A travel adventure begins with a dream. The inspiration for your dream may come from books, television, magazines, internet, friends or family. Or maybe it is just within you. As you read and listen about faraway places you wonder what it’d be like to actually be there. Not just seeing and hearing but smelling, tasting and feeling a world very different from your own. To be able to say you’ve experienced that is the magic of travel.
Travel dreams are wonderful and like me, I’ll hope you’ll always have them. For years I didn’t make mine a reality and finally I realised that nothing was going to happen unless I started some thoughtful planning. I had to decide on my first destination and start my research. Logical questions immediately started to fill my mind...
How much will it all cost and will I have enough money?
This is a key question and one that must be answered before you go any further. Whether we like it or not, our travel aspirations are limited by the money we have. Research your possible destinations and try to establish an approximate daily cost. Multiply this by the number of days you’d like to travel for, add in something for unforeseen circumstances and you have an approximate travel budget.
Where exactly am I going?
Everyone is different but I always recommend making a travel itinerary of some description. How accurate and detailed it is will be a personal preference. Even over a journey of three or four months it’s quite possible to create an exact itinerary that makes optimal use of every day. I've included more information on Creating an Itinerary and some examples to help you.
I have also written an article called Where to Travel First? which is especially useful for helping new travellers establish the best geographic areas of the world and ideal first travel destinations.
Where can I find the best and cheapest flights?
There are many options these days to ensure you get the best possible deal on your flights. Travel agents often display prices for various destinations in their front window so you can see at a glance what they’re offering. Take note but don’t book anything until you’ve done some internet research for yourself. After checking travel booking sites and the individual airlines, the best choice should eventually reveal itself to you.
What are the best overland transport options?
Travel guidebooks can be invaluable when you want this type of information and they should also provide approximate costs. Usually you’ll be travelling by bus but it’s nice to be aware that you have other choices such as train or even boat. Consider flying if overland options are too difficult, expensive or time consuming.
Should I travel independently or on a guided tour?
Good question that doesn’t have a definitely correct answer because it depends on your personal situation and where you are in the world. A tour is more expensive but a good way to ease your way into it before taking on the challenges of travelling alone. Some destinations naturally lend themselves to taking a tour and sometimes it is logistically impossible to travel independently.
Can I work or volunteer along the way?
Once again, this is a complex question with many variables. The short answer is yes, you probably can but it is dependent on where you are and what you want to do. It also depends on whether you want to work officially with a visa or informally to earn some quick cash. Volunteering opportunities are many and varied around the world with plenty of organisations ready to assist with placements.