Traveling around the world at once is often a cheaper option than breaking it down into segments. The secret is to plan carefully and purchase the ticket well in advance. The cost is more than made up for by the amazing experience of seeing many places in a short period of time and the memories you’ll have for a lifetime. Here are some tips for how to travel around the world.
Part 1: Hack Into Travel
For most of us, frequent flyer miles just aren’t an option. It requires a lot of forethought and money. Luckily, there are plenty of cheap options and they’re often more interesting, leading to more memorable experiences.
In certain countries, you might have to pay an exorbitant fee to get a visa immediately, but it’s hands down best to know what paperwork you have to have.
The length of your stay and your citizenship are both important factors. Do your research well ahead of time, it can take weeks to get a visa approved.
Part 2: Find Accommodation
Of course, if you have family and friends in the area, stay with them. But if they’re all back home, hotels and hostels are the standard option. Some hostels are slightly fishy, so do your research beforehand.
Don’t let the one bad hostel ruin the whole bunch. Hostelling International makes finding one easy and just like booking a 4-star hotel. If you’re willing to share accommodation with strangers, you can really get a bang out of your buck. And you might meet some fascinating people.
- Consider couch surfing or woofing.
See here our RTW in Sharing Economy.
Though it may seem too good to be true, couch surfing has a huge following and is a completely legit form of travel. Couchsurfing can set you up with people just like you all over the world.
If you’re willing to stay a bit longer, consider woofing. You’ll work on an organic farm for as little as a couple of weeks in exchange for a roof over your head and a some meals. You can build up your skills and get much more into the culture than if you stayed in a hotel, frequenting your mini bar.
- Get into house sitting.
Even better than couch surfing, house sitting has entire networks now that let you stay in a place for free just to feed the cat.
Part 3: Preparing for Your Trip
- Pack lightly
In addition to a few basic sets of clothes, some reading material, some hygienic products, and small electronics, make sure to bring an international plug adapter.
- Set a budget.
Calculate here your budget. Based on where you are going, how long you will be there and whether the country is 1st, 2nd or 3rd world, you’ll need a matching budget. There will always be unexpected expenses, so add a solid “for emergency” category.
Obviously, first world countries are the most expensive (Europe, Canada, USA, Japan). Second world countries are a bit harder to define, but are usually somewhat developed (Mexico, Eastern Europe, China, Egypt). Third world countries are the cheapest but most difficult places to travel (most of Africa, Bolivia, Peru, SE Asia).
- Think safely.
Going around the world can be as dangerous as you let it be. Take the appropriate precautions to avoid being taken advantage of.
Alert your bank. Some banks are highly security-oriented and will cancel your cards if it mistakes your overseas transaction as suspicious activity. To avoid this, call them before you leave to inform them of your exact itinerary, not just that you’re traveling. It’s also a good idea to call them when you get back.
Don’t carry around your valuables in a bag that can get easily swept of your shoulder or cut without you noticing. Invest in a money belt or small purse that is worn close to your body. Keep your cash, credit cards, and passport in this.
Part 4: Live Cheaply & Easily
- Buy your own groceries.
Making your own meals will dramatically cut costs, as opposed to eating out every meal. Europe doesn’t have to be as expensive as they say it is. Living like a local will be much more rewarding than traveling like a tourist. Go to local supermarkets, bakeries, and general stores to get a feel for the local flavor. Not only will you save money, but you’ll get an experience you cannot get at home and see things you’ve not seen before.
- Do your research.
If you’re on a shoestring budget, don’t fret. You can still find things to do that are either very cheap or free. Most bigger cities have an arts or theatre scene that is so lively you’ll have more options than you can manage!
Guidebooks can be great–but they can also be misleading. What happens when a popular guidebook lists a spot as a best kept secret that no one’s going to? Everyone starts going to it. Do use it as a general guideline, but take everything with a grain of salt.
Ask around. Who knows better than the locals? If you’re staying at a hotel or hostel, ask the staff. If you’re couchsurfing, sometimes your host will volunteer to show you the ropes. And if you’re worried about the language, keep your eyes peeled. Where do the people seem to be flocking to?
- Stay in touch.
For safety purposes, every few days find an Internet cafe and email your parents or friends, so they know where you are in case of an emergency.
Only bring your computer if you’re working or otherwise truly need it. Otherwise it will be cumbersome and you’ll just worry about it being stolen.
- Make the most of it.
You’re about to embark upon a journey that will be life changing. Let it. Meet new people, do things you didn’t see yourself doing, and learn from it. This may be your one opportunity.
Go with the flow. If you run into a group of Colombians that are looking for a 6th to go skydiving, don’t write it off. If 100 people are standing in line at a nearby comedy club, join them. Spontaneity can pay off with the best of them.