Planning the big trip: Where are you going?

Choosing where is often an issue for some people. For me, I had my places in priority order long before I began planning. Talking to others I have found that a lot of the time, people want to explore somewhere, but they’re just not sure where that is.

When you talk about travelling, there will undoubtedly be one of two responses. Either a) they’ve travelled before and are interested in what you’re doing/where you’re going/past experiences etc. Or b) they’re intrigued and want to know how and why you’re doing it and how they can do the same.

This post is more for you option Bs out there. You want to go on an adventure but you can’t decide where. Here are a few pointers (written from a geographically British point of view. For overseas readers, adjust distances accordingly)

Where can you afford to go?

This is related to my previous post. If you fancy Australia, you need a few grand under your belt. If you’ve got a small budget, head nearer home.

Why do you want to go?

If you think about your reasoning for travel, it makes things much clearer.

If you want to do something new and meet new people in a place that isn’t home, why not stay reasonably close. For those in Europe, choose another European country. That way if you hate it it doesn’t cost too much to get back.

If you want action packed adventure then you can do that anywhere. Even in the smallest village in Austria you will meet adrenaline junkies willing to take you on a crazy trip.

If you want to learn something new, you can either go to a foreign country and take a language course (Au Pairing is great for that), you can learn to be a surf instructor in Australia or a drama teacher in Camp America. The possibilities really are endless.

If you like watersports and partying and generally being super active then places like SE Asia and Australia will be great for you. If you love culture and city life, explore Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyko. If you’re a history buff then Europe is a dream. If you’re none, one or all of the above, there’s also nothing wrong with going in the other direction than you normally would. I am a bookwormy, nerdy artist type (my mum laughed when I told her someone called me ‘cool’) but I got to Koh Samui and rented a motorbike with Yumaashis for the week. New things are exciting and going out of your comfort zone is a fun life lesson. But if you’re very nervous, try something a little safer first. There’s no shame in it but throwing yourself in the deep end isn’t for everybody.

What can you handle?

Developing countries can be amazing fun and you can do it with little financial substance (just look at Charlie Walker who lives on less than $1 most days). Once you’ve dished out for flights, you can actually get by on a tiny budget. But can you handle eating street food? Can you handle a hole in the ground for a toilet? Can you handle bugs and smelly cramped rooms? (I can’t handle bugs but luckily there’s always someone around who can…or I have to deal with the guilt of last-resort killing it.) Can you wild camp if you’ve run out of money for a hostel? Do you need a shower and fresh pants every day? Can you face hauling a backpack round with you?

If a lot of these answers are no then you’re looking more at a holiday than long term travelling and for that you’ll need much more money. Hostels, good food, a warm shower, comfort all come at a price. It will cost you much more to live that way that to be a nomad but it’s better to be realistic about what you can and can’t do before you go.

How long are you going for?

What separates travelling and holidaying is the attitude and intention. Holidaying is usually relaxing, a break from home, something new. Travelling could be in exactly the same place for the same amount of time, but you really want to explore your destination and learn new things.

Whether you’re going somewhere for a couple of weeks or for as long as two years, you can still have lots of experiences. If you want to go to North America, two weeks can be enough to explore one place really well. If you wanted to see the whole country you could spent years there.

Once you’ve got answers to these important questions, compare them to your budget plans and then move on to the technicalities of going such as visas, jobs, transport, booking, tours etc which I’ll post about later this week.

3 thoughts on “Planning the big trip: Where are you going?

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