Planning the trip of a lifetime (useful apps and websites to help you prepare)
We leant very quickly that while our planned sabbatical length of 9 months is a long time, its still not enough to go everywhere! Here are some tips we learn’t while planning our OE.
- Make sure you discuss any must do’s at the very beginning of your planning sessions to ensure you don’t end up disappointed. For Andy, Portugal and Spain were absolute must see’s, where for me I definitely wanted to go back to Belgium and spend plenty of time in Italy. Wherever it is that you want to go make sure those spots go at the top of your destination list!
- I am very much a visual person, so to get my head around everything I needed a big calendar and a world map (we found a table-sized one at our local stationery store). So far it seems to have been a big help and supported our destination decisions. Start by writing down stops on post it notes and move them around as you start to decide on your ideal route.
- Talk to other people that have travelled. They have by far the best ideas and will often suggest a few ‘off the beaten track’ spots which you may not have even thought of. Most of our trip is now based off recommendations and we are still changing it based on what we hear from other people even while we are on the road.
- Read blogs – blogs are everywhere online but spend time searching for a good one and dedicate the time to reading it. Our favourites are…
- https://www.brainpickings.org – Not exactly travel related but full of inspiration to help you value life and experience over work and wealth accumulation. I literally get lost for hours every time I visit this site.
- http://fourhourworkweek.com/category/travel/ – All travel related articles from the blog of Tim Ferriss. This is where the obsession with ‘carry on only’ started. You will also find loads of advice and encouragement if you are unsure of whether it is a good idea to stop working and travel the world right now.
- http://www.bootsnall.com – You can book flights through this website and it’s a fun one to explore as you start to plan your trip. I found their email advice really useful. Sign up for their newsletter and you will get an email each day with advice and a short action plan to help you feel like you are making progress towards your goal, even if your trip is still months away.
- http://toomanyadapters.com/25-best-offline-travel-apps/ – I wish I had found this article sooner. So so so much useful advice! I downloaded nearly every app straight away.
- http://www.neverendingvoyage.com/how-to-travel-long-term-with-only-carry-on-luggage/ – This article (and blog) gave us hope that long term travel with nothing but carry on only luggage was not only possible, but that other people were doing it as well.
- http://www.brenontheroad.com/ – Outstanding blog. The link above will take you to a post I found really useful on how to avoid bank fees while travelling. Access to money was a real head scratcher for us – should we use a cash passport or onesmart card? Or just use our normal NZ debit cards? Will we get stung for using a credit card overseas? This article explains a lot.
Other useful websites / Apps:
- Use Trip it – creates a handy itinerary (which you won’t have if you have booked the trip all on your own rather than through a travel agent).
- HappyCow – Very handy for finding vegetarian food options in every City you visit. Has helped us hugely already! Even if you aren’t vegetarian, eating meat-free is a great way to save money, help the environment and avoid food poisoning while travelling.
- Google Flights – I find this the most useful website for finding the cheapest possible flight. You can even plug in a location and see where you could fly to nearby and for how much if you have a weekend to spare and don’t know where to go.
- Price Line – We ended up booking our main flights to the UK through this site. It ended up giving us the cheapest deal (and we looked everywhere). Make sure you experiment with different days and different routes. Always remember it is so much cheaper to travel during the week (eg. Tuesday / Wednesday) than on the weekend.
- Eurocheapo – After searching lots of websites we actually found we booked most of our Europe accommodation through Eurocheapo. Their website is easy to use and most Hotels can be booked with last minute cancellation options for a small fee, if you aren’t certain of your route or your plans change at the last minute. Airbnb is always our first port of call, but sometimes a Hotel can be useful, especially when you are only staying in a town for 1 or 2 nights and also in places like Germany, where Airbnb is no longer allowed (as of mid 2016). When we set out on this adventure we imagined we would spend a lot of time staying in Hostels, and most blogs mention Hostelworld as the place to go for that. However we found that in most Cities a private room with a shared bathroom in a Hostel (we feel a bit old for dorm rooms), was more expensive than a Hotel room booked through Eurocheapo. We will keep using this site occasionally to check prices but haven’t as yet booked anything through it.