Travel Tips for the Twenty Somethings
On a mid range budget.
“This isn’t a shoestring guide and there’s no first class flights.”
I like to think of this as a middle ground for wanderlusts with small savings escaping their 9-5.
I’ve traveled around the world and made a lot of mistakes, but picked up a lot of little tricks I use every time I take a trip.
I’ve listed them out below including links to the websites I use regularly. (None of these are endorsed or affiliated with us but they’re my go to sites and apps for travel).
#1 How to book and plan your trip:
So you’ve span the globe and picked a location. Great! Let’s figure out how to get there…
I always, always use Rome2Rio before I head to flight sites. Just to see what my options are. Its very straight forward. Put in the place you want to leave and the place you want arrive. Even add little side trips along the way and the site will bring up all the methods to travel there. And usually gives fairly accurate price guides and links to book them.
The daunting task of booking flights can be a nightmare. What Airline? Checking in a bag? Is this the cheapest option?
I will 9/10 times unless I’m travelling locally go to SkyScanner. I’ve never directly booked through them. I tend to just see who’s offering what. I personally don’t trust third party booking sites unless they’re my only option. Book direct with an Airline. If anything goes wrong you have direct contact with the Airline and covered.
** When booking a flight use the FULL name on your passport ** This seems like a no brainier, but I’ve heard countless stories of people turning up booked under abbreviated names and having to pay or not travel. If you’re booking for someone else double check if they have middle names. It usually needs to be included if it shows up on the passport.
Ok we’re getting somewhere. Flights are booked. Passport is in date. Time to find somewhere to lay our head.
I usually don’t rough it too much. I can and do when I need to. But I’ve usually spent months in a job I resent and want have a bit of money saved, so for a little extra I want some comfort. My general rule with hostels is staying as close to the centre of a major city at a mid range price.
Sure €6 a night seems like a good idea for a hostel in Paris, but when it’s 35km by train outside the city, the money and time spent travelling in and out adds up to the same amount or sometimes more than paying 15/20 for a central hostel. A good middle ground is key.
The smaller the dorm the better. 16/20 bed dorms suck in the summer. If the room is semi divided its not too bad, but the heat alone of that many people and constant clashing of those people who turn the lights out at 8pm and grunt when you fall in drunk or dare cough. To the early risers and weird older person who has no concept of personal space. When possible get smaller
I usually rotate between these three sites depending on who I’m travelling with. I’ve broken them down with some pro’s and con’s that may help in choosing which site to book from.
Again there is obviously Couch Surfing. An AMAZING site for finding free or cheap places to stay and other people to travel with, but it requires more effort back contacting people directly so for now I’m using paid sites that allow you to confirm a booking.[tab_nav type=”three-up”][tab_nav_item title=”Hostel World” active=”true”] [tab_nav_item title=”Booking.Com” active=”true”][tab_nav_item title=”AirBnB” active=”true”] [/tab_nav][tabs]
- Easy to use Website/Mobile App
- Cheap Accommodation
- Secure Bookings
- Deposit with Pay on Arrival
- Guest Reviews
- Deposit Upfront
- Sometimes hostels change name and look nothing like you booked.
- Just hostels or cheap hotels
- Easy to use Website/Mobile App
- Large Range of Accommodation
- Cancel before agreed date and no charge
- Pay on Arrival
- User Reviews
- Regular Offers
- Not always the cheapest
- Pay in Full if cancel too late.
- Easy to use Website/Mobile App
- Private Accommodation Available
- Unique properties in remote areas
- Direct contact with property owner/manager
- Guest Reviews
- Dealing Directly with owner. (Can be a hassle, not guaranteed a reply like a hotel business)
- Waiting for Confirmation from owner of your booking. (Sometimes they say no)
- Owner will judge you if suitable for their property.
- Cleaning Fees (Understandable but need usually appear at the end as your about to pay for the property sometimes adding €50 onto what was going to be a cheap booking)
#4 Packing for the voyage:
LESS IS MORE!!! Seriously, you don’t need all of that crap. Pack, half it and pack again. If you run out buy new stuff over there.
When I moved to New Zealand at 20. I took the kitchen sink. Seriously. I packed a heavy tripod, enough aux wires to power a small nightclub and more clothes than I would ever wear. Which, when I was leaving to never come back it seemed like a great idea. Fast forward 8 months and I’m coming home to go back to college with two suitcases and a 45L backpack. $500 in overweight luggage. I maxed out my overdraft and left broke. You probably don’t need it.
