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Cat and Suzanne took quite a long time to get ready and by the time we got to Kao San Road it was already the afternoon. After feeling like we were the only Westerners in Bangkok we were suddenly surrounded by them. The street was lined with tourist shops and food stalls. There were also dozens of tuk tuk drivers. There must be thousands of them across the city! What we didn’t realise was March is a rather busy time for Thailand so there weren’t many hostels that were free. With the sweat pouring down we went for the first place we could find. In our room the air con only seemed to reach Cat – there was certainly no view in this place and it was a stark contrast to the Asia Hotel. The loo had no flush – only a small shower head to… well you know. We spent the rest of the day wandering around Kao San – it was even livelier at night with street hawkers trying to sell you anything from necklaces to bootleg CDs. For dinner I tried cream of chicken soup – there was no cream and basically just lumps of chicken floating in boiled oily water…. yummy!
These were the first two questions I had to think about. It’s not easy planning when you’re nor entirely sure what you’re planning and of course there’s the risk of over-planning….. after all half the fun is not knowing how its all going to pan out. So here’s some tips to get you started:
- Time – how long are you going away for? 1 month, 3 months, 12 months? You may find this changes as you travel – you might get homesick and want to cut it short or stay longer because you get attached to a certain place. But whichever you do need a rough idea
- Where – which places do you want to visit? This can be tricky. The temptation is to go and see everywhere and as much as possible within the time you have. Be careful though as the more flights you add the more it will cost and the more time will be spent on a coach or plane rather than actually exploring an area. Backpacking is different to each person but I felt the bedt memories were from areas I got to know really well and appreciate the culture rather than your typical sightseeing coach tours
- Money – THE most important thing of all … sadly. Travelling doesn’t need to be costly but you need a rough idea of what your daily budget is. When you know where you’re going and how long for you can work out how much it is going to cost. Ilived on £12 a day …. for everything. It was tight and just not possible in America. I would say £20-30 daily budget. Now multiply that by the number of days you’re roughly going for.
- Solo or with friends? There are advantages to both. It’s safer to travel with friends but you have to compromise, they may have a different budget and may want different things out of the trip. It is important that you talk about what you want to get out of the trip at a very early stage. If going solo make sure you have a cheap backup phone for extra security.
- Saving up – well this is the thing that caught me out!! After Uni I decided to go travelling with a couple of mates …. little did I realise it would take me 8 months to save up for the flight, all my stuff and the traveling itself. Be prepared to save up and make sacrifices – yes that means going out less, less drunken nights etc otherwise you’ll end up taking years rathet than months to save up. Luckily I got my parents to let me stay at theirs rent free for those 8 months. Thanx Mum and Dad 😄
- What do you actually want to do – I don’t mean being too specific but just an inkling of why you want to travel … is it to go clubbing and nights out, volunteering, exploring different cultures, seeing wildlife and mountains etc. Maybe its a bit of all of these but every country will offer you different things. And if you want to earn money while travelling this is definitely easier in some countries others and often you’ll need to apply for a working visa which can take several weeks to come through
- Valid passport – if its ending soon be very clear how long you’re going for – the last thing you want is to be stuck in a foreign country without a valid passport
- Get a notepad – go through this checklist in a new notepad exclusively for your travelling. Don’t write numbers or contacts on scraps of paper – if you have it all in one place things will be so much easier!
- Be realistic – thinking about travelling can be daunting and exciting but just be honest about how much you can save up and what you can do in the time you have. Getting from A to B may look easy on the map but on the ground anything could happen so allow a bit extra time
- Chill out it will be awesome! Yes there are a lot of things to bear in mind and the saving up can be tedious but let’s face it would you rather be stuck in an office somewhere or out there meeting new people, discovering other countries and discovering more about yourself?
- Good luck! Any questions just ask 🙂
OK so this is my first ever blog but we’ve all gotta start somewhere! Im kinda excited in a way as I’m finally going to have the chance to share my diary and travelling advice…. for what its worth …. with, well everyone!
I just hope you share my sense of humour and passion for travelling. The other thing I want to do is help anyone new to the whole backpacking idea and how to get the best out of your trip without spending a fortune. So look out for tips and ideas as shoestring develops.
Oh and if you have any burning questions about travelling just ask!