The things we used
As I work in the technology world, we obviously made use of all the stuff out there. Here’s a list of stuff we made use to help plan our our route, things to do, places to stay, etc:-
Kelly and I got into a habit of pinning EVERYTHING we found that could be of use. We started off with a private board for the whole trip where we pinned anything that could be useful or worth reading, and when we got to a point where we had so many pins, we sub-divided by each country. The original board can be found here. My advice would be to use Pinterest, and just search for anything (for example, India Backpacking). We found loads on there; too much to actually use to be honest!
Recommendation: Start with country based boards. The process to move the posts to other boards was a mission.
This is probably quite an obvious one to be honest, but a good ol’ search can help a huge amount.
I won’t lie, I got a little obsessed with watching videos of people vlogs in every (and I mean EVERY) county/area we are going to. I actually got to the point of watching videos of individual things we were planning, to get a good idea of what to expect and what others thought.
I found a couple of vlogs particularly useful.
These guys obviously had a bunch of money or got paid en route, but I really liked the videography and content. Karl is also really active on Instagram and often replies to comments. I’ve picked his brain quite a bit to be honest…
The only caveat I give here, is these guys were party animals. I accept i’m not well past it yet, but I am not really planning a trip of epic binge drinking sessions, so a lot of the stuff they do I won’t be doing. Likewise, they had about £30k for 9months, and we have nothing like that (and going for longer), so use this as a guide only.
Another beautifully crafted video blog. These guys have done a similar journey to what we plan (in parts) so watching a bunch of the videos were SUPER useful. They tend to do videos every other day, so you get really nice little chunks of life on the road. Again, this is in parts NOT a realistic example of budget for a trip (I think they probably got paid/sponsored, as Louis is a big name on the scene) but I still found this really useful. This was one of my favourite videos (yes I did binge them like Netflix).
To be honest, and as you’d expect, there are MILLIONS of videos that can help you out. I just got into searching for very specific things, which really helped me decide on specific places to see, or at least consider seeing.
- Find something/somewhere you may wanna go, and just look at the footage
- Don’t get pent up or lost in individual ‘you must do this’ blogs. Everyone has an opinion, and opinions vary dependent on so many factors (such as your budget, who you’re with, when you go, the weather, the political situation in the local area, etc). There are so many variables no one can tell you what’s best for you, but video content is a good platform for giving you a feel of what’s worth seeing
- Watch the relevant videos. I found loads of stuff on the recommended videos on YT that were really helpful.
- Read the comments! Sometimes people will massively disagree with what’s in the content, and may lead you to something special. I found this quite a few times.
Whilst we haven’t actually used this yet (i.e. we haven’t stayed with anyone), we’ve used this loads to gather info, get places to stay, and more importantly, get inside knowledge. If you haven’t heard of Couchsurfing, it’s a great community site where people offer a place to stay FOR FREE. It’s not always a solo room, but if you get to meet locals, it’s probably worth doing. I signed up to Couchsurfing after a blog recommended it, so thought i’d have a go. I posted a public tour saying we’d be in India through October, and Fiji in March. Within about 2 days, I’d had about 4 invites to stay with people in both countries. Not only did we get offers for accommodation, but we got advice just offered to us on things to do, offers for local tours, and people just offering to meet up and help out. Amazing really. We will be making way more use of this site for sure!
Recommendation: Sign up properly, check reviews of those offering to host, and don’t just say yes to the first person to offer you a place.
Yeah okay, I accept this is a bit obvious, but i’ve got to include it really haven’t I? Again, I found most useful blogs via Pinterest, so recommend trying the two together.
Blogs can be a really useful tool for getting a really personal feeling for where you’re planning to go. Very much like YouTube vloggers though, you need to remember that there’s so many variables that affect someones experience of a place. Likewise, i’d recommend finding bloggers that are taking a similar approach to you on your trip away. The things I looked for were couples travelling, budget travelling and obviously the locations we’re heading to.
Couple of bloggers I’ve found particularly useful :-
Matt’s blog feels more like a massive community of advice now. He has some awesome guest blogs that i’ve used loads (especially the ones about couples travelling).
Matt (the broke backpacker) has been travelling for YEARS, and done some on a skeletal budget. He’s also a bit of a legend so really worth checking out his stuff. He’s also a great fan of snapchat, and I love watching his daily adventures.
I’ve actually known Macca since I was a kid, so I accept i’m a bit biased here, but these guys are super knowledgeable, and I really enjoyed reading their stuff, and watching all their content. I’d also really recommend the book Macca wrote about planning your trip. Kelly read it cover to cover and found it super useful.
We’ve used this as a treat to be honest. Most places are out of our price range, or can be found on other sites (like Agoda, see below) but on the odd occasion it’s a bit of a treat. For example, over Diwali, we’ll be in Mumbai (Bombay). We’re using AirBNB to stay with a family who openly offered to let us join them for local madness. We are paying £120 for 4 nights, but over a national holiday in Mumbai I don’t think this is too bad (this sounds expensive for India I know, but for 2 people for 4 days it’s pretty good in Mumbai).
Recommendation: Do lots of searching. I’d recommend contacting a few people you find in a location you’re happy with. Introduce yourself properly and say what you’re about/after, then weigh up your options.
I bloody love Instagram! It’s my favourite social network without a doubt. I’ve always loved photography, and since the boom of mobile tech i’ve effectively abandoned my SLR, as I find I can get pics just as as good, with quicker/easier/more effective editing from my phone now (I know, sorry all you avid photographers out there). For the record, all pics on this blog are taken and edited on my phone….
I searched for accounts related to places, liked the pics, and took notes. Simple really. There are so many out there, i’m not going to recommend any on here, but just have a search yourself. You’ll find loads of useful stuff. Again, check the comments!
An example is below. We got engaged in NYC in March 16 (on our anniversary) but that day we checked out Little Italy because of things I saw on Instagram and read in the comments. It was well worth it. This is a pic I snapped at the gateway.
If you’ve started planning a trip, you will have started looking at STA stuff i’m sure (if you haven’t, you should). I AM NOT SAYING BUY STUFF VIA THEM THOUGH!
I found that the STA routes gave a really good indicator of good routes & things to check out. Whilst the prices initially seemed pretty good, local advice (via things like Couchsurfing) made me realise that actually, I could get much lower prices locally. As a start, STA is really useful, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend you book through them.
Recommendation: Get their booklets and go for a chat, but do more research before handing over a card!
Don’t be afraid of Reddit if you haven’t used it before. Some of my mates thought I was doing some dodgy stuff on the dark web when I mentioned I was using it for travelling! It’s actually really useful.
Reddit is basically a bunch of forums where you can ask questions, post stuff, etc. The most useful thing for me was finding really specific subreddits about specific places I was going and asking questions about local advice. For example, I got some great advice about Fiji from people who live there. We’re going off season so wanted to check what was not going to be open, that kinda thing.
In no way is this list exhaustive, and I wasn’t religious in my use of any of these things, but all really helped keep my thinking organised. The great thing is, I was able to use things like Pinterest to do just that (keep my thinking organised).