EEEEK - First time traveller!!!

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EEEEK - First time traveller!!!

Postby tasha!! » Sat Feb 27, 2010 6:51 pm

Hello!!

I'm planning a trip starting in November this year and hopefully lasting around 5 or 6 months! I'm going to be doing the Indochina Discovery trip and the Roam Bangkok to Singapore trip (they look AMAZING!!), before moving on to OZ, NZ and Fiji.

Anyone out there who's going to be around at a similar sort of time?? Also, any tips for first time, solo travellers would be much appreciated!

:D
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Re: EEEEK - First time traveller!!!

Postby sinecure » Sat Feb 27, 2010 10:56 pm

Sounds like an amazing trip!

Make sure you check out our Travel Tips forum as it contains lost of good info.

Feel free to ask lots of questions and I'm sure your GAP community is up to answering as many as they can.
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Re: EEEEK - First time traveller!!!

Postby japachap » Sat Mar 06, 2010 11:18 am

tasha!! wrote:Hello!!

I'm planning a trip starting in November this year and hopefully lasting around 5 or 6 months! I'm going to be doing the Indochina Discovery trip and the Roam Bangkok to Singapore trip (they look AMAZING!!), before moving on to OZ, NZ and Fiji.

Anyone out there who's going to be around at a similar sort of time?? Also, any tips for first time, solo travellers would be much appreciated!

:D


Tasha-
First off, you'll have a great time! I did a similar trip in 2004/5/6 (18-month trip).
If you dont mind me asking, how old are you and are you travelling alone or with friends? Most girls i met on tour travelled with a good friend, but there were plenty that travelled alone and had a great time. The golden rule is- if you'd think twice in your home land, dont do it abroad!
Indochina Discovery looks very much like the Cambodia trip I did. Be patient in Bangkok and dont travel alone off the beaten path. Taxi/tuk-tuk drivers can be out to scam you.
Cambodia is one of my favorite places. Seeing Angkor Wat was a dream come true. If you want some 'alternative' info on the temples- check out books by Graham Hancock. Interesting stuff over codes, patterns and astronomical alignments relating to Angkor and other sites around the world... I digress. Most Cambodians are lovely people and you'll do well to avoid glitzy 'tourist-trap' places in favour of local eateries and the like. The beach at Sihanoukville is lovely.
I was less impressed by 'Nam, but that was partly due to a lazy (non-GAP) tour leader. Be extremely careful in Hanoi- especially if you go clubbing. Places like Apocalypse Now Club can be great fun, but you can also get in trouble easilly. Stick in groups if going out in the evening there.
Swimming in Halong Bay or visiting caves there is gorgeous.
So much to do in Oz! Darwin is surreal- the summer storms and humidity. Do the west coast only if you have time and sound transport. Anywhere north of Sydney- up to Cairns by the rainforests is great. A trip across the north of the land from Cairns to Darwin is well recommended!
Do Oz before NZ. NZ is backpacker heaven. To begin I did a two-month trip- 4 weeks on each island. The second time I went I managed to do it all in half the time. Use 'Atomic Shuttles' for cheap local transport on the South Island and dont be afraid to make the Tourist Info Office your first visit in each town! Theres just so much to do and see in NZ- Pahia and the North Cape Tour; The famous Tongariro Crossing hike; Rotorua volcanic region and Maori cultural centres; Christchurch (try to get there for the Street Buskers Fair) and Milford Sound. Dont Forget Queenstown- the place to go for any wild/insane/downright daft entertainment ideas!
Having Fiji as the last stop- be prepare for some real relaxing Fiji time. Try the Cava, but dont overdo the muddy drink. Theres a great tour on Ovalau (Epis tours- dont know if its still running or not) and the Yasawas are nice to really get away. Highland rafting is also recommended. I learnt to dive there at Seashell Resort - its doable within 4-5 days if you're so inclined. Suva is nothing special and kareoki bars full of asian girls are best avoided... Just be extra aware in the two main towns.

Lonely Planet and 'Before You Go' by Tom Griffiths http://www.amazon.co.uk/Before-You-Go-Ultimate-Planning/dp/0747566380 are worth a read to get you into the backpacker mindset.

