What travel did for 3 young adults.
22 tips to travel.
Many will come into this article with very different viewpoints on travelling, some may be seasoned pros looking for some inspiration for the next big voyage, there may be some looking to catch top tips for the adventure already on the horizon and just as likely is the group of new comers who are looking for that push to get out the door and into the word of travel. Hopefully everyone, and anyone will find something to take out of this and if you know someone looking to get inspired, pass it on. (If you want the quick take out, just hop to the end, you’ll see the summary points, but if you want those gritty details and the pretty pictures keep on!)
I’ve enlisted the help of three young professionals who, between them, have traveled over 20,000 Miles into 4 major continents, America, South America, Africa and Asia
A great place to start this articles journey is in the far-off lands of Asia, specifically China, India and Sri-lanka. For a splash of perspective, Charlotte our first young traveler, based in London is a marketing officer who graduated from Sheffield Hallam University. In her spare time, you’ll probably find her reviewing your local coffee shop. In 2016 she decided to take a big risk and instead of doing the traditional ‘British holiday’ of a rave in Ibiza or lounging about in Rhodes (which both have their place in the diary don’t get me wrong!) she decide to travel with her partner Dan Akers across Asia for a 3 month journey.
Something that surprised me most during our chat was even though, by her own admission, Charlotte is an extremely organised person there was very little concrete plan of action. “Nothing was booked in advanced, everything was done whilst we were there, it was only the Hostel in Hongkong that was booked”. So here comes my first slice of advice! Don’t get bogged down in the details! The biggest, and most important step you can take is the first foot out your door. Although as our first traveler advises it’s great to have an idea of where you want to go, or things you want to see, the most important thing is to immerse yourself in the culture you’ve found. Charlotte finds blogs a great source of information and are often full of little gems of information that are missed in holiday brochures or sales sites.
Reminded of her experiences of Sri Lanka when planning, Charlotte came across a well-known site, Sigiriya Rock, a great tourist hot spot which you can climb for about $50. However, it was as a result of being in the moment and taking the advice of other travelers and locals that she discovered there is a rock right next to it, it only cost $10 which unsurprisingly gives you a better view of the Sigiriya Rock you’ve traveled all that way to see! So, remember, travel in the moment!
The next bit of advice may come as no surprise, but is extremely important to your overall experience of the travel. Embrace the culture, especially when its different. Charlotte’s biggest shock, and most noticeable difference was pretty much on arrival, “When we first got to India we were very aware that we were different, women are treated very differently and for me it was a lot easier than for most single female travelers because I had Dan. Getting my head around the fact it was okay for people to be staring at me the whole time because of how unusual it is to see white travelers (particularly in North India) was at first daunting, but once I stepped out my comfort zone I got a completely different experience.
“Embracing the change is what can bring positive changes. “This experience gave me a completely different view on life, when I was away we were sat in a train station where the train was 2 hours delayed, the people around us saw this as completely normal, but for me it was irritating, and the people around us were so relaxed about their life. “I turned to Dan and exclaimed “aren’t you so pleased your life at home isn’t like this?” The experience brought a humbleness to Charlotte and helped her to understand her blessings. “At the train station people were eating food in bowls on the floor, at home we have been so privileged to be given a life where we don’t have to go through these lengths [to get to places/eat]. I got a different view on people, I was so snobby before towards people that were homeless, and had a different [negative] view on charity, having experienced these things that people haven’t been able to I realised I should help people more. Not everyone is gifted to have everything they wanted.
Before I started going into the details of her journey across Asia I asked Charlotte what she thought it took to be a traveler, the key attributes or skills to be successful and to come away with true value for money. “You have to be completely open to what you’re going to experience.” “Before I went away my family were apprehensive because I wasn’t going to traditional places, but you can’t be closed otherwise you won’t experience things the way you should be experiencing them. Dan and I tried the dingiest places, we had street food that could give you Delhi Belly, but if we hadn’t done that we wouldn’t have had the experience.”
Sometimes you must take the leap. Before her journey, Charlotte had never traveled before, but she explained what really inspired her and got her out the door was that she had been working so much at University and had a part time job that she decided it was time for a break, she had been so full on that she decided it was time for a time out. But it’s important to remember the journey isn’t over just because you get home, nor does the world at home stop just because you’ve gone. So here comes the next top tip, mentally prepare for when you come home. “I’m very organised, so before I left I had a set scheme which meant I had mentally prepared for when I get back to have at least 2 years back at work before I could go again. Often people going away don’t think or have a prospect of not coming back, and it’s important to plan. Its about coming back to reality, you can become depressed, you have been on a life journey and all you can think is ‘Oh shit, this is crap!’ When you’re travelling, you live in this bubble, when you’re away you think life stops at home, you don’t think of anything else. But this is the tough part to remember, life doesn’t stop when you’re away, the world keeps turning. When away, Charlotte had a huge shock that her family pet dog had been put down, instead of letting this spoil her time away she had to embrace the difficulties of it, and instead decided to go on a mission to give love to the stray dogs she could find.
