So you’ve booked your flights, arranged your visas, passport is ready, camera charged and you’ve said goodbye to all your loved ones… You’re finally off by yourself to discover the world! Here are some helpful tips for along the way.
You may be travelling with a group of friends or on your own but either way; you’re sure to run into other travellers and probably will want to make friends with them. If you’re feeling a bit shy, the most basic conversations will help break the ice:
Where are you from?
How long are you away for?
Where do you hope to go and where have you been already?
All these are good questions which should lead to more conversation. And remember to ask for their Facebook or Twitter details to keep in touch.
The best places to meet like-minded travellers will be in bars, pubs or restaurants. If you’re very shy however, try and pluck up the courage to arrange a group meeting at a beautiful spot near a waterfall for a picnic or a group outing to an iconic landmark. You may bump into the same people over and over again – this could either be a good or a bad thing!
How to get rid of pesky hangers on:
It happens to the best of us. You make polite small talk with someone and before you know it they’ve decided that you’re their new best friend! They turn up where you are, they change their route to match yours and you just cannot shake them off. A good way of getting rid of them is to be polite but firm and try to explain the situation. You could try the blunt technique – “I don’t want to travel with you, I want to go alone” or you could just lie and change your path – which could be problematic. It might be best to tell them that as much as you enjoy their company and they’re lovely, that you want to do this alone and that you hope they won’t take offense. Don’t let them guilt trip you or make you feel bad – this is your trip.
How to make friends:
The best way to form lasting friendships is to do things together that you’ll all remember. The best thing is to try suggesting outings and to meet up – that way people will remember you when they think of the things you did together. Don’t feel too dejected if people can’t make it – everyone has their own travel agenda. If you’re going to be working whilst abroad, this is another fantastic place to make friends – most of them will probably be travelling like you and you can help each other with homesickness, tips and advice.
How to deal with homesickness:
It is inevitable that at some point you will fall victim to homesickness, especially if you’re away over Christmas or birthdays. Regular contact with home through email, postcards of where you are and phone cards will help keep homesickness at bay. If possible, keep a blog or regularly update Facebook or Twitter with pictures and anecdotes of what you’ve been up to – it’s a great way to keep in touch and for everyone to see what you’re up to. Of course, Skype is also a free and easy way to keep in touch with home. Try to remember that this is probably a once in a lifetime trip and you may not get the chance for this experience again – try and enjoy it as much as possible, you may regret going home early.
How to stay safe:
Safety must be your number one priority at all times – try keep valuables on you at all times and try to not be too conspicuous with your flashy camera or your iPhone. It’d be wise to not take any expensive jewellery or possessions with you if possible. Make sure you have insurance and that you are covered for theft. Report any crimes and just be sure to be aware at all times and try to never walk alone, especially at night time. It would also be wise to carry a rape alarm on you and some pepper spray as simple precautions. Don’t let the worry spoil your trip though!
The most important thing is to enjoy your once in a lifetime adventure!