So, A-Level results are in – what’s next? University isn’t for everyone, especially straight after college – you’ve worked hard for your grades and deserve a break. Or perhaps you’ve just gazed at idyllic beaches for too long on Instagram and it’s time to make that daydream a reality. Either way, if you do find yourself needing some time out, backpacking around the globe could be the perfect thing for you. Here are Miss Vogue’s top-tips for planning a smooth sailing gap-year trip that you’ll never forget.
• Prioritise Budget. It may seem obvious, but you won’t be able to get very far unless you start saving right now. Before Googling your dream locations, it’s essential that you work out a realistic budget, because, ultimately, how much money you have dictates where you can go and how long for. It may seem boring, but the majority of gap year travellers spend up until Christmas working as many shifts as possible in their local pub, and then begin their adventure in January. Once you’ve got a job, you can roughly work out how much money you will have to play with and start looking at flights and the cost of living in the places that are on your radar. Depending on where you go, you can get by on £30 a day, so make sure you get clued up on the local prices of food and accommodation to ensure you don’t get caught out.
• Do Your Research. When it comes to putting a roof over your head, don’t underestimate the value of sifting through hostel reviews to find the perfect place for you. Your first port of call for this should be HostelWorld.com. With thousands of listings that have been reviewed by people just like you, it’s great for scoping out all of your options. Look out for hostels’ cleanliness ratings, as well as things like communal, social areas – you never know who you might meet while relaxing in the Indonesian sun.
• Find a Balance. You may be on a tight budget, but that doesn’t mean you should you scrimp and save to the extent that you don’t actually have fun. You’re likely to get homesick at one point or another, so if splashing out on an air-conditioned room or a nice meal makes you feel better then go for it. A treat yo’self moment every once in a while won’t take you too far over budget, just as long as they don’t become too frequent. Also, don’t be afraid to fork out for excursions and day trips, they may seem pricey but trying to get around by yourself can be risky. If you’re not already familiar with the area, it’s always better to pay and let the tour guides take care of you.
• Don’t Pack Too Lightly. This may seem counterintuitive, but packing a few extra playsuits won’t hurt you in the long run. If you’re too stringent when deciding what to take you will probably end up regretting it, you are a Miss Vogue girl after all. Not only will you get fed up of wearing the same five outfits on rotation, but you’ll also spend more time doing washing than exploring. Obviously, don’t go crazy à la Chiara Ferragni’s airport Instas, but don’t feel like you have to dull down your personal style either.
• Double Up. When it comes to your backpacking beauty wardrobe, multi-use products are your best friend. Think BB creams that are pumped up with SPF, or lip colours that can also give your cheeks a nice rosy glow. If you’re going to hot climates, it’s best not to take a makeup bag full of cream products, otherwise you can expect your favourite lipstick to melt. Try lip liner instead – it may be difficult to blend but it’s better than having a rouge-stained toiletries bag. When going with friends, split essential items between you: hairdryers, straighteners and sun cream are all things that can be shared, leaving you more room for an extra pair of statement sliders.
• Try to Avoid Voluntourism. If you want to volunteer while on your travels, make sure you’re certain the organisation you’ll be working for is truly ethical. This might take some digging, but it’s seriously worth the extra effort, as there are several companies who do more harm than good within their local communities. Your selfie with a baby elephant might look cute, but you’d be heartbroken if you later found out that it had been abused behind closed doors.
• Put Yourself First. While you might want to spend this once-in-a-lifetime trip with your best pals, if you have different travel interests, don’t be afraid to go it alone. Many seasoned travelers cite this as the best way to see the world, and if your friends are going on a different route, you never know when you might bump into them on the way. As long as you make sure to only check in to social hostels, you won’t get lonely – you’ll probably just make some new friends for life!
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