15 years!? For 15 years I’ve wanted to backpack Asia. Now, I’m only weeks away.
My friends and my younger sisters did the whole backpacking thing in their early 20s. I wasn’t ready then. It’s not because they’re braver than me or richer than me or had more of a desire to travel than me. I took me this long because I have anxiety.
I’ve been battling anxiety since I was a child. It has always taken me a little longer to do things than other people. Maybe by minutes, hours, days, months or years, but I do them when I’m ready and in my own time.
I only started travelling properly 4 years ago and the main goal was always to try to get to Asia. I’ve been taken baby steps to get used to certain aspects of the trip. Hostels, foreign food, understanding other cultures and travelling with strangers.
I’m now prepared for my next big adventure but I started to get overwhelmed with all the planning and preparation.
During this process, I’ve learn’t a lot about how to prepare and plan this trip whilst concentrating on my mental health to stay in a good place.
Here’s my step by step guide to help you book and travel on your next big adventure:
SETTING A DATE
Before booking your trip, you need to know when you can actually go.
Probably the easiest step.
At this stage, it’s just a nice sensation of day dreaming and thinking about this amazing trip you’re going on. No commitments, just fantasy.
You can change the date and modify due to personal or work situations but the main aim is NOT to change this date too many times.
If you change the date more than half a dozen times, then it’ll probably never happen. It’s easier to give excuses than to commit to a plan.
For this trip, I gave myself a rough date twice but due to a promotion and then personal circumstances had to push the date back.
I then gave myself a rough year and month, but then I lost my job. However, this then gave me the time to push it forward instead of backwards.
When setting a date, you need to answer the following questions:
- How much do you need and how long do you need to save for the trip?
- Do you need to ask for time off work and when will they let you go?
- When is the best time to book the trip? (Sales, offers etc)
- Do you have enough time to plan and mentally prepare yourself for the trip?
You can give yourself as much time as you need. For my first trip, I planned for 2 years before joining the trip. That’s how much time I needed to prepare and save. There’s no right or wrong answer.
“Don’t lose focus!”
If this is something you want to do, make sure you get excited about it. Use the following apps or methods to countdown to the big adventure:
- Circling dates on a calendar (booking trip, date you fly out)
- Use countdown apps (sharing big milestones – 100 days to go! Make people jealous!)
- Change your screen savers to pictures of that destination (phone, computer, etc)
BUDGETING AND SAVING
For my first trip, it took me nearly 2 years to save for but it was worth every penny.
I knew I wanted to go for my birthday so I had a date in mind so it was a little easier to work out than my current trip.
To work out how much to save, you need to know how much it’s going to cost. Simple right?
Here’s somethings to consider when budgeting your trip:
- Tour (if booked one)
- Accommodation (or pre and post hotels if booking a tour
- Drinking Money
Write all these down, make a table and find out the prices for each. Then you can add everything up and have a rough estimate of how much your trip will cost.
I always take more than I need, plus a Credit card just in case. It’s better to have more than you need, than not have enough towards the end of your trip.
“Remember, you can always make more money. Big trips are once in a life time experiences.”
When saving, create a savings account so you can keep an eye on your travel money pot.
This money is for your travels only. Try not to spend any till it’s time to pay off for things on the trip. It does take some discipline and self control not to touch it. I struggled…a lot.
Next you need to work out how much you need save each month to reach your goal.
This is a simple formula:
(How much your trip will cost) / (How many months till your trip) = Amount to save each month
If this amount is too much, you can either extend the date of your trip to give you more time to save or cut some elements off your trip.
Remember you still have bills to pay and only you know how much you can afford to save.
I would recommend setting up a direct debit into your saving account from your main account on the day your paycheck comes in. It helps to know how much money you’ve got left to play with for that month.
BOOKING THE TRIP
I have always said, the hardest part is booking the trip.
If you’ve managed to book the trip then congratulations. You’ve really done the hard part.
Committing to a decision as big as this is quite frightening and and fill you with much doubt. To most this is an exciting step but booking a trip for someone with Anxiety, pressing the book button or handing over so much money can be quite difficult.
After I booked my Asia trip, I felt very overwhelmed.
I took a few days off social media and a few days to myself to get my head around it.
I’m glad I did it and recommend anyone else who has anxiety to do the same. My head was spinning with worry. Taking a few days to relax, watch a few films, go to the gym etc, was very soothing.
As I have social anxiety, the response I got after posting my next adventure online was quite mind blowing. Taking a step back for a few days was the right thing to do.
I think I would have lost my mind by now if I hadn’t made a list of things to do before I leave.
There is so much to do and it takes so long to get some of these items ticked off! Vaccinations, Visas, clothes, backpacks, the list goes on…
The main app which has kept me sane is Microsoft’s “To Do”.
I have the app on my laptop and on my phone so when I think of something else which I need to do I can add it straight away before I forget. I can also set Due dates and reminders for tasks.
It also helps me not to get too overwhelmed each day as I can add things to “My Day” so I can just concentrate on that list.
I can also make several lists. I use this app for everyday life too, so I have tasks for my travels but also personal everyday errands.
Honestly, this app really has helped me a lot. Not an AD. Just love being organised!
I’ve also downloaded the G Adventures app as I’m doing two of there tours, which is actually really good. It’s got a day by day itinerary and shows you exactly where I’ll be on what day. There’s also a chat function so I can speak to my group already. It also has information on visas, a packing list which I can tick off and a countdown to get excited.
I booked via STA Travel, so I downloaded there app to get my whole itinerary all in one place. I booked all my flights, hotels and tours with them so everything is listed on the app in time order. Makes me feel more prepared and organised.
Lastly, my airline apps. Very important to download. You can use these to check in online, pick your seats but more importantly to receive notifications straight to your phone.
So if your flight is late, cancelled or ready for boarding etc, they will send you notifications.
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IF YOU’VE NEVER BEEN BACKPACKING ASIA, WHAT ARE YOUR MAIN WORRIES? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS.