Planning a gap year or round the world trip can seem daunting at first- it’s quite overwhelming how much there is to think about! I’m currently in the process of organising my own round the world trip so I thought I’d share some tips to make your trip planning a little easier!
- Make sure you choose the right travel partner (ignore this if you’re travelling solo). Travelling can put a lot of strain on a friendship/relationship because you’re constantly with the same person and don’t get much time to yourself. Talk to your prospective partner about how you imagine the trip to work out; the last thing you want is to find out while you’re away that they have completely different expectations of the trip to you. Road test your prospective partner with a smaller excursion; you’ll soon discover if they have any annoying habits you can’t live with!
- Decide on the specifics of your trip. How long do you want to be away for? What are your must-see destinations? Are you going to work at all while you’re away? Or are you more interested in volunteering projects? Are you going to be your own guide or want to incorporate some tours into your trip? These are all things that need to be considered. Your route should be a simple loop- too much zigzagging will hike up the price massively.
- Work out a budget, depending on how much you can realistically afford. That way you’ll know exactly how much you need and the time frame required to save up that amount. Shop around for the best deals- I personally recommend STA Travel as their prices are great and their consultants are really helpful- but there are plenty of other travel agents out there. Work as much as you can, the more money you have to take with you the better. It may seem depressing when your friends are out partying all the time but remember you’re going on the trip of a lifetime!
- Find out visa information. It’s your responsibility, not that of the travel operator, to ensure you have the correct visa to enter the country. Some visas have to be processed in advance, while others can be acquired at the airport or land border. Most tourist visas are free and last for a maximum of 30 days but some do have a fee (India for example). Working holiday visas are a popular choice for those travelling to Australia or New Zealand.
- Book vaccinations. If you’re planning on going anywhere fairly exotic, the likelihood is that you’re going to need jabs to protect you against some of the weird, tropical diseases that exist in those parts of the world. Ask your local GP for advice about which vaccinations you’ll need for particular countries or check out the NHS Fit for Travel website, www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk, which has loads of useful information.
- Organise travel insurance. This is probably the most boring part of trip planning, but also the most essential. The chances are you’ll be fine but there’s no point taking the risk and it’ll give you extra peace of mind while you’re off on your adventures. You must take out travel insurance before you leave; you won’t be able to get it once you’ve left the UK.
- Finally: Get your mobile phone unlocked so that you can use an international sim card, which will save you loads on international roaming and allow you to keep in touch with family and friends back home. Buy a good rucksack and a leg/waist wallet to avoid having your money stolen. Make sure you take a camera to record all the amazing memories you’ll have and a diary so you can keep a note on everything you’ve experienced.