Thursday, 6 January 2011

Wonderfully average advice for first time travellers. A 'must read'

Now that I’ve popped my first time traveller cherry, I thought I’d share a few pearls of wisdom that I picked up in my transmission from ‘totally clueless’ to ‘slightly more knowing’ traveller.
Obviously I’ve only done the one ‘RTW trip’ and haven’t travelled the whole globe (yet) so I’m by no means an expert. But, if you’re a normal(ish) person, and you’re looking for advice about going away then this should* be of some use to you.

Before you go...

I recommend an electronic RTW ticket if you know where you want to go and roughly what times. Dates (and even locations) are flexible if you pay a small fee. Have a browse on STA RTW for inspiration on routes and The Flight Centre for slightly cheaper prices
If you’re more spontaneous of course there’s always the one way ticket, adding on places and flights as you go along. Be careful with this as some countries require you to have a ticket to fly out of their country before letting you in.

Branson letting us all know that if only we had as much money as him we too could probably just about fly round the world with Virgin.

Don’t be tempted to skimp out on insurance because no doubt at some point you will need it (Doctors appointment for your travellers tum, ladyboy stole your wallet etc).
Most policies are all pretty similar, just make sure they have good cover for flight cancellations, theft and medical problems. I went for this one which proved very popular amongst my fellow gap yah's!

You'll need them. They make your passport look tres cool (and shiny). Check with your chosen country's embassy at least a month prior to leaving. Visas are compulsory for places like Vietman, Cambodia, Laos, Australia etc. Always check in advacne as not all can be obtained easily.

Guide books-
I’m quite anti-guidebooks. Hear me out. I don’t mind a little browse through a Lonely Planet
Get lost in the middle of nowhere, speak to the locals who barely speak English and walk around with your eyes open, not stuck in a book!
Rant over.

while I’m planning a trip, making some notes, but really, people that stuff their backpacks full of LP ‘bibles’ and rarely make a decision without consulting them drive me crazy!

WH Smiths before I burnt down their Lonely Planet isle...

Over planning-
Don’t limit yourself by being too organised. Sort out the basics but don’t book all your excursions/tours and accommodation for everywhere you go. Try booking your first nights accommodation in each place (Hostel World is always handy for finding somewhere not too horrific ) then see how you feel once you’re there. If you’ve been bitten to death by bed bugs and you’ve not met a soul, it’s time to move on.

Also, most hostels and guest houses offer their own excursion and travel options so you will be able to sort all this while your out there, instead of handing over thousands of pounds to an overly nice travel advisor then finding out that everything is cheaper abroad. NOT THAT I’M BITTER. Ehem.

Will I be a loner?
No. Not unless you're exceptionally annoying. Although, even those guys still manage to find friends. You don’t always need to take someone with you to hold your hand. You will meet so many people you’ll be spoilt for choice as to who will become your new travelling BFF. And that’s a promise.
Ho and Fook (or something.) We had some really great, meaningful discussions on that train journey. Them: 'You married?' Me: 'No' Them: 'You want marry my son? He very rich and pretty'. And so on.

If you’re really freaking out about being on your own, it’s worth looking into pre booking some tours so you know you’ll definitely be with other people. Some people choose all inclusive tours for the whole time they are away, but I would always recommend breaking it up a bit so you have some tours and some chance to try meeting people on your own. Plus your tour group might really suck.
Good tour providers include: Gap Adventures, Gap Year Escape, Awesome Adventures, Oz Experience, Kiwi Experience, Top Deck Travel.

So I hope some of that helps! There's more to come but that's enough already I think. If you have any questions you want me to Google for you because I probably won't know the answer, then feel free to leave a comment or send me an email and I'll be happy to ignore them get back to you :)

*Little Lost offers no guarantee that any of this will be remotely useful and/or entertaining to you at all. But hey, I tried.


  1. It's not "average" advice! You've given invaluable information!

    Just a heads up - your first image isn't showing. That is probably because you've hotlinked it from a site that doesn't allow hotlinking. As Blogger allows free photo storage, it is usually better to save images to your own PC and upload them rather than hotlinking other people's. That prevents your images from disppearing too if they are moved or changed by the original poster.

  2. Hilarious, Ho and Fook are quality! So jealous of your travels...

  3. Thanks Mandy, hopefully the images will show up now I've saved them to my computer :)

    Kb- I still have a picture of one of their sons in my wallet. Swoon.

  4. Faboulous post. My boy Double M Matt Mitchell has really taken your advice on board.

    You are an inspiration to me and my family



  5. Excellent blog NJ. Personally I cant believe you survived, but I'm glad you did. I hope I get a marriage proposal!

    On a serious note, do you really need a month to get visa's? I am leaving in two and a half weeks. I heard you could get them at the border! What one's did you have before leaving?

  6. John Cena- You have got to stop making up names for yourself! Thanks for reading though Stefan!

    Matt- I got my Vietnam visa about 3 weeks before going because you have to get them at the embassy if your entering the country by land. Which, knowing your budget you will be! Don't trust the eVisas offered online, some of them are dodgy websites as well. This should help:

    Cambodian visas you can get while in Thailand, and Laos visas (the coolest ones) you can get in Vietnam or Thaialnd. Hope that helps!

  7. This is really good advice! My brother wants to do some travelling in the US so will be showing him this :)

  8. Daisy- Thanks loves. Wish him good luck from me! x

  9. You can get a visa for Vietnam in any country - just go to their embassy maybe 1 week before entry.

    A thing about tour agencies... don't bother booking stuff in advance - rock up on the day and get a discounted deal. As an example I booked my Whitsunday tour maybe 1 week before through an agency and paid about $300... On the boat there were 20 other people and 4 people had paid $170 that morning because they were desperate to fill the boat and not have a half empty boat go out.

    If you're going to Australia be prepared to be hit hard in the pocket. The cheapest, and most fun way to do it would be in a group and rent/buy a car over a month or so. I would highly recommend scowering for lifts up the east coast. Some people will just want you to chip in on petrol which will save you mega bucks. Also it gives you the freedom go where you want without some tour guide bullshit been spewed out to you as it's the 900th time she's been to byron bay and no real sense of freedom which what travelling is about.

    The best advice you will ever get in word of mouth.

  10. Sound advice Jon, thanks. I totally agree with the not booking tours, I had the same experience. You learn it all as you go along, but it's good to get as much advice as possible before leaving too. The wonderful power of WOM!

  11. Do emus cause much trouble at border control?

  12. Yes, anonymous. Heaps of trouble.