Be yourself- but dont take too much expensive or nice kit (jewelery etc). You will always be seen as a 'rich foreigner' especially in Fiji and Asia, but dressing down and not flashing unnecessary kit around will make you seem more 'savvy'. Ultimately, people across the world are generally nice, friendly and helpful- but be as wise as you would in a strange neighbourhood in a strange western city and you'll not go wrong. Every day tens- if not hundreds of thousands of backpackers are out there having the time of their lives and getting a better perspective on their lives. Going travelling totally changed things for me, and most of the good people I met.

Go, have a ball, learn and enjoy!

Best wishes

James
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Re: EEEEK - First time traveller!!!

Postby jimshu » Sat Mar 06, 2010 4:59 pm

Great post James and very encouraging for a new traveller.
Going travelling totally changed things for me, and most of the good people I met.

I'd be interested to hear how?And in what ways?
And Tasha, you'll get lots of help from members here.No need to be scared.Excited yes, but scared no.
You've made a big decision to take off and do a big trip.Takes guts to do that.But you'll go on through life never being scared to make any more big decisions in life because you already done one of the toughest.
The best tip I can give you is to go with an open mind.
Be open to every thing that you see.Some places are dirty in comparison to our society, or markets may have animal slaughterings,people may be in your face, hassling you for a few cents,etc, but this is the way other countries are.Use your imagination and start thinking about why it is happening,why these countries have such a rich, colorful, and seemingly hectic or chaotic life.
You'll be richer for the experience, and be changed, as James said.
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Re: EEEEK - First time traveller!!!

Postby japachap » Sun Mar 07, 2010 4:30 am

jimshu wrote:Great post James and very encouraging for a new traveller.

I'd be interested to hear how?And in what ways?
.


Thanks Jimshu... :mrgreen:
I'll answer you in just a second...

Tasha- a few more thoughts for you-

I dont know your nationality/age/education or budget for your trip, but if you are under (I think its 29 years, 11 months) 30 at the time you will enter Australia, it may be worth you applying for a Working Holiday Visa. The situation may have changed since I was there, but it allows you to stay for up to a year. You may work to supplement your travels, but only for a maximum of 3 months by each employer (the idea is you earn a little, move on, earn more). If you have some specific qualifications (eg, teacher) you can do very well for yourself as a temp. Most backpackers though fall into doing bar-work, telesales (or my nightmare from Darwin- direct doorstep-sales), or for the most part join the Harvest Trail. You need to investigate this in advance though (theres plenty of info on Aussie websites- just search under Working Holiday Visa or Harvest Trail Australia and you should get enough info) as being in the wrong place at the wrong time will see your chances of getting work drop to nil. Harvest/agricultural work can be tough, but theres often a great comraderie between the workers and you'll meet some REAL local characters there. Ladies usually go for cleaning/packing or picking of small fruit and veg- my experience was with Pineapples and the back-breaking work on Banana Plantations (snakes and lizards and mud- oh my! :mrgreen: ). Theres a solid network of backpacker lodges and 'employment agencies' but be wary as if the work isnt guaranteed, you'll find you living costs drain your income quickly. I ended up camping rough (plenty of free campings in Oz) to save money- but you will need your own transport to do this, and obviously dont do it alone! Oz government jobcentres will really only give help to Australians, but as their computers are free to use you can always search for yourself and find some gems. I got an awesome job working at Gregory Downs Hotel, about 1000 miles west of Cairns, in the deep outback. Backpackers are often welcome on the tourist route hotels is you are prepared to turn your hand to all sorts of work... It also give a fantastic view of small community outback life and may bring you into closer contact with the Aboriginal community...
Aussie agriculture relies to a great extent on migrant workers as once the harvest is in, theres ususally little else to do in the region. My best advice is plan a route and if you dont like it, or cant get work- move on. better to use your money to travel than to sit around waiting for work to arrive!
If I remember correctly, if you work more than 3, or six months in agriculture (with proof) its possible to get your Working Holiday Visa extended for a further 12 months. This was because in 2006 there was a shortage of migrant workers and the government were desperate to encourage backpackers.
Travellers Contact Point in Sydney can give you excellent advice on legalities, finances, travel and set you up a mail forwarding service ...

NZ is a little different- smaller country, fewer jobs, less chance to work. Its here that particular skills will help you. Teaching, DIY, working with Horses or in the tourist industry will be definite plusses if you choose to seek work here. The farm work is available, but I cant offer you much help here.

