This template will help you to organize an independent travel to any place in the world, without help from travel agencies. Besides this, your template will be 100% individual.
You will find out how to form an interesting route, where and how to buy cheap tickets and save on residence in cities.
Any independent travel should have a concept. In any case, it’s more interesting and exciting with it rather than just walking at a loose end. Since, refusing travel agencies, you get complete freedom.
It’s difficult to say how exactly such an idea arises. Usually it’s an insight. They happen to everybody. It’s important to WRITE them down. For example, you may paste stickers to the wall near your desk.
Examples of concepts: “Wintering on Madagascar”, “Meet New Year in Europe”, “Mind Finland for study and move”, “Visit wild beaches and Kazantip in Crimea”, “Go out ferry boating”, “Go to concert of X”, “Go to India and do yoga”, “Go to Malta to learn English”, “Go to Massage tour to the shore” etc. There are many options.
It’s perfect to travel two together. 1+1.
It’s your world at halves, you get support, you have a person to speak with, it’s easier to find dwelling.
Singly it’s a bit worse. You have nobody to share your emotion with; nobody can look after your luggage or support you.
It’s really difficult with large groups. It’s more difficult to find lodging for all, more difficult to move and get organized.
It’s difficult to say what appears first – the CONCEPT or the CO-TRAVELER. It often happens that the CO-TRAVELER gives rise to the CONCEPT. But sometimes it’s vice versa.
1) If you already have a concept, just discuss it with all people you meet in your life. Go to meetings of travel clubs and travel agencies (they often look for co-travelers there, we are not interested in vacation packages). You may always find nice co-travelers that are not satisfied with something in agencies’ services in one-two visits – they are our clients.
You may find co-travelers through the site http://www.travbuddy.com/browse/users
2) If you have no concept, ask everyone who-why-where is he going. Pay attention to groups in social networks and travel agencies meetings. Visit fitness-clubs, language schools and other places. Often there are co-travels where there is a more or less permanent hangout.
After you got the concept for travel, you should collect all the necessary information about the country or city you are to visit.
You have to “make friends” with Google and Yandex.
What are we looking for:
1) Collect information on visa and the necessary documents.
If you need a visa, do it in advance. Visa is issued in the embassy of the country in your or your neighbor city or in a travel agency (usually 2-3 times more expensive than in the embassy).
Some visa types may be got at arrival to the country when passing passport control in the airport. Specify this moment.
Of course, you need a passport for travelling abroad and if visiting some Africa regions – a certificate about inoculations.
Insurance is also necessary for many directions. Usually it does not cost much.
Firstly, you should find out about the climate in the region during the period of visit. Maybe there will be a rainy season or just a cold season. Remember that when it’s summer in the Northern hemisphere, it’s winter in the Southern one.
3) Explore the place and sights.
You will need a detailed map of the place you are going to and information about its sights.
Average price for lunch and dinner, cost of taxi from the airport, prices for entry to museums. You should understand at least approximately the level of prices, this will help to form travel budget.
5) Advices of locals and travelers.
Try to find local sites like http://www.visitfinland.com. We are interested in locals’ advices on such sites. We need “undercover” and fresh information.
Learn about local traditions and rules of public conduct. You may get a big fine or be caged, for example, for drinking alcohol outdoors or appear in swimwear in a public place. It especially relates to Arab countries as law is very strict there.
7) Criminal, military and political situation.
It’s also worth to arm yourself with knowledge about situation in the region. Be sure that there are no military operations or strikes, learn in advance which places are criminal and stay away from there. For example, in Brazil it is not advised to show up in favela without an escort as they may take away money and gadgets (camera, cellphone) from you.
From information found in the previous step, form your route.
You should get something like this:
June, 1 – leave Vologda to Moscow. Get to Tula and stay for night there. Cost – 60$.
June, 2 – travel to Simferopol. Two days here. Visit the mountain Х and museum X. Cost - 100$.
As the result, you get your route and may form your budget approximately.
Find lodging along your route and correct it depending on lodging availability.
Booking hotels independently became normal long ago. The largest and the most known operator on booking market is http://www.booking.com/.
These also have good reputation
Or just use this meta-search.
Meta-search are search systems that don’t have their own hotel base and don’t offer booking services but search over plenty booking systems.
