Haven't we all had a time in our lives when