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So you’ve just finished your degree & are all caught up in your lust to explore our incredible planet! The world is so big and so much planning goes into travelling, where do you even start? This is a guide to help you stop dreaming & start living. Learn more about travelling after University.
“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.” – Alan Keightley
My whole life I believed I had to get my education and a good job, get married & have children who could follow in my monotonous footsteps. This system doesn’t work for everyone. I’ve only truly found my purpose since I packed my bags and headed for the airport. Now I focus on experience & adventure to be the best, happiest version of myself. I want to help you discover your own path too!
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How Did I Get Into Travelling
I grew up in Bristol, United Kingdom & studied Business Management with Marketing at University. I had always wanted to get myself out there & explore a different country, with Australia being my dream destination. Finally, I bit the bullet a few months after University, booking a one-way ticket to Thailand. I sat on the beach in Patong, Phuket upon my arrival & felt so utterly small & terrified. Here I was in a foreign country, knowing absolutely nothing about the culture, the food, the customs, the money or anything else really. It’s the only moment I’ve doubted my decision to book that plane ticket.
Once I had checked myself into my hostel, met some people & the beers started flowing, I fell in love with this new lifestyle, hopping from city to city, discovering everything it had to offer. I met my girlfriend of the last three & a half years in Thailand & together we’ve had adventures Bali, Australia & New Zealand. Booking that ticket was the best decision I ever made. If you’re really nervous about solo travel start small with an English speaking country/country where English is a common second language. The US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France & Germany are all great places to start.
Three & a half years of incredible memories
How Much Money Do I Need To Start Travelling after University?
I worked at Lidl during my three-year stint at university & as a result, I had managed to save over £6,000. This was enough for over three months of travel in three countries before I had to work again, however, Australia was an incredibly expensive country to travel & you could definitely squeeze a lot more countries in with £6,000 if that’s what you want.
I’d highly recommend having at least £3,000 – 4,000 to tie yourself over for long enough without having to get a job again. A lot of people hope they can make it big from blogging or YouTube so they won’t have to work, but ultimately you need to accept that you are going to have to work hard to sustain your travel lifestyle.
Where Should I Go First?
Of course, this is down to personal preference, but some destinations fit some people better than others. Here’s a breakdown of some destinations & who they’re good for.
South East Asia
South-East Asia is great for the young, party hungry backpacker, with Thailand a particularly popular destination. For those of you looking to delve a little deeper into Asian culture & untouched beauty the neighbouring countries of Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines & Myanmar will bring incredible opportunities to satisfy your wanderlust. As such a popular destination for tourism, it’s become incredibly safe for first-time solo travellers (Male & Female).
South-East Asia is great for the budget-conscious traveller, with meals available for less than £2 & accommodation per night under £10. There is so much beauty to explore that you could spend months without ever having to spend money on tours.
Gili Trawangan, Bali
Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
As we’ve moved into a modern, technology crazy era, travel has become safer and more accessible than ever. There are places in South America with a bad reputation for crime & I’d personally recommend having your first solo adventure in Asia, but that’s not to say South America is unsafe! Just do your research on each location & be prepared upon your arrival.
I’ve not been to South America as yet, but my word does it look beautiful. Brazil is home to the worlds most incredible phenomenon, the Amazon Rainforest, home to the most incredible plant & wildlife species on earth. Then there is Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands with the worlds most interesting endemic wildlife & beautiful scenery. Peru has the spectacular Macchu Picchu, Chile has the incredible National Parks of Patagonia & Argentina has possibly the worlds best steak. Value for money is possibly at it’s best in South America, with some of the worlds best hostels for under £10 per night & cheap food.
Australia & New Zealand
On the other end of the spectrum, Australia & New Zealand are two of the most expensive countries to travel. With their minimum wages so high, basic commodities like food and accommodation just seem to cost a whole lot more. Both countries are ideal for solo travellers, couples & groups.
Australia is home to an incredible amount of diverse landscapes, interesting wildlife & luscious sandy beaches to match its tropical climate. This country has so much to offer, you could travel for 10 years and not see it all. The East Coast is incredibly popular amongst backpackers for its party vibes & incredible adventures. To sustain yourself long term you’ll have to work. This makes Working Holiday Visa’s incredibly popular amongst backpackers & provides an incredible opportunity to experience the culture first hand. Here is everything you need to know before visiting Australia.
Adorable Joey, Stradbroke Island
Surfing, Manly Beach
New Zealand is not as warm as Australia, but my word is it beautiful. Its mountains & lakes are rivalled only by those in Canada, whilst you’ll be treated to glaciers, beaches, forests, volcanoes & hikes throughout the country. Similar to Australia, it’s expensive to travel & you’ll likely need a Working Holiday Visa to sustain long term travel. Still not convinced? Here’s a post on the incredible Queenstown for more inspiration.
