Conquer Your World Series: 10 Things To Think About Before You Travel
Conquer Your World is a 5-week series of twice-weekly posts organised by the lovely Halley of Life of Something New. It’s aimed at those of you who want to shake it up a little but perhaps need an extra push to see just how awesome things can be, and how to go about getting there. Life can be pretty darn fabulous and all it really takes is for you to say YES; other than that it’s just logistics. Speaking of which, if you’ve made the decision to see the world, here are 10 things to think about before you travel.
1. Why do you want to travel?
Are you most interested in meeting people, visiting tourist attractions, or taking courses? Maybe you want to help out as a volunteer on a community project, or perhaps exploring somewhere secluded by yourself is more up your street. You might even want to try a little bit of everything! Knowing why you want to travel is important as it will help you tailor your experience to meet your own needs.
2. Where do you want to go?
The world is a big place and as fantastic as it would be to buy a ticket to Everywhere, you will have to choose where you want to go. Is there somewhere you have always wanted to visit, or a place which piques your curiosity more than most? If you can’t decide then you can always throw a dart at a map, et voila! There’s your destination.
3. When do you plan to go?
Once you have picked a destination, do a bit of research to see which time of year is best to go. For example, if you’re not used to hot weather then you don’t really want to be trying to find your way around a new place in 40°C weather. Also take into account any festivals or events which particularly interest you.
4. How do you want to travel?
Is a broken spring in a mattress enough to keep you up all night, or are you perfectly comfortable sleeping on the floor using your old jumper as a pillow? There is absolutely nothing wrong in loving comfort and if it’s something you can’t do without then take this into consideration when booking transport (buses vs. trains, first class vs. economy, etc.) and accommodation. You’ll also need to factor these choices into your budget.
5. Will you travel alone?
“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” – Mark Twain
If you prefer to travel with a partner and have already found one, it’s a good idea to sit down and hash things out before you hit the road. Here are nine questions to answer before travelling with a friend. If you’re not sure you want to take on a solo trip just yet but can’t seem to find anyone suitable to travel with, there are plenty of resources online which can help set you up with fellow travellers. My personal favourite is www.travbuddy.com. One thing I would say though, is don’t let being alone stop you from travelling. Yes, solo travel has its challenges, but there are so many people undertaking them everyday. Once on the road, you are not likely to be alone for very long!
6. Consider the expenses
Food, accommodation, transport, sight-seeing, insurance, vaccinations, travel equipment… the list of expenses before and while you travel can appear endless. That’s why you need to set some time aside in advance and research the costs. It is always far better to overestimate your budget, as opposed to running out of dosh at that crucial moment (just as you want to book a trip to Chimpanzee Island, say).
7. Be safe
Travel insurance and vaccinations are two ways of protecting yourself which can be sorted out in advance. “It’ll never happen to me.” Mmm those sound like some awesome last words, don’t they? Chances are it won’t, but is it really worth putting yourself in that situation when, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not actually going to cost you that much?
Another way to stay safe while you’re on the road is to keep in touch with your family/friends as often as you can. Internet access might not always be readily available but there are very few places where you won’t be able to get a mobile signal from time to time. A quick message every few days to say where you are could make a huge difference. This would be even more effective if you have left a copy of your itinerary with them as well.
8. Are you packed and ready to go?
Packing: Like Marmite, you either love it or you hate it; Unlike Marmite, I know very few people who love it. With only eight days to go until I take off for Nairobi, I am still not packed, however I have done my fair share of reading about what I do or do not need to take with me and have most of the items. Always remember that whatever you pack, you will have to carry and therefore try to keep it as light as possible. A little tip: roll your clothes. It saves so much space!
9. Be prepared to make some memories
If you’re anything like me, one of the perks of travelling is about disconnecting; No more obligations to update your Facebook status, reply to emails or follow your friends’ latest tweets. Living in the moment is what it’s all about! That said, once it’s all over and done, you certainly want to have a few reminders of your experiences to jog your memory. Before you go, it is a good idea to invest in a journal, which you can write in daily while you’re away. Taking a camera is also handy to show everyone back home what you saw and whom you met, as well as entertaining them with all the stories you are bound to have!
10. Get ready to come back a different person
Take a good look around you before leaving. The probability is that you are going to see everything in a very different light when you return. Depending on where you are going, you may have more appreciation for the things you take for granted right now. Even if you aren’t venturing far, you are likely to be more thankful than ever for something as small as sleeping in your own bed again upon your return.
“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson
For more detail about the practical side of planning a world trip, check out my How To Travel The World series.