So, you’re in your 20s? Whether you’ve just joined the club, or are well into your 20s, welcome – we’re all in the same boat.
The most incredible thing about being in your 20s are the opportunities. You have so many opportunities to mould and shape your life and be whoever you want to be. However, that often comes hand in hand with pressure from society.
Being in your 20s is a strange time, a completely new era. Society has presented us with pressures surrounding our careers, education, relationships and mental health, often implying that they should be a certain way. I’m here to tell you this is absolutely not true. It is essential to remember that we all have different paths. But, it doesn’t matter where you are in your 20s, it is so easy for us all to get along and help each other out.
Considering how stressful things can become in our 20s, I truly believe travelling can help. Having time away from the pressures of society can help us to take a step back and think, what do I want? Ultimately this is what is important.
It gives us the opportunity to be completely away from pressure that we may feel from family, friends, partners or even ourselves. As cheesy as it sounds, it can really help us discover who we are and what we want from life.
So, you’ve decided to take a break from work, education, or just life and you’re going to travel! Where should you go? What should you do? Who do you go with? How long for? There are so many questions, and ultimately, it’s up to you. But if you need some inspiration, read on.
* A solo trip
The classic, authentic solo trip. Maybe this is what springs to mind when someone says the word ‘travelling’.
A solo trip is fabulous for those who just need some time away. Whether you’re introverted or extroverted a solo trip can benefit everyone. Travelling solo can often encourage other solo travellers to become friends with you. It’s much less intimidating introducing yourself to one person than a group of people travelling together. You’re by yourself and therefore more likely to be open to making friends!
One of the best ways to make friends when travelling solo is through staying in hostels. Don’t jump to conclusions and think “oh, but if I stay in a hostel it might be dirty or overcrowded”. Not necessarily. Most hostels have options for rooms of as little as four people, whilst also having the option to be in a larger 16-20 person room. Also, the vast majority of hostels will be clean. They may be basic, but if you’re only in a location to explore and have fun, a bed is all you need.
Some hostels also offer free breakfasts and free activities such as walking tours which will help you save money, get to know your area and make friends! What more could you want?
But if the hostel scene is not for you, don’t rule out a solo trip just yet. You can stay in any kind of accommodation and still make friends out and about. Or simply have a peaceful, relaxing break by yourself. Both options offer their own benefits and shouldn’t be ruled out.
But where should you go for your solo trip?
1. South East Asia (SEA). Whether you only pick one country or decide to travel to, or multiple, SEA is a great starting point for your travels. There is something for everyone: partying, adventure, culture, and so much more. Getting around is easy with most people speaking English. Many people will opt for hiring a scooter for the duration of their stay which is a really easy and affordable way of travelling around. Food, accommodation, and activities are also cheap. Your money will go far and stunning villas can be found for a small price. It’s a popular destination for people in their early 20s when solo travelling which means that despite going solo you’ll never truly feel alone.
2. Scotland. Before you completely dismiss this thought, have you ever looked into the NC500 route? If not, then let me explain. It is a 500 mile route around the coast of Scotland with beautiful scenery the entire way. A completely different type of trip than SEA but still worthy of this list. It is potentially an ideal trip for someone who does not want to have a long trip or journey and wants to spend more time solo. Also, you don’t necessarily have to set foot on a plane, so if flying isn’t for you, this trip might be the one. The route can be done in as little as 5 days if you want to just get in as much as possible, but you can also choose to take it slow and stop to discover some of the quaint villages along the way.
* A group trip
A group trip is a great option for first time travellers as it takes the confusion and uncertainty out of planning. Most group tours include transport within the trip, accommodation, and some food and activities. Group tours are guided which means you have the opportunity to be taken to hidden gems and explore places within your destination which may not be popular tourist spots! If the tour inclusions are more basic, guides can often give you pointers as to where to find the best deals. One of the biggest draws of a group tour (besides having everything planned for you) is that you will be with a consistent group of people for the duration of your trip. This gives you the opportunity to make a group of friends and most tours will often have groups of a similar age range (e.g. 18-30). If you connect with certain people in your group there is always the opportunity to continue travelling with them in a smaller group.
