I am to be graduating high school this coming June, and with college and life soon to hit- I know this will be the best time in life to begin my expedition of worldly adventure. I have been to Puerto Rico to visit family, and lived in an orphanage in Nyeri, Kenya for two weeks. But that is really the extent of my randevu with foreign land under foot(and Puerto Rico does not even count as foreign).
I have never backpacked, never traveled solo, and know English with enough Spanish to get through a decent "please and thank-you I am white and obviously oblivious to your needs". Other than that, I am prepared for anything(well in my daydreams I think I am).
I have NO IDEA how to begin!! I have wanted to see what others speak of since I can remember. It has never made sense to me why so many people look up to those who travel, yet do not travel themselves. As a career I hope to work in international third world sustainability/ development- but know that I can not be sure until I see first hand the places I have read about.
The extent of my knowledge is that I need a functioning bag, a plane ticket, and a good pair of shoes. Other than that- I do not know about budget, hostels(or even if they are the best place to stay), if I need a partner, etc., etc, etc. I NEED ADVICE! I do not want to be the ignorant American, or even the arogant American.
I would be greatly appeased if I could get ANY words of wisdom(especially that of going to inexpensive route).
A girl who wants to know no borders
I am sorry, I would really love to help you - but with a question that broad it is impossible.
I suggest you tell us which parts of the world you are interested in and how much money you have to spend or will be capable of saving up until June.
It is much easier to give advice when somebody writes "I'm from the USA and want to go to France for 3 weeks and do it as cheap as possible" than when you write "I want to travel the world, tell me everything I need to know."
The extent of my knowledge is that I need a functioning bag, a plane ticket, and a good pair of shoes.
Don't forget about passport and maybe visa. Health insurance is a must too.
[ Edit: Edited on 05-Sep-2009, at 08:44 by t_maia ]
BAH! I was so anxious to slice open my thoughts that I was not specific. Thank you for your response. I am wanting to go to Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. But I would also like to head back to Africa, and visit Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. I hope to go for around two months, and would IDEALY like to spend no more than $3,000 for travel- not including gear. I do not know which area would be the best to go for a first timer, and probably alone. Thank you again!
Unfortunately I know almost nothing about South America. IIRC you are looking at around 40 USD per day and person in South America - aside from the flights. So for 2 months you need 2400 USD plus the cost of the flight ticket, if you can get the flight tickets for less than 600 USD you should thus be fine. (But I doubt flights to South America are that cheap unless you live in Miami or LA.) You might want to post in the South America forum, stating the city or state in the USA that you live in. There you'll get more accurate guesstimates for how much you are going to pay for flights from your hometown in the USA to the countries you want to go to.
The big problem I see with travelling to East Africa will be shelling out for the flight. Making a very rough guess I think you will be looking at around 1500 USD or more for a flight to Kenya or Tanzania from the USA. I don't know about budget in these countries, but if you want to stay within the 3000 USD limit a flight ticket for 1500 USD means that you cannot spend more than 25 USD per day in Uganda, Kenya or Tanzania. I don't know whether this budget is ok, you'd probably know better how much things costs in Kenya and whether you can surivive on 25 USD per day there. I think your budget might be a bit tight, plus Africa is not exactly an area that is easy to travel in.
A few places that I know for sure are easy to do as a backpacker and first timer are Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Egypt, Turkey and most of Europe.
The big downside of travelling in Europe is that it is expensive there, for going for 2 months during July/August you are looking at roughly 6000 USD including the flight tickets. It is possible to do this for less, but only if you compromise and look at options such as cycle-touring with a tent, WWOOF'ing or HelpX'ing and or at couchsurfing.
Egypt or Morocco can be a good choice or maybe even the classic overland from Istanbul to Cairo. You are looking at around 1200 USD for a return flight ticket to Egypt, Morocco or Turkey from many cities in the USA. For Egypt you need about 25 USD per day, Morocco 30 USD per day and Turkey 45 USD per day. The classic overland Istanbul to Cairo might be a bit rushed in 2 months, but it is definitely doable and if you are careful with the money and can get cheap flights it is within your budget. Only potential hassle is getting the Syrian visa for a US citizen.
Similar to what I wrote about the overland tour from Istanbul to Cairo should be true for the South East Asian classic overland tour Bangkok to Singapore. Within your budget and doable in 2 months. But please ask somebody more knowledgeable in the Asia forum.