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What do I do during my travels?

Travel Forums General Talk What do I do during my travels?

1. Posted by alexander813 (First Time Poster 1 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

I'm a 23 year old man from LA and I've decided that its time for me to travel the world. Money will not be an problem so I can go for as long as I like, preferably several months or more. The problem is, I have no idea what I would do once I started! I would go to the country, check into a hotel/hostel and then what? I have no one to go with and even though I'd prefer a companion I don't mind going alone. So when people travel like that, or backpack, what do they end up doing? I wouldn't mind working some odd jobs while abroad I was just trying to say that I don't really have to to finance the trip since I will receive money every month indefinitely. I have interests in learning foreign languages purely for my own enrichment and would love to maybe incorporate that into SOME of my travels. But could any world travelers out there give me some advice? Possibly point me in some direction? Anything would be greatly appreciated thank!

2. Posted by Ed_P (Budding Member 14 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Hi Alexander,

you might find you would be best served by a specialist gap year travel company like BUNAC if you're not sure of exactly what you want to do or where.

Have a look at some of the opportunities they offer here:

It's full of great programmes of adventure that you could either get arranged and organised through them, or it may just give you some inspiration for things you'd like to do and places you'd like to go.

I did an organised gap year program in Australia a couple of years ago and had the time of my life working whilst travelling throughout the outback. I was too nervous to do it entirely alone so really appreciated having a specialist travel company to help me out with everything like getting a bank account and arranging my initial accommodation and work for me.

3. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5174 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Quoting alexander813

I'm a 23 year old man from LA and I've decided that its time for me to travel the world. Money will not be an problem so I can go for as long as I like, preferably several months or more. The problem is, I have no idea what I would do once I started! I would go to the country, check into a hotel/hostel and then what?

"Then what" depends quite a bit on your interests, and on where you're finding yourself (but that itself probably is determined by your interests). Part of the journey is discovering what you'd then like to do - what, freed from the constraints of people expecting you to behave a certain way, and the obligations of everyday life, you still find inherently worthwhile to do. This is (probably) not something which will come swiftly to you through some bright epiphany, but something which over the course of many months on the road you might discover.

For me, trying to put it into words, a very large part of it is learning to feel at home in a new place - feeling at home and finding welcoming spots where I can sit down and observe - and the other part is striking out into the nature and being away from people, to hike through overwhelming landscapes and experience moment I never could have expected.

So, I check into a new hostel, and first explore that hostel. What's the kitchen situation? (Decent amount of utensils? A working oven? Is this one of those rare places with enough fridge space? Anything good in the free food section?) Where's the lounge? Does this look like a place where I can hole up at the end of the day with a book and a cup of tea? Anything interesting on the notice board? Are there enough laundry machines? Then it's into the city/town/village/hamlet - Getting a sense of the layout of the streets. What's the public transport situation? Where's the nearest supermarkets and what are their opening hours? If WiFi at the hostel sucked, is there an internet cafe or regular cafe with free WiFi around? Any interesting looking used bookstores nearby? Parks where I could spend some lazy hours on a sunny day?

I love ambling without much purpose through new cities - exploring not just the busy city center, but especially the surrounding neighbourhoods where people are living their everyday lives. Finding weird and wacky stores, finding bakeries, student cafes, cheap eateries and so on where I would feel at home eating by myself. Places which by the third time in a week that I visit there, I can start to feel like a regular, and a local. Maybe I'll discover a boardgame store holding a weekly game night that I might visit, or a local theater putting on an interesting play, or discover that that used bookstore has a courtyard terrace where they serve cakes and drinks. Meanwhile photography is a hobby of mine, so I keep my eye out for locations with good views. The quay where the ferries leave from, the hilltop viewpoint, the promenade along the river with the great skyline. I'll eye the position of the sun, and judge the light, and make plans to return there for sunset, or maybe the occasional sunrise.

A significant number of the destinations I travel to, I picked for the landscapes and the hiking which will be there. If I don't already have a hiking map and descriptions of the various trails, I'll go and spend some time finding that. And then it's out onto the trails. Same as exploring a city, really, except with more purpose - building up condition, getting a feel for how well signposted the trails are, eyeing the light and the mountains. You can't predict that magical moment when a huge bird of prey comes sailing around the bend in the path you're following, but you can certainly notice it, and be humbled by it. Coming upon the crystal clear waters of a tiny lake, and spotting the newts in it, ceaselessly swimming up and down between the water's surface and their hiding place amongst the waterplants. Marveling at the four layers of moss growing upon each other on the gnarliest trees you've ever seen. Coming out of the forest into a sudden clearing as the sun above you breaks through the dark clouds and leaves every single waterdrop on the grass glistening in a vista that you know you can never ever do justice in a photo, no matter how good you'll get at photography. And onward, pushing up against your limits, stretching them perhaps just a little bit further, so that at the end of the day you more stumble than walk back to the hostel, but wouldn't have wanted any other way, because even though you'll pay for it with a recovery day tomorrow, that feeling of honest exhaustion and elation at just how far you went would've been its own reward ten times over.

Anyway, that's backpacking for me. Hiking, photography, nature, landscapes, and finding good spots to feel at home at in any given city.

You, you will be different. But probably, after a while, similar. What you most have to realize is that long term travel is vastly different from "vacationing". You need to find a sustainable rhythm, something you can keep up for months at a time, where you offer yourself plenty of time for assimilating experiences. That means taking things slow, giving yourself more rest days than you'd probably take otherwise. And thus getting to know places in depth. If that type of life is for you, you can spend a lifetime doing it, and won't ever run out of worthwhile destinations; you'll talk with fellow travellers, and pick up a dozen suggestions for places to also still go to. And especially when you know and have gotten to love a place, you'll also want to visit there during all the other seasons, to see how the cadence of life changes. And yes, working, or studying a new language, are then great ways to purposefully stay somewhere for a longer stretch of time.

I personally wouldn't go with an organisation like bunac unless you feel you wouldn't go without it. They certainly offer a lot of handholding, but none of the things they help with are very hard, and it certainly gives a boost to self-confidence and your overall feeling of accomplishment if you just start of tackling those things by yourself. (Browsing what they have on offer might be good for inspiration, though!)

[ Edit: Edited on 16-Jun-2015, at 11:17 by Sander ]

4. Posted by Peter (Admin 6278 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Agreed with Sander - it depends on your interests.

For me, it usually involves checking out some interesting architecture, visiting art galleries, finding public gardens to snoop around, finding a nice place to eat, checking out local markets. Finding things that are different to what I can experience at home. Just wandering around the streets is definitely worthwhile as you get to see the place up close.

Enrolling in a language course along the way would be a fantastic thing to give the trip some structure. That also opens some doors to meeting new people, which in turn can lead to unexpected activities that you just hadn't considered.

Another option is to make it a physical challenge - for example you could travel to Europe, get all the gear together for a bicycle trip and then cycle around from country to country. You will end up seeing a lot of new things along the way. Much better than a driving holiday as you're so much more connected to your surroundings. And you can still achieve pretty significant distances. If cycling's not your thing - a walking challenge like the UK's Coast to Coast walk would be a pretty nice 2 week journey to take.

But it all starts with understanding what your personal interests are.