Having recently come off a year of traveling around New Zealand, I feel like I can give some pretty sound advice for prospective travelers.
Well, prospective travelers that are between the ages of 18 – 30.
And are planning on traveling on the cheap.
I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I’ve come up with a comprehensive list that will, hopefully, help you and yours travel safely and well. Some of the tips seem … a bit obvious, but it helps to have someone other than your parents telling you.
Point the First: Pay for as much as you can before you leave.
The Reason: Starting with this one because it is Important. Especially if you are traveling on a budget (and if you aren’t please take me on your next vacation – I am compact and an excellent travel companion), it is really nice to know how much money you actually have and can actually spend without having to constantly be doing calculations in your head of how much you have and how much you can spend. Money can be a terrible distraction when you’re on vacation, so that’s why I try to book as many things in advance as I can (hotels, museums, national parks, day tours and the like).
Point the Second: Make sure at least 1 person knows where you are going.
The Reason: It may seem silly, but really, it pays to be safe. Traveling is amazing and so much fun, but it isn’t always the safest thing in the world. Email someone telling them what you’re doing if you have any doubt about getting lost and/or kidnapped, you can even tell your accommodation before you leave.
“Hey, I’m going off roading on a cliff face today! Please send out a search party if I don’t come back.
XOXO Gossip Girl”
There were a few times when we were traveling a bit off of the beaten path in New Zealand (a very very safe country) that I’d get worried about getting lost and no one being able to find us and having to resort to cannibalism. But, you know, that wouldn’t happen because I always tell people where I’m going. It’s gotten to be a compulsion.
Point the Third: Do something you wouldn’t do at home.
The Reason: Not only does it make for a great story, but will super impress/scare anyone you tell the story to. When I’m traveling, I try to live by a motto similar, if less eloquent, than YOLO: You Might Only Be Here Once, or YMOBHO, if you will. I tried to live this way as much as possible while in New Zealand and Australia. There’s very little chance that I’ll be able to go back anytime soon, and I did not want to have any regrets coming back to the states – and I don’t, thankfully. I swam with a sleepy shark, I climbed through a cave that had (surprise) chest deep water and glow worms, I did a bungee swing, I saw glaciers, and endangered species and got to hold a Koala. Because of YMOBHO I have hardly any regrets. Well. I wish I had shopped more.
Point the Fourth: Do not pack last minute.
The Reason: This one is a biggie for me. Because I packed the day before we left, I was not prepared for how hot it was in Australia, and ended up having to wear the same 3 things over and over and over in the 3 weeks we were there. Without being able to wash any of it. I know I’m going to sound like a mom, but really, if you pack last minute you will make poor choices and you will forget a lot of things. You don’t want to have to buy and toiletries when you’re traveling. It sucks.
Oh, and over-pack socks and underwear. Bring at least 1 nice outfit so you can treat yourself or go out on a date with a hottie you meet on your way.
Point the Fifth: Be. Organized. (and stay organized while you’re traveling)
The Reason: I feel like it’s pretty obvious, but I’ll explain this one anyways. Keeping all of your things organized will take stress off your mind, and will make traveling much easier if you know where cords, documents and extra emergency money are.
The hardest part of this one is staying organized while you’re traveling – especially if you’re going to more than one city or have to fly at any point between arriving and leaving. I compulsively buy make-up bags and toiletry bags because I know they will come in handy when I’m traveling. I have an electronics bag, a make-up bag, a toiletries bag, a documents bag, a secrets bag, and an extra bag. For safety.
And one last one that should go without saying: have fun.
Traveling is one of the coolest and most amazing things you can do, and I think you should travel as much as you possibly can while you can. While getting a job straight out of college is the ‘adult’ thing to do, I believe that seeing the world, exploring new things and meeting new people is the human thing to do.
You can learn a lot about yourself traveling, so: