotels are.
- Apps. Oh I think I maxed out on my phone storage for the duration of my travels with handy apps. Here’s my recommendations:
- Skyscanner – Great for booking flights, compares all airlines in one search
- XE – money conversion rates. It gets confusing when 28,986 Vietnamese Dong = £1. Download XE, add all of the currencies you need and when you are out and about, just put in how much something is, and it will show you in £’s. You don’t need wifi to get the conversion!
- Hostel world – I found this was the best place to get your hostels booked up
- Booking.com – Check to see if you can get a cheaper hotel than hostel!
- Met Office – If you want to keep an eye on the weather, I don’t trust iPhone weather!
- Maps.me – what a life saver this is. Download it when you have wifi, but this map app works offline enabling you to use this with NO WIFI/4G! You will not be using your 4G abroad as its SO expensive, I used this SO much. We did a lot of moped’ing around SE Asia and this was beyond handy.
My biggest tip, is to thoroughly enjoy it. Sometimes things don’t go to plan or they aren’t exactly what you think, but its all part of the experience. You’ll be home before you know it and this will probably be a once in a life time opportunity.
I loved writing this post, and I hope this has helped a little, but you will figure everything out as you go. If you have any questions I haven’t covered, please feel free to tweet me @laurabyrnes6 tweet tweet!