Prior to leaving for the UK I really had no idea on what to expect. Books and webpages will tell you things but nothing beats having a first hand experience for yourself. I continuously surprised myself with the ability to get out of my comfort zone on many occasions; it was a kind of selfish discovery of which I am utterly convinced I am a better person for. So this time round and now having seen parts of Austria, Ireland, United Kingdom, Germany, Singapore, Abu Dhabi (albeit with extreme jetlag) and with my previous experiences of cruising Vanuatu and New Caledonia I feel a little more equipped for what's next. And yes, I've become super pleased to share my 'great finds' with other travellers.
So what are my tips for travelling:
- If moving to another country definitely read up on all the important things like emergency care, health etc & register with appropriate authorities; but especially expect banking to be vastly different (even in 'first world' countries) and budget as well as you can for it. Use cash more than cards, debit cards won't necessarily show the transactions you make till 2weeks after you have bought something. Any refunds? Don't expect the money for approximately 5 days. Australian banking is super quick- you will find out how spoilt we are when we go abroad- but the best part is that it takes you back to using cash and thinking in advance about putting your money to what you love the most on your trip.
- PLAN where you want to travel before you go. I thought there would be nothing greater than winging some of it, however you are left with too many options. Once you get to Europe you'll realise exactly how cheap travel is and how close the neighbouring countries lie. You may find yourself spending lots of spending money on food and entertainment in places that aren't your top priority just because you love travel- save your cash.
- This may contradict the previous one, but do NOT book flights/trips through your home country for Europe, use Expedia.com, TNT Travel & all the other various discounted trip companies- your money will go further!
- Soak up CULTURE, HISTORY and everything that is UNIQUE about where you travel. Everyone loves the countries they were born in (typically) however it would be an injustice to the beauty of the world to travel with eyes wide shut.
- VOUCHERS, VOUCHERS, VOUCHERS...many places have travel cards for a day/weekend. These are by far the best choice to make when it comes to transport around a city you aren't familiar with, you will pay more if you buy a ticket for each ride. Also, at some train stations you'll find 2for1 vouchers- USE THEM! At London Bridge, Paddington, Waterloo & Victoria stations you'll find booklets that include tours of football stadiums, high teas, day trips to the English countryside, discounted entry to palaces and more. For the London vouchers its a matter of paying for your train ride to and from the venue and showing your receipt, but it still always costs less than a full admission to sightseeing paradise.
- Buy the transport applications for the areas you are going to. Then once you have them on the screen of your smart phone take a snapshot & save it to your camera roll. This way regardless of signal you can map your next stop.
- Budget what you think you'll need for your trip & then DOUBLE it. It might sound crazy but it's better than having travel & debt blues when you land back on home soil.
- Use lastminute.com, expedia.com, tripadvisor.com to reduce costs. As well you can't go past the most authentic experience you'll every receive... AirBnb (airbnb.com). AirBnb is a company that operates across a host of different nations and brings back the tradition of old school bed and breakfast. You will stay with locals in their own homes and be informed of places to see, eat or indeed...places not worth your worry. Truly the greatest business concept going! If you stay with people in Ireland, like I did, you'll be sure to have a merry time!
- My best and most important tip: Don't wait for people to travel with. Travelling alone is not scary, it is highly rewarding. The nature of life is, everyone is busy- it would be an epic shame to be waiting for someone when your circumstances change rendering you unable to go. Don't let anyone hold you back; as Nike says...Just do it!