Hello there, I'm a 26 year old who has been desperate to travel for years and feel as though I can't progress in life until I've done it... I've been saving up for a while, still need to save a bit more, but the main thing holding me back is that I have no idea how to go travelling. I haven't been abroad much and have never booked flights before or been on a trip in a different country that I've organised myself.
My plans are obviously still very vague but here are some things I know for definite:
- Main place I want to see is SE Asia, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Borneo etc. Would also like to go to India. Thinking about going to Australia afterwards too but that's for another forum.
- I would like to go for as long as I can afford to, a few months at least.
- My budget will be about £5K, not a huge amount I know, but I've heard from people who've been there that Asia is very cheap.
- Even though I've never travelled before and I'm so green about the whole thing, I would like to travel independently rather than go on a tour where everything is arranged for me. I know it would be safer for me to go on a tour but my money would run out much quicker that way.
- I will most likely be travelling alone.
So, I need help please. To people who've been on similar trips - How did you organise it? Who did you book your flights with? How do you travel to different places within countries (something that's really been confusing me)? Tips on staying safe (especially as a lone female)? How did you find places to stay? What was your total budget? How did you make your money last? How long did you stay? Etc etc.
Any information you can throw at me would be hugely appreciated! I've been getting so frustrated recently because I'm desperate to escape my life, but hindered by my utter cluelessness!
Start by picking up a few guide books, they will answer almost all your initial questions like transport and accommodation within a country, safety tips, currency, etc.
Thailand is an excellent choice for a first time traveller - it's completely foreign in terms of language/culture but it has been visited for decades by millions of backpackers and budget travellers so it has a very extensive tourist infrastructure. It's a great place to start and a great place to "learn" how to backpack - and it's filled with first time travellers so it's easy to meet other people just like yourself.
Don't get too crazy about trying to visit too many countries, especially on your first trip. You might get to Thailand and be fairly overwhelmed initially and need more time to get into the groove of backpacking so your travel will be reeealy sssslow... or you might be in a constant state of excitement and want to see everything. Either way is fine, but allow your style to develop naturally.
Read travel forums, buy guide books, use Google... it will all come together, no worries.
Have fun with your research.
I'm a first time traveller too (departing the UK in Sept for a round the world trip) and I was a little overwhelmed initially so I hope this will help you a little.
To book your flights, you should contact companies such as STA Travel, Trailfinders and Round the World Experts - these guys are experts in their field and can help with your route and offer advice too.
For internal flights, you can just google e.g. "cheap flights thailand" etc and use search engines in internet cafes. I also stumbled across this website really which is really helpful for travelling around S.E. Asia http://www.seat61.com/Map-southeast-asia-train-routes.htm#.UTUMQoV9knR
On finding places to stay, I have been reading some of the forum posts on here which have been helpful or using google search engines for the first leg of our journey to book somewhere (e.g our first stop which is Hong Kong) but we then plan to find places as we go around and meet new people who can give recommendations. I doubt you will be travelling alone for long, there seems to be a real sense of "community" amongst travellers which is really nice.
I also read alot of travel books from the local library and recently bought "Rough time to first time around the world" which helps with budget planning, what to pack, what to expect, how to prepare etc. http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1848365101/?tag=hydra0b-21&hvadid=9550950789&ref=asc_df_1848365101
I hope this helps x
Skyscanner is a popular search engine here for finding budget flights.
For local travel you might like to try Rome2Rio. It's a handy site that finds routes for you using local trains, buses, flights, etc. We use them to search transport options in our Travel Planner, which you may also like to use to compile all of the information you find.
For destinations and budget, check out vegasmike6's blog and forum posts—he has travelled extensively in SE Asia.
Regarding safety tips, just the usual: keep your wits about you; don't flash the cash/ipad/camera; don't hang out in dark alleys late at night. Read more in this thread and this one for inspiration. I also love Alexis Grant's tip to take a doorstop.
Have fun planning!
I left to go to South-East Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji in 2009, having never travelled before. I ended up being away for 18 months (which included 6 months working). Before you I was asking a lot of the same questions, but having got back from my travels I now ask why, as once you get out there it all becomes so simple!
I booked my flights with the Flight Centre, but if you were going to Asia I would suggest looking at Air Asia for flights as they are very reasonable (or were anyway when I got back in 2011). Really everything else I did as I went along. Apart from my first few nights I found accommodation as I went along, decided where and when I would go as I went along and then just booked buses or trains and the odd internal flight in Asia as and when I got to places.
You will see as soon as you arrive in Asia it really is that simple – it has a whole backpacker network already set up. You will meet plenty of people in the same boat as you and make lots of new friends and contacts as you go along.
I think you are (obviously) a bit nervous about this and maybe trying to find reasons to put off booking your flights? I did this before I went away! I kept thinking I need to find out more/read more/be more certain of where I am going and what I will do. All I would say is asap book your tickets and get ready to go – you won’t regret it!
Im Claudia from Vietnam , I have read your post and I know that you dont like working with agency tourism market but as my experience realizing the budget tour for people I can have some point to recommended you I hope that you will be great with your trip.
Guess the the trip will be : Thailand -Cambodia -Vietnam -Laos.
First people always start from Thailand - You have chose where you want to stay and where you wan to visit and then looking for the budget : transport ,hotel ,excursion there .Exp :
Bangkok ,Ayuthaya,Chiang Mai is one of the top Thailand attractions. The famous Night Bazaar sprawls along several city blocks along footpaths, inside buildings and temple grounds.
Ko Phi Phi is a small archipelago in the Krabi Province in Southern Thailand.
Then you take the bus go to Cambodia .Take the tour to see :PhnomPenh ,Siem Reap,Sihanoukville,Angkor watt .
Take the Bus go to Vietnam : visit :Hanoi -busiest city ,take night train goto Sapa - land of terraces , rice fields ,ethnic minority village .You can stay in homestay :15$/night spend time with the family in the village.After Sapa take train go to Hanoi and straight to Halong Bay
Halong Bay : The World of Heritage Site go 2D/1N stay on board but you should book board before go.Next day back to hanoi take train go to Hue visit the city and then take the Bus go to Danang, hoi an , then from Danang can take Bus o flight to Ho Chi Minh , discover HCM city , go to Cuchi tunnel , Mekong delta and then Phu Quoc island , Nhatrang for relaxing on the beach ,Continue taking bus to go to Laos from Hanoi .Cause You will reach Vietnam from Cambodia in HOCM ,so The excursion will be the same rout but in Hcm first .Hcm -Danang -Hanoi - Laos (The main route.)
Hope that you going to enjoy with this trip.