I have some pretty exciting news. Next year I’ll be embarking on a trip, a big trip in fact. I’ll be spending a few months in South East Asia exploring new-to-me parts including Indonesia, The Philippines and Malaysia and then I’ll be moving to New Zealand to spend a year working and travelling thanks to their Working Holiday Visa. Whilst I’ve been travelling before this will be my first solo trip which is both exciting and terrifying. The key to alleviating those fears though, is planning. I’m not making an itinerary as I want to be able to go at my own pace, take advice and buddy up with people I meet and not have to worry about sticking to a schedule. But there are some key things I need to do to prepare.
Planning your route
As I’ve said I’m not making a strict itinerary however, I do have a list of countries, regions and places that I definitely want to see and a rough plan of the cheapest and easiest ways to get between them. My first port of call for inspiration for travel itineraries and hit lists is definitely Pinterest. I have a board where I save my travel inspiration, whether that’s blog posts about solo female travel, packing guides, reviews of hostels or itineraries for places I’m keen to see. Pinterest is a treasure trove of travel inspo!
For more in-depth research then you can’t beat the Lonely Planet, there’s a reason so many backpackers carry it with them. I took their India guidebook with me when I went travelling there and this time I will definitely be loading up my Kindle with the various guidebooks I need. What I love about the Lonely Planet is that the reviews cater to all budgets, and there are lots of insider tips to help you travel like a local. The Rough Guide also makes great guidebooks that I’m a fan of.
Looking at tour options
Tours are a great option for all travellers but they’re especially appealing to solo travellers. Not only is it a guaranteed group of people to travel with, but it’s a respite of having to think about where you’re going and what you’re doing. You can just rock up to the tour and let your guide show you the way. I’ve previously been on a group tour with G Adventures through Cambodia and I couldn’t recommend it more. With G Adventures tours you choose your travel type which means you’re grouped with people of a similar age range or travel style – for example luxury versus roughing it. They pride themselves on using locals as their guides which means you get to hear the amazing history of these countries from people who’ve experienced it first hand. This was a particular highlight of our Cambodia trip as our guide, Channy, was able to tell us so much about Cambodia’s fairly recent and horrific history, things that still aren’t officially talked about in the country.
The tours themselves are fun, informative and jam-packed with activites and optional extras so that you can get the most out of your experience. I highly recommend a tour if you’re short on time as you tend to be able to see and do far more on them – although be prepared to spend a fair amount of time on a coach or train travelling between places. They’re also great ways to meet people, and like I say if you want a break from being self-sufficient it can be nice to just hop on a coach with some new friends and let the tour guide take care of the rest. 🙂
Speaking to your Dr
This definitely isn’t the most exciting part about travel planning, but it’s essential. Many countries require specific vaccinations to visit them, not to mention malaria tablets if you’ll be visiting somewhere where it’s prevalent.
Book an appointment with your GP or local travel clinic, STA Travel often has travel clinics which are worth checking out but I personally use Nomad in Bristol. They’ll talk you through all the recommended jabs you might need for your trip as well as the other medical precautions you should take such as specific types of medical kits and antimalarials. Be aware that you will have to pay for some of the vaccinations however, a few can be obtained from your GP for free on the NHS. Some of the jabs require multiple boosters so you’ll need to make sure you plan enough time to get all the vaccinations before you leave.
When it comes to malaria planning I use the NHS’s fit for travel website, it has malaria maps which allows you to click on specific destinations and assess the risk. Whether you have to take antimalarials or not (which come in a variety of prices) it’s important to read up on mosquito bite prevention, and pack some strong deet!
So those are the big travel planning things I’ve currently been doing, alongside organising my New Zealand visa (thankfully it doesn’t seem like I’ll need visas for any of my other planned destinations). It feels good to have made a start on some of the bigger logistical things, but it still doesn’t feel real yet. It probably won’t until I step on the plane haha!
Love, Sarah x
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, this means that should you click them and make a purchase I receive a small percentage of commission. This helps with the running costs of this blog but does not affect the price you pay.