It’s a great way to meet new people. “One occasion we hadn’t arranged to meet Mark and Chantel at a hostel, a couple from Kent, who we met in Mumbai. We had just arranged to meet back up in Goa but had to travel on separate trains. The night before we arrived Chantel got covered in bed bugs at a hostel, so the two for them decided to move to another hostel. By the time we arrived it turned out they were at the same hostel in the same room, so we spent the week together.” Charlotte highlighted that its only in hostels do you really get connected, in hotels it easy to become disconnect and in your own bubble; but in a hostel, you’re in a situation where you must meet new people. Charlotte’s handy travel tip comes in the form of an app called Maps.me (download maps of the locations) this then let you have google maps without internet. It turns out its THE traveler app everyone had, which they only find out about through meeting people at hostels
My final take out from Charlotte and her time in Asia, don’t waste your privilege. When Charlotte was in Delhi she met 2 young Indian students, “they were so lovely and were from a privileged background in India who were looking to help western travelers with the travels across India, we got chatting and they explained they would never be able to travel to London because their life doesn’t give them that opportunity. They would have to save their income for nearly 15 years to afford a travel to London”. So, whilst you’ve you got the opportunity you should seize your privilege and make the journey.
The next adventure comes from Megan, a young graduate from Manchester, you’ll find her tending horses, or looking for her next travel. Never in one place, Megan is forever on her feet planning journeys with friends, family or even alone. Megan’s reason for travelling as she explains is “I like to experience a new culture, not in England, where life moves bit differently, I think it helps you to learn more about yourself, it teaches you new things because you’re experiencing things you wouldn’t do at home. You’re in different circumstances that you wouldn’t usually have to deal with, learning to speak to people in different languages and getting past that barrier. Even in the states, the bath room being called a rest room can prove a challenge as a waiter stares blankly at you.”
Thinking about her time in the USA as well as her recent visit to Uganda, “I would recommend starting out at travelling in places that are more like the UK, that way you are still getting the travel experience but you’re not having to overcome a huge change. It’s a great first step that will probably give you the travel fever.” One negative, if you can call it that, is “I think that one thing is that you want to go and see more, you feel like you couldn’t just go back to never getting on a plane and seeing more. Once you pop you just can’t stop. I’m always like that. I’m always hungering and looking for the next opportunity”.
One of the biggest challenges any travel has to overcome as Megan explains is “fitting in everything you want to do. Sometimes you’re having to make sacrifices when travelling, deciding which things you want to do. Often there’s limited time when you’re in one place, that’s the difficult part of it but that’s never an issue for me because It gives me an excuse to go back.” Never the less your journey can be a great success even when making these sacrifices. Megan explains “You have to be willing to put yourself out there, you can’t rely on others, you have to be ready to try things that you might not have been up for straight away. Often it turns out you enjoy something you didn’t realise you would. You must be somewhat organised. Even if it’s just being able to make decisions, its most important to be decisive particularly when it comes to making sacrifices.” Remember you’re travelling for you. It can be easy when you’re travelling in a group, or even once you’ve met new people to sacrifice the things you want to do to go with the crowd. Well, guess what, if you want the most out of your travel it’s time to ditch the status quo and go with your heart. As Megan highlights you need to be able to make decisions for yourself, so never be afraid to stand up and say, “This is what I want to do today” (and if there is nobody to say it to its okay to just think it).
Following on from Charlotte, Megan explains her favourite memory from travel was “when I went to the Navajo, a native American tribe, in monument valley just because it was completely different to anything I had ever done before, it was fully immersed with the native Americans. I’d never come across anything before. It’s easy for people to see the USA as this ‘westernised’ or trashy pop-culture place, but if you do travelling right you can find these pockets of pre-colonialist culture. The parts that were most enriching were seeing the monuments in the valley at sunrise. It only cost $90 but meant we had the local cuisine made by the local Navajo, we were told stories by the guides under a clear sky of stars and the moon, even a few shooting stars went over head. At dinner, we got a performance of a traditional rain dance, it was unforgettable.”
