Travelling is a very different thing to just going on holiday. When you travel, you see the world and soak up its culture. You spend time getting to know places and people; their customs and rituals. When you go on holiday you spend a week eating egg and chips in a hot country.
Going on holiday, you come back with ten days worth of identical memories and a phone full of sunsets. When you travel, you change your life. You become a different person. That’s why it’s worth dropping out for a year to do it properly. But to do it properly, you’ll need to plan – which is where we come in!
Choose Where to Go
We’re going to suggest you experience one fairly large part of the Earth in depth, because travel isn’t fast food. The world is your oyster and, like oysters you should savour the experience. That doesn’t mean you should restrict your year off to a tour of Bognor Regis and its surroundings, but choosing a distinct geographical area has advantages.
- You’ll have time to absorb the culture better
- You’ll be able pick up regional travel deals and discounts
- You may be able to learn a second language that’ll get you out of scrapes
- You’ll discover the wonders of local transport
After that, the choice is down to your personal preferences and tolerances. Money to burn and a need for comfort? Then Canada, New Zealand or America won’t push you too far out of your zone. A sense of adventure and a burning need to party? Asia’s your destination; with Thailand, Laos and Vietnam still party hotspots for young Brits. Modest budget and a desire for culture? Western European trips are the best for cheapo chin strokers.
There are so many ways to get your travel on. From African volunteering with the VSO to looking after brats at a BUNAC summer camp. From mopping up after drunken chumps in mediterranean resorts to working a season as a ski-instructor. So, your first step is to have a good long think about what will suit you. Don’t just close your eyes and point somewhere at a map. Unless you’re a complete nutball, in which case, do exactly that.
Oh – and one last bit of Dad advice. Before you commit to a place, check out the foreign office’s travel advice list. We live in volatile times and you should only really travel to a warzone on purpose, with the correct visa, a flak jacket and a lucrative content deal with Sky News.
Plan Your Itinerary
With time to travel, you can build the trip of a lifetime. Increasingly, there are holiday providers that will package a series of destinations together for you – but where’s the adventure in that? You’ll also miss out on potential discounts and savings if you let someone else plan your trip for you.
Good news: you won’t have to sweat over a rug-sized map of the world to plan your itinerary, slide rule and quill poised to take notes and measurements, because this is the future and there are websites and apps for all that now.
TripHobo – A great place to start if you’re not sure what to include in your itinerary, TripHobo is constructed entirely from carefully refined awesome. You start by picking a continent, then progress to adding countries to your plan. Though it calculates route costs in dollars, the other features – like the ability to share itineraries with others – make it well worth the price. Which is zero pence.
TripAdvisor – If you thought that TripAdvisor was just for leaving hilariously bad reviews of your local greasy spoon, then think again. You can also use it to build an itinerary for any trip. Log in to TripAdvisor with your Facebook account. You’re now set to begin adding local sights, accommodation choices and restaurants to your travel plan. Just click “Add to Trip” next to any listing that takes your fancy. TripAdvisor automatically creates a “trip” based on the location of the listing you save.
TripIt – When you start booking, TripIt will be indispensable. All the email receipts you get for tickets, accommodation and advanced tour bookings are all sucked into one place then neatly reorganised into a neat itinerary for you. There’s a mobile app version so you’ll never lose your bookings. Unless you lose your phone, you silly person.
Funding your trip
A year of traveling will cost you some money – right when you don’t have any money. But it doesn’t have to bankrupt you. There are solutions to this problem whether you’re a young whippersnapper or. um, a bit more senior.
If you’re aged 18-30, opportunities for world travel are seriously skewed in your favour – with concessions, visas and volunteering opportunities. If you’re more established at work, you may be able to negotiate a sabbatical; extended leave without pay. At least you’ll have a job to come back to.
Either way, you’ll find that you can get by on less money abroad than you might spend at home. Most places in the world are cheaper to eat and drink in than the UK, so you won’t need much to get by on day to day – but you will need a fall-back fund in case of emergencies and, of course, the money to book your travel and accommodation in the first place.
We recommend travelling at a leisurely pace. The slower you travel, the cheaper it will be. Outside of our ass backward country, rail travel is always cheaper than flying – and you’ll get to see more of the places you’re visiting that way. You can also get rail passes in most places that will allow you travel to multiple places within a limited period.
How much money you’ll need will depend on where you’re going, so do a few calculations on the back of an envelope. Realistically? You’re going to need a nest egg of between £5000 to £8000.
When you have an accurate idea of costs, start putting together a travel fund. Open a short term savings account that locks your money away for a year. Then start to fill it.
- Have a clear out and sell your worldly possessions on eBay
- Cut out takeaways, coffee and extra nights out
- Work extra hours and double time
Keep yourself motivated through these dark days by adding detail to your itinerary. Research the places you want to go to on the Internet and collect pictures on your phone. Stare at them, weeping softly as you complete yet another double shift cleaning up popcorn and sick at the local multiplex. It will all be worth it.
Work around the world
If the thought of saving umpteen cabillion pounds before you even set off on your adventure brings you out in blotchy hives, remember that lots of Brits fund their travel plans by working their way around the world. All hail the holiday visa – a short term document that lets you do casual work while you visit some of Earth’s more civilised/expensive countries, including:
- New Zealand
If you’re a younger traveller who fancies working in the USA, you can apply for a year long holiday visa, as long as you’re at university or college now or have graduated within the last 12 months. Here’s some more good news. You won’t need a holiday visa to work in Europe, because of our EU membership.
With a holiday visa, you can do just about any work you’re qualified for – though it’ll be easier to get casual labour like fruit picking, cleaning and bar work. Another way to combine travel with work is to get a job at a resort. It’s a less adventurous way to see the world, to be frank – but the burn-out rate for holiday reps and service staff in resorts is so fast that there are always jobs available. And you’ll be surrounded by people who speak the same language as you. A fast-track way to get on the short-list is to complete the holiday rep diploma.
If babysitting sunburnt bags of tattooed skin is as palatable to you as a tadpole sandwich, then there are some more intellectual options. Teaching English as a foreign language can be challenging, hard work, but it’s one of the best ways of funding trips to certain territories if you’re lacking cash.
If you look online you’ll find lots of routes into teaching in foreign lands. The most reliable path is through the British Council, which offers courses in teaching English as a foreign language in a bunch of countries (including Thailand, Australia and Mexico).
With a plan in hand and cash in your pocket, there won’t be any stopping you. In a year from now, you’ll be back – hair bleached and skin tanned. Ready to take on the rest of your life. But be aware, some of us get the travel bug bad, and we don’t mean Delhi belly. Once you’ve had one travel adventure, you may not want to stop.