Invest in a good bag. Something with good back support even if it means a few days less on a long trip, it will be worth the hassle of lugging around a crappy bag with no back support.
Most of us don’t really understand why bag sizes are measured in Litres??? But that’s how it is. I’ve made this little chart to give you an idea of what size will suit your trip.
Roll clothes, put things inside socks, make everything as compact as possible. Go to a deal shop and buy vacuum pack storage bags they are amazing at cramming more stuff in small spaces. But watch your weight. Tie your sleeping bag to the outside. This will leave a LOT of room on the inside.
A small compact bag to put your camera, food water and wallet in when out and about. You’re not gonna lug all your belongs to the museum or beach.
- Microfibre Towel : A lifesaver. Don’t lug a wet smelly cotton towel around. A lightweight foldable Microfiber towel you can rinse out in a sink and let dry on your bag as you walk in the sun is going to be your new best friend.
- Small Sleeping bag: Unless you’re camping in the cold. Buy a small compact sleeping bag. I mostly bring one for the really dirty hostels when I’m wondering who will bite more the mattress or the mice.
- Diary: Your new best friend. Write everything that happens at the end of the day or every other day. The peoples names, the small details so that when you read back in years to come those memories are there in full. It’s also a great perspective to who you were then.
- [x_icon type=”plus-square”]Small First Aid Kit: Just the basics. Plasters, TCP Disinfectant, Bandages and Cotton wool. You can pick them up in a deal shop for nothing.
- Pad Lock: A lot of hostels provide lockers but rarely have locks. They will sell you a lock for 5/10 euro. Bring your own. [x_icon type=”lock”]
- Mini Sewing Kit: Again into a deal shop and pick up a mini sewing kit. I’m forever ripping pockets or bits of bags when I’m on the move or buying badges to add to my bags.
- Pocket Knife: You probably aren’t going to use this for safety. More just cutting bits and pieces or opening things on the road. ** Don’t buy a switch blade with spring loading, that’s usually classed as a weapon and airport security WILL confiscate it. Something small and easy. And check it under and obviously declare it.
- Universal Travel Adapter: A life saver if you’re on the road for a while. I usually bring a power board with me as I’ve rakes of electronics and just plug it all into one. But this will do the trick no matter what you’re plugging in or where.
- Portable USB Charger: Charge your phone, go pro or small devices on the go. Great when your on a long bus or train with no plugs.
#5 Getting there and exploring:
- Bags packed ✓
- Passport ✓
- Checked in/Boarding Pass printed ✓
- Obligatory Airport Selfie ✓
- Passport ✓
- Money & Cards ✓
- Passport ✓✓
Ok your ready! Liquids are in the little see through bag, all under 100ml. You’ve got through security without being randomly selected and avoided duty free to some extent. You get a window seat, well done.
Arriving in a new country is both exciting and scary. Language and cultural differences take some getting used to. But most people have a grasp of English and if you smile and ask politely will try to help you in some way.
Chances are you don’t have data enabled as you’re in a new country and that would cost a bomb. So look for free wifi. Airports usually always have them and can sign up with a fake email 9 times out of 10. Starbucks are everywhere. Their coffee tastes like rat water, but they have great wifi. Also McDonalds are great for free wifi and familiar food if you’re struggling with the local cuisine.
Downloading a map offline on google maps is a great way to get around in an unfamiliar place.
Just go to the section offline maps and add a new one. Select the area and download it.
Alternatively you can use apps like HERE Maps to download a new country. But it does get a little confused sometimes. I drove around Iceland with it telling us we were still in Rome.
Most places unless you’re in America have good public transport. Trains, Undergrounds and Buses. They run regularly and will get to your accommodation. Most will have maps or downloadable apps with realtime information. Google is also fairly accurate just put in the directions (connected to internet) and it shows the times and stops.
Renting a Car:
I love renting a car. It’s the best way to get out and explore at your own pace. I usually use ryanair and rentalcars.com for booking a car. They have all the major companies and sometimes small local ones at the best prices. Booking directly with the company is rarely cheaper.
Things to note:
- Under 23? Some companies won’t rent you a car or will charge young drivers fees. Always check the policy of the company you’re renting from.