Group tours operate all over the world but where could the security of a group tour be the most useful?
1. Japan. Maybe not the first place you think of when travelling springs to mind. But, Japan has an incredible amount of diversity to offer. From the bustling and futuristic city of Tokyo, to the ancient temples and colourful shrines of Osaka. The landscape of Japan is magnificent – rolling snow-topped mountains in Honshu to the cherry blossom trees in Yoshino. The entire country is riddled with culture and oozing with untouched beauty. The reason that this is on the group tour list is that the country can be tricky to travel alone unless you have some knowledge of the Japanese language. Bigger cities will be much easier to navigate, but if you’re going to go to Japan you’d be crazy not to explore the smaller towns and villages. That is where you’ll get a real feel for the culture and natural beauty of the country, so it really is worth exploring.
2. South Africa (SA). Travelling SA can be an epic adventure and joining a group tour is one of the best ways to experience it. Whether you’re on a short holiday, backpacking, or a gap year, joining a group tour in SA gives you the best insight into this fascinating country. Overflowing with a diverse mix of cultures and some of the best wildlife the world has to offer, you will be blown away. By joining a group tour you will have the opportunity to cruise along vast plains whilst on the lookout for the Big 5 (elephant, lions, rhino, buffalo, and leopard), spend time with indigenous communities, or explore Africa’s growing cities.
* A volunteering trip/working holidays
A trip which involves some sort of work or volunteering can offer a slower way of travelling. Volunteering during your travels gives you the opportunity to make an impact within a community or landscape, which is a rewarding and humbling experience. Giving back to the community that you are travelling through makes you feel like you are making a difference to people’s lives. Most volunteering positions will include accommodation and food in return for work of some kind. There are a range of volunteering opportunities across the world including building schools, teaching children, farm work, conservation projects, animal rescue centres, and so many more. Pretty much anything you can think of that you’d like to experience, you can find a volunteering scheme for. Most places have minimum stay periods to give volunteers time to acclimatise to the work. This means that this type of travel is much slower which gives you time to properly explore the area, make friends and connections, and save some money along the way. Working holidays are also an option. The rate of pay is normally minimum wage and hours can be long and tiring, but this type of travel allows you to save some money for, potentially, a more leisurely trip after your contract is up. Working holidays will usually have a longer minimum stay than volunteering trips, so this is something to consider when choosing what to do.
Here are some popular examples:
1. Australia working holiday – this is probably one of the most popular options. A working holiday visa allows you to work in the country for up to a year. Most people will work for a set duration and then travel afterwards, either with friends or solo. Australia has so much to offer. From the classic East Coast route (Sydney to Cairns), to the Great Ocean road. Explore Magnetic Island – the world’s largest sand island – in 4x4s and camp under the stars, or set sail around the picture-perfect Whitsundays with their incredible white sand beaches. Australia is brimming with like-minded travellers so it is also one of the easiest places to work and travel if this is your first time.
2. Volunteering trips – this can be anything you want; the diversity of options is astounding. Websites like Workaway and Worldpackers list options for various volunteering opportunities all over the world. Opportunities include farm work, animal rescue centres, safari work, horseback tours, developing eco-resorts, teaching children, wildlife conservation, helping build communities, and so many more. If you want a slower way of travelling and to feel like you are giving back to the community, then volunteering is an excellent option. It can also provide you with life skills which will be appealing to future employers and help to develop you as a person.
So, in conclusion, there is something for everyone. I strongly urge you to travel, in some capacity, during your 20s. You never know, you could learn more about yourself and it just might be the best thing you’ve ever done. There’s not much to lose, but a whole lot to gain, so what are you waiting for? Get researching that favourite trip and have the time of your life. Safe travels!
Article by Elissa Cunnington