Im 23 and from the UK. I have never really left the UK other than the odd family trip to sit on a beach for a week or judo competitions which involve flying to a country, sitting in a sportshall then flying back. Most my free time is spent wild camping in the lakes climbing and walking ... or clubbing.
After spending this last weekend completely soaked camping in the clouds ive decided I want to experience a bit more of the world other than the lake district! I have around 4 to 6 weeks off work over the Christmas and new year period and I want to make the most of them, visiting as many places as possible on a whirlwind like trip.
I want to do it as cheap as possible, and I am quite used to living out of a backpack. But I have no idea about the big wide world. I have been looking at the lonely planet guides and I am thinking of getting the shoestring guide on either Asia or Europe. I am leaning more towards asia as I guess my money will go further, and I could go interailling or just try and hitch round europe during next summer when I think I will get more out of my trip with better weather.
Anyway, what would you guys reccomend for travel during UK winter time, what books/magazines do you read for inspiration and information? Oh and most importantly ... wheres the best new years party!? Also what do you think of companies such as shoestring.co.uk, would it be better for me to just book one of their set trips? I am sooo confused as what to do!
I spent a New Years in Amsterdam. I loved it. Probably the best, mind you all my others had been spent in various small towns probably the biggest being Calgary. So I didn't have much to compare it to. Still, I was with one other friend and we had a blast, managed to meet a bunch of people who were just in for a good time. So if you have the time make the trip! Also if you are in the area, Germany is an amazing place to spend sometime, from munich, Berlin, rhein valley, koln. So there is my opinion Germany and Amsterdam, plus throw Austria, Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourgh in there. Mind you that was last year, these days Asia is where I am planning. I have a big thailand trip planned, unfortunatly I can't tell you how that is as I haven't gone yet. Good Luck!!
And as a side note: I tend to avoid pre planned trips only because I plan one thing, get side tracked and head somewhere else. So, depends on how flexible you want to be. When I am travelling I am always checking for cheap tickets to other places, you know weekends away inside my weeks away.
Oh yeah, and I am new to the U.K.....maybe a seasoned local such as yourself could tell me which ways I should head.
[ Edit: Edited on Jul 17, 2008, at 2:37 PM by TanTan ]
You'd love Vietnam - I did! I'm a bit older, but the country is the greatest, and you can't get much cheaper. I especially liked the city of Hanoi, as well as the towns of Sapa and Hoi An. They even have free guides in Hanoi (in exchange for the English practice) - google for Hanoikids.
I suggest Tripadvisor's Vietnam Forum. Vietnam is loaded with inexpensive hostels and guesthouses from approx. $10. a night, and the food is excellent and cheap.
I think to experience "more of the world" you should go further than Europe which really is quite close and accessible, and has similar views to the UK (religion, culture, politics, etc.) - that and it would be so cold!
Asia would be a great destination. I'd be thinking Thailand and Vietnam, which are quite backpacker friendly, semi-developed and yet a much different culture. If you're feeling more adventurous you could throw yourself into Cambodia, Laos (right near but less developed than the first two) and perhaps India and Nepal (awesome for the outdoorsy stuff you seem to like).
For inspiration perhaps look at some travel documentaries, Lonely Planet guides, or even just Wikipedia the countries you're interested in to find out a bit about them. Youtubing some destinations can also be good for inspiration, a lot of travellers like to put their videos up.
[ Edit: Edited on Jul 18, 2008, at 3:33 AM by Erik85 ]
Here's a great little online guide for Vietnam that covers the main points of interest very well: http://www.reidontravel.com/home/
Try this....this is about all the inspiration you are going to need to get that pack on....I guarantee it.
Really? Nothing? Take a look at this....Inspired pro travel beauty!!
You'd love Vietnam - I did! I'm a bit older, but the country is the greatest, and you can't get much cheaper. .
You either love Vietnam or Hate to the Maxxx.
From the UK and during winter time one of the big classics is the "Istanbul to Cairo overland". Turkey-Syria-Jordan-Egypt.
It won't be too hard to find cheap one-way flights to and from either Cairo or Istanbul. At the max you'll be paying 200 GBP return for the flight tickets.
In most countries that you touch you can live in comfort and style with a budget of 20 GBP per day and person, so for 6 weeks you are looking at around 1000 GBP total including flights. It is possible to do it cheaper (say 700 GBP) but I don't know whether a hotel room for 2 GBP per night is your style. (Yes, it was that cheap - I even got free cockroaches included in the deal. )
(A similar trip Interrailing in Europe would set you back around 2500 GBP, btw.)
Turkey is a bit more expensive, but since almost everything will be closed there in December I would basically save Turkey for another trip and race through the country, hitting only Istanbul and maybe one other place.
Seeing Jerusalem is certainly possible (Want to be in Bethlehem around Christmas?), but then you need to travel from Istanbul to Cairo, not the other way around. Syria does not allow people in who have been in Israel, so you need to travel Turkey-Syria-Jordan-Israel. The other way around (Egypt-Jordan-Israel-Jordan-Syria) is difficult to do and not recommended as everything depends upon the Israeli immigration officer's willingness not to stamp your passport.
Another tip: Backpacking in foreign countries and in the wilderness is different in certain things: 1. You don't carry food with you except to tide you over a long 12-hour bus ride. 2. You take about 3-4 changes of clothing and wash them in the hotel / hostel when they get dirty. 3. There is no need real need for camping gear, people normally stay in hostels and get around by public transport. 4. Due to all the above the typical size for a backpack is around 40 l.