If you love the thrill of jet-setting around the world but often find yourself dreading that flight back home at the end of your stay, then you may want to consider planning a few months away travelling in another part of the world. For me it has long been a dream to do this, the idea of spending time exploring the depths of south-east Asia, crossing Europe and ticking off the many famous cities that it boasts or spending time basking in some more exotic weather than my native Scotland has to offer by visiting the continent of South America has always been a tantalising prospect.
Whilst many of us don’t have the luxury of packing up and leaving our lives behind for months at a time to see the rest of the world, with a bit of forward planning and some shrewd budgeting it’s not impossible to plan an extended stay abroad.
Our upcoming dream trip through Europe has been 15 months in the making and some hard-line budgeting, including many luxuries sacrificed and nights out with friends and colleagues shunned, has seen that dream become reality. Here are some of the important aspects to consider and tips for anyone currently thinking of spending a lengthy time travelling.
Set a Budget
Leaving home to travel across numerous countries isn’t really something that you can just wing, therefore deciding on a budget for your trip is one of the most important steps you can take and it should be one of the first things you consider. Rather than thinking along the lines of ‘where should I go?’ or ‘how long should I go for?’, try deciding on how much money you can realistically save for your trip. Once you have that figured out it’ll give you a much better idea of what places are within that budget and the length of time that you will be able to afford to travel for.
A few aspects will come into play when deciding on your budget for instance depending on where in the world you live and the time of year that you are planning on going away will greatly affect what options are available to you. There are plenty of helpful sites which provide a wealth of information on the estimated costs of living in different cities around the world. Check one of these sites out before you book to research how much important considerations such as food, accommodation and transportation will be for your desired destination.
Create an Itinerary to Maximise Your Time
One of the greatest aspects of visiting somewhere new is that you have the opportunity to explore an alien place and discover little-known secrets about that part of the world which create your own unique experience. That said, doing do a little prior digging about the place you are going to can go a long way when you get there. Get to know where the main sights and tourist attractions are and which ones you definitely want to see, familiarise yourself with the geographical layout and what the transportation network is like, some spots will require advanced booking so make sure to research this fully and keep an itinerary for your trip so that you are as prepared as you need to be.
Doing this will minimise the amount of time you spend butchering the native tongue attempting to ask locals for directions because you are lost and have no idea how to get to the places you want to see. It will also maximise your opportunity to spend excess free time meandering through the streets of your destination and truly getting to know the heart and soul of the area in your own way.
Plan Your Route
If you are thinking of getting away for a while then you likely want to see more than one place and should you want to see as many different places as possible it can create somewhat of a logistical challenge.
We have chosen to fly from place to place for the majority of our upcoming trip which can work out as the cheapest method of covering the greatest area if you do it right. Using a flight comparison website will help you find the cheapest flights available, for instance we used Skyscanner and it turned out to be an ideal way of planning our route whilst keeping costs to a minimum. This site gives you the ability to choose your starting destination and search for flights to ‘anywhere’ providing you with a list of all available flights on a particular day or month from that airport and you can simply repeat this for each leg of the trip. If you have no idea where you want to go then this method can help you put together an eclectic and inexpensive trip.
A way of keeping some flexibility and spontaneity in your trip is to purchase a rail card and try inter-railing. This is an extremely popular method for Europe allowing you to travel near endlessly within one country or many for a set price within a specified time frame. For those seeking a more leisurely experience you may wish to book through a travel agent which offers cruises allowing you to visit several pre-determined seaside destinations in different countries without the stress of rushing for connecting trains or planes.
Prepare all Your Important Documents
Are you are one of those people who have to check every single pocket on your being whenever you leave a room to ensure you have all the things you entered that room with? If the answer is yes then it is probably in your best interests not to skim over this part.
Before you book anywhere do a quick check on what the entry requirements are for that country as some places will require you to apply for a visa to get in or to stay for longer than a specified period of time.
Travel Insurance is not a consideration, it’s a must have for any length of time in an unfamiliar place. One of the greatest joys of travelling is speaking to locals and experiencing a new culture first hand however you should remember that you are a tourist and most people will be able to spot this which in some areas may make you a target for petty crime. You can injure yourself or be the victim of crime outside your front door so don’t take the chance when you are abroad, make sure you have a policy that covers you for any eventuality.
For each leg of your trip, make sure that you have checked in and printed off any necessary travel documentation if required. Ensure all of your identification and documentation is up to date, valid and contains all the correct information. Check it, double-check it and then ask someone else to check it for you because there’s no point taking chances on something which seems simple but can potentially scupper all of your plans at the last minute by finding a mistake on a crucial document.
Don’t be Deterred!
All this may seem like it adds up to a lot of planning and effort before you have even set foot on foreign soil, and it is. Please note however that these are only my humble musings based on my experience of organising a prolonged stay abroad with my partner, do not let them put you off of planning your dream trip. Keep this article in mind and hopefully these tips can help set you up in the best possible way to have a great experience.