We had quite a bit of help from others with planning our trip; different opinions, different options. Honestly it did become a bit stressful considering you never know who is trying to sell you their products for the sake of commission, or the company they work for. So a lot of research has gone into this plan, so far, so good.
FLIGHTS/TRAVEL INSURANCE/DEBIT-CREDIT CARDS/BACKPACK
We started off with a company called STA Travel. You book with them online, over the phone or within the store. We personally chose to go in store as we had a lot of questions and wanted more options. They were very welcoming. At first we had no clue where we wanted to go, so they threw out some popular suggestions such as Thailand, Bali and Vietnam, which was the right direction we were looking for. They were incredibly nice and had a lot of knowledge within the places, They were incredibly friendly and knowledgable. They also give you brouchures and leaflets of the countries and will eventually give you a guide map to you show where you will start off and where you will end. Remember this is your trip, you’re in charge. They are just there to make sure you are going in the right direction. Even if you only have a certain price range, you tell them and they will work around that.
All we booked with them is flights and travel insurance, they are your main priorities. We did not book any hotels or any of the tourist attractions they offered to us, because realistically if you are on a budget and backpacking, there are decent cheap hostels you can get when you arrive at the destination you’re going too. One of the best things about booking with them is the Multiflex pass, this means if you decide you do not like a certain place, an emergency occurs, you decide travelling is not for you, or you just want to go home; you email your travel agent and they will change any flight to suit your needs free of charge! So our booked flights in the end were….
Manchester – Bangkok (THAILAND) for 4 months
Singapore – Bali // for 4 months
Bali – Philippines // for 4 months
Philippines – Hong kong // for 3 months
Hong Kong – Dubai // for a week
Dubai – Manchester
Total: £2,400 (for the both of us)
Yes, I know, £2,400 you immediately think “I will never save that” because I definitely did. We were full time students, working part time jobs. If you are living with your parents this should be a lot easier to save! If not, do not worry it is still achievable. Initially we used every student loan we received in our first year and put it into a savings account. All we lived off to pay bills and necessities was from our part time jobs (If we worked extra hours, we would put all the money into the savings account) So all at the end of our savings we had £10,000 altogether. Take off the flights, we had £7,600 spending money for the whole year. This is more than achievable to live off. Obviously it all depends on how long you chose to go for, and you can make it far with a really small budget, but the more you save, the better! If you ever get to a point of running low, you can always work out here if that’s something you’re interested in doing. We had to cut off from a lot of parties and events, which at the time, especially as a first year student…it was pretty awful but right now it was the best decision we ever made. You have got to have priorities, and if you’re determined to do something, you will have the will power.
We are also going to be travelling by sleeper trains, buses and cheap flights to other places within the 4 month gaps, such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Phuket etc. But don’t worry about that because there are cheap ways to get to them countries and we have done it while we are here, and it’s a lot cheaper! You never know, you might decide you want to add places or change your mind, so trust me when I say the less you over think and plan the better. Trust me, it was the best advice we got, especially when I overthink everything and anything.
For Insurance, when you’re buying your flights they offer you a decent deal with travel insurance at first we declined as we wanted to look around a bit more but there weren’t better or trustworthy ones we were comfortable booking with, but obviously this is your trip, your choice! They go into explicit detail with the insurance so any questions you may have, they will find the best option for you as there is a few! But because we didn’t pay for it there and then and chose the Blue Allianz insurance, it cost us £926.00. I know…I cried too, but it covers a lot and that’s for a year, your trip may only be 6 months or less.
Debit/credit cards, this is important and we did a lot of research for this. Do not go for STA Travel card that they offer, they try to sell the card to you and tell you how great it is, but we did some research and the feedback was awful, that was on multiple websites. In the end we went with the Caxton card. Getting hold of a card is easy for anyone with a UK bank account. You normally apply
online, choose the currency in which you would like your card denominated, load it with funds from your current account and wait for it to arrive in the post typically, five to seven days later. You can top up and check your balance online, by app on your phone. We are currently travelling now and haven’t had a problem what so ever. We go to a ATM over here and typically withdraw around 5,000 Baht or more (around £114) each time and should last you quite a bit as it saves money and a lot of places don’t take card, obviously don’t take more out than you need in case you lose that money. You will be charged a small fee (under £5 depending on the ATM) So I recommend getting multiple day’s worth of funds to save on these charges.
Your backpack, once again the best advice I got was the less you take the better! I honestly couldn’t agree more, trust me if you ever need anything, you can get everything here 10x cheaper! We ended up taking a little more than planned and ending up paying a hefty fee to parcel it back home as it was quite a bit of stuff and expensive clothes we didn’t want to throw away but we didn’t want to carry it around because it was extra weight to carry for things we wouldn’t wear or use. You indulge in the culture and buy from the markets, comfy, light and beautiful clothes which are insanely cheap.
The backpack we bought was from Amazon, there are hundreds you can chose from but this one we found was the right size and space, Tigernu backpack (£29.99) It’s water resistant and anti-theft. A lot bigger than the picture shown, so trust me there’s enough room for whatever you’re wanting to take on your travels. For a more in depth guide, I will be posting a short article about on what to pack on your adventures!
Now that you’ve got a good understanding on how we planned our trip to save you unnecessary hassle, research and stress. Concentrate on what you want to visit when you’re here, get excited, start saving. Start your adventure; there is no time like the present!