Round the world holidays are on the bucket list for many, but for those who are making it a reality (or those who just love to day dream) we’ve come up with our best travel tips. Whether you are on a tight budget or planning a lavish travelling extravaganza, we’ve got you covered to help you stay safe, make the most of your money and most importantly make it an unforgettable experience.
Before you go:
1. Keep your bank in the know
This is a great habit to get into when travelling. Make sure to alert your bank or credit card company of your travel plans, to avoid your card being put on hold while you are overseas. Having multiple ways of accessing money is the safest way to ensure you’re never left without cash.
Currency cards are also a good option for those who want to avoid getting stung by bank charges and poor exchange rates.
2. Pack light
Packing light is essential for anyone committing to even a few weeks of travel. How are you supposed to run for your next flight to Bali if you’re dragging a rucksack equivalent in weight to the baby elephant you just saw at the sanctuary?
Everyone has different ideas of what is ‘necessary’ but if you’re on the fence about packing a certain item, you don’t need it. It’s also possible to buy most things at your destination country if you discover you need them. Lonely planet give their best tips for packing light here.
3. Having said that, don’t even think about jetting off without the essentials below
- Padlock – useful for lockers in hostels and generally locking down your possessions anywhere
- Sarong – super versatile, particularly useful when showing respect at cultural sites
- Torch – you never know when this will come in handy, but it will, trust us.
- Earplugs and an eye mask – ensure a good night’s sleep by drowning out the inevitable disruption that goes hand in hand with hostels, planes and trains
4. Fly where the deals are
For those on a budget, or anyone looking to make savings where possible, relinquish control and let cheap flights guide your journey around the world. Use price comparison sites like SkyScanner and Kayak to find the cheapest flight options. Prepare to be flexible with dates and timings to save yourself money that could otherwise be spent on experiences once you reach your destination.
5. Get vaccinated
Falling prey to foreign diseases and illnesses is never fun. Make sure you are clued up at least eight weeks in advance of travelling on all vaccinations needed for every country you will be visiting to protect yourself against anything that might try and ruin your trip.
Be warned - not all vaccinations are available free on the NHS, even if they're recommended for travel to a certain area so remember to include this into your budgeting before you jet off. For more information about specific countries, the NHS Fit For Travel website has it all.
6. Consider a working holiday
To add a different element to your trip, particularly for those planning to be away for an extended period, it’s worth thinking about looking for either paid or voluntary work.
Travelling to lesser economically developed countries can really open your eyes to the hardships that many face across the world and offering your skills and time by volunteering is a great way to give back and make a difference.
Working or volunteering abroad can offer a completely unique perspective to that of a tourist and help you meet new people, not to mention earning a bit of pocket money for that well-deserved beer at the end of the day.
7. Take photocopies
Losing your shoes or your watch can be a hassle but it’s nothing in comparison to losing your identification and travel documents. Having photocopies of your documents and photos on a phone speeds up the dreaded process of getting a replacement passport or identification card.
8. Take out travel insurance
Obviously! You didn’t think we would write a blog without including travel insurance! Seriously though, if you only do one thing to prepare for your round the world trip, it’s taking out a worldwide travel insurance policy. Our Backpacker Package offers worldwide protection, round-the-clock medical assistance services and cover for over 150 sports and activities at no extra cost. If you are looking to go for a year, we also do an annual worldwide travel policy.
While you're there:
9. Expect everything to go wrong
Pessimistic, we know, but it would be totally unrealistic to expect a round the world trip to go without a hitch, even meticulous planning and expectation can often end in disappointment. Relax, go with the flow and don’t beat yourself up when things inevitably go wrong at some point. You’ll be laughing about it in a month’s time. Maybe…
10. Learn the language
No-one expects you to achieve linguistic fluency for every country you visit, but even a couple of words can really make a difference. It goes a long way with the locals, shows respect and can break down barriers with people who you may not be able to communicate with otherwise.
The local community hold the secrets to the best hangouts, food places and sightseeing spots. Trust us, you will be the star of the group if you can break down the barriers and unlock those secrets.
11. Splash the cash
Travelling is a costly activity so its recommendable to be as frugal as possible but allow yourself to splash the cash occasionally. Don’t miss out on a once in a lifetime experience over a couple of pounds and equally don’t be afraid to check in to a nice hotel or treat yourself to a delicious meal or two if you feel your body (and mind) need it.
These are often the memories you remember most fondly and will feel more luxurious after you have been roughing it for weeks on end.
12. Take photos and videos
Lots of photos. It seems an obvious one but don’t let the memories slip away by not documenting them. Spare your friends and family the pictures of endless landscapes and sunsets and don’t be afraid to ask others to take pictures of you and the people you meet along the way – much more interesting!
Just don’t be the Instagram bore blocking the shots for others while you endless try and capture yourself jumping in the air or pretending to lift the Eiffel Tower – trust us it’s the equivalent travel etiquette of standing on the right of the tube escalator!
13. Get up early
For all those late risers, change your ways. Seriously. You haven’t come half way across the world to sleep. The world looks different in the early morning and it offers an alternative perspective, less crowds and different people. Catch a sunrise and see things in a different light. You won’t regret it.
14. Hire a campervan
Offering ultimate flexibility, hiring a campervan can open up a world of opportunity as it offers the chance to get off the beaten tourist track and removes the hassle of finding hostels and dealing with check-in times.
It’s a great money saving trick too as it combines travel and accommodation expenses. Make sure to bring your driving license and that your insurance policy covers you should a mishap occur.
15. Book into hostels with breakfast included
When you are travelling, particularly in remote locations, its often difficult to know where your next meal is coming from or how much it will cost. By choosing hostels with breakfast included it’s a sure-fire way to guarantee at least one meal per day.
We’ve heard you can prepare sarnies for lunch too on the sly, but we’ve never done that… promise…
16. Speaking of lunch time…
If you are looking to avoid the crowds at historical and tourist sites, the best time to go is at lunch time. Unfortunately, in hot countries this might mean you are going at the hottest temperatures of the day so be sensible and if you decide to brave the heat, make sure you stay hydrated and stick to the shaded areas as much as possible.
17. Cultural differences
Do your homework on the cultural differences and basic etiquette of the country you are visiting. For example, in China probably the biggest faux pas you can make at the table is to stick your chopsticks straight up in your rice (it’s bad luck as it resembles incense stick offerings to the dead).
By swotting up on the local customs it can avoid awkward moments and causing unintentional offence to your hosts.
18. Checking out
Check, check, check. It isn’t called checking out for nothing. When leaving a hotel or hostel, check, everywhere for your belongings. It’s so easy to leave things behind but it makes your life a whole lot harder when you arrive at the airport to have a flashback of your passport still sat on the armchair in your room. Get into the routine of doing a final sweep wherever you are, no matter how much of a hurry you may be in.
19. Step outside of your comfort zone
When you are traveling is the perfect time to do something spontaneous that you would never dream of doing back home. If the opportunity for an adventure presents itself, go for it! It doesn’t all have to be skydives and bungy jumps. Stepping out of your comfort zone can be as little as talking to the new people in your hostel. By doing this, you’ll find that life’s challenges back home won’t seem so daunting.
There’s nothing more to say than enjoy! The sacrifices you have made for this trip, scrimping and saving, or even quitting your job will all be worth it, and the best way to make it worthwhile is simply to enjoy every moment. Be flexible, take risks, meet new and interesting people and most importantly take a moment everywhere you go to appreciate your surroundings. Have a blast!