You can read Part I first here.
Let’s say now you’ve made the solid decision to travel and save money; now it’s time to ask yourself the below questions to help you shape the actual plan of your trip. How you structure it solely depends on what you want. Basic questions:
- How long will I go (will determine how far you want to travel)?
- How much am I willing to spend (will determine your destination)?
- Which city/country(ies) do I want to visit?
- What do I want to see and do?
Once you answer these questions, and feel you know what you want to do, you’re ready to plan! However, I want to emphasize— plan when you are ready. The only way you will fully enjoy your travels is by not forcing anything. Here we go!
Choosing a Destination
After traveling for so long, one of the best methods I have found for choosing a destination is simply following my intuition. I have intuitively asked myself these questions: which country and/or city do I think would make me feel good at the moment, and in turn, that I will appreciate? In my current self, which place am I ready to know more about? What are my intentions and/or purpose in this place?
Passport and Visas
If you have chosen a destination that requires a passport or visa, make sure to pick a date of departure that will give you enough time to apply for a passport if you don’t have one, and apply for any visa(s) you may need.
Find out if you need any vaccinations at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prior to traveling to that country.
Prices of flights vary according to the season you are traveling in. I think Skyscanner is one of the best flight websites/apps that exist, because of its user friendly layout and great deals! There are other websites such as The Flight Deal or Booking Buddy.
I’ve found that travelers tend to spend most of their money on accommodations, food, and transportation. Here are some lodging options to relieve the stress:
- Hostels: I hardly ever book through third party websites, because I like dealing with the hostel itself. What I do is, for example, look through HostelWorld.com, or any other hostel listing website, choose which one I want to book with, and then go to the hostel’s website to book. One great resource for hostels worldwide is hostelz.com, which provides direct contact info for over 44,000 places to stay around the globe.
- AirBnB: Let’s say you are staying in Rome for a month. It would be better to rent a room, because hostels get really uncomfortable after a while, and you would pay a consolidated whole price, versus per night. Sometimes hostels can offer a whole price for their private rooms (if they have any). Just ask.
- Couchsurfing: It’s a website where you can meet people in different cities all over the world, and they can host you as a guest at their home for free. I’ve used it a few times, and it has been a rewarding experience, because I have met long-time friends.
- Stay with a Friend: I’ve made friends around the world, so when I think of wanting to go to a specific place, I ask myself if I have a friend there. If I do, I reach out to them to ask if I can crash.
Working abroad is another way of saving money on accommodations, but also a great way to meet people and travel with a purpose. During my trip to Europe, I worked in Florence, Barcelona and the south of Spain, Quentar.
I used Workaway for all three jobs. You can apply to various jobs through this website, such as working at a guesthouse, teaching someone a language, being an au-pair, and even farming. In exchange for your 5 day/4 hour a day workweek, they will provide housing and food. Another great site is HelpX (similar to Workaway), which is just for working on farms. All require a yearly or bi-yearly subscription.
For my trip throughout Europe, I honestly didn’t use any guide books, because I relied on my intuition. I also didn’t pre-plan anything. I let the people I met throughout my journey tell me where to go and what to do. However, some good guide books to use are from Lonely Planet and Rough Guides. Nomadic Matt is another great budget travel resource.
Travel insurance is particularly important, and recommended, for those who are traveling for an extended amount of time. The obvious reason is that the longer you stay, the more likely it is that you can get sick or into an accident. There are several options such as Travel Guard, Allianz, and Medjet Assist to choose from; it all depends on what type of trip you’re going on, and what kind of protection you need.
Most importantly, enjoy the process of planning. Remember: It’s about the journey.