1. Planning your tripAs with any mini-break, time is of the essence, so plan as much as you can before you leave. If Uni has taught you anything by now it’s that a little organisation goes a long way. Work out how you will travel from destination to destination, how much it will cost, what you want to see and roughly plan when you want to do it. Don’t get too caught up in formulating a structured itinerary as your plans will most likely change as you discover new and exciting places along the way. Also, people make the mistake of trying to cram too much in and then having to rush. It’s better to fully explore a few places than only see a little of many!
2. Where should you go?Deciding where to go is half the battle. With so many amazing places to see in such little time, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Your best source of info is right in front of you - the locals! They will know the best places to visit, how to get there, what to do etc. So speak to them! Travel guides and sites like Joobili (which tells you exciting worldwide events on the days you're free) or What's On When? are also a great place to start. On your year abroad you will quickly become familiar with your surroundings, so a visit to some of the country's highlights can be a refreshing change.
3. Don't underestimate the day tripDay trips are a great opportunity to explore the local area leaving weekends and holidays free for you to go further afield.
4. BudgetPlan your budget beforehand, so don’t run out of money or spend more than you intended. You can save money by:
- Cooking for yourself in hostels.
- Shopping around if you decide to go on a guided tour. Or even just turn up; you can often get it cheaper that way.
- Being prepared to barter. Tourists are often exploited and ripped off!
- Pre-drinking before a night out (but as a student you should know all about that already!)
5. Last minute preparationMake sure you start on the right foot by booking your first night’s accommodation in advance. Following that, release your inner explorer and see what you find along the way. It will make your trip more of an adventure! However, be aware that cheap doesn’t always mean cheerful. You will generally find if you pay a little more you’ll get a LOT more for your money: a nicer bed, better location and cleaner room, for example.
6. Remember: Less is moreThe key to any backpacking is to travel light. Too much baggage can weigh you down, so just remember the essentials: camera, passport, sufficient amount of clothes etc. Here's a useful travel checklist to get you started.
7. Stay safeAs a year abroad students, the chances are that you are confident about travelling alone, speak the local language and will settle in quickly having researched the culture and traditions. However, this shouldn’t make you relax too much, as that’s when things go wrong. Use your common sense – a safe trip is a successful trip. The most important things are to keep your important belongings with you (or stored safely) at all times, don’t walk alone at night, let someone else know where you're going and how to contact you, and don’t flash your cash!
8. Travel insuranceYou cannot afford to be naive "It'll be fine; as long as I'm careful nothing will happen!" In reality, things go wrong and it can happen to anyone, so it's imperative you get adequate cover. You may be lucky and encounter no problems; however it's really not worth the risk. Make sure you get insurance to cover your belongings, health, travel and any activities you wish to do. Your year abroad insurance policy may include travel while you're away, so check it - and if not, then shop around for the best policy and price.
Check out The Travelsaurus for more help with planning your trip, or to get some top trip tips.