But its key to take note that travel starts often before you leave your house. Megan’s top advice is packing appropriately. “I always struggle with packing, I know for a fact the first time I fill my suitcase I’m not packing appropriately, I’d happily take 3 jumpers or more to somewhere that’s so hot I won’t need it. I’m forever having to un-pack and re-pack until I can safely say I’ve got it right. One thing I always forget to ‘pack’ until the last minute, or I’m reminded, is travel insurance.” It’s easy to forget coming from a country where health care is a concern of the nation and we don’t have to have an insurance policy to protect us in case of the world, in many countries your E11 just won’t suffice. So, take note, you need to take out the insurance. It’s often cheap for short breaks, and if you have more than one tripped planned sometimes it can be economical to pay for the year.
You can always rely on strangers. — In 2012 Megan was on her way into NYC to get a train out to the airport having just finished a 3 month visit to USA on CampAmerica (a great way for travellers to get into something new as well as boost your CV) when she had to make a connection. “I was travelling with all my bags, I didn’t realise that my phone had slipped out my pocket while I was rushing about the subway stations, it was when I went to check the times I realised my phone had gone. I went through all my bags and went to lost property who advise I most likely wouldn’t get it back. I was distraught, I couldn’t believe at the end of my journey I had lost my phone, my only contact to my family for when I got home with all my photos and memories on.
Stood still, clearly distraught, a NY policeman asked me if I was alright, and I burst in to tears (not my finest moment). He calmed me down and spoke to me for 20 minutes, he called his friend from Starbucks to call my phone which of course had no response. The attendant, Leo, in Starbucks set me up with a drink and helped me out. Just as I was getting my drink the Police got a radio through to say my phone had been handed in at Potluck in the station. Of course, I didn’t know where it was so the NY policeman took me the whole way and made sure it got it back to me.”
Speaking of Africa, “My experience in Africa was much likes Charlottes, there are people around without any money and you realise even as a student, where compared to people who work, or your parents you think you’re poor, these people have less than nothing. It becomes a humbling experience, you realise there are people in tougher situations than what we are in. It makes you thankful for what we do have.”
So finally, we come to land with Bradley Foley, arguably the most seasoned pro out of the three, Bradley has been from Brazil to Africa and even India. Bradley can be easily described as a chirpy chappy, he’s upbeat and always ‘down for it’ as the saying goes. If you’re not watching him shake up cocktails at his night job in Revolution you’ll find him pumping up running a 5K followed by a long-distance bike ride. Bradley’s reason for travelling may come as a surprise to many, I was certainly taken a back, but Bradley explains “the reason for my travel really was my anxiety, growing up I had major anxiety but at the time I didn’t know that’s what it was, I knew when I was having panic attacks I just didn’t identify the anxiety, I think on the outside I came across as happy, always a part of the action, playing football and games I was almost always in the center of things, but really inside I was just worried. I decided if it’s this bad that I’m living in a constant state of worry I can either get on with it, or live in a bubble, and that’s why travelling has helped me, I’m not a home bird, I don’t miss home when I’m away.” So here follows the tip Travelling helps with your mental, and physical well being.
During my interview with Bradley I was graced with his older brother Connor, who had his own perspective on travel that showed the effects travelling can have not just on an individual but a family unit. I asked Connor do you think you’ve been influenced by Bradley travelling so much to which he noted “seeing my younger brother travel, I mean it’s not something I’d even considered doing before but seeing Brad doing it and hearing his stories is a real inspiration. Although I’ve seen the world in a different light I’d still like to enjoy travelling the way Brad has. I know before I wouldn’t even have thought about it.” Your travel can inspire others.
Unlike Charlotte travelling with her boyfriend Dan, and Megan often travelling in a group unit, Bradley is a true free spirit in his journey. A self-confessed last minute- no research- no planning guy Bradley shed some real light on the benefits of going it solo, and more importantly going without a plan. Ditch the plan. In regard to his travel in Brazil he explains, “When you’re travelling, especially when I was in Brazil you could spend all your time planning what you want to do for three days but then you meet someone else who has a better plan, or a local who has some amazing advise of places to go, but if you’ve planned and usually booked things you’ll end up wasting so much money. That’s the benefit of going solo too, you can just go travelling with freedom, change your plans as you want.” Which leads to Bradley’s agreement with Charlotte “Word of mouth is always better than the internet- you will find the best deals and advice comes from asking the locals when you get there-you need to speak to people, you can’t be closed off. I found maps.me talking to someone in Peru like Charlotte in India.”
