Aug 31, 2011 10:43 - magicjohnson | 3,998 views
Backpacking around the world is a right of passage, like attending a university or going on your first holiday with your friends. It’s a life affirming experience, and one that’ll stay with you for your entire life. In fact with rising tuition fees and the prospect of crippling debts now deterring many from higher education, more and more young people are electing to take an extended period of time out travelling before entering the world of work.
World travel broadens the mind so they say, and while this may be a tired cliché, it holds an element of truth. Nothing else gives one such an insightful outlook and understanding of life as being immersed in cultures totally different from your own. Long term travel is certainly something worth doing, but it does warrant a modicum of consideration before jetting off. What affects your decision to travel?
Can you really afford to go away? This will be dependent on a number of factors including where you plan to go, how long you intend to be away for, what you want to do when you’re away, and whether you are comfortable with working while you travel.
If you plan to backpack around Europe, be prepared to save for a very long time, or fund your trip by working while you’re out there. Conversely, if you are sticking to south east Asian countries which are usually very popular with backpackers then your money will go a long way. Thailand, Cambodia, Loas and Vietnam are all stunning countries that are very affordable.
As I mentioned, in some cases you may need to work to fund your travels. This is an especially pertinent issue if:
- You are traveling long term (many months at a time)
- You have saved up very little money to fund your travels
- You are traveling in expensive countries
Now, you may think that working on your travels undermines the point of going in the first place, but on the contrary, taking out transitory, part times roles can have more benefits than simply keeping your wallet full of the local currency.
Working allows you to make some new friends, provides an avenue to interact with some ‘real’ locals, learn basic foreign language skills and gives structure to your day. So where exactly can you work? Bars and restaurants are a good bet since they’re always looking for additional staff, but other common places to find work are farms or plantations, hotels or even building sites.
How long do you plan to travel for? There really is no standard period. Long term travel can refer to any length trip from one month to over a year. Some people go travelling and never come back home after falling in love with life as a nomad. Again, the length of your trip will depend on your personal circumstances. Do you have a job? Studies? A partner or family to return to? Maybe you have debts hanging over your head. How long you want to wander the world really is a personal choice.
This is the fun part! Where are you going to go? Providing you have the time, money and resources as discussed above, the world truly is your oyster. Popular backpacking locations include the whole of Europe, Australia, South Americaand South-East Asia, all which offer rich history and culture, great weather, friendly locals, good food and a wealth of sights to see. This certainly doesn’t mean that you need to stick to these locations. If you have the money, North America, Japan, and the Middle East are also great options.
As mentioned before, you can use a long term specialist travel company like gapyear.com, roundtheworldexperts.co.uk or RealAdventures to plan your trip around set destinations, or simply travel independently and wander from country to country whenever you feel inclined. To give you some idea, here is a list of countries widely regarded as must-sees:
Travelling is something very personal and will mean different things to different people. They key is preparation and asking yourself a number of key questions. Are you a loan wolf? Would you enjoy travelling alone or are you happier in a group? Do you like structure and organisation or would you prefer to freestyle it? Do you have plenty of money to spend or are you on a budget? Taking all these things into account will make your travel experience much more enjoyable and fulfilling!