First off, I will whole-heartedly recommend New Zealand as a great destination as well. Especially over Australia, for reasons the posters have already mentioned above. THe people there are absolutely fantastic and it is a beautiful land.
Like others who mentioned before, travelling solo has incredible advantages. Being able to just pick up and GO is awesome and really gives you a lot of opportunities. Being with a friend also makes it too easy to just stick together and not really take a risk or meet new people which is half of the experience of the trip you'd want.
However, with only 2500 pounds and that's not including tickets right, you're very much limited to a 4 month trip. On the other hand, I'd highly recommend to take a risk. Go somewhere that will give you a jolt from the stability of developped countries. I have been through Turkey, Israel & Palestine, Uganda, Tanzania & Zanzibar and am currently in South America. S.E. Asia, East Africa (if you can get cheap tickets!) and S. America will offer plenty of adventures, amazing experiences that will definitely give you new perspectives and let you do it for cheap.
I'd highly recommend those options, or you could just go to Australia like nearly everyone else.
People have made some good points about sticking it to something kind of familiar for your first time out, but I say fooey on that!
As said before, going it alone is a good thing. The most life altering trips I have been on are the ones where I am free to discover my true self. You learn about want your motivations, your emotions; what makes you happy, or even fearful. I spent three months travelling across Russia using the rail system. Going where ever the tracks wanted me to go. Learning the language as I went was a big challenge for me - but it made it that much more of an experience.
I think you should go out of your boundaries, I also think you should consider Russia. It still is an enigma to the west.
I guess I’m after what most the prospect of doing this alone is slightly worrying for me, but not enough so to put me off.
I feel like that, just about every time I leave Europe and I have been travelling for years. I am feeling very like that, about my trip to Iran, next month.
It is good that u dont mind spending time alone. It will allow u to travel to remote places, where people dont speak English and nobody looks like u do, or understands the things u like to do. Lonliness is often a problem travellers have.
Money: I recommend that u save enough to have at least 30 Euros per day travelling money, not including your plane tickets. U dont need that much for everday expenses in many countries in the third world, but sometimes u need to deal with an unexpected expenses. If u fly to India and spend a year there, the money u have already may cover it.
I think a trip to India will give u the type of experience u are looking for. It would be really diving in at the deep end, as travelling goes.
When u decide where u want to go, u could buy a travel guide for that country. Good ones for back packers are
[ Edit: Edited on Sep 18, 2007, at 11:54 PM by Mel. ]
Dive into the deep end. Do an AROUND THE WORLD trip. I did a 6 month when I was 29 and it was life altering for sure (USA - 3 Months all over EUROPE - DUBAI, UAE - All over northern/central INDIA - BANGKOK/THAILAND - SINGAPORE - JAKARTA - BALI - HONG KONG - SOUTH KOREA - All over JAPAN - HAWAII - Mainland USA. 3 months later did a month in South America PERU/CHILE/BUENOS AIRES/all over BRAZIL). Went by myself and met a ton of people (you have to put yourself out there and talk to strangers ALL THE TIME - made dozens and dozens of long term friends, had some nice dates/weekend trips with some fun members of the opposite sex too - one of the highlights when you do this type of trip). Had a lot of invites to stay at peoples places on future visits/trips - gave out a lot invites too, it was all good.......
You want big, life changing results you have to do big things. At first it's very hard cause it takes you out of your comfort zone (especially these days when everyone is living through their computers - people hardly TALK anymore) but after a few days it gets easier and easier till it's no big deal to talk to strangers, etc. It becomes a daily way of life and as long as you stay friendly and ALWAYS be polite with good manners people tend to be really cool and nice. Might be the best thing you ever do, think about it (Do it before Idiots Bush/Cheney blow up the world - they still have time). You'll understand the world much better and see that everyone is basically the same once you get pass their traditional customs and religion and all that "taught" stuff. It's an EDUCATION money alone can't buy, can't say enough good stuff about the trip - do it before it's too late (SOMEDAY, it will be)
With the limited funds you will have, it may be difficult to have the once in a lifetime dream trip, but you could have a really great trip if you spent your money wisely. Maybe get a cheap flight on Oasis Airlines from London-Hong Kong, then make your way to Vietnam, down through Vietnam to Cambodia. Then possibly go to Laos, but if not then Thailand. After Thailand either get an Air Asia flight or go overland to Malaysia then on to Sinapore. Then get a Tiger Airways flight to Australia do a working holiday in Australia. Save more money, then continue on to New Zealand, maybe after a while in New Zealand, get a flight to somewhere in the US. Do a bit of travel in the US, maybe head up to Canada before coming back to the US for a flight back to the UK. Ideally you'd want to dave more money than you have, but if you got some work pretty quick on arrival in Australia then you could hopefully save up some to then be able to travel on further.
This trip wouldn't be the trip of a lifetime that you could have had you saved enough to buy a One World continent based RTW ticket, but it would certainly be a great trip that you would remember as some of the best moments of your life.
Like others have said, having no friends to come along with you is a bonus. All you have to do is worry about what you want, when you want etc and don't have to worry about your friend who after a month you'd probably get fed up with and become enemies of each other. Staying in hostels you will meet many people, some who you wont speak to ever again but others you will maintain friendships with. I've kept in contact with a number of people I have met on my travels and two of them I have actually met up with since the first time I met them. Depending on where you go, you may find people who are planning an almost identical trip throughout a country as you and then you will travel together for a while. The good thing about this type of travel is if you get sick of each other you can just split up easily without on going consequences like you'd have breaking up with friends you have at home.
