Ask The Backpackers #1 – Planning a RTW
Because we’re super cool, awesome and generally nice people we wanted to make sure this blog wasn’t just about us. Taking this in to consideration we’re starting a regular feature where we’re going to pass on our knowledge to you on any questions you may want answering. We didn’t want to limit this to just travel bloggers and so we’re welcoming everybody to get in touch and to take part.
So without further ado, I hand you over to our first guest:
“Hey, I’m Dom Lovallo (@dlovallo1) 22 years old and from Peterborough, England. I’ve just finished studying business at Hull University and I’m now just working hard and saving towards the dream.
During University I decided that I cannot just get a job and work till I retire and needed to see and experience the world. Already fed up of the mundane life of work and routine, I want to travel the world to have one big adventure, try things i would never do at home, meet some amazing new people and cultures. This is also the first time I would have been away from England for longer than a couple of weeks. I’m planning on setting off around October 2012… looking to get RTW flights booked around April time.
I’m going to start off in India (Goa) to ease into the travelling concept then travel up-north. Then jump on a flight to china, travel down the east coast then through Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and ending up in Singapore. After that I’ll be flying to east coast Australia. I’m thinking about a bit of S.America but budget means might have to leave it to another time. I’ll hopefully be travelling for approx 8-10months… Hopefully longer.”
My questions to the backpackers are:
What size backpack have you used and what would you recommend?
Chris – I’d say smaller is better (I did Thailand on a 25litre for 3 weeks!) but in reality I’d say 70+20 …it gives you plenty of space so you don’t need to worry about creating a tetras tile packing technique and you can buy stuff on the road
Dan – I’ve got to agree with Chris. When I was leaving Australia (bearing in mind I had everything I own on me) I had an 80-Litre backpack which was far, far too big. Dragging it around was uncomfortable and just attracted attention. I felt the need to constantly keep checking it and having to move it out of people’s way. Having a backpack with a detachable day pack would be a bonus.
Beverley – I actually don’t have a backpack, I have suitcase instead! If I was always moving from place to place then I’d definitely have a backpack instead but because I’m travelling slowly and therefore more long-term it’s more feasible for me to live out of a suitcase than a backpack.
Monica – I had a 65litre backpack and found that this was just about right. Any bigger and I wouldn’t have been able to lift it onto my back and any smaller makes it tough to find anything. I’d recommend buying one that zips all the way open rather than a toploader. I had one that only opened at the top so anything that slipped to the bottom pretty much stayed there.
What travel essentials would you recommend to pack for a 12month RTW Trip?
Beverley – Dan you’ve gone all grown up and practical on us, what happened?! I actually don’t think I could travel without my iPod, my iPhone, a large pair of sunglasses and industrial strength mozzy spray. But you also can’t go wrong with a small first aid kit and a travel washing line.
I’ve heard whilst travelling that plans can change quick, would you recommend investing in an RTW flight ticket or just winging it and buying just your first one-way flight?
Chris – it’s a difficult one! My experience from working at STA Travel says full RTW ticket – but make sure it’s a flexible one. You can plan a full RTW ticket to key destinations (i.e. into Bangkok and out of Singapore) and then bounce around as much as you like within that place depending on time and budget.
Poi: Don’t listen to Chris and just wing it, I planned on being in Asia for maybe half a year originally and I’m still here over a year and a half later. Who knows what you’ll decide to do once you’re underway!
Dan – Agree with Poi on this one – wing it! I know a lot of people who have decided to wing it as you may find you don’t like some places so want to leave early or you may like them too much and decide to stay longer.
Beverley – Definitely wing it because once you start travelling your plans with constantly be changing. Opportunities will come up, you’ll meet people along the way and all of a sudden the plan you’ve got set in stone doesn’t look so great anymore.
Monica – I think it depends what kind of travel experience you’re after. If you know for definite that you want to be back home after a year and there are 4-5 countries you definitely want to visit then go for a RTW ticket. If you aren’t 100% sure where you want to go or how long you want to go for just wing it. It might work out slightly more expensive but you aren’t restricted by a schedule.
