Tips n Tricks
Before you go
Important: Be sure to always check the government website of the countries you are traveling to BEFORE you go. Find out their visa and travel requirements. Some countries require visas, vaccination documents, different passport expiration dates, payments and other documents to enter and exit the country.
Also keep updated on any safety requirements for travelling to any particular country like riots, protests etc. Many government websites provide a registration service. You can provide your itinerary so that if there is a natural disaster or dangerous event while you are there you can be contacted with safety information and assistance. An example is the Australian Smart Traveler site and the US STEP Program.
It’s easy to keep your friends and family in the loop about where you are and what you are doing by downloading the Gap Calendar on the Europe page and sharing it with them. That way they can see your general plans for the trip.
It is a good idea to make at least two copies of all of your important documents before you leave. This includes passport, ID cards, money cards, visas, immunization documents, travel insurance documents etc. Keep the original ‘real versions’ in your carry on or in a money belt and the photocopy in your suit case. Give the second copy to a travel buddy or to your family at home in case your belongings get stolen or lost. Never write down pin codes for money cards or electronics because if someone steals your bag you don’t want them to find your passwords along with it. Click here for more Safety tips.
When looking for accommodation always leave yourself enough time to do your research so you don’t have to book the first option you find. During big festivals or main events always be sure to book well in advanced, even up to six months before. Also during peak season accommodation can book out fast. If you’re going on a long trip don’t pre-book your accommodation for the entire trip before you leave home. Book the first couple of destinations and then do the rest as you go. This means that if some thing doesn’t go to plan and you don’t make it to every destination on schedule, you don’t lose money on bookings. Remember some things like flight delays will be out of your control.
Once you make your booking make sure you write down the important details that you may not be able to access without wifi when you are on your way to the destination. For example, address, phone number, whether you paid when booking or will pay on arrival are all important things to have noted before you get there. More details for types of Accommodation here.
It is always good to have an idea of your budget before you go away. Divide your funds between how many days you plan on traveling and then you will have some idea of how much you can spend each day of your trip. Keep in mind that some days will be more expensive than others, especially the days when you are paying for transport.
Click here for more info on Currency cards.
Travelling in groups
When travelling with a bunch of friends for an extended period of time it is important to choose your company wisely. It is better to travel with people who have a similar budget as you do. Otherwise it can get difficult when choosing where to eat, where to stay and what activities you want to be doing along the way.
Before travelling make sure you know your fellow Gap Mappers really well. It is important that you have similar interests and can spend long amounts of time together. Otherwise you have to be happy to agree on doing different things and spending parts of your day separate which is also fine.
The people you travel with can either make or break your trip because you all want to have the best time possible. Make sure your vision of what the trip will be like is going to be similar so that no one is disappointed.
Travelling can be stressful and takes a lot of organization. Your travel bud may be notoriously lazy so you’ll have to be ok with doing the planning. There may be one in the group who always gets a little too sloppy on a night out and you know you’ll always have to be looking after them. There may be that friend who loves to plan and book in advanced so you know that you wont be able to go with the flow or be as spontaneous as you would like. Be prepared to consider all of the personality traits in your group and make sure you’re ok with making that commitment to avoid potential arguments.
Venturing away on a trip alone takes guts, confidence and a lot of street smarts. There will definitely be some ups and downs, like any trip. Be sure that you are able to handle the downs without a friend to give a helping hand. You will encounter stressful situations. You will also need to be aware of your safety at all times. The plus side to travelling alone is that you are much more open to meeting new people. It can be intimidating to outsiders to approach you if you are part of a big group so being alone gives you the opportunity to get to know other travellers and locals. More info coming soon.
When you get there
When you are travelling, obviously the main objective is to enjoy yourself and have fun. But travelling does not always go smoothly. Sometimes things do go wrong. The main thing, is that when the adventure is over you make it home in one piece. Always keep updated with local news and stay away from areas with protests, riots or demonstrations which can happen at short notice. Click here for more Safety tips.
Walking and public transport are the best ways to save money when travelling. Taxi fares add up fast especially when going to and from airports. Always search your airport of arrival and they should give options for transport into the city center.
Smart phones are a great tool to have while travelling. If you are going to walk from a train station to find your hostel, make sure you use WIFI before you leave to map the route. That way you can use your location services to follow the trail to your hostel even when you are offline. Even when you are catching a bus you can use your locations while en route to see when you have to get off. Just keep your eye on that moving blue dot and you will see when you are getting close to your destination. Using the locations tool will not charge you as long as you keep your data roaming turned off.
Even better, check out the free APP Maps.Me that allows you to use offline mapping and even plan routes and get directions without wifi!
See more on Transport options here
If your hard earned pennies aren’t stretching as far as you hoped they would it is possible to work while you’re overseas and still have a good time. Most employees wont allow you to work without a working visa but you may find that at certain hostels and bars they may give you cash in hand for your services short-term. Otherwise, a great option is Work Away. This site has options for volunteer work in exchange for things like free accommodation and meals. You may be able to work for a few hours a day doing check-ins at a hostel and have the rest of your day to explore and have fun. You may not be getting paid but you will be saving money by having your living expenses covered. WWoofing is also a similar site that allows you to live and work on farms in exchange for accommodation and other living expenses covered.