Whenever I return back from a trip, I'm met with the inevitable, "I wish I could travel so much." When I ask people why they don't, I'm usually told one of three things: they don't want to travel on their own, they don't how to start planning it, or, they don't have enough money. But I like to think that, if you really want to do something, you absolutely can. And travelling is no different. So, I'm going to try and tackle each of these three things and show you why you can travel, too.   

I'm scared to travel on my own. 

Don't be! What's the worst that can happen?

Travelling on your own gives you the independence to do exactly what you want. Want 3 gelatos? Do it. Can't be bothered to go to another "Top 10 museum?" No problem, just say you went there. No one else's opinion matters and you don't have to consult your friends about which trips to take. This is great in itself. 

People are, understandably concerned about safety. But in all the countries I've been to, I've never felt unsafe. Just use your common sense: If you're in, say, Koh Samui, avoid walking on secluded beaches at night. Remember to leave a credit card in the hotel's safety deposit box. Don't get so drunk that you don't know your way home. Obvious, right? 

Something I wish everyone knew was: just because you're going on your own, it doesn't mean you'll be on your own. Book into a hostel on Hostleworld and meet people. Or stay in someone's apartment through AirBnb and ask them if there's a chance they'll show you around their city. You can meet groups of people in new cities with Couchsurfer. There are endless ways to meet new people and build up your global network. 

Keeping in touch with home is so easy, too. Almost every hotel and cafe has wifi, which allows you to quickly whatsapp across some photos or shoot a quick email.  

You don't know where to start. 

Woody Allen said that 80% of life is showing up, and I say, 80% of going on holiday is being brave enough to book the damn flight. When you book your flight everything else seems to follow. Start small, if you live in the UK, think of going somewhere close like Paris, Rome, Berlin, or Barcelona. 

I like to have a rough idea of what I will be doing in a new city so I will Google: "Top things to do in (insert city name.)" On a few occasions, such as when I went to China, I'll buy a travel guide and see if I get find any more tips. But Google is usually the best.  

But you can, and what I have done is, book your flight and accommodation, find out the route from the airport to the hotel and be on your way. You can map out what to do when you get there. 

Don't stress about things like what to pack - throw in some clothes. Oh, and a good pair of walking shoes. But do some basics: Photocopy your passport, have an extra copy of your insurance details, let your mum know where you'll be staying. Check that your phone works abroad, this is just in case you need to call home in an emergency. I've never had to do this. But it's nice to know I can. 

Facebook is amazing. Make use of your graph search, type in "My friends who have been to Paris." Can they give you some insight on what to do? Do they have friends there who will show you around? 

Cities like New York, Paris, Rome, Milan, Berlin, Budapest, Shanghai and Istanbul are all cities that are very tourist friendly, you can easily visit them without much planning - and on your own. 

So, really, the only things you need to check/do are:- 

1) Book flights 

2) Arrange accommodation 
3) Get some insurance - leave a copy of your details with your mum
4) Photocopy your passport - keep a copy & leave a copy at home 
5) Find out the route from the Airport to your hotel/apartment 
6) Have some cash with you and your card too.  


Money is a big issue for many people, but at least get an idea of how much a trip will cost before you declare it to be too expensive.  

Booking in advance will often save you money. I always use Skyscanner when searching for flights. Then I go onto the airlines actual website to see if the price is cheaper. 

Accommodation can be costly. I haven't stayed in a hotel for a long time because my budget doesn't allow for it, so I use AirBnb. I've used this in a lot of cities; I've never been disappointed, It's allowed me to meet some great hosts and I have saved a tonne of cash - I hope that NYC remains AirBnb friendly! 

You'll always spend more if you go to restaurants vs. street stalls. If you're in New York for example, head to the area around Washington Square Park instead of Times Square. Ended up in Paris? Make your way over to Little India. In Barcelona? Avoid any restaurant that has a man outside telling you to come in. Walk down the road, turn right and then left, right out of the touristy areas. 

Domestic travel in a country can be expensive. If you plan on doing a route such as Beijing to Shanghai, Google the costs before you go. You'll end up on a website like Seat61 which gives you expert and detailed advice on train journeys.

Visiting attractions can be costly. Most cities will offer a tourist card allowing you to visit the main attractions at a discounted rate. This is something I rarely do, I tend to find attractions boring. I don't think you can beat walking around a new city - there's always lots of free things to do. Hey, I did say that I was easily pleased. 

Avoid getting taxis. I've found that most cities have a great underground system. You'll often be able to buy a card that allows you a certain number of rides. This is always worth considering as you'll save money and the hassle of buying a ticket each time you take a ride.  

I always exchange some currency before I go and I also take British Stirling so I can change it when I am there. This avoids me having to withdraw money from my account, which I am charged for. I also have a Halifax Clairty card. This lets me make purchases abroad without been charged any transaction feeds. 

Be warned, most European airports aren't as budget friendly as those in the UK (I'm looking at you, Paris). This is something that makes me really angry. I refuse to be ripped off, so, before my flight home I will go to McDonalds or KFC before I go arrive at the airport.  

We all love our families, but presents take up space and eat up your money, so forget those. Avoid shopping! Just walk around the city so you can get a feel for it. Download a cheap app like lonely planet to help you navigate your way around.


Just do it. 

I can tell you that from doing countless trips abroad, you won't regret it. Each one is a great experience and something you will always remember doing. 

If you really want to travel, you can! 


www.airbnb.com - rent apartments or rooms all over the world.
www.couchsurfing.com - stay for free in people's homes.
www.skyscanner.net - great search engine for flights.
www.tripadvisor.com - check reviews on your hotels, tour guides, restaurants and tourist attractions. 
Wiki - check the wikipedia page of your local airport and see which destinations it has flights to. 
WikiTravel - Has good information about all major cities. 
www.pinterest.com - plot and pin your next trip by being inspired by the great images on Pinterest. 

How Can I Travel, Too?

Posted on

Wednesday, 30 October 2013


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