A gap year or return around the world ticket can be the best experience of your life.
But without a bit of homework and the right amount of prep, it could pear-shaped quite quickly. So to avoid being stranded many many miles from home, backpack overload or suffering unnecessarily here are some friendly reminders!
Do you really need all of those clothes?
It is a common misperception that you will need a lot of clothes when you are away because you want to be prepared for this activity and that activity. But you only have a limited amount of space in your backpack and you don’t want to fill it up with things you don’t need.
As soon as you get into the backpacking vibe, you’ll learn very quickly that fellow travellers are wearing the local garb and you’ll want to get involved too. So you don’t want to give up on the chance of owning a Chang Beer t-shirt from Thailand, a lama jumper from Ecuador or a Costa Rican football kit just because you don’t have any space in your bag.
Make sure you have sufficient clothing for hot and cold weather, smart and casual settings and leave plenty of room in your bag to add those things you collect along the way.
Have you booked your jabs?
If you are venturing far and wide, you might come into contact with exotic diseases like yellow fever and dengue but there are course of vaccinations like Tetanus that you need to ensure you have completed. Some travellers will leave these checks to the last minute, creating a rush to have all them all done and leaving their arms looking like Popeye.
So give yourself plenty of time or you may not be able to travel at all – especially for something like rabies which needs a course of jabs over a few weeks.
Are you organised but flexible?
It’s always wise to do some planning such as going through online forums and researching the best activities, hostels and beaches. But when it comes to arranging your daily activities and the dates, it is good to leave your calendar a little open for spontaneity.
When arriving at a hostel, the revellers will always know the best things to do and you don’t want to get fomo just because you have planned other activities or are leaving before its too late. You also never know who you might meet, whether it’s a group of like-minded travellers or lifelong friend.
So keeping your tickets and bookings a little open-ended means that you can go with the flow and have the best experience possible, particularly in happening places like Buenos Aires, Byron and Ko Panang where there are always parties going on and places you can visit nearby.
Double check your budget
A common mistake is that travellers have not saved enough and do not have enough money when they are out there. Other than jabs and flights, you want to research additional costs like tours, accommodation, food and plan a daily budget. You don’t want to have compromise on the basics by eating random food, sleeping in a dodgy hostel or riding in the back of a van full of chickens.
Backpackerbanter recommends budgeting around £1,000 a month for all necessities (around £30 per day) as this tends to even out across countries.
Don’t forget insurance. Don’t forget insurance. Don’t forget insurance!
With around a third of gap year travellers roaming around without insurance, it can be very expensive if you get ill or robbed, around £620 per claim according to The Telegraph. You might also have to cancel a booking before travelling so you need insurance from day 1.
Notably, travellers should speak to insurers beforehand if they are going to be doing extreme sports like bungee jumping, quad biking and white water rafting – as any potential injuries can costs thousands in medical bills and further costs if you have to extend your stay.
If you are taking mobile phones or tablets on your travels, you will need contents insurance otherwise these cannot be replaced if lost or stolen.
Whether you get under the weather sampling the local cuisine or pick up a bug, no insurance means no covering medical bills.
Through the European Health Insurance Card, you can get free medical treatment for anywhere in the EU – however, several travellers believe that this will also pay for them to go home, but this is not the case. Similarly, the British Embassy can help you contact family and friends but they will never pay for any treatment or flights home.
Travellers can also sign up for MEDICARE if they are visiting Australia as this will entitle you to some free emergency care or reduced medical bills.
Source: Call Wiser