Sunset at Lake Gunn
As an Englishman, I’ve done shockingly little of my own continent, Europe. You have the option to travel lavish or budget in Europe. For the lavish travellers, you can visit Switzerland, known for its picture-perfect beauty, Iceland with the incredible natural wonder of Aurora Borealis, London with it’s decorated history, France’s Eiffel Tower & Louvre Museum to see the Mona Lisa.
If you’re on a budget you can still get immense beauty from Europe, with Slovenia, Bulgaria, Slovakia & Poland all incredibly beautiful destinations, with cheap food, drink & accommodation. Europe is one of the safest places to travel for solo travellers & would make a great first-time destination. There are so many countries located all together, making it easy to travel by train, which is generally cheaper than flying.
America is a great option for first-time travellers from the UK. It’s probably the most similar country in terms of culture, food & language. Its landscapes, however, are vastly different from our own & places like Oregon, Arizona, New York & Florida should be high on everyone’s bucket list. The diversity of cityscapes, National Parks, grasslands, mountains & canyons will captivate your attention from the moment you arrive.
America is another country on the more expensive end of the spectrum. Places like New York, Washington & Hawaii will eat through your budget quickly. If you spend more downtime in New Orleans, Texas & Arizona, however, you can make your money go further. You could also visit Canada, home to the worlds most beautiful lakes or Mexico for the worlds best cuisine (in my opinion).
Africa is another continent I would build up to travelling. It can be an extremely daunting place to visit as a first time solo traveller. That being said, if you can afford to travel in luxury, this could be your favourite continent on Earth. Taking a safari in Botswana, Namibia or Kenya is top of my bucket list & if majestic wildlife is high on your list of priorities, Africa is a must!
There is also immense beauty & culture in Africa, with the Pyramids in Egypt & the incredible red sea, the beautiful islands of Mauritius & the Seychelles and the Zulu tribes of South Africa. Africa is actually surprisingly more expensive than you’d think, so make sure you’ve got at least £5,000 to cover unexpected costs.
Useful Questions To Ask Before Travelling after University
- What do you want to get out of your trip? – Is partying a priority? Do you want the opportunity to volunteer? Do you want to see incredible Wildlife? Are you the adventurous type? Is food your priority & what is your preference?
- Can I live without my home comforts? You’ll likely be living in hostels with total strangers, can you handle this? Can you survive without your favourite food, your comfy bed or even your wardrobe?
- What kind of trip do you want to have? Relaxing, educational, adventurous, cultural.
- Can you afford to travel where you want? Instagram has warped most people expectations of travel with destinations like Bora Bora, The Maldives, Bali, Iceland etc. Travel is rarely this glamorous & I’ve had less than $10 to my name three times. Pick somewhere in your budget that has all the things you want to do. Do you really want to spend all of your savings or do you have plans for the future?
- Who are you travelling with after university? Do you feel safe travelling alone? Can you put up with your party hard friend? Do you want to go with someone who is only interested in museums or sitting at the beach all day? Can you save money in a group utilising Airbnb?
- How long are you going to be away? Travel is an addiction for some people. There are very few countries I’m not desperate to go and visit!
- Do you have dietary requirements? There are apps available for vegans, vegetarians etc. I’ve heard horror stories of people reacting to food in other countries. Make sure you don’t risk your health!
- When are you going to travel? If you visit Asia during monsoon season, it will be quiet, but you may not get the photos/experiences you want.
- Do I need insurance? Yes.
Can you travel with someone long term?
What Skills Can I gain Whilst Travelling?
Just because you don’t want to start a career right away, doesn’t mean you have to jeopardise your future career goals by travelling. Here are some skills you can hone whilst travelling & how they can boost your employability.
- Writing. Why not document your travels with a blog/online journal. It shows your writing ability, creativity, content creation, commitment & ability to work whilst enjoying your life. You’ll also learn about branding, SEO, Social Media marketing, advertising, photography & editing.
- Time Management. You have to book your flights, trains, ferries etc and be there on time. This is a great way to build your independence. Time management is critical for travelling if you want to fit everything in.
- Communication. Have you ever been in the middle of nowhere in a foreign country & had to get back to your hostel. This is a great way to improve your communication & people skills.
- Confidence. Being a solo traveller & asking joining in with a new group can take a lot of confidence and courage, to begin with, but you’ll grow so much as a person.
- Organisation & Planning. When you’re travelling you won’t get the most out of your trip unless you plan. Imagine visiting a country & being in a city with the worlds most beautiful lake and not knowing it was there! Rookie mistake.
- Adaptability. Things go wrong & you have to deal with it. I had my bank card blocked whilst in Asia and it was a nightmare, but I learnt a great deal from the experience. Carry some cash, for one.
What Should I Pack?
When I first left the UK I had no idea what to pack and what not to. I took some ridiculous things with me, including a snorkel & some shoes to wear in the ocean I got in Egypt a few years ago. Needless to say, I left them in Koh Tao after just two weeks of travel. Here is a list of some really useful items to pack:
- Bikini/Boardies. Don’t think I need to explain this one.
