The Colosseum turns gold under the setting sun.
The Colosseum turns gold under the setting sun.
Anonymous : Backpacking ≠ traveling, or being a tourist, like you on Contiki tours. Stop being such a fraud.
I am sorry to hear that you are unsatisfied with my blog and apparently me as a person.
From the opening days of this blog, when I was simply voicing my thoughts on my social anxiety and depression, to now, where the sole focus is on travel, I have done one thing: be completely and utterly honest. By doing that, I have hoped that my followers can enjoy my travels as much as I do and perhaps gain some kind of knowledge or inspiration that will help them get out there and start their own adventures.
I have gone on many trips of various inclinations over the years. Some have been quick trips only to see a certain city or two, and others have been with nothing but a backpack and tent with no end destination in mind. And yes, I did participate in a Contiki tour which was gifted to me by my family upon graduating University. They have all be wonderful, if not different, experiences.
Regardless, by implying inherent value to words and placing your own value-laden definitions upon them, you are diminishing the travel experiences of many. By doing this, you are categorizing people in a way that salutes the lifestyles and abilities of some, while diminishing others. Whether you are a backpacker, a traveller, a tourist, or anything else you want to label yourself as, exploring the world outside of your own boundaries is something to encourage and celebrate, not to judge and scorn.
This blog is about the community and encouraging people to get the most out of themselves, to push them to see new things and fuel their long-held dreams. You may label me what you wish, but I am comfortable with who I am.
Planning your trip, doing all the research and working hard to save up enough money to actually go is the hardest part. Once you are on your way to making your dreams a reality, there is one final step I recommend before jumping in all the way: developing your travel identity. This might be a new or confusing idea for some, so let me explain.
What Is A Travel Identity?
Who you are when you are at home and who you are while you are on the road can be two completely different people. That is part of the beauty of travel, once you break away from your boring old life at home, you are free to be whoever you want. You can be quiet and brave and smart and funny. Part of this new identity comes from your desires and some of it comes from need. For instance, maybe you are always the quiet and shy one at home, but on the road, part of you will have to be loud and brave. You can’t travel scared, and you have to learn how to speak up for yourself while abroad. On the other hand, if you are usually talkative and social at home, maybe you need to be more quiet and focus on listening more while travelling. It is important to understand your surroundings and the people within them.
What Kind Of Traveller Are You?
Do you like museums and art galleries, or pubs and nightlife? Do you like the crowded bustling of cities or the quiet calm of mountains? English speaking, French speaking, or a language you know nothing about? Do you like staking out on your own, or do you need company with you? These are all things you will come to realize once you are on the road, and these preferences will become a part of your new travel identity. Don’t be confused if home-you and road-you have conflicting characteristics, we are free to change and grow as people, and we become who we need to become.
How To Develop You Travel Identity
Start by going on smaller trips within your own country and do a wide range of things. Go on a hike in a remote area, ride the metro in a big city, go to an art gallery, stay in a hostel. Do a large variety of things in comfortable settings to see where your preferences lie. After a few short trips, you will start realizing what you like and don’t like, or what makes you comfortable and what doesn’t. Find your limits and test them where you know it will be safe. See what you are capable of, so when you are out there in a strange country, you have the confidence to act.
At home, I am often quiet and shy, and I keep to myself. My social anxiety often impacts conversations and I like my own personal space. But on the road, I become confident and sociable and someone who is completely different from my home-me. I have led groups of fellow backpackers through foreign cities because I am confident with a map, I approach other travellers and offer to take their picture for them, and I have given directions to lost travellers in cities I have only seen for a few days. Who I am becomes who I need to be while on the road. This other personality has developed over my years of travel and it is someone I enjoy being, even though it is so different from my norm.
The Beginner’s Guide To Backpacking
If you ask any travel blogger, by far the most frequently asked question they receive is about money. How they afford to travel, how much it costs to travel, if they are paid to travel, and infinite variations of it. While some of the big name travel bloggers may get paid some to travel, they are not living luxuriously. For the rest of us, it is a hobby, and an expensive one at that. But there are some ways to save money and prioritize your life so travel can become a regular part of your life too.
Save, Save, Save
There is no magical website where plane tickets are half price, as nice as that would be, and there is no hidden secret to affording regular travel. The real truth is that those who constantly travel have different priorities and make sacrifices to fulfil their wanderlust. I have always held at least one, and sometimes multiple, full-time jobs in order to fund my adventures. Before I went to Europe last summer, I spent 4 months working 12-14 hour days, 7 days a week at two jobs. I had no personal life and I spent nothing on myself. I paid my rent and bills, and every extra dollar went into savings for my trip. I didn’t go out, I didn’t buy new things, I only spent the minimal amount of money to keep me alive. It all goes to savings.
It is going to be difficult to work so hard in an attempt at saving money for travel, knowing that after a few short months abroad, you will come back and be completely broke again. But, if travel is something you want to do, you have to prioritize it as the most important thing to you. So work hard, save as much as you can, and the whole time remember what it is all for.