Hitch-hiking. Used to be widespread. As a single girl, I wouldnt advise you to do it. Travelling with a guy or several other girls will make it safer, but you need to be a good judge of people and certainly not get in a vehicle with just a group of guys. North Island NZ is more commercial and less 'touchy-feely' so its probably easier to stick to public transport. South Island people seem more open (I got a lift once on Christmas eve on the provision that I help the dear old lady cut a Christmas tree to take to her grandchildren!). You can get good local info travelling with local people, but the Atomic Shuttle network is also cheap and reliable, so keep this in mind.
In Oz its more of a no-no. There have only been IIRC two or three incidents in the past decade (and thats out of hundreds of thousands of backpackers), but thats too many. Many young people rent of buy cars/vans/campers to travel in groups. This opens your options up greatly, and a well- equipped van or camper may prove a good investment (if you keep it intact the re-sale value is good and if you like your fellow travellers it can be cheaper camping than staying in backpackers all the time). I hitched most of the East coast, but it was very VERY hard going, even for a guy.
Final advice- if you dont have the nerve, the savvy or the ability to 'take care of yourself'- dont do it!

Oz can be daunting. Distances are measured in hours or days travelling, not miles. Dont get stuck in a city though! The decision to travel in any direction is better than the decision to stay put, and as soon as you start heading out of the main cities, your adventure will begin. The Blus Mountains are nice as a starter- then Fraiser Island, the Rainforests, Undarra, or anywhere a few hundred miles inland will start to show you a whole different side of the country!

Jimshu- I think the above will go some way in answering your question- but to go further...
I went travelling for the first time when i was 30- perhaps a bit late by student standards, but better late than never! I was in a rut socially and workwise and had just been badly disappointed by an ex-girlfriend, so I chose to leave everything behind and see what else was out there. Mexico, SW USA, Fiji, NZ, Oz, Brunei, Thailand, Cambodia, 'Nam (China was on the cards too, but i ran out of money and the trip was cancelled as it was too early in the year...). I got my confidence back- learnt to be organised and resourceful in the outback- learnt to accept people as you find them and learnt that even the poorest people can have richer lives than us westerners. Seeing/staying on small asian homestays with close-knit families made me believe in relationships again. Meeting people younger than me who had survived the genocides in Cambodia and Nam and who celebrated every day of their lives that they lived at peace in the love of their families and friends. learing that you can do so much with so little. A 21,000-mile roadtrip (mostly alone) in Oz let me blow the cobwebs away. Just meeting so many relaxed, friendly people (its hard to describe - backpacker culture- but you always have something in common with everyone you meet, you all made the decision to travel!). Being open to change and new people. I met my partner whilst on the road and we now live hapilly together in another country, five years after our eyes met across a crowded backpacker breakfast table. And we've never lost the love of travelling since.
Many people go travelling looking for something, and most find themselves. Of all the people I met- most fell into relationships on the road, or soon after comming back. It just seems that people 'get balance' whilst travelling and seem happier with the lives they make from there on. I did.

I would say to anyone reading this- if you are going to go, do it now- do it for as long as you can and enjoy every day, even the cold, wet, tired, lonely ones. They are the exception. I do not know of anyone who didnt benefit in their life or outlook from going travelling- so long as you take what you have learnt and experienced and use it- dont just put it in a photo album and forget about it.

Its all good- just go! :D
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Re: EEEEK - First time traveller!!!

Postby jimshu » Sun Mar 07, 2010 3:29 pm

You have a great way with words James.And could be a good discussion thread-"Why we travel".
I am rather interested in what motivates travellers.Or what effect travel has on your life outlook.But we'd better start that in Travel Tales Forum rather than highjacking Tasha's thread. :)
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Re: EEEEK - First time traveller!!!

Postby tasha!! » Sun Mar 14, 2010 11:04 am

Hello! First of all,please accept my apologies for the delay,but secondly,thank you so much,you guys are amazing!! I didn't expect to see so much useful info when i logged back in,thank you for your time! I am 24 years of age, and from the UK,and initially was supposed to be travelling with a friend.this plan unfortunately fell through,which led to a couple of months agonising as to whether to still go ahead with the trip. Eventually i decided,booked the trip and paid for it,sort of to tie myself to it so i couldn't change my mind! However,these posts have been so helpful,and your comments so inspiring that i think it would be handy to actually print off this post and take it with me! I would also be interested in other people's reasons for travelling. Finally,what were your major highs and lows of your trips? Thanks again! Tasha x
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Re: EEEEK - First time traveller!!!

Postby japachap » Sat Mar 20, 2010 8:07 am

Thanks Tasha!!

You will never regret going travelling...