I’ve heard that the general rule for budgeting is approx $1000 USA dollars a month. Would you say this sounds about right taking into consideration that majority of the months will be travelling in cheaper countries such as India, Thailand etc and maybe only 2-3 months in Australia, New Zealand etc.?
Chris – Yes, although I’d say £1000! Australia is increasingly expensive to travel and that $1000 will balance out in the long run. It’s always best to be pessimistic with money – worse comes to worse you come home with some cash in your pocket. Best case scenario….you simply travel for longer!
How do you budget your money whilst travelling?
Chris – I stick to the $1000 rule and break it down daily. I tend to take a week or so’s worth of cash out and stick to it if I can – especially for daily buying stuff. Things like tours and that need to be approached in advance though and if I know I’m intent on doing something before I leave I’ll factor it in.
Dan – Considering I lost my bank card and had no other access to money on my trip I’d say the best way to budget is live off the bare minimum unless you really want to do something. Towards the end of your trip you can go crazy with the money you have left
Beverley – I don’t. I earn shit loads of money working abroad, travel a bit more and then realise after a few months that I’m going to have to starve until I find work again because I’ve spent all my money. I realise this is hugely irresponsible and would not recommend taking this approach to your travels.
Monica – I’m the same as Beverley. I don’t have a budget I just try my best not to waste any money. When my bank balance starts to get low I stop travelling for a while and knuckle down and do some work for a few months until I have enough to start travelling again.
What advice would you give somebody thinking about and wanting to fund a RTW trip?
Chris – start saving ASAP! That way if you decide to go (which you should!) the moneys good to go. If not then you have some good savings – it’s win win! Kill you’re social life and look at things as if they were parts of your travel – that £10 meal out might not seem much but would I rather have that or a hostel bed, 2 meals and a beer in Thailand?!
Poi: Basically what Chris said, look at everything in terms of what it could get you somewhere else in the world. You don’t wanna avoid going out with friends because you’ll start to hate saving but just skip the expensive bits, don’t eat out but meet them after for beers
Beverley – Sell everything you don’t need on eBay, do your research, book at least one flight or get a visa secured for somewhere so you’ve got something to aim towards and don’t let anyone tell you that what you’re doing isn’t a good idea.
Monica – Don’t bother saving in your home country – work abroad! Working around Europe, Australia and NZ is so much more fun and you can earn some decent money to fund your travels. I found it easier to save in Oz because I was surrounded by like-minded backpackers who were on a budget and you have more motivation to save your pennies.
Any advice on the best company to get travel insurance from?
Chris – Without sounding like a broken record it’s STA Travel again! I’ve worked for them and for what they cover they’re the best. I’ve dealt with people needing to be flown home or get treatment and the under writer is really good – I have complete faith that they’d be there if I needed them.
Poi: Our travel insurance ran out a while ago…oopps.
Dan – I use the price comparison websites. I think mine ended up being £20 for 12 months from Virgin Money Travel Insurance which included winter sports, baggage lost etc. I even got a nifty little credit card thing with all of the details on so I didn’t have to carry around heaps of paperwork.
What would you say is the biggest highlight and best place that youve been whilst travelling that you would recommend to others to put on their itinerary?
Monica – The Gili Islands in Lombok. They’re easy to reach from Bali and absolutely stunning. The nightlife on Gili Trewangen is awesome and the other two islands give you a real Robinson Crusoe feeling.
Is it worth bringing a laptop/netbook with me whilst on my travels or would this be just extra baggage when internet cafes can be used?
Dan – I had my laptop with me on my travels but I did tend to get very protective over it where security was concerned and I needed it being a blogger. I’d say take it with you if you’re not mega worried about it and it’s not too heavy.
Beverley – I didn’t have a laptop for ages until I started taking my Blog seriously and knew the investment would be worth it so I bought one on sale in Australia. Honestly though if you think you’ll only use it to go on Facebook and email then it’s probably not worth it – every hostel I’ve been to have internet access and you don’t have to worry about losing or breaking your laptop.
Odds of having travelling flings in every hostel you visit?
Beverley – I would say that odds are hugely increased if you concentrate on being friends with people and generally getting involved with a group and having fun rather than being that creepy person in the hostel who’s trying to get it on with everything that walks
If you’ve got any questions you’d like the backpackers to answer, give us a shout!
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