Who doesn’t? After backpacking for the past year, I’m firmly of the opinion that everyone should take a few months away from the ‘real world’ and embrace the world of travelling at least once in their lives, whether it be when you’re 25 or 55. Although it would be nice to just book a flight and go, there’s a lot of stuff that you have to take into account and plan beforehand. Here, I’ve outlined how we planned our 16 country big- bad-tour. Hope it helps at least one person out!
Make sure you have a regular (& preferably decent income coming in). Firstly & most importantly I was living and working in Australia when we decided to take on this badass journey. I think everyone knows someone living ‘down under’ and so you will be aware that you can make a lot of money in Australia, but you can also spend a lot. So, it’s a double-sided coin. I’ll be honest with you I was earning $27AUD an hour working in Sydney as an Events Manager – sounds a lot huh? Well, my rent was $2000AUD a month, I halved this cost with my other half but still, $1000 a month is a big expense. So, although I had good money coming in I still had to be very careful after all I was living in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Anyway, step one I had a decent wage coming in.Tick
Be prepared to give up on non-essential items. Believe me as an impulse buyer this was very hard. So, I waved goodbye to the $4 mocha’s from an uber fancy coffee shop underneath my office, gone were our bi-weekly date nights in nice restaurants, gone were the $20 plus bottles of wine, I didn’t even look in any clothes shops because if I went in I would buy. It all adds up, honestly, by sticking to all of the above I saved an extra $250 a week. That’s $1000 a month. Insane! Of course, we still wanted to enjoy our last couple of months in Australia so once a week we went to a cheaper restaurant and drank less expensive wine. Simple really?!
Make a rough plan of the countries you want to visit. But be prepared to do re-do it numerous times depending on flight options and costs. We made a rough plan of the countries we wanted to visit, starting with the country closest to us and ending in the one closest to our final destination. When we were planning this trip all the way back in early 2014, we knew we would end up in Vancouver. So, our final destination was Canada. And we decided our first destination would be Bali because 1. it’s close to Sydney and 2. the flights from Sydney to Bali are cheap and 3. the flights onto our next destination (Cambodia) is cheap. Make sense? Unlike most other travellers, we were starting our journey on one side of the world and ending in another. Most people reading this will want to start and end their journey in the same place (e.g. Ireland) In that case an around-the-world ticket is a great idea. USIT have some great options (https://www.usit.ie/flights/round-the-world).
Do lots of research. Research until your eyes hurt from staring at a computer screen for too long, research until your head is about to explode from information overload and then research some more. Am I getting the point across 🙂 One of the biggest costs will be your flights, so spend lots of time researching different airlines and keep an eye out for sales. I downloaded the SkyScanner app and literally checked it every day until we found the best flight for us. Also, do lots of googling on how easy it is to travel internally within a country – e.g. in El Salvador there is pretty much no other option other than to get the local ‘chicken buses’ from town to town. Some people may not be okay with that option, seeing as El Salvador is one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Again my point is do your research, nothing worse than being unprepared.
Buy the Lonely Planet book. We found ‘Southeast Asia on a shoestring’ and ‘Central America on a shoestring’ to be super helpful. But make sure you get the most up-to-date version. No point travelling with a 2012 version as a lot of the hotels featured won’t still be standing and the prices will be dramatically different.
Don’t book your hotels until you get there. Okay, book your first one so you have somewhere to stay when you get off the plane. After that, use your Lonely Planet book or TripAdvisor to determine the top three hotels you want to stay at, and then show up and book in-person. The majority of hotels will give walk-ins a better rate and at least then you can see if it’s as nice as the photos on the website.
Spend money on a good backpack. I’m 5’4 and weigh about 8 stone so I can’t carry anything too heavy, so I visited lots of Outdoor Stores in Sydney and asked for advice from the guys working there. They recommended a backpack designed for a’petite chick’ (their words not mine). Make sure you try on lots of different styles before settling on one and make sure it’s comfortable it’s gonna be your baby for the next year.
Get excited, get really really excited. It will be the best thing you’ve ever done!
Thanks for reading,