But travel comes with its challenges, there is no denying it, none of our travelers have gone without it but Bradley most bravely faced the hardest of all. When I discussed Charlotte’s experience and advise that the world doesn’t stop when you’re away on travel Bradley explained- “Pre-travel the year my mum passed the funeral was 14th May and I was going away at the end of May. Connor was going away 15th May with work. That was difficult I’m a big believer of life goes on and you can’t let that dampen your experiences, one thing I learnt about grief is it doesn’t have to be emotional, because it was the first time that I had faced losing immediate family. Travelling helped overcome this. My first difficult decision was should I go? I was fortunate to have the support from my family and my dad encouraged me to still go.” Now, regardless of being spiritual, religious or superstitious the world does work in mysterious ways, and it’s what happened next that speaks volumes for the world of travel and adventure. “When I got out there I met a girl who had lost her mum when she was 12 and she helped me after I explained my story. Kelsey Akers an American girl, hipster as you get, she was beautiful spirit, asked me one question; “what scares you most about your mum dying?” and I responded, “forgetting her”. She related to it and she laughed, saying you shouldn’t be worried about that, you will remember her less and less but it doesn’t mean she didn’t exist.” Bradley explains the experienced changed his thinking, before he believed “If I forgot about her I’m a bad person” but Kelsey helped him put things in perspective to think “it’s not a bad thing and that helped me.”
You don’t need to set a major budget. “I’ve always traveled on a shoe string budget, I haven’t missed out if anything I’ve gained from that experience. I’ve had to stay with the locals and been forced to get to know people. I often have people come up with excuses about being able to afford travelling, but really you just need to commit yourself. You can’t afford not to go travelling. I always just say to people just book it and the rest will sort itself out. For my trip to Brazil I was out having a pin at the pub after university with the lads and we had just got our student loans in, we all did what any good typical student does and started spending. Jake, one of my friends, was talking about a working exchange in USA he was doing which got me thinking about how I wanted to go to south America. I started looking at brochures and decided to get the flights booked and my first nights’ accommodation, which was about £900. The rest was up to fate.”
Like Megan’s experience in USA, Bradley explains the willingness of those with nothing to help others. “I found myself in the Andes stuck on a coach, in the day it was blazing hot then suddenly over night the landscape was full of snow. I had no food or money and that that point I had nothing available, no money out, no shops to go to I was starving. Then a stranger offered to split everything with me, his water, his food. He didn’t need to and he was just another traveler, he went out of his way to overcome the language barrier to help me.” Connor reflected on his time in the army and added “When I was in Afghanistan and Africa I noticed the same, people in poverty they have nothing to lose. They will happily give you the last grains of rice, they don’t think about it, they’re always happy to share.”
Travel opens opportunities you might not expect. “It was my last day in Vietnam” Bradley recalls “I was flying out to go to India and I noticed a woman who was typing away on her laptop, she accidentally knocked her pen on the floor, and then like a scene out of the movies we both went to pick it up. She said, “Thank you” in perfect English, which really took me back. It turned out she lived in Vietnam, her family live in Australia but she’s from and grew up in England. She had got into freelance journalism after she found out she enjoyed meeting new people and writing about them on her travels, she explained she never intended for any of it to happy but she now works for a company in Vietnam. Sometimes these things happen because of opening up to travel and specifically to the experiences available to you.”
Finally, Bradley’s top preparation advice is something that caught me off guard. “A Toiletry bag is something I underestimated. I never used to pack one because I just assumed you could get everything you need there, but sometimes that’s not the case, you arrive to a new destination in a rural part of the country and there’s nowhere to get anything. You need to take the basic amenities, always take the essentials.” I asked if there’s anything he couldn’t live without when travelling, “Water. I’m scared of dehydration, you don’t realise how quickly it can come on, in the UK there’s water everywhere you can always just have a drink but in some countries, it’s not as simple as that. Subconsciously I’m always checking what healthcare is around me too, because it’s not like the healthcare here, you need to have an idea where the local hospitals are and what the procedure is in an emergency.”
So that about brings us back home, which is where I will leave this last message. I asked all three travels do you think you need to ‘go far’ to travel, and all three had a similar response. “No.” All three spoke of how, in a way, there is an element of regret they have not done more to explore the UK, but if you’re a bit nervous of going to far off lands the UK is full of great heritage, so go, get it booked don’t wait around any longer.
1. Don’t get bogged down in the details!
2. Travel in the moment!
3. Embrace the culture- especially when its different
4. Embracing change is what brings positive changes
5. Not everyone is gifted to have everything they want
6. You must be open to what you’re going to experience
7. Sometimes you must take a leap of faith
8. Mentally prepare for when you come home.
9. Its great way to meet new people!
10. Don’t waste your privilege
11. Start out somewhere that are like the UK to warm yourself up
12. Remember you’re travelling for you.
13. Pack appropriately
14. Take out insurance
15. Rely on strangers
16. Travelling helps with your well being
17. Travelling will inspire others.
18. Word of mouth is always best
19. You don’t need a major budget
20. Book it and the rest will sort itself out
21. Travel opens opportunities
22.A toiletry bag is something you should never underestimate