Hello everyone! I've had this stuff in mind for quite a while now...
First, to introduce myself: I'm a 24 year-old college graduate based just outside of San Francisco, California. I never got (or took) the opportunity to travel during college like most of my friends, and it's all been such a rush since then!! I've been working steadily and I'll be taking the Law School Admissions Test in June of '09. I've laid down the gauntlet. I'm taking two months off of work to go somewhere... anywhere... just after that.
Well, not anywhere, which brings me to my next point. After some thought, I'm split between Europe and Australia/NZ/Southeast Asia. I've been reading the area-specific forums and I will continue to do so, but I wanted to get some direct feedback, considering my situation and goals: (1) I'll most likely be traveling alone. I'm a social person and I want to have a good amount of personal interaction (in addition to the solo reflection I hope this trip can provide). I hear that Europe has a ton of backpackers and there is no trouble finding some friendly drinking buddies. Is the same true for Australia? Also, are there any programs for first-timers like me, or is it best just to fly in on your own and see where things take you? (2) Cost - is there a big difference between the two? FYI, I'm planning on using hostels and dorm-housing as much as possible, and I'm generally a thrifty sort of guy. On a more general note, can you veteran travelers tell me how much I should have stashed away for a 2-month trip (excluding airfare)?
I'll stop there for now. Once I nail down goals for location and $$, I'm sure I'll have some much more specific questions for you all. Thanks for your help and feel free to message me.
If you can't find people to drink with in Australia, I'll eat my hat.
I agree, Australia is the capital of beer drinking, and the natives are friendly. I've had them buy me dinner when they heard my American accent.
Prices down under compare with the States, and right now the exchange rate is in favor of us Americans, and you will save BIG TIME in SE Asia (especially Indochina). Europe is super for backpacking and the train system is wonderful for travel, but if you spend a lot of time in the big W. European cities (Paris, Rome, Berlin) you'll spend your $ much too fast. I vote for Asia/down under - you will find some of the friendliest people on earth in this part of the world. I've been all over, but I've fallen in love with Vietnam (a little rough around the edges, but very special).
Thanks guys, I appreciate the response. After some more research and your comments, I've chosen SE Asia/Oz as my destination. It seems I'll get a lot more bang for my buck down under, and the place just looks amazing. I'll direct the rest of my questions in that forum.
I just got back from a 4 month trip to Nepal, the middle east, and Egypt. I travelled solo as well (not my first solo trip). I think travelling alone is great and you WILL meet people. You will probably meet someone at the gate when you San Fran... You will see a young person sitting alone and just break into conversation. On my travels I have found it very easy to meet people and was actually alone very very little. I am an outgoing person but by no means a show stealer. I would recommend adding New Zealand to your trip. I have been to OZ and NZ twice and it is a bit of toss up for me.. They are awesome places..
Drinking in OZ no problem as stated earlier...
First dont bring too much.. I had a Kelty Goshawk 2200 pack for my 4 month trip and it was perfect.. Otherwise you will bring too much, wont wear half the crap you bring.. and you will buy stuff too. Between airport security and tight bus rides if you can fit in the pack I mentioned, its a carry on size and you will be very happy.. If you find your self in desperate need of more crap then, buy a cheap bag on your travels and fill it on the go....
$$$ its been awhile since I was in that region but if I recall right and you do some cooking in the hostels you should be able to get away with $40 a day, but you should get those answers from people who are there or just came back...