Highs and lows? Jeez...

Highs-
Angkor Wat.
Self-drive scooter tour in Nam.
Halong Bay.
Diving in Fiji.
Jumping off a 12m high waterfall in Fiji (not recommended...) :mrgreen:
Beautiful NZ scenery.
Cave exploration in NZ- just me and a guide. Hardcore...
The unending outback...
Meeting so many wonderful people.
Darwin thunderstorms.
The night sky- in NZ and Oz the moonis the other way up, and theres all different stars and the Milky Way. It makes you realise you are travelling on a precious island through the sky...

Lows-
Getting a cold on tour- having to stop and rest is a PITA.
Had a relationship that ended whilst in Oz- diverging paths etc etc. That was tough.
Getting organised can be stressful- just deciding what to do and where to go. No decision is a bad one though..
Saying goodbye to new friends. Something you'll get used to, and theres always e-mail!
Realistically, there wasnt anything in my 18months travelling that Id call a real low...
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Re: EEEEK - First time traveller!!!

Postby tasha!! » Sat Mar 20, 2010 9:35 am

Thanks,sounds incredible! I have heard that travelling can make life when you return home feel really mundane, did you find this at all? Also, I've been looking at booking an Oz experience and a Kiwi experience bus pass, did you do anything like that? I don't get the impression you did from your posts! X
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Re: EEEEK - First time traveller!!!

Postby japachap » Sun Mar 21, 2010 6:33 am

Life wasnt so mundane comming back to the UK, but then before I returned, Id already started applying for new jobs across the whole country and was lucky enough to get one- meaning relocating as soon as I got back. But it didnt stop there as Id started a relationship with a lovely girl Id met on tour and eventually I decided to emigrate the UK to be with her.

The adventure only ends if you let it end! I have other friends who changed jobs or tried something new when they got back from travelling...

Re Oz and NZ- I only signed up for the Fraiser Island Tour, and did that locally. Id have liked to sail the Whitsundays and go out to dive the Barrier Reef, but it seemed hugely expensive and cash was tight at the time. The Kiwi Bus pass is good value, but it all depends on what you want to do. The Kiwi Pass covers most popular destinations, but if you want more flexibility, or to go somewhere off the regular circuit then the local minibusses arent much different in price... If you want to cover more ground on Oz then an Experience is probably the best option if travelling alone. The Northern Territory/Queensland/Katherine Experience is a great one going from Cairns in the Tropical east coast to Darwin. You'll see some real scenery on that one!

Looking at your route and time, it may be worth going from Darwin to Cairns and then south to Sydney before moving on to NZ. If you fly Royal Brunei Airlines from Bangkok to Darwin you'll likely get a half-day stopover in Brunei too. Its worth a quick look! Short internal flights in Oz are pretty reasonably priced, so you can get about quickly if needs be.
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Re: EEEEK - First time traveller!!!

Postby IncaTrail50 » Sun Mar 21, 2010 10:40 am

tasha!! wrote:I have heard that travelling can make life when you return home feel really mundane, X


Life IS kind of mundane when you return but you can make it a bit more exciting by surrounding yourself with photos of the places you've been! I have smaller pictures here and there throughout the house, in addition to the bigger ones on the walls. I've set the background picture on my PC to change every ten seconds and it points to my travel picture folders. I daydream while listening to music I've collected on my travels. Of course there's always the researching of the next trip! Oh, and articles I used to skip over in the news now have to be read when it's about a place I've visited, because now I can picture the details of the place in my mind. All of these fill the time until the next trip. Sometimes it's hard to fit in my full-time job, the one that pays for all of this!
:lol:

Have fun!
Kim
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Re: EEEEK - First time traveller!!!

Postby tasha!! » Wed Mar 24, 2010 5:02 pm

James - Thanks again for your advice. I guess I have got some plans lined up for when I get back, I suppose at 24 years of age I should think about becoming a proper grown up sometime, lol! And yes, I was thinking along the sames lines of the reasons that you suggested of choosing a hop on, hop off bus pass - convenience, easy to meet people, etc. However, I must admit that the thought of being surrounded by a rowdy gang of drunken 18 year olds for a couple of months is really not appealing, and I'm just hoping that it isn't like that!!

Kim - Thanks for the post! I can't wait until I can show off my incredible travel pics too!! Would you mind also contributing the highs and lows of your trip? Where did you travel to and how long for? Did you go on your own?

Thank you again everyone!

:D
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