Travelling, as opposed to holidaying, is potentially open-ended and doing it your own way will make the experience completely unique and special to you. Don’t follow someone else’s footsteps because it sounded as though they had a good time, make your own amazing adventure! Here are six ideas to help you spend time wisely on your travels and discover things about the world and yourself that you never knew existed.
1. Have a ‘flexible’ plan
It’s a good idea to have a general outline for your trip but you should also ‘go with the flow’. Leave time to let things wash over you and enjoy the things you discover that particularly excite, energise or calm you. Meeting new people for example, which is inevitable, will alter the plans and time-frames you’ve got pencilled in your travel diary. Be open to change and new things, embrace them, as the best experiences come from this mindset. Think back to those spontaneous day trips or nights catching up with an old friend, these unplanned events will crop up a lot on your travels.
2. Get involved
Take time to absorb and learn about the culture and places you’re visiting. One way to do this is by volunteering. Local charities love volunteers and this can be an extremely rewarding and life-changing experience that will stay with you forever, just make sure you work with an ethical organisation. Some volunteering sites worth a look at include: ICS (International Citizen Service) which provides overseas volunteering placements for 18-25 year olds and is also 90% cost funder by the government and ‘Workaway’ which is an organisation that allows you to stay with a host family whilst volunteering at local programmes. You can also get more involved when you travel by learning some of the local language. Sites like Duolingo provide free step-by-step learning. By learning a new language you’ll be able to converse with people, get around more easily and order at restaurants, so it’s definitely worth a try.
3. Give back to the locals
Spending your money locally is actively encouraged by many tourist boards and directly supports people in the communities you visit. Using the local restaurants and shops instead of chains that look familiar will likely save you money too. Developing countries in particular rely heavily on money from tourists and this way you’ll leave a positive mark on the places you visit.
4. Learn the history
Do a bit of research before you go to find out what events made the country you’re visiting what it is today. That way, when you visit historical sites the experience will be more vivid for you. However, it’s important not to get caught in the hustle and bustle of tourist traps, as you can end up spending a lot of money on overpriced memorabilia and tours. So, explore other ways of experiencing a destination, be it a free walking tour or couch surfing.
5. Stick to a realistic budget
Make sure you have enough money to enjoy yourself but also a structured budget to keep your spending in check. Remember that if you really like a place your budget may change and you could even supplement it with work. Money-saving travel tips include making long journeys overnight to save money on accommodation, travelling in low season and eating at local restaurants. If you’re nervous about travelling alone for the first time, don’t be afraid to book a more expensive hotel or hostel for the first few nights so that you feel safe and comfortable. Then, as your confidence grows you can look for cheaper options. Look at online traveller reviews from sites like Hostelworld to help you find the best value accommodation. Hostelworld is a great site to find plenty of different places you can stay to choose from, the range of places is phenomenal and there is somewhere for everyone.
6. Plan with others
A great way to make first-time travel less overwhelming is to talk with other travellers that are planning to travel around the same time as you. You could even plan routes alongside each other in advance, which would definitely make your experience as a first-time traveller less daunting. You can find these people easily through the Travamigos app, just download it and you’re off!
These are just a few ideas to help you spend your time wisely on your first travel adventure. Remember to research the places and activities you plan to visit beforehand so that you have a rough idea of what you want to see and do but try asking locals for recommendations too. After all, they have a much better idea of what the area has to offer and can suggest less touristy sites not listed in all the travel guides.