- Camera. You’re making memories for life, take lots of pictures!
- Enough clothing to last a week. Let’s not forget raincoats if you’re visiting a tropical country, thermals if you’re going skiing, hiking boots for a mountainous country etc.
- Grooming/Beauty Essentials. Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, razor, moisturiser, makeup, deodorant, tampons. You know, the essentials.
- Glasses/Contacts. If you need them.
- Sun Cream.
- Lip balm. Great for dry lips.
- Medical kit. You will hurt yourself at some point. I got a wound infected in Bali & it turned yellow. If only I’d cleaned it properly. You’ll also need any personal medication, immunity boosters etc.
- Condoms. A baby is a surefire way to cut your travels short.
- Power Banks. My phone always runs out of battery when I need it most.
- Unlocked Phone. You’ll need an unlocked phone to get a SIM card in a new country.
- Universal adaptor. Imagine not being able to charge anything.
- Reusable water bottle. Please try not to buy too much plastic! We want to protect our beautiful planet.
- Day bag. You’ll need a day bag to pack those essentials I was talking about.
- Wallet Essentials. You’ll need an international debit/credit card, a drivers license etc.
- Passport copy.
- Baby wipes. Can be used for a personal wash in humid climates & are a great camera lens cleaner.
I never go anywhere without my camera.
Top Travel Tips
- Wake up early & avoid the crowds. So many travellers let the day pass them by.
- Observe your surroundings. There is so much beauty & so many diverse cultures around the world. Make an effort to absorb it all, you’ll get so much more out of your travels.
- Slow down. Don’t just rush through a country to say you’ve done it. Take your time. Enjoy it. I’ve spent almost four years on just Australia & New Zealand and haven’t nearly covered all of it!
- Get out of your comfort zone. This is where the adventure begins!
- Learn the local lingo. You’ll get so much more out of your trip if you engage with locals. They are the local knowledge, after all.
- Try the local cuisine. I hate travelling with people who want the same foods all the time. Make the most of your opportunity.
- Keep an open mind. So you’ve never wanted to visit a certain country before, it might be your favourite yet!
Adventure begins outside your comfort zone… I also write extensively about sports and how to get involved whilst travelling. Here’s a post I wrote on surfing to help get you in the mood for some incredible activity.
About the Author
Thank you for reading ‘Travelling after university VS a Career: The Benefits’.
I’m Jamie, a Marketing graduate from Bristol. I grew up wondering about all the incredible things other countries had to offer & have spent the best part of four years discovering it. I’ve spent most of my time in Australia & New Zealand. I have so much knowledge, tips & guides to share about these two beautiful countries. If you’re keen to start living your own dreams, visit my site at www.bristolianabroad.com & see where life could take you.
Social Media links:
- Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.nz/bristolianabroad/
- Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/bristolianabroad16/
- Twitter – https://twitter.com/JamieBoucherBA
- Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Bristolian-Abroad-105355494532639
Pea Green says
You’ve given me retrospective fomo! I did some travelling during my last year of university while I was living in France on an ERASMUS placement, then some more between that and starting my PhD. Sounds like your adventures have been rather broader and enriching.
Aislinn Short says
Great tips! Especially true regarding NYC, Hawaii, and Washington D.C. they are more expensive; Hawaii more so since everything is imported. However Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places on Earth and highly recommend everyone go there!
This is very informative! Yes South East Asia is rich in culture and I would like to go on a tour myself, food and lodging is cheap as well. Perfect for backpackers. Africa will always be my dream destination for honeymoon especially Madagascar. Would love to go on a safari adventure in the future!
Ann | annchoi.me
I really love this post, informative, useful and most of all you blog is wonderful.
Love this! I am actually moving to Canada next year so this was great info!
Love the blog keep up the great work.
These places are all incredible to explore! I remembered my first holiday to Singapore and I mostly visited Asia on my first years traveling. But thats after working for 2 years. If I start traveling after Uni days I still prefer heading to Asia first. The questions are very helpful in deciding where to go!
The busy shelf says
Uuuugh, your life sounds fantastic! I loove travelling and although I got a job immediately after finishing university, travelling stayed as a priority, even if it meant short city breaks 🙂
I liked the “skills” section, I definitely agree to them and it’s something important to point out. Travelling is a great way to relax but also to learn new things that will turn out useful even in your day-to-day life
This is a highly informative post. It is so useful and full of insights. Thank you so much.
Nic | Nic's Adventures & Bakes says
Thanks for sharing, I was thinking about travelling after finishing uni, but never saved up as I just spent most of my money and lived in the moment, I wish I could have saved more as I would have liked the experiences you had 🙂
Nic | Nic’s Adventures & Bakes
I wish I did this, but I went straight into full-time work!