Cut Corners Where You Can
There are always going to be extra things you can do to save even a little bit more money for your trip. I walk 30 minutes to and from work everyday rather than drive. That saves a ton of money. Only drive a car if you have to. I only buy groceries that are on sale and I set myself a weekly limit, so I eat only what I already have. If you are at a store and debating buying a new pair of pants, or a new video game or really anything, ask yourself if it is a need or a want. If you can live without it until after your trip, don’t buy it. Save it.
Some Of My Secrets
Create a separate bank account that you deposit a certain amount into each month. That account can be your travel fund and once that money is out of your regular account, it might be easier for you to save instead of spend. I have two separate accounts, one for travel expenses and one just for plane tickets.
Write up an extensive travel budget of what it will cost you for every day and every week you will be abroad, then add 25%. This will give you your target savings goal and provide you with the number you need to reach.
Start looking at plane tickets 12 months (or as early as you can) before you are planning on leaving. Then check the cost of those plane tickets every 2 weeks. This will give you an idea of what they will cost and will allow you to track the changes in price, so you know when to buy and when not to. The price goes up and down like the stock market, so buy low. It is usually a good idea to buy your plane tickets 4-6 months before leaving, as that is typically a safe and cheapest price.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Instead of getting presents on Birthdays, or Christmas, or other holidays, ask for donations to your travel fund from friends and family.
In the end, finding money for travel comes down to your own hard work and ability to save money. It won’t come easy and it won’t come fast. It could take you a year or two to save up for your trip abroad, but the payoff will be well worth it.
The Beginner’s Guide To Backpacking
Beard Tracker 2014
The next (and possibly final?) beard tracker post of the season. I am still undecided as to what I should do with the beard once the snow begins to melt. Any recommendations?
I don’t think I have ever had more than 100 notes on a selfie before. What is with you people and beards? I feel like if Benedict Cumberbatch grew a beard, the entire internet would explode.
Your first travel destination may be somewhere you have been dreaming of for years, or you may have no idea where to go first but you know you have to go somewhere. Regardless of your desires, there are some basic steps I recommend following when deciding on where to travel first.
When I say local, I am referring to travelling within your own country, and possibly even a relatively nearby part of your own country. The reason I suggest this is that it is safer, it is cheaper, and it provides you with the much needed experience to build upon for the larger trips. It would be unwise to buy a plane ticket to London, get there, get overwhelmed, panic and have to come home right away. You will have wasted a lot of money and have scared yourself for what ought not to be a scary situation.
Who Is Going?
Another variable when deciding your first destination will be dependant upon who is going. Is this a solo trip? Are there others going with you? A bonus whenever travelling solo is that the choice of destination is entirely your own. But if travelling as a group, everyone needs to feel content with where you are going. Many choose to travel with a friend or as a group, especially female travellers, the first few times because it makes them feel more comfortable and safe. That is perfectly normal and if you can find someone who you think will be a compatible travel companion, that could make your first trip much easier. However, at the same time, don’t go with a friend just because you don’t want to go alone. Getting along with someone while travelling is a whole different thing than being friends with them at home.
Expanding That Map
If you have gone on some smaller trips within your own country, or you are dead-set on leaving your country as soon as possible, I would highly recommend your first out-of-country experience be to a foreign country that speaks a language you are fully fluent in. This will reduce culture shock and even if you do come across some struggles, you will be able to work your way out of it. Plunging head first into a country where you can’t communicate with the locals is not making things easy for yourself. You want to set yourself up for success and make your first travel experience a positive one.
Now that you have started your travel research and have decided upon a destination, the next step will be to find money for your travel. That will be Part 3 of The Beginner’s Guide To Backpacking, posted tomorrow.
The Beginner’s Guide To Backpacking
So, you want to be a backpacker? Congratulations. Welcome to the club. We meet on Tuesdays under that one bridge in Kathmandu. Just show your membership card to the greeter and make sure to bring something for the potluck lunch. Just kidding.
Travel is entirely what you make of it. It is your new world to enjoy and shape how you desire. This post will give some pointers to those who want to start travelling but just don’t know where to start.
Set Your Priorities
Unfortunately, as every traveller has found out when they first laid awake at night thinking of the far away cities they want to explore, backpacking isn’t as easy as just buying a few supplies and jumping on a plane. To permanently incorporate travel into your life, it requires a whole lifestyle change. No more Starbucks everyday on the drive to work, actually, you probably shouldn’t drive to work anymore either. That’s an expensive luxury. You’re not going to have the newest iteration of the iPhone every year anymore. Got a shoe addiction? Not anymore. The first rule to living a life of travel is: priorities. You will have to sacrifice a lot if you want to start crossing countries off your to-see list, but they will be wholly worth it in the end. I promise.