- You need a credit card in the main drivers name. Almost all car companies require a credit card on file to hold if you wreck the car or don’t come back.
- Having your licence a year: Most companies state how long you need to have held a full licence. (I’ve blagged it a few times, if your gonna chance it use the small companies and all the charm you can find on the day and hope it doesn’t cross their mind).
- International Driving Licence. €10 from the AA. Needed to accompany your licence in some countries.
- Insurance. Optional, but worth it. We’re all the best drivers until some idiot rear ends you.
- Take photo’s of all scratches and dents and be sure to triple check them all when doing a pre car check. If you’re not happy don’t take it.
- Make sure to check if they charge for mileage. Some companies charge for how much you use the car. So try avoid it or calculate how much its going to cost.
- Check if it’s Petrol or Diesel (You’d be surprised).
- Full to Full: Most companies give you a full tank and expect one back. They will charge if it’s not.
- Clean: It’s not required but if the car is below normal standards of tidy you may incur a cleaning fee. Clear out the coffee cups and if there’s a lot of sand a 5 minute hoover(vacuum) will do the trick.
- Remember what side of the road they drive on in that country.
- Ask for a free upgrade, if you don’t ask you won’t get it. Be nice and friendly and never be afraid to flirt.
#6 Staying Safe:
The world is a dangerous place! Yes, you might get robbed or killed at any moment while travelling. On the other hand you could get hit by a bus crossing the road going to that shit day job you resent. Life’s too short to worry about these things, get out and explore, use your head and hope for the best. Who knows you might even have fun along the way.
Here’s a few quick suggestions to stay safe while on the move.
$$$$$ Money $$$$$
The be all and end all of our existence. Even if you think it’s not that important to you, you’re travelling in another country where €10 could feed someones family.
- Don’t flaunt! Keep your notes small and break them in bigger chained shops. Flashing 50’s in local markets or in a takeaway at 2am is usually asking for trouble.
- Separate your money. Keep any large amounts in a bag or hidden wallet. Money belts are naff. But they can be handy. Leave small amounts in your wallet and keep credit cards separate.
- RFID Protectors are the new toy. I don’t have one but it’s one of those things I’ll eventually get. It stops people scamming your contactless card.
- Don’t leave large amounts in your debit card. Use a savings account to eliminate how much someone can take should they scam your card.
- Try use big branch atms, those small portable ones in a petrol station should be a last resort.
Keeping your stuff safe
- Keep your valuables in a small day bag and wear it on your chest when in crowded areas.
- Keep a foot on your bag if its under a table in a busy place.
- Put your passport and jewelry in your pillow if in a dodgy hostel.
- Don’t bring anything irreplaceable. Treat everything like it could get lost or stolen. If you can’t live without it, leave it at home. (Mothers wedding ring etc)
- Lock your phone and apps. Avg is good for tracing it and putting pin locks on important apps.
- Take photo copies of all important documents and email them to yourself.
Just Get it!
Thankfully most of the time we don’t need it, but on the off chance you get in an accident its going to cost a lot more in the long run than the 50 euro for backpackers.
It’s always a bit messy trying to figure out what you need to cover and all the small print, but rule of thumb, backpackers will do. Unless you’re going on a crazy expedition something that allows you to travel to the countries you want to visit. All you need is something that covers missed flights, lost luggage, hospital fees and your stuff getting robbed.
Sites like multitrip.com are good for short specific trips. They have a few rules on how long you can be away for and how many trips you can take.
A quick google of backpackers will give you a rake of options. Use a big company you know. Allianz, Aviva, Trailfinders, Usit etc. Someone who has 24 hour contact is essential. You don’t want to be waiting for someone to come in Monday morning and check the voicemails while you’re lying on a trolley in Peru.
- Don’t walk through dodgy areas late at night.
- Don’t leave your iPhone 7 on a bar or hanging out of your pocket.
- Don’t be rude to people or quick to judge.
- Take in your surroundings
- If it seems to good to be true, It usually is.
- That piece of string he just put on your arm is about to cost you €5.
- The local guy your sizing up probably knows everyone in the bar. Walk away.
- Respect people and their beliefs, the whole point of travelling is to meet new people different to you and your normal surrounding. Embrace it and don’t shove your views down peoples throats.
Take these ideas on-board but don’t live by them. Find your own tricks and try new things. Be smart, send a post card to mammy, take loads of selfies and have fun.