I'm really very new to all this and just want to get some ideas as to where to start! I am 25 years old looking for a career break.
I have vaguely set out my route, (alone) - start in China in Sept, work across Asia to Thailand, then to OZ and NZ, coming home in December.
I've had mixed messages so far as to how to go about this - some poeple saying do it all through STA others saying sort it all out yourself!
I have no budget but don't want to spend a fortune.
Ideas of where to get this plan into action?!
I'd say to do it all yourself so that you have maximum flexibility. Book your ticket from home (UK?) to wherever in China, and possibly the one back from Oz if you absolutely have to be back by a certain date. Everything else can be done on the fly.
Given the countries you're suggesting, which can all (in the main) be easily traversed on buses or trains, I'm not sure there'd be any advantage to getting a more complicated plane ticket.
The STa ticket is not a bad option. They are good value for money considering how much those flights would cost individually. The main problem with this kind of ticket is that its not very flexible. Although you can change the dates of your flights it can be very expensive as i found out myself earlier this year. If i were to do the trip again I'd book a flight to my first destination and then wing it from there. Price up all the options though.
Thanks for the help guys!!
It seems STA would be a good basis for first timers, but people seem to be thinking that in hindsight, winging it is better.
I just don't understand how! This is me being completely naive, but I just dont have a clue how you can go to a country and then not have worked out how you get there!
Please help more!! Thanks!
I had exactly the same worries when I took my (ongoing ...) career break - I'd never done any independent travel at all, let alone backpacking. But I soon appreciated why the most that you need to do is book your plane ticket out and maybe the first couple of nights of accommodation. Beyond that, you sacrifice a lot by planning too much in advance.
You no doubt have some idea of where you want to go and what you want to do, so from that you can plot a vague route. But the specifics of what date you do something and what form of transport you take to get from A to B are, in general, NOT things that you want to be deciding now, because they are guaranteed to change. Once you're actually "on the ground" in a country is when you'll get all the latest information, be it about great places to see or new transport options or whatever. THAT's when you want to be making specific decisions about what you do, not 6 months in advance when you're sitting at home and have no real idea what your mood is going to be when you actually arrive in your destination.
I think many first-timer long-term travellers worry because all their previous travelling experience is on 1 or 2 week holidays (my apologies if that isn't your situation!) For such short trips, it's perfectly possible to plan everything to the minute, and in fact people tend to do that because they don't want to waste any of their precious holiday time. But for a longer trip, to do that would be an enormous administrative headache and would rob you of the spontaneity that's one of the most appealing aspects of independent travel. Imagine that you meet some cool people that you want to hang out with, or you find some unexpectedly idyllic place that you want to spend time in - you'll be cursing if you have to cut short these unplanned pleasures because, 6 months ago, you booked a sleeper berth for the next day on the 6:43AM express service from ABC to XYZ.
What's your main worry? Is it just the novelty of having to do things on the fly, or something more?
I would say book all the tickets from home itself and plan out the travel well.. You can start from the place which you like the most! Which one is it? Which one has been a childhood dream? Think about it and plan!When i had the same confusion i fixed on the nearest and beautiful place and collected my letter from American airways free tickets and ventured out! Awesome it was, a lonely traveler out on to an unknown place..!! Would do that again..
Thanks so much for this, especially mohn...I think I am in exactly the same boat as you were!
I really just worry that even with a rough plan and a first flight and hotel for one night...where do I actually go from there? Like if I then went to travel around a bit, where do I go to sort it out, what if I don't meet people?!
This may sound really silly to all those who have travel but I really haven't a clue how it works. The most I've ever planned is where to go on a 2 week holiday which is then all set. How do you go from that to travelling the world alone?!
I've spoken to people who say it just works out. But I still can't get my head around it!
Im thinking of doing the same thing next year and am in the same boat as you, never been anywhere apart rom a holiday package from the local travel agent,lol.
I think getting a one way ticket there is a good idea because you never know what will happen when you get there, but then how do you go about getting home and getting a ticket before you spend all your money?! even if you get a one way ticket to your first destination then book a ticket home from wherever you want to end up and book anything else you want when your there, that way your not tied to going places certain dates while your there and just go with the flow really...
Im hoping to go to Oz next year for just 6 weeks and wanting to do a week or 2 in NZ but not sure wether to book the NZ tickets before i go or when i get there??? no idea what to do, think I should go to the travel agent and ask ther advice as i've never done this before so not a clue where to start...
@Anon1234 It does "just work out"! But it can be hard to believe that until you've tried it - like anything new.
Deciding WHERE you want to go is down to your own personal preferences - maybe you like beaches or museums or hiking or scuba or hot weather or whatever. Pick up a guidebook and have a glance through it, or visit some Internet forums and see what people are suggesting, or ask other people for recommendations (be they locals or travellers). Look on photo sites like Flickr for some visual inspiration. That's the hardest part, because you have essentially an infinite number of options to choose from.
Deciding HOW you're going to go somewhere is the easy bit. You can find info about transport in your guidebook (though it might be out of date), the web, your hostel/guesthouse, local people, other travellers, travel agents, etc. Buying, say, bus tickets can be done at the bus station or quite often by your hostel/guesthouse or a travel agent (though obviously for a fee). It's not really that different to if you were trying to plan a trip in your own country. After all, much of the transport you use will be the same as used by local people, so the details will be obtainable via similar channels.
Of the countries you mention, China is the only one that may be a little more problematic due to the language barrier (assuming you don't speak Mandarin or any other Chinese language) but it depends where you're going there. Most of SE Asia sees so many Western tourists that finding English speakers is not difficult.
As for meeting people, it's actually very hard to avoid doing so! There is a bond between travellers that exists simply because the act of travelling is something they have in common - and having something in common is what brings people together in any walk of life. You have a ready-made set of cliched ice-breakers with which to start up a conversation (where have you come from? where are you going? did you stay in a good hostel? etc), and you can then take it from there. Not to mention that travellers are like anyone else on holiday - they're looking to enjoy themselves and are more open as a result. There's little of the snobbery that tends to go along with, say, trying to chat to people in some trendy London bar (or maybe that was just me ...)
(Obviously, meeting non-travelling local people is one of the most enlightening aspects of travel but that's another subject entirely.)
@lashes26 If your budget is constrained, then you need to make sure your funds don't run so low that you can't afford a ticket home. So keep an eye on your bank balance! If you don't trust yourself to do that then make a guess as to how much the return leg will cost and, BEFORE you go, transfer that amount to your parents' (or a sibling's) bank account. When you're ready to come home, you can then ask them to transfer it back - maybe not ideal, but at least you won't be tempted to spend it in the interim.
Regarding tickets to NZ from Oz, I have no particular knowledge of that but you could try tracking ticket prices for a month or two and see if they change appreciably as you get closer to some arbitrary date. That way, you can see what price advantage you would have gained (or not) by booking in advance, knowledge which you can then apply to your actual journey next year.
I've had some mixed messages from friends who say that seeing as I'm only going for 3 months, it would be best to sort out most of the travel etc so that I get the most out of my trip...hence going back to the more planned/STA option.
I appreciate people's thoughts on what its like when you're there - just worry I'll miss out coz i dont have a clue....THEN maybe next time I could be more flexible!!