The advice to go it alone is right, you will then speak to people instead and get to know them and their culture.
think of a plan that lets your body adapt to the time changes.... like fly to the east coast USA, travel across the USA by greyhound coach, stop offs along the way will be part of the stuff people there will tell you and you decide what to do , like Colorado, the Grand Canyon etc on the way to the west xoast, then fly down to Fiji for a week or two, you have no language problems there and I wouldn't miss that for anything it was so good we've been back a few times and still have Fijian friends.
From there you get to New Zealand, north and south Islands are so different, tha trip flows easily to Australia, with loads to do there, so far you are still in English speaking places and you will be getting into all the making new friends stuff.
I would suggest going to Thailand next, English is widely spoken and the culture is easy to understand, only thing is to be aware that all temples are holy ground, bare feet is essential and go the right way round,follow the locals, they love to welcome visitors and will help you out if you ask.
I would go to North Thailand to Chaing Mai to see the real country not to the tourist beach places, a week hill ealking with a guide costs very little, you get to villagers for overnight stay, elephant training camps and riding on elephants, river rafting is all there.
You can from there get into Laos, and work your way towards any of the other countries you see on the map that you would like to visit or you can go the other way into India and I would recommend a visit to Nepal, that was awesome, Mt Everest, Kathmandu and all that again we still have friends there who e-mail with news and chat. They are lovely people.
From there we hopped across to Bulgaria and got to like that so much we have been back every year for the past 4 years, again now have loads of friends there, and a house in a village where we spend our summer visit.
I think that all the place I mentioned will welcome you more as a lone traveller that they do with groups and make the visit more like you've joined their families.
Wow that has been a long message, hope it is not boring.
If I can help more with detail information or contacts to start you off at these places please do get back to me.
I have posted pictures of some of the places on the picture gallery.
Enjoy the planning that is where the journey start, Best wishes,
Firstly, as everybody pretty much without fail has mentioned, I would say it's actually a good thing that nobody else is interested in travelling with you. Before I embarked on my first trip, I was a little nervous about going it alone. However, I very discovered very quickly that it was a massive benefit. I made little or no plans as to where to travel to (apart from the open return flight from the UK to Bangkok) - if I liked somewhere, I stayed...if not, I left quickly. I did what I wanted when I wanted to and because I wanted to. Lone travellers tend to mix more and have a more rewarding experience because you are out of your comfort zone for a while, you push yourself and grow. You will be absolutely fine!
Secondly, you budget is tight, so a good place to go would be SE Asia where you can travel predominantely overland and get accommodation for next to nothing. Food is great too! I would also recommend India (but not as a first stop as quite overwhelming). It's VERY cheap in India. India is also a fantastic place to do yoga or meditation courses, take some time out and really relax and be at one with yourself. I think most people who have spent any significant time in India will agree that it touches you in a way no other country does.
Then...when the money runs out, there's always Aus/NZ just across the way where you can go and work for a while and save up for the next leg!!!
All the best.
why I agree with a lot of what has been written here (I especially like the suggestion to get a WHV visa for Australia or NZ), I would like to point out some other options available to you.
One of my first big trips abroad took me to the US. I worked at a resort for 10 weeks in 1998 and I while I had some issues (dumbass co-workers mostly) it was an experience I will never forget. Look at www.campamerica.co.uk for more info.
Since people have already mentioned SE Asia and India - so what about staying for a year in one of these countries? Or hitting the Middle East?
With your savings it would definitely be possible to live in Egypt for about a year. Similar should be true for Syria and India. (Don't know about China.) You can rent an appartment for about 35 GBP per month in Cairo and having about 5 GBP per day is plenty for food and other stuff. (You would only need to get to Egypt on the cheap, maybe sacrificing a month or so there.)
You could also go overland from your home all the way to Egypt and maybe even further into Sudan (or from Egypt to the UK). All you need is a one-way budget flight to/from Egpyt from thomsonfly and off you are for a 4-month extravaganza.
Another great overland experience would be to catch a one-way flight to Hong Kong (as previously suggested) and then travel back overland to the UK. The Silk Route by train would be an option, as well as making it into India and Nepal via Tibet from China and then going from there via Pakistan and Iran to Turkey.
And since you are after life-changing experiences: Consider volunteering. There are many projects out there that are worth your time. I've met a girl from the US who worked with orphans in Sudan, a Jewish guy from Poland who helped out at a Kibbutz in Israel, a French girl working for the peace now-movement in Nablus, Palestine and a french French couple with an animal protection clinic in Luxor, Egpyt. The German wife of a Pakistani student I ran across had been with the Edhi Foundation in Pakistan (which is like the Red Cross) and last week there was a report of a German on TV who (after a career as banking manager and deciding to call it quits) built an orphanage in Varanasi.
I personally like this project: http://youth.zajel.org/plcaments.htm
I've been a student at Nablus University in 2000 and if I had the time I would go back in a heartbeat.
Hope I helped a bit.
[ Edit: Edited on Oct 4, 2007, at 7:12 PM by t_maia ]