An evident advantage of this method is the possibility to compare many different options and absence of a necessity to explore every booking system individually. You will get a list of options with prices for every hotel found so you may choose by yourself.
This is an option for those who still want his tour to be “agency-like”. It creates constraint and attachment. Moreover, it raises the price of the travel. It’s a good option for families and those who like comfort and stability.
2) Hostels / Dormitories.
This option is closer to independence.
Sites for booking hostels all over the world
Lower cost. Free cookery. Many travelers to hang out with. Many insider information, flyers and posters. More open atmosphere.
It’s still a hostel, even if more equipped. You will stay with other people so there will be lack of private space.
Couchsurfing is the largest international society of travelers and those who sympathize them, a society that unites people whose goal is “sharing hospitality” all over the world.
My favorite option that I advise to everyone. Here is its essence. There is a site https://www.couchsurfing.org/ where people from different parts of the world allow each other to live at their place.
Here are the details http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CouchSurfing
It’s free! You will find out how people in our countries live. You will learn their life. Improve your language. Discover real “non-tourist” places and insider information. Make new friends abroad.
No personal space. We live by the rule of accepting party. Absence of any “guarantees” and maybe “comfort”.
Here https://airbnb.com/you may book a flat almost at any place of the world. A flat is often cheaper than a hotel room and there is always a personal kitchen.
You need a minimal knowledge of English to agree with the host about your arrival so that he gives you the key. But it’s easy to settle this.
Nothing can prevent you from combining options. Depending on cost or proximity to center of the city you should always try different options.
There are many ways to get to the point B.
Transport is either tickets or hitch-hiking. Maybe both of them. For example, we get to the place by plane, steamer, ferry etc. Then we move by hitch-hiking and bus.
The cheapest way, but it’s not for everyone. Read, learn. There is much information about.
You may also find following transport. Look for groups in social networks.
“It turns to be hitch-hiking by request”.
2) Air tickets.
There are many ways to buy tickets. You may find your cheap option in different situations.
Purchase by meta-search.
The biggest in Russia are:
http://www.momondo.com/When choosing a route, it’s easy to view prices for the closest days.
http://www.whichairline.com/Search system over budget airlines.
The second way is to buy tickets directly from the airline. Now almost all airlines have their sites with the possibility to buy tickets, so you should always look for tickets there as they are often cheaper than on searching sites, but still you should also consider the latter.
Ferry communication is very well developed in Europe, you may buy tickets here http://www.paromy.ru/ferry/
Russia has railway communication with some European countries, will all CIS countries and China. You may book tickets through the official site of Russian Railway http://rzd.ru/ or through http://www.tutu.ru/ (works with markup).
Buses also ride to all countries of the CIS. Lean tariffs of specific companies-carriers, or even better – always call and specify if there are tickets, there are no good sites on booking bus tickets.
Cash and credit card. The sum depends on the country.
In Europe, cards are accepted almost everywhere, in Asia it’s better to have cash. Don’t forget to exchange money in advance in an exchange point in your city! Rate is always very inconvenient in airports. If it’s Europe, exchange to Euro, if it’s Asia and America – to dollars.
It’simportant! There will be no possibility to exchange rubles to dollars or euro almost in all countries, that’s why you may find yourself in a very difficult situation.
Always have a Visa or MasterCard banking card with you. In case of unforeseen consequences your relatives or friends may always do a transfer to it and help you. Money is passed to account rather quickly.
You should always have a small amount with you at arrival to destination to pay for taxi and for petties if there is no transfer to hotel available. For example, arriving to Bangkok, you exchange 100 dollars to local baht and the rest of money you keep on your card and cash when necessary. Rubles to baht exchange rate at cashing is set by the bank, usually this rate is rather acceptable.
Coordinate vacancies and prepare the “escape plan”. One more time agree it with your co-traveler (better doing it at any stage).
The route is ready, tickets and lodging booked.
Here in SmartProgress diary you may report about all your actions during the trip. Emotions, photos, impressions. All these may remain with you forever. Then you may use these materials for a full report.
After the trip you may do a conclusion – a report about it.
If you were at a hotel or apartments – leave a review about it on the booking site. This will help other travelers to make their choice.
Good luck with your travels!