Like I introduced in the About page, this is about explaining the way I chose to travel around the world, the way I think you should do it too. There is no perfect way, but these tips allow you to travel on a budget and the local way.
These are general advice, read the Travel Tips & Advice section for more detailed ones per category.
What’s on this page?
How to Travel Around The World page content:
You want to travel around the world? Go and do it then. I would have more respect for someone visiting his region back home on its own than going to another continent through a tour agency.
Independent travelling gives you :
- The chance to go to places agencies don’t go to
- The chance to get to places where you won’t find dozens of other dependent tourists, taking away all kind of authenticity (Eg: the difference of experience you get visiting a tribal village who receive tourists every day, setup visit, welcome, ceremonies, etc. Vs arriving in a small village that don’t see many white people around)
- You will feel proud about yourself because it will be your own trip, not someone else’s
- Everything can be done on your own without assistance (well, except Bhutan and North Korea maybe), even Africa (shouldn’t have to quote Africa here but probably where I saw most people on organized tours so it might be relevant to mention it).
- No need to explain the money reason, right 😉
On your own or with friends (friend, partner, your mum, whoever), the eternal question. Well, I did both and I would recommend people to try both too. I think it is important to travel on your own, at least for a part of your trip.
If you can choose, I would say on your own in regions where you can speak or want to learn the local language (Europe, North/Central/South America) and with more permanent travel buddies in more remote places (eg : Asia).
Solo travelling Pros:
- Solo doesn’t mean on your own, it means that you choose. You can always meet travellers if you want to, and you can be on your own whenever you feel like escaping a bit. Less compromises, less isolation from others, free as a bird!
- You will have more opportunities to meet locals, more exposure to the culture and people. Nope, you won’t meet as many locals if travelling with a friend. It will happen but it won’t happen as often, locals will come to you way more if you are on your own, trust me. It works the way around too, you will go more often to locals (out of your comfort zone) if on your own.
- Find yourself. Yes, it is a bit harder in a way. Harder to face moments out of your comfort zone, moments of stress, uncertainty, danger, etc. but this is part of what you are looking for right? You will definitely learn more about yourself on your own than with a friend, it is a good therapy. It is sometimes a tougher but more rewarding challenge that will bring you self-confidence.
Travel With A Friend Pros:
- You have a solid friend to share all these wonderful times with and not only recent acquaintances you made on your way. Both are good but there is definitely something stronger when sharing with someone you have a strong relationship with.
- Even the shittiest frustrating situation goes smoother because who cares, you are with your buddy so you can laugh about it (or cry less at least).
- Being too long in a remote place without travellers and where you don’t share the language with locals could be tough (yes, it feels good for human kind to communicate with words sometimes). Having a friend, someone you can talk to does help here.
- Lower accommodation costs when sharing rooms (many countries charge per room rather than per person)
If you decide to go with a travel partner (friend, as a couple), it might be healthy to discuss in advance about the potentiality to split at some point. Would it be possible as a couple? Do you both agree on the question? How far can you compromise?
It might be just for few weeks to then re-join again. It is not failure, just a healthy way of doing things. Don’t feel like you have to stay together until the end.
I don’t mean all the time here but I mean grouping with people to do things. Doing things with a group of travellers will help you bringing the costs down (food, accommodation, activities, etc.). If you go a bit further away than most of the tourists and go off season, you can arrive in places where there is not so much happening so asking prices, negotiating with a group can really reduce prices down.
Well, having said that, be careful about travelling with a too large group in high season in touristy places, that would be more trouble than helping.
This is an important one. So many travellers I met had the same problem, planning to do too many countries in not enough time (and you never have enough time to be honest). Whatever your plan is, go back on it and reduce it. This will avoid you some frustration and a lot more:
- Have more time to feel the country, to get to know the local way of living there
- More time per country = less countries = less visas = less long distance transports = less costs
- Get to go off beaten track (yeah I said it again ;), your visit of a country won’t get only reduced to the must do tourist attractions. No one only want to visit the must do per country but many just don’t have enough time to do any extra on the side. You don’t want to be one of them!
- Long term travelling is the best but it just cannot be like many fully booked holidays stacked one after the other. You will need to take your time if you want to last long, still enjoying it and in a healthy way.
You need to stay long enough in a place to feel and discover it like a local, this is the only way.
I know, booking is tempting. What if everything is booked and we cannot do anything? Well, it doesn’t happen often and if it does, it is maybe better for you not to be in that place then, it does sound like a very touristy spot.
Just plan the main direction lines and then deal with the rest on the spot, country per country.
- Things happen, plans change and you want to have this freedom to change things depending on your feelings, on people you meet on the road, etc.
- Read independent DIY blogs and ask “real” travellers rather than commercial information and you will realise that almost everything can be done on your own or with minimal assistance. I often didn’t have the money for guided tours and I don’t like them either, it feels less adventurous. Who wants to have someone 24/7 next to you when you are having a nice time in a nice spot with friends?
- Again, money. The closer you get from something, the less middleman you have when booking, the cheaper it gets.
See also the Before Travelling section to read more about travel planning.
It could be the comfort zone of the cultural, the interpersonal, the physical or just about standards of living and getting out of it is good to live your journey to the full. It might be hard and challenging sometimes but it is good for you.
It is part of the travelling process and there is so much you will benefit from doing so:
- Learn and grow as a person. Tolerance.
- Build self-confidence (discovering without a guide, speaking a new language, bargaining, etc.)
- Pushing your comfort zone is expending it
- Doing things differently, out of your routine back home. What things do change to do it differently back home? Not much right? For once and at last you can do it while travelling.
- Judge less
- Cheap, last but not least.
Remember, it is for limited time only. I think that’s one of my main reason for enjoying all of it. I see it as a fun temporary thing. I’m happy to discover and tolerate different things because I know this is not for life, it is just while travelling. You will go back to your comfort zone at some point if you want to, don’t worry and enjoy the change for now!
The Budget! Probably one of the main thing people look for on ATW websites looking at all the existing pages on the question. I have seen full table listing all the costs by categories, per country, etc. Well, it gives you some ideas but I don’t find it relevant as everyone is so different when it comes to spending money.
I would say, all included (yes, everything), it would be somewhere around 400€ to 800€ per month per person for a trip of at least 12-16 months (very precise brackets I know).
It helps you a lot right? 😉 Well, what did you expect? It is very hard to tell but I can tell you this bracket is doable and it includes doing 2 or 3 continents (taking 2 or 3 long distance flights). No ATW plane tickets sorry (Read more about ATW ticket here)
If Europe (at least Western), the United States, Australia or New Zealand are on the list, then it is about doing more camping and saving on transport (2 areas of spending more expensive than in other continents).
The difference of budget is then depending on the following:
- Choice and number of countries, the more = the faster = the more expensive (see Choosing Destinations)
- How good you are with overland travelling Vs flying
- How many costly must do tourist attractions you do
- How bad you are with drinking
- How bad you are with choosing a trendy place to stay when you want to go drinking 😉
- How bad you are with eating choices when you wake up hangover in a trendy place after you went drinking