What vaccinations do I need?

You are more than likely to need some vaccinations before travelling, your doctor is the best person to advise you, so you should make an appointment around 8 weeks prior to your trip.

Do I need insurance?

I have to advise you to get travel insurance, if something goes terribly wrong it could save you a hell of a lot of money or even your life. Make sure activities you wish to do are covered or it is pointless getting though – insurance companies do not like paying out. Most cheap policies don’t cover things like accidents whilst intoxicated – make sure you read the policy in full.

How big and heavy should my backpack be?

Between 50 and 70 litres for your main pack is the goal, you should be OK anywhere between that. Your daypack should be around 8 to 15 litres. Once packed it should weigh somewhere between 10kg and 20kg for your main pack and 3 to 8kg for your day pack – anything over 25kg total you are going to have a bad time and really need to start unpacking things.

What should I pack?

Half as much as you think you need to. Will I get by without speaking a second language? The majority of the world understands basic English, however it would be polite to pick up a few words like “hello”, “please” and “thank you”. You will have no problem in heavily touristic destinations like Thailand or multicultural places like Malaysia. South America, you will be able to get by, but speaking the language will greatly enrich your experience. It is countries like Japan and China (where both language and alphabet are very different to English) that you may need to invest in phrasebooks (although pointing does work too).

How do I save money?

Think before spending every penny: “do I really need to buy this?”; “would I rather spend this money on something else?”; “can I afford to do this in the long term?”; “can I go without?”. You can save money everywhere and it all adds up.

How do I check my destination is safe?

Check your country’s foreign office website, this will provide the official position of your government on your destinations safety. However a travel warning from your foreign office doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t go – cross check with other foreign offices and safety bureaus.

Are there extra safety precautions for females alone?

There are precautions for women travelling alone, but most apply to women travelling with others too.

How do I avoid becoming a victim of crime?

Use your common sense would be my main advice. Don’t show off your valuables, stay alert, and don’t go to an area that you have been advised not to. You must act immediately if you become a victim of crime, by informing the police, your embassy, or insurance company.

Should I keep a diary?

Writing a travel journal is probably the best way to document your trip – you will note down so many more memories than with a camera. There is no need to write a novel (unless you want to), just write in bullet points the main things that happened to you in that day. A diary is a great way to pass time on long journeys and to reflect on your travels – it can even be a friend in hard times.

How will I cope whilst on the move?

You will be heavily reliant on the internet when booking transport and accommodation – fortunately you should never be too far from it. However people did travel before the internet so it is still easy to plan without it; it really needn’t be a worry.

Will my personal hygiene deteriorate?

You personal hygiene really shouldn’t differ too much from back home, however you will sweat a lot more when in the tropics. It goes without saying all hostels have showers – if you are worried about the hygiene of the showers themselves, try to be the first one up in the morning as they will have usually just been cleaned. The only real problem in regards to your personal hygiene will be when camping or on long journeys. Prepare yourself and you will be fine – take a change of clothing, wash cloth and deodorant to freshen up.

Is street food safe?

Street food isn’t as bad as government health websites make out. You often see the food cooked right there in front of you, so you know if it has been handle properly and cooked right. With street food, choose food that is freshly cooked to a high temperature and served immediately while still hot.

Can I work abroad?

Yes, but if you are planning on working in a country, make sure your visa allows you to. Many countries offer Working Holiday visas that allow young people to work and travel. Obviously countries like Australia pay much higher wages, but remember it is relative to the living costs.

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