Today we talk to the beauty that is Backpacker Becki. She’s a RTW veteran and has all sorts of advice for preparing for around the world travel. It’s no easy feat as we TraveLinkSites editors know well… So where to begin? Let’s have a chat with Becki…
1. Could you briefly introduce yourself, your site and your travel experiences?
I’m Becki from www.backpackerbecki.com I’m actually a backpacker and didn’t make that up for handy alliteration purposes, or because I needed another word for being nomadic or intrepid – that would be blogger fraud wouldn’t it? ;) I’ve been backpacking for the past five years and have already done the South East Asia loop (but heading back), India, Hong Kong, Kenya, Madagasgar, parts of Europe and the east and west coast of the USA.
My site focuses on alternative sights, off the beaten track adventures and finding those “I never knew you could do that!” moments. I’m honest, I love good banter and I tell it how it is. None of this “That was amazing” same same drivel. Sometimes It’s not amazing and I love a good rant and balanced argument that people can contribute to.
2. Could you give us a rough breakdown of your around the world itinerary?
I start in Mongolia for a month of overlanding, then head to China, North Korea, Nepal and Tibet before moving to Cambodia for three months to volunteer. I can’t wait to live there and see what other opportunities arise for the future with regard to working with responsible tourism organisations. After that I head to South India for a few months and then into Burma – which I am dying to get too before it’s ruined by over-zealous tourists. I spend my 30th birthday in Thailand, and will probably head back to Vietnam and hopefully settle in Laos for a bit. Indonesia beacons, although I need to get to Singapore no later than the day before my 31st birthday to sort an Australian Working Holiday Visa. Getting old, eh!? May need to increase the finances over there before I embark on a big stint in South America. Who knows where I will end up? It’s all part of the excitement!
3. Why did you decide to travel around the world as opposed to focusing on a specific region? What countries are you looking forward to visiting most?
I’m lucky that I’m not on a time sensitive RTW flight ticket or limited on time. I saved for 18 months to give me a good grounding from which to travel indefinitely, so I get to focus on regions, live like a local, potentially base myself somewhere and work… AND go around the round.
4. What are the most important preparations you have to make when planning your around the world trip?
I have never been so stressed with paperwork and other provisions just to leave the UK! Informing the Inland Revenue, Student Loans Company, the Bank, entangled in legal issues to get out of my mortgage. Generally its good to look at all of your outgoings every month, break them down and then start a to-do list to eradicate and or/shut down those pesky monthly shackles. Then you have to look at your new outgoings: Flights, travel insurance (click here for backpacker travel insurance), term life insurance, flights, visas, pre-paid travel cards etc.
Aside from that, research where you really want to go. Don’t necessarily follow the famous Thailand to Australia path like everyone else just because it seems right… there’s a lot of amazing places in between. Everyone has a list of places in their heart that they’ve always wanted to go to. Take those destinations and work with them, you’ll soon see through research that other places slot in brilliantly! I was obsessed with Mongolia and knew I wanted to move to Cambodia for a while… after looking at weather seasons etc everything else started to fall into place around it.
5. What should people think about, based on your experiences, most when travelling around the world?
How they act. There is a lot of ignorance when travelling that is not only offensive but which ruins it for everyone else when a negative reputation of tourists is left behind. You are not at home anymore and if you can’t adhere to cultural values, customs and traditions, you shouldn’t be travelling at all. Accepting and indulging in them is actually one of the most beautiful elements of travel.
Sadly many people visit a new destination comparing everything to the western world. It’s different. Suck it up. The world is an amazing place and being challenged, shocked, overwhelmed or pleasantly surprised is all a part of the great adventure.
6. What sites and resources are you using to help prepare for around the world travel? What are you using them for?
I mainly look at other travel blogs. The best blogs are honest, highlight where shit happens and how to avoid it and provide useful tips and information that I’m not necessarily going to get in my Lonely Planet book. I also love a good Lonely Planet, but I use those more of a steer on main sights to check out and as good pointers for transport links and for loose planning of a destination.
The best resource for a quick response to a tricky question is Twitter . Put any question up there with the #TTOT hashtag and you are nearly always guaranteed to get an answer from a fellow traveller.
7. What are the common mistakes people make when planning an around the world travel trip?
Over-planning. So many people plan their time in a destination in minute detail. Most of the time when travelling, things don’t go according to plan, or you end up staying somewhere for longer or cutting your time short in another. Pre-planning day-to-day or week-to-week (unless you have to work around tours and flight times etc) may mean not being able to relax or ultimately being disappointed when you don’t achieve everything you set out to do. Just take it as it comes.
You never know who you are going to meet or what experiences come your way that will blow every plan you ever had out the window. The not knowing element of my forthcoming RTW trip is what excites me most.
8. How long in advance should you begin to think about around the world travel? What are the first things you need to organise? What things can wait until the last moment?
This largely depends on how long you want to go for as this determines your finances. £1000 a month is an average indicator of what you will need when travelling so if you want to go for six months, work out how long you will need to save £6,000 and work from there, plus the extra couple of grand you will need for your flights and other preparations out-goings.
I set myself a goal to save for 18 months. I could have left way before now, but I needed good financial grounding to fulfil my dreams of travelling for longer than a standard GAP year.
You then need to organise roughly where you plan to go and then look into the best flight options for you..whether thats a RTW ticket or a one way to your starting destination. Once this is booked it gives you a tangible deadline to work to and essentially provides the determination you need to save and start preparing.
A few months before think about applying for your visas (which normally give you three months to enter the Country from the date of issue), getting all your jabs and organising your paperwork in order to end contracts etc so you are not hit with fines and unexpected bills. Last minute stuff is buying relevant equipment and packing. Shopping for essentials isn’t as time sensitive as some of the paperwork.
9. What things do you focus on most when you blog about around the world travel? Why do you choose these things?
The essence of the information provided is from a backpackers perspective – travelling safely and cost-effectively – but my focus is very much about two things: travelling differently and with purpose.
I love adventure, quirky sights and off the beaten track experiences where they are possible but I’m also a huge advocate of volunteering which will always be a part of my travels, no matter where I am.
10. If you could think of one thing you wished someone had told you before you started preparing for around the world what would it be?
“It’s harder than you think”
When I first started planning, the hardest thing was trying to establish my rough RTW travel route. I thought that was stressful! By having to shut down my life in the UK for indefinite travel has honestly been a nightmare and if I had known, I would have (hopefully) mentally prepared myself for the shock of the to-do list. Unfortunately some things have to be done only a few months before you leave, but overall I wasn’t expecting it to be so intense and tricky at times. So be prepared for that, especially if you are also planning to be away longer than a few months or a year as it sometimes detracts away from the excitement. Still, it’s totally worth it in the end…
Thanks to Becki!
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