Adjust your expectations: travel doesn’t have to be expensive. Sign up to the newsletters of budget airlines or long distance bus companies and grab those special offer fares before everyone else does. Accommodation doesn’t have to cost as much as you think, either. Book a bed in a hostel, wild camp or check out the listings on Airbnb and you’ll be surprised at how little you have to spend. Check out the free attractions in the place you’re visiting and buy lunch at the supermarket instead of a fancy café. You see?
In many ways, this should be the exact opposite. We might feel that society conditions us to settle down into a steady job and tie ourselves to a mortgage. But the fact is there’s nothing wrong with throwing caution – and financial security – to the winds and setting off on a global adventure. Have your gap year before you start your career. Bring to the interview what you’ve learned about yourself and the skills you’ve picked up along the way – travel’s just made you a whole lot more employable.
As a female traveler who took her first solo trip to Europe at the age of seventeen, three decades later I take issue with those who tell me I shouldn’t travel alone. I’m not brave; in fact, I’d say I’m quite risk averse. But it’s not dangerous to enjoy a solo vacation so long as you do your homework. Find out which parts of town to avoid, don’t walk alone at night and trust your instincts when it comes to the people you meet on the road. You go girl, and go it alone if you wish.
If you’re happy with your own company, solo travel doesn’t have to be an isolating experience. Test yourself on a short break first and pre-plan your itinerary to avoid being at a loss for what to do. Join a group or book a day tour; choose a social activity like a cooking or dance class when you fancy some company. Mobile phones and social media have made it easier to keep in touch with the folks back home, so when you’re in need of a familiar voice, it’s easy to connect.
Believe this, and you’ll have a pretty boring life if you pull up the drawbridge and stay home once you hit thirty. There’s a big increase in grown up gap years for a reason – fear of missing out isn’t the preserve of the young. Pace yourself; if aging brings aches and pains, build rest days into your travel schedule. But keep traveling – there’s a whole world out there to explore and you’re going to need a lifetime to fit it all in.
Technically, this one’s true. You can get by in any country with sign language and a knack for miming. Pointing to a phrase in a book or using a translation app can help, but to really get more out of your trip, learn a bit of the language yourself. Even a simple greeting will, quite literally, open doors for you.
If only this were true! Sure, there’s plenty you can do to mitigate the risk of being felled by jet lag. Shift your mealtimes to sync with your destination, keep hydrated on the plane with plenty of water (not wine!) and try to sleep when it will be night time where you’re going. But unfortunately, there’s no guarantee this will work. Sometimes whatever you do, the jet lag knocks you out anyway.
Sadly, this isn’t the case. If you plan to bring home bottles of booze, tech gadgets or expensive perfume, do your homework first. Check out prices of local stores and online retailers; make a note of the costs. Sometimes it can work out more expensive to shop at Duty Free than you might think. And if it is cheaper, you’ll feel even better knowing exactly how much you’ve just saved.
Often, this is the exact opposite. Where street food is cooked to order, you can munch away safe in the knowledge that it’s not been picked over by flies, cockroaches or worse in a sketchy kitchen you can’t inspect. Exercise caution, however, when it comes to seafood and other risky menu choices. Remember fresh is best, so avoid what’s been hanging around for hours.
Planning ahead saves you cash, or so the theory goes, but it doesn’t always hold true. Last minute deals can be a gift, though you’ll need to be flexible as you’ll be picking up the holiday that no one else wanted. Sometimes, the best bargains come up unexpectedly. So, think ahead to where you might want to go next but allow yourself to be spontaneous if an unexpected opportunity comes your way.