I’ve heard it all, and it’s usually from those who have never been backpacking, or one of these people that think because they’ve been backpacking a few months, they know all there is to know. Everyone is different. What you enjoy, others will hate. Bare that in mind. I’ve been recommended some hostels that are meant to be awesome. I’ve got there, and let’s just say I’ve been grateful for keeping up to date with my jabs! Here is some of the worst advice I’ve received, and in general, you shouldn’t listen to:
- DON’T TRAVEL ALONE
“You’re going to get murdered!” “You’re going to get kidnapped!” Just a few things your family and friends will say to you when you tell them you’re doing it solo. “You’re going to be lonely.” Nah ah! I actually felt anything but lonely when travelling solo. Fair enough there will be some hostels you get to and nobody talks, and everyones a little antisocial. Don’t let this put you off. Most hostels are socialable, and you’ll meet people you’ll be friends with for life! Personally I prefer travelling solo. When travelling with others, there’s always the slight need to meet everyone in the middle. If you’ve never travelled solo, do it. Nothing beats it.
- DON’T BRING ALONG EXPENSIVE GEAR, IT’LL GET STOLEN
I’ve met people travelling that have said I’m mad for having an expensive camera with me, and my Macbook laptop. End of the day, I’m not going to leave these out without me being there. If I can, I lock them in a safe, which every hostel I’ve been in, has had. If not, I take them with me. It’s very rare I leave them unsupervised. And if I do, I keep them well hidden. There’s no reason why you can’t take a smartphone travelling, have a decent camera, or even take your laptop/iPad. Just be smart, don’t be silly, trust no one, and it’s fine. Most people think you need a Nokia brick phone when travelling. Why? If you have a smartphone, you can take some awesome photos, and keep your family updated back home.
- AVOID TOURIST AREAS
Why? Chances are, there’s something pretty impressive there, or a big part of history, for it to be such a tourist area. I hate travellers that say you’re not a traveller if you go to the tourist areas. Mix it up. Do some off the beaten track, and go to the tourist spots. Some of them you’ll hate and won’t see the hype anyway. You’ll never know if you never go!
- GO WITH THE FLOW. DON’T PRE BOOK ACCOMMODATION
Some of the worst advice you can get. Nothing worse than getting to a new city after a long flight, and having nothing booked. You won’t have a clue where to go, what to do, and it just ends up being a massive stress. I always pre book a few nights accommodation before I arrive to a new city. Nothing easier than getting to the airport, already knowing where you’re heading, and what you need to do. You can also do a little research before you go, see what’s nearby, and what there is to do. Saves wasting time once you’re there. You can always move to somewhere new after a few nights, once you’ve settled in.
- GO WITH THE CHEAPEST FLIGHT
That’s all good and well to save money, but if the cheapest flight has a 15 hour stopover in a crappy airport, where there isn’t much to do. And it’s in the middle of the night so you can’t go exploring the city, it’s a bit of a no no option. You’ll end up wasting a day, and you’ll spend a few days recovering from the long flight. Chances are the next flight is only £50 more, and you’ll save yourself a day of travelling. It’s a no brainer.
- HOSTELS ARE DIRTY
Another myth. Some hostels are, most aren’t. You can actually get some pretty decent, modern hostels, that are actually better quality than a hotel. Fair enough, you don’t have your own room, and you’ll feel 10 again sleeping in a bunk bed. But when it’s costing you £4 a night, are you really going to be that petty?!
- WAIT ANOTHER YEAR, I’LL COME WITH YOU
That friend, boyfriend or girlfriend that promises to come travelling with you. Sounds good right? Having your best friend by your side, or your loved one. It never happens. If you want to go now, go. Do it alone. It might cost your relationship, but realistically if you’re not on the same path now, you never will be. It’ll end in tears anyway, and you’ll still be stuck at home, wishing you’d of left a year ago when you planned to.
- THEY NEVER CHECK FOR YOUR VISA
Certain countries require certain things to get a working holiday visa. Australia for example, you need $5000 Australian dollars (roughly £3,000) to prove you can cover living expenses in Australia for a couple of months. And can cover a flight home, should you need it. You can spend this money once you are in the country and you can spend as much of it as you like, once you are through customs. Sometimes they don’t check, but a lot of the time they do. They’ll ask for a bank statement to prove it. You can’t predict it, and I wouldn’t risk it. You’d be straight on the flight back home otherwise. People tend to think because they didn’t get checked, no one does. I know people that haven’t, and people that have.
- YOU’RE RUINING YOUR FUTURE CAREER & RELATIONSHIPS
There’s no set date that you have to do certain things by. If you don’t start your career until 40, so what?! If you don’t start a family until your late thirties, so what?! It’s your life, do what you want to do. If you want to start a family before your 30, fair enough. If you’d sooner travel the world before you settle down…that is also ok. Everyone is different. Just because friends and family don’t see where you’re coming from, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong!
- TRAVELLING IS EXPENSIVE. EVERYONE THAT TRAVELS HAS A TRUST FUND
I didn’t. I just saved up for a year. Get a second job, stop going out every weekend getting drunk, and stop online shopping. You don’t need the latest smart phone and you don’t need designer gear to impress people. You’ll be surprised how much you save when you cut back on the things you don’t NEED in life. It does mean you have a year or so where you’re bored, and you feel like you have no social life. You’ll begin to question if it’s worth it. Trust me, it is. Travelling isn’t expensive, but it isn’t cheap. If you want to just up and leave, £4000-£5000 is a good amount to aim towards to keep you going for a couple of months. Not a year. You will need to plan to work along the way, unless you’re prepared to save more.