I have never travelled before, so I'm desperate to know how you guys and gals go about to prepare for your exciting trip.
Of course saving money is one thing, and I'm trying to be as stringent as possible with my spendings - but how do you know when its the right time? Or do you go ahead and book tickets first, and then save towards a 'goal'?
My next question is: how do you know where to go, and what to do?
For example, if it's your first time arriving in Italy, and you checked yourself into your hostel/hotel, what do you do next?
Do you ask around and see what are the attractions? What if you don't speak the language? Do you go with the 'mainstream' tourist attractions like landmarks and places you read on Lonely Planet, or do you venture out by yourself? (this is personal preference I suppose).
Or do you plan your destination before you arrive?
I think I want to start planning, but I don't know how to go about it. Maybe it's a better idea to organise some sort of tour? So to 'ease' myself into travelling.
I usually have a pretty good idea of some things that I want to do before I go, mainly from reading a couple of guidebooks and from asking for advice from people who have been. My plans tend to be pretty flexible though, and I'm often distracted by something when I get somewhere that means that I change what I'm doing completely.
Thanks magykal1, I think I'll start noting where are some places travellers usually go. But I'd like to venture out into country side and non-mainstream areas, so I guess I'll keep my stay at each place longer. Woudl that be ideal way to go?
Plus how do you know when is the best time to start booking tickets? I keep delaying my move thinking, the more I delay and work, the more I am able to save up...
sometimes later is better. i was given a discount for booking and paying for everything in full almost a year before i went away, but i was probably better off just letting the money sit in a savings account to earn interest. if you're game- you can leave it til last minute to book flights if your travel is flexible, seeing as last minute flights are really cheap.
I have worked as a travel agent for the last 3 years and I have to disagree with bbasquiat. From this side of the world (Oz/NZ) it gets more expensive if you try and book your tickets at the last minute. I would recommend booking your tickets as soon as you have firm travel plans. Quite often you can just pay a deposit and pay off the rest later which gives you time to work and save. Also keep an eye out for specials. Airline normally bring out the best specials in November/December for travel the next year.
I would also say don't go for the lowest airfare. Sometime it actually works out more expensive as you have long transits and sometimes overnight stops. It's always worth paying an extra $100 - $200 more to fly direct on a nicer airline.
When you get to a strange country, prebook your first night's accommodation and then play it by ear. You never know who you are going to meet in the hostel. However I wouldn't recommend this is you are short on time!
As for knowing when it's the right time to travel, I set myself a goal of how much money I needed to travel and didn't start planning anything until I was almost there, that gave me a couple of months to organise visas, tickets, resign from work etc. And I'm finally leaving in about 6 weeks!