I was in my final year of university when I started to make a plan for travelling. It seemed like everyone I knew was backpacking across Europe and I was the only one who hadn’t yet taken this on. My main reasons were money, as it usually is with students. I was trying to graduate debt free then focus on travelling. Finally in my last year of school I made a plan to backpack Europe with a friend. We were ambitious, budget conscious and excited. This began my journey into travelling. Here’s what I wish I knew before it began.
It’s OK to do something different
There were many time when travellers would recommend a destination or sight and I thought – but why? That does not seem like my kind of place. BUT everyone is going, so maybe I should too. What I learned quickly was go with your instinct. If you’d rather spend all day at a museum no one else seems to find interesting, then go for it. The rest of world may love going somewhere else instead and that’s ok too.
Understand your travel style
I didn’t know I had a specific travel style until I started travelling with other people. My travel mates expressed frustration and exhaustion with getting up early and staying out all day. I learned that I was an On the Go traveller -is this the official term? I love being on the go when travelling. I find it harder to sit down and do nothing. I do recognize the need for this, particularly on longer trips so I do try to make the effort to do nothing. Knowing what your travel style is can be helpful when choosing a travel partner. You want to make sure you understand each other’s expectations.
Know what your deal breakers are
This is mostly relevant to finding accommodation. Everyone has deal breakers for finding the right accommodation, think about what yours are. No air conditioning? No free wifi? No pool? Figure out what your needs are to make your stay easier. It may seem evident but when you arrive to your accommodation to find out there’s no free wifi and you’re exhausted from travelling all day, you may not want to fork out the extra cash for wifi. Staying in hostels with kitchens is important for me when travelling in expense countries, mostly in Europe and Australia & New Zealand.
Souvenirs – it’s not your priority
Travellers often get requests from friends, family, colleagues to bring them back a gift from your travels. I’ve had specific requests from people I’m not even close with. If your friends aren’t travellers, they may not realize how draining finding souvenirs can be – or expensive. Sometimes the last thing I want to do is go through a market where every stall appears to sell the same products. Give the people at home a reality check about the likelihood of you bringing back gifts for them. It is nice to surprise people at home with something special you found them. That’s the part of souvenir shopping I enjoy. When you find that perfect journal for your friend who loves writing. Don’t let this be what you focus on. Hopefully you run into a perfect item for just the right person in your life and make their day.
I will continue to learn and figure out what my way of travelling looks like. Sometimes these things change based on what our travel budgets are. I could spends hours in a market if I had an unlimited budget and unlimited days in a certain place, but that’s usually not the case. Travelling looks differently for everyone, this is way works for me.