Anybody who knows me, knows that I have the travel bug. It may have bitten me before university, but I really got the fever after my student exchange in my third year of uni. Since then, I’ve done a 2 month solo trip through 8 countries, and am gearing up for another (shorter) trip relatively soon.
Solo travel is on the rise for 2017, particularly for women, and I could not advocate for it enough. It is such an enriching experience to (essentially) be selfish when travelling. You can make your own schedule, spend as much time as you like, wherever you like, and learn that you are strong enough, and brave enough to handle anything. Travelling alone also opens up your eyes to the kindness that strangers display, while making it easier to let a new culture really envelop you. I want everybody to find that same joy in travelling that I do, and now it’s easier than ever!
All of these experiences have made me an excellent planner when it comes to vacations. In my regular life, I’m fairly laid back and am happy to go with the flow, however, when planning a trip, research is key! Let me make it easy for you by breaking it down into categories.
Doing Your Research
If you know where to go, great. Research the city or country, look up the popular sites and the hidden ones and determine what is the best time of year to go. I wouldn’t recommend the busy season (aka summer). Who wants to spend a ton of money and be stuck with all the crowds? Rather, look for a fairly warm time of year (late spring or early autumn) and then decide how many days would be enough to capture the gist of the place.
If you don’t know where to go, then books and online resources can be of great help. I often turn to Lonely Planet. They were kind enough to send me a couple books, and oh my lordy, I’ve fallen in love with them. I’ll be honest, one of them is my absolute standout (and you NEED it in your life), but the other two are pretty useful as well, depending on what you’re looking for.
As the title might suggest, this goes through 50 of the world’s most interesting festivals. I thought I could guess most of them, for instance Holi in India and the Montreal Jazz festival in Canada, but they had unusual events such as the Wife Carrying Festival in Finland or the Rocket War in Greece. Super cool! And depending on your interests, you have stuff to add to your travel list.
Disclaimer, I am not engaged or married or anywhere close to going on a honeymoon. Therefore I thought this book would be useless to me. That is not so! This book puts together a handy dandy list of the most budget friendly places to travel, along with the most luxurious. It talks about different countries, gives ideas on what to do there and how to smartly budget for it all. That being said, I do think it’s a must read for engaged couples who want to go somewhere cool for their honeymoon, and not necessarily break the bank.
To purchase: Amazon
I love this book. You NEED this book. Goddamn, it is just so gorgeous to look at and I want to visit all 500 of the world’s best places to visit (and they’re ranked)! It’s a great book to browse for ideas, gush over the gorgeous pictures and just learn more about the world. This is a great coffee table book and it’s also very giftable.
Looking up Flights
Now this is the fun part! Yes, I know, get ready to part with your money, but I am all about the good deals. No way am I spending more money than I need to…I’m a broke-ass student after all. Plus, this leaves me with more money for shopping .
For all-round travel, check out:
- Momondo: This is my favourite site for looking for inexpensive flights! Not only does it show the main airlines, but it also shows flights from budget airlines like WOW, Easyjet and Ryanair. The prices are sometimes even more competitive than Skyscanner, but they’re both good.
- Skyscanner/Google Flights: both these search engines are basically the same as Momondo, so use them interchangeably or whichever one you prefer!
- Scott’s Cheap Flights: I don’t actually remember where I stumbled upon Scott’s services; it might’ve been this AskReddit thread, but he offers an email service notifying people of cheap flights! As easy as his name might suggest.
For Euro-specific travel, check out:
- local/national transportation options, such as trains
Where to Stay
I can only speak to my own experience, but I’ve really enjoyed staying in hostels. There are some awesome ones out there with fantastic amenities. If you’d like to go that route or even try couch surfing, I would recommend the sites down below.
Planes, Trains or Automobiles
This is a decision of convenience and time over money. If it’s a shorter trip, I’d recommend getting relatively cheap local flights. To do this, travel only with a carry-on, in order to save on baggage fees. If you have more time, but less money, than trains are definitely the way to go. Public transportation is amazing, so I’d only recommend renting a car if you’re wanting to do a road-trip (around Ireland or Iceland for instance).
It can be painful to take a whole chunk of change from your bank account all at once when planning a vacation. I tend to avoid this by actively saving for trips, transferring X amount of money into a savings account every week. It’s painless, easy and allows for guilt-free travel (or whatever I want to spend it on). You can use charts on Pinterest to help you track it all – such as these.
Some of this might seem self-explanatory, but I’m writing this post for those of you who want to travel but don’t know quite how to get started. I think I’ve covered all the major topics, but if I think of anything else (or you have more questions), there will be more blogposts to come!
*Items in this post were sent as PR samples by Lonely Planet