Travel is a hobby. It’s a passion. It’s an escape. It can be whatever you want it to be, to be honest. Since I started travelling last year, I’ve gotten lots of random questions here and there. So by suggestion, I thought why not write about FAQs and things I’ve learned along the way.
Part 1 will include the FAQs I’ve gotten. The next part will include tips and things I’ve learned along the way which have saved me time, money and massive headache!
Here we go…
How do you travel? Basically, how is it funded?
I find my own travels from my savings. I worked for over 10 years prior in an administrative and corporate space. During that time, I’ve learned the value of saving. Mostly from my parents and being financially independent.
I decided a year in advance that I wanted to backpack around the world. I already had savings from work and continued saved hardcore the last year. I moved back home, got rid or donated things I no longer needed, eliminated unnecessary expenses.
Additionally after I quit my job, I had a 6 months gap until my journey started. I thought I could relax and chill but I couldn’t bare the amble free time and babysat part time which helped with out of pocket expenses. I fell in love with the little princess and the family. It was a great experience to try something new and not too shabby!
How do you get around a country where English is not the spoken language?
Surprisingly, it is not as bad as some people may think. Be flexible. Be innovative. Language is not a barrier to communication at all. What really helps is hand gestures, common English words/phrases and the almighty google translate. I’ve had numerous funny stories based on miscommunications but hey, that’s part of travelling.
Do you travel solo?
Yes, I mainly do travel solo during the past year. I joined a tour for 3 weeks for my first trip to India. I’ve met friends from back home that I spent a few days here and there. I’ve made friends and travelled with them for a short period of time. I’ve also volunteered weeks at a time and was always with a group of people. Depending on what you’re looking for, travelling solo can be awesome. Travelling with newfound friends can also be doable. You pretty manifest what you like. The backpacker community is a pretty laid back group of folks.
How long have you been gone?
It has been 13 months. I have only been home once in the beginning of my travel when my father passed away.
Do you feel homesick?
I definitely have my moments. The worst was during Christmas and New Years. It was my first time away from home for the holidays. Since my travels, I’ve been quite more emotional. Spending the holiday away from friends and family and in a foreign place that didn’t celebrate holidays anything near as festive and beautiful as New York City really killed my vibes. But I survived.
I got quite homesick after intense experiences such as volunteering with a family that has such a beautiful bond and unity. Or of course when I get sick cause being sick away from your comfort zone can be really sucky.
It’s also really hard whenever I see photos and videos of my baby nephew growing up so fast. He recently turned 6 months. I realise I’m missing out on milestones. I also realise that there will be more when I am ready to be back.
Do you feel safe travelling as a solo female?
I actually have been feeling more comfortable and safe as my travel progress. Sometimes I feel as comfortable as I would be back home in a totally foreign place. There has been lot of places that felt a lot safer than it is back home.
Some places are so homey and cozy. Some places have such a community to look out for each other. Some places have very law abiding citizens.
Of course, take precautions and be smart while travelling is a top priority. I do not go out or stay out late alone. I don’t drink with people who have a weird energy going on. I always trust my gut and rather play it safe. Also, remember to have fun. I’ve been on bar crawls with strangers who become the best drinking or dancing mates. Always keep the name and address of the place that you are staying at. Watch your drink. There are little things to always keep in mind.
What do you do about vaccinations?
Check the embassy website for the country you plan to visit. Do this at least a month or 2 prior to your departure. Make a visit to your doctor to check if you have these vaccinations or if you have, have they expired. If you do not have insurance, I recommend a travel clinic in your neighbourhood which specialises in vaccinations for travel. If cost is something you’re worried about, do your research. After inquiring which vaccinations you need, research which pharmacy or clinic administer the medicine you need. I’ve check with various pharmacies to check prices and what is available. A vaccination can vary from 20 to 50 USD. When you need to take 3 or more vaccination, it’ll add up.
Do you work while travelling?
I have not worked on my trip (yet). I have volunteered numerous time. I wrote about my experiences in previous blogs in India and Malaysia. I subscribed to an annual subscription to workaway.com which has an extensive pool of international volunteer opportunities and projects. The annual fee is $29USD and a little more for a couple account when I signed up in late 2016. There are tons of other websites and programs available just do your research to make sure it’s legitimate. I know helpx and woofing are two other good options which also have dues associated with membership.
Workaway gave me the chance to work in fields I would have never had before. I learned a lot new skills and knowledge. I met so many lovely people. I got inspired more than ever. I lived in local culture more in depth than otherwise.
I plan to work in the coming year via a working holiday visa in Australia and/or New Zealand. It’s a good opportunity to look into working holiday visa depending on your country immigration rules. Do check it out if that’s something you may be interested in.
If you want to read more about my experience, check out my previous posts listed below.
Sristi Village (Tamil Nadu, India): Sristi Village
Yellow House (Ampang, Malaysia): Yellow House
How do you stay connected?
I travelled with project fi (google wireless network) which was okay during my travels in Europe and part of India. My phone broke down on me two months in so I disconnected my service.
I recommend to just purchase a SIM card while travelling. In most countries I’ve travelled to in Southeast Asia is quite affordable and easy to activate. The hardest was india which requires your passport and has a 24 to 72 hour processing time before to activation.
If a SIM card isn’t on your list of things to get, that’s fine. Most accommodations and restaurants have free wifi. Depending on some city or town, the government have free wifi in museums, parks, beaches and other public spaces. Do be careful what open network you access.
How do you deal with immigration or visa issues?
Luckily, I hold a passport which have more freedom to visit countries than others. I always do my research via my country embassy as well as the visiting country’s embassy. If you have any questions, there are always an email and phone number available. Another option is to ask a few travel agency near you.
Some key requirements for the countries I’ve visited is that the passport must have 6 months validity and at least one full blank page. Of course every country has their own specific requirement so read careful.
Always do your research! Trouble with immigration at the border point or airport are the absolute worse and may even cost you a pretty penny.
How do you find some of these places?
The web is an awesome source for any and all information. The best way to find out where the good spots are is to always talk to locals. Chit chat with the locals in the coffee shop or at the bus stop. Share and ask fellow travellers.
There are hundreds of awesome groups and forum to share and ask. Facebook has tons that have been valuable information. Instagram accounts for tourism in a specific country or town have heaps of stuff as well. Be sure to check out holidays and events occurring during the time of your travel.
If you have questions, feel free to ask me or comment below. I’ll love to hear from y’all.
Live, Learn, Love soulfully!
Angela in wonderland //
Follow me on IG @jelloooh #jellooohexploration