Find Your Inspiration
Travellers come in many forms. There are the hitchhiking leather tramps to the wheeled suitcase hotelers, and everyone in between. It is a spectrum and you are free to create your own style and find what works for you. Search out travel bloggers that match your travel style and find the lifestyle that inspires you. And I’m not talking travel blogs that post lovely photos that other people took of places you want to go. Find bloggers all over the internet that are out there on a regular basis doing what they love and writing about it. They will be your source of inspiration, your role models while you prepare and plan for your own adventures.
Chances are, you probably already have a list of countries you want to visit, and some you want to see really badly. Those are good places to start, but you also need to be practical. Going on a secluded wilderness hike to Peru on your first outing isn’t going to be a great idea. Flying half way around the world to find out you hate it won’t get you started on the right foot. When searching for your inspiration, keep your options open and don’t get obsessed with certain places. Right now you are just learning what you can about travel in general.
Even those who learn by doing still need to do their research before getting started. If Google isn’t already your best friend, it will be soon. Where can you get a passport? What gear might you need? What websites are cheapest for booking flights? What countries can you work abroad in? Does your debit or credit card work outside your home country?
It will take you weeks to do all the research needed, but it will be extremely useful information when you reach the next step, deciding where to go first, which will be the next entry in The Beginner’s Guide To Backpacking posted tomorrow.
The Beginner’s Guide To Backpacking
Some of the most constant and regular questions I receive from curious followers and newly inspired travellers are:
I have answered all of these questions many times before, but I have decided to create a new series of posts that answers them more in depth and puts them in one easy to find place for future readers.
This will be a 5 part series, with a new post published each day, starting today. The posts will be as follows:
As well, there is now a direct link to this series on my Blog Directory, where you can also find links to other recurring series and various FAQ.
I hope you all find this series useful and informative.
rogue-7 : How do you feel about the thought that taking a camera on your travels is against the point of travelling, in a way that you're only travelling for good pictures instead of enjoying a new moment and a new horizon?
This is definitely a very worth while debate to have, and one that I am torn on often. I’m not sure I have a definitive answer for you, but I will think out loud for you to read.
I think if you are only travelling for good pictures, that is the entirely wrong reason to be travelling, I definitely agree. Something like that makes you more of a tourist than a traveller. Are you going up the Eiffel Tower to experience the view and the history of Paris, or because you want a good picture to share with people? That is really the heart of the question.
On the other hand, I also don’t think you need to feel guilty for taking pictures, and many pictures, while travelling. You may never be back to that same spot again and experience it in the same way. It can be a cherished memory for you and bring you extended joy when you return home.
As a travel blogger, I definitely understand the hypocrisy and two-sided argument that accompanies this discussion. That is why I have come up with my own solution to this issue that has worked for me so far. I only take pictures after I have experienced what I have come for, and I live the moment first before capturing it. When I went up the Eiffel Tower, I simply stood at the top for 15 minutes before getting my camera out. There have been other moments where I never even took my camera out, as I knew the moment was fleeting and I wished to enjoy it fully rather than try to capture it. I try to find a good balance.
Let’s open this question up for discussion, I am interested to hear what others have to say. What do you think? Does travelling with a camera diminish the experience or is it okay to want to document your travels? Share your opinion.
Anonymous : I was wondering if you had any advice on how to get out of oneself? I'm constantly lost in my own mind and thoughts which leaves me having incredible difficulty with "reality." I have difficulty connecting with others and moving past the insecurities which I entertain far too much in my head. I hate how sometimes even speaking my mind and being honest can make my face burn with embarrassment and insecurity. I don't know how I'll ever travel if I can not overcome this.
Let your imagination run wild and continue dreaming up the realities you wish to one day inhabit. So many people live their lives without thought, or without imagination, so I see it as a positive that you live with constant inspiration.
The fact that you have difficulties connecting with others could simply be because you don’t have the right people around you. It wasn’t until I was 21 that I began finding people who I could relate to, and who shared some of my interests. I still feel alone and misunderstood a lot of the time, especially when I am surrounded by family, but that doesn’t hinder me anymore. I am happy with who I have become.
The hardest demon to overcome while travelling lives within your own head. I promise you that. The strangers that you pass on the streets of foreign countries are no different from the strangers you pass at home. If you can survive your own thoughts, you can survive anything. So that is why I do not doubt that you will one day soon step on that plane and set off on your own adventures.
I aim for a $3000 per month budget because that way I will always have enough for what I need. It is definitely very possible to travel on a smaller budget, but when you are planning your trip you always want to over-budget, never under-budget. I don’t travel very luxuriously. I stay in hostels and eat cheap food and don’t buy much while on the road.
The cost is also going to differ greatly depending on where you are going. There are cheap travel countries and expensive travel countries. You should always research things like average meal cost and other expenses you will come across. That cost includes everything (food, accommodation, entertainment, inter-country transportation) except plane tickets.
I will add a travel budget post to my upcoming Beginners Travel series that I hope to start publishing next week. I will try to post a mock budget that I do up while planning my trips and break down all the potential costs of travelling.
$3000 per month was my short answer, the long answer is: it could easily cost anywhere from $1500-4000 per month.