People told me I was crazy traveling by myself at age 18 with no plan and $5000 in my pocket and look at me now…..$1000 in debt, 25lbs lighter and a brain full of experiences. I remember missing my bus on the first day I was there and then spending $70 on a taxi from the airport to the city center. I had been in New Zealand for 20 minutes and already spent $100 (Including the $30 bus ticket I could not get refunded.) NZ is the only country I have traveled to beside the US. I learned a lot but here are the top 5 things to keep in mind when traveling as a young backpacker who is stupid and has no idea what they are doing.
- Stay at grungy hostels, Hitchhike…..anywhere, Couchsurf with the weird lady who keeps saying “Cool Bananas” after every sentence. Get out of your comfort zone NZ is so safe, worst case scenario you awkwardly leave the house/car and you have a funny story to scare your mom with.
- TAKE THE BUS. Public transportation is so easy. Literally it is a thousand times cheaper to take the bus than an uber. Yes, its more convenient to take a taxi but you could spend $70 on a 20 minute taxi ride with a smelly old man who trying to chat with you in Italian or you could stare out the window of a bus with your headphones and be in your own world. In the name of saving money…take the bus
- If you are underage and in a foreign country where the drinking age is 18 (so pretty much everywhere) it may be a huge new scary thing that you never really had experience with. Its different being able to go to the liquor store and get a bottle of vodka compared to stealing your parents and watering it down. My advice as an eighteen year old is to take it slow. The first weekend I was there I downed 6 shots of tequila and a liter of cider in the span of 2 hours. I woke up the next day without my passport, wallet, phone or my…pants. So just be extra carful drinking in a foreign country.
- Get your visas in your home country before you go. For New Zealand its free to get a working holiday visa from home but if you go to NZ on a tourist visa and then apply for the working holiday later it could cost you up to $500 in medical bills and application fees. Just make sure you get that done beforehand if you know you’re going to be in that country for more than three months.
- Don’t Over-plan. Its so easy to get caught up in itineraries and times and events that you can get overwhelmed and not have a good time. I planned week and weeks in advance and literally did nothing I planned because you have to be spontaneous when traveling, Its just the rule. Planing all day long is a waste of a day. Just be aware of the high/low season and book hostels a day in advance during high season book buses and other things no more the 2 days in advance otherwise plans could change and you can waste heaps of money.
Long story short, you are going to make so many stupid mistakes your first time traveling…I know I did. Enjoy the experience and make memories, say “yes” more and follow these tips. Everything is going to be fine. It is going to be SO HARD at times but it literally (as cheesy as it sounds) it makes you a stronger person. Im so different than I was when I left and you absolutely will be too!
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