Complete Newbie to travelling! Need help and advice! :)

Travel Forums Introductions Complete Newbie to travelling! Need help and advice! :)

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1. Posted by StuartM90 (Budding Member 4 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Hi everyone!
So recently my friend has been talkign to me a lot about how for the past 4-5 years she has been exploring more of the world from Mexico, Europe, Oz, Alaska, Peru and many many others! Just looking at her Facebook page I envy her beyond belief with the experiences and new people she has met.
Currently i'm unhappy...since I was young i've wanted to see the world with ym own eyes rather than through a tv screen but I've never known how? I work 9-5 in a office job and it's just not what I want to do for the rest of my life at the age of 24. question is for anyone experienced and who has great experience, is how do I start? I honestly have no clue where to place the first foot with planning, money, arrangements etc! Any help would be greatly appreciated! :) and if anyone would liek to join me on my new adventures soon then i'd love to meet you! :)

2. Posted by KellieBarnes (Travel Guru 813 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Hi Stuart,

Welcome to Travellerspoint! The first thing, I think, is to come up with a destination.

Where do you desperately want to go? Work out the place you have a burning desire to see; the best time to travel there; then research a few things to do in that place; find out the visa situation; ask a few questions in these forums about average costs and you have yourself a basic guide as to what it will cost and how long you can stay there.

Won't save that much money before your preferred departure?
Pick a new destination and start again.

Will have more than enough saved?
Good for you. Add an extra destination on or extend your trip!

The alternative is to start with how much money you have and choose a destination appropriate for that. But you don't always get to see what you want that way

[ Edit: Edited on 09-Sep-2014, at 03:55 by KellieBarnes ]

3. Posted by StuartM90 (Budding Member 4 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Hello Kellie!

Oh thank you! that's such a great deal of help!
I really want to see more of mexico mainly for the blue caves :) I think after that it would either be Thailand or Vietnam, possibly Mongolia! My thought it i'm going to see the most popular places right now like Australia, Thailand etc etc then begin to see other area's which are not the first to come to mind :)

Building and saving the money shouldn't be the problem, it's mainly the planning. Flights, accomodation etc. I'd absolutely love to go with a group and just explore with them. Would you recommend that? or travel alone? I'm happy with both :) but for a first timer what would you reckon?

4. Posted by Sander (Moderator 6018 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Especially as a first timer, I'd go solo; you'll constantly get to know people to do activities with, but you also won't be bound to doing things because someone else will want to do them, allowing you to actually learn what it is you like to do on such a trip - something you currently can't really imagine yet.
The above is also why I'd recommend not having too strict an itinerary. It's good to have an itinerary, so that when you don't know what to do next, you can just fall back on it - but other that in those cases, you should treat it as a rough guideline at best; linger in places you enjoy, move off-track based on tips from fellow travellers, and above all allow yourself plenty of time for unplanned activities.

I think you're already well on the way to figuring out how to do planning. There's no hard and fast rule for it, but here's one way which works: Come up with a list of places which interest you; do a bare minimum of research on what time(s) of the year those places are good to visit. String them together in a roughly coherent geographical order (assuming you want to do them in a single trip, rather than separate trips for separate destinations). If there's any big obvious gaps in between, see which destinations would work as a halfway point that you also wouldn't mind seeing.
Then estimate per destination how much there's to see there that'd also interest you. There'll probably be 3-5 "hubs" per country around which interesting places cluster (for example in Peru there's Cuzco+Machu Picchu, Puno+Lake Titicaca, Arequipa+Colca Canyon, Nazca, Cordillera Blanca, Iquitos - but not all of those will appeal). Give yourself 2 weeks per hub as a starting point, so you can really take it slow, do sidetrips, explore, get a thorough feel for places. Then do the math if you string it all together. How much time total per country, what does that mean for which time of the year you'd be where, how much money would you need (very, very roughly, count on USD $100/day for Oceania, $120/day for Europe, $50/day for SE Asia, $60/day for South America; this varies wildly based on travel style, and per individual country, but it's a starting point that should at least give you an impression of the rough order of magnitude for everything)? Based on that, start shaving on the itinerary a bit. Some destinations obviously really need no more than a day or two, rather than two weeks. Other places have so much to see and do that you can't plan for it, and you can just keep adding on weeks until you think you've exhausted your budget or need to leave to be in the next place before the weather turns bad.

Once you've done that, if it all seems feasible, post that rough itinerary here to ask for feedback, see if you have made any obvious mistakes. If not, quickly check if you need any hard-to-get visas which can be problematic, and if not, book a round the world ticket (or individual tickets, depending on what you've come up with) according to that itinerary. For the first country, research transport between destinations. Are there busses? Trains? Is an internal flight worth it? Book your first week or two of accommodation. Everything else, do on the road, generally doing rough research a couple of weeks in advance, so you know what to expect, and booking (where necessary) about a week in advance. Individual flights on that RTW ticket can have their dates changed for free, so you have a lot of freedom. Hostel bookings generally can be cancelled up to 24 hours in advance without any penalty. Don't be afraid to make use of these things, and change your plans as you go.

Lonely planets or other guidebooks are useful to get a feel for what there's to see and do, and point you to transport options. Probably the most common way to be tripped up is not to take peak season into account during which places are booked solid. It's not that common that they'll really prevent you from going somewhere, but all the more annoying when you encounter such a time unexpectedly (examples: NYE in Sydney needs to be booked 6+ months in advance to get a decent place, and 2+ months in advance to get anything at all; carnival in South America, the Australian Open in Melbourne, etc - but also general high seasons, like xmas through mid Feb on the South Island of New Zealand) - again, guidebooks can tell you about these events and times, or posting here - "I'm planning to visit here and here between then and then; any tips for things to keep in mind or what to see? (I like doing activities x, y and z)" - should also work.

[ Edit: Edited on 09-Sep-2014, at 07:53 by Sander ]

5. Posted by KellieBarnes (Travel Guru 813 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

I'm a solo travel fan so that will always be my recommendation. I get that for a first time traveller it can be nice to have strength in numbers, but I would suggest restricting that to day tours like a city discovery trip to get a basic understanding and then just explore everything yourself. The trouble (for me) with pre-planned group trips is that you are limited to a strict itinerary with very little local immersion and cultural understanding – the very reason to travel!

There are also the obvious issues if you don't get along with the people in your group, etc but again my thought is that travelling on your own actually opens you up to more conversations with more people because you make an effort to talk to others AND locals and other travellers make an effort to talk to YOU.

You will meet so many people with a free-flowing solo travel style and then you are free to join up with others for a quick side trip and move on to your next destination.

Post 6 was removed by a moderator
7. Posted by NZBarry (Respected Member 5 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

I am also a solo traveller, and it works for me. But maybe it won't for you. Since you are an absolute newbie, how about taking a small step to test the water - just plan a long weekend away in somewhere that is not your home town. See how you cope with planning and being a bit out of your comfort zone. If you like it, go from there. If you don't, maybe a small group tour to somewhere that takes your fancy in Mexico is worth trying - Intrepid is one of the big, well respected names but there are several.

8. Posted by StuartM90 (Budding Member 4 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Many thanks for all your help everyone I really appreciate it! :)
I'm sorry I'm not able to reply really quickly as the only time I get to log on is when I'm at work :( and i'm sure they wouldn't be happy to see me on here planning to runaway for a while haha.
But yes the ideas you are bringing forward are perfect! I will definitely consider going alone as you are right that I probably wouldn't be able to experience and see all that I want to see if there are other's with me.
The long weekend away or a week away on my own sounds liek a really good idea to get myself into it and see my capabilities so i'll definitely be looking into that!
I'll be thinking cheap and easy to plan for my first trip, my first ultimate destination would be Mexico as I really want to see the blue caves.
I also have been looking into something called Thaintro? Not sure if anyone would have heard of it?
Checkout the website and let me know your opinions? I understand I will be following a group with pre-planned trips and sightseeing etc but for a first time thing what would you think? it's quite cheap and cheerful too. I don't want to try posting the website as it's not permitted so I don't want my post gettign deleted :( but I know it's called Thaintro so shouldn't be too hard to find on google :) basically a planned week in thailand.

9. Posted by indietraveler (Budding Member 2 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

StuartM90 - where are you located / call home? That would be a start, ie to figure out how and where to go and what would be cost effective. For instance getting a cheap ticket to Europe and then hopping on trains to get around is really easy... Europe has an easy transport system, is not hard to get around, you can easily walk places and if you do research on hostels is inexpensive to stay.

Asia, is easy to get around, if you know what you're doing. The Language barrier can be huge and winging your way through public transport can be a challenge - although dirt cheap.

Africa is fantastic, but you pretty much need a guide and if you're doing the train / bus thing, it can be days that you are on a rickety bus in awful weather.

Mexico and Central America is cheap but it's not so easy to get around.

10. Posted by StuartM90 (Budding Member 4 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

I'm located in the UK, England to be specific. So getting around Europe is easy for me as it's on my doorstep. I may get the eurostar to france then make my way through the countries that way as a starter for myself and getting used to travelling alone.