Any travel is not just relaxation or experiencing other cultures. It is an opportunity to discover your own talents, to learn new skills, and to get rid of made-up fears and stereotypes. How to organize trips on your own, how to find courage to go abroad without travel agencies, where I take information from, and how I communicate with foreigners. My advice is simple: most importantly, put your fears aside and prepare for your trip very carefully. The Internet has answers to all sorts of questions! The information here is abundant. You just need to mind for really useful data. Read the travelers’ blogs, forums where people share their personal experiences and answer beginners’ questions. The pieces of information thus obtained should be put into a single picture which means you have to follow some easy yet decisive steps to get ready for your journey.
PLAN YOUR ITINERARY
A good starting point is your destination. To get a clear road map it is enough to ask a number of straightforward questions: where do I want to go? What do I want to see? Who do I want to go with? Answering them will result in your route taking shape. For example, a weekend trip to welcoming Prague, or trekking in the Himalayas, or a hitch-hiking trip to Istanbul.
CALCULATE YOUR BUDGET
The budget of your trip includes several items: travel and accommodation expenses, visa fees, buying the necessary equipment etc.
This is one of the costliest points on your budget list which does not merely define the total price but also the style of your future journey. There are hundreds of alternatives how to get from point A to point B. It should be admitted, travelling by plane is not a must: you could go by car and visit places out of the popular tourist paths, or do some parts of your journey by coaches and buses. And not to forget about hitchhiking enthusiasts there. Air travel saves time but not money. However, there is a loophole here as well: it is worth subscribing to airlines’ newsletters to stay up-to-date with their special offers, or reading about discounts on topical forums. Or you could try looking for your tickets on search engine sites. Tickets are better be bought well in advance: three or four months prior to your trip. As a rule, direct flights are more expensive than two or more connection flights. You can save a decent amount of money waiting at the airports. One more trick of airline companies: the dearest flights fall on weekends and holidays. Start your trip close to the end of the holiday hustle and the flight will turn out much cheaper to you. When buying tickets for European trains a rule of thumb has to be remembered: the earlier, the cheaper. Typically, buying a ticket one month in advance is two times cheaper than from the ticketing office right before the departure.
Getting a visa is one of the spooky tales averting people from self-organized trips. Such fears are ungrounded and are often stirred up by middlemen who make money on tourists’ ignorance. To find information about visas it is sufficient to visit a country’s consulate site and read the requirements of that country: which documents you need, what the processing times are, if one can get a visa immediately upon arrival at the airport or at the checkpoint, or if a country is visa-free. For your visa application to succeed you should be careful, strictly follow the consulate’s instructions when preparing your documents, and avoid panicking.
True travelers try to minimize their accommodation costs. Indeed, they set off for far-away countries not to be sitting in a five-star hotel all day long marveling at the color of the walls and upholstery. Why pay an eye-watering price for a place where you just need to comfortably stay overnight, have a wash, and then go back on your track exploring the world? There are plenty of ways to save on accommodation: to check into a B&B small private establishment — without any stars but in a home-like atmosphere and with delicious breakfasts; to spend a night in a hostel with a chance to meet travelers from all over the world; to equip yourself with a tent and sleep at campsites in the summer, all facilities provided. In the end, there is couchsurfing option enabling you to stay for free with interesting people excited to meet somebody new from another country. Internet booking sites (e.g. booking.com or airbnb.ru) are handy when it comes to picking some affordable accommodation.
Insurance should not be neglected especially in case you are heading for the countries where climate, vegetation and fauna differ from those in your home country. When you change geographical zone your chronic diseases may come to an acute phase and medical services not covered by the policy might exceed your travel budget and simply min your trip. When choosing an insurance company study thoroughly the indemnity cases covered by the medical policy and franchise availability. If you were offered to collect receipts in order to claim them upon coming back, forget that insurer. Pick one that will sort out your problems by the phone and recommend you a certain clinic in which your consultations and treatment will be covered by the policy. Choose insurance based on the type of your journey (a culture tour or an extreme adventure), travelers’ age (children or elderly people) — this has to do with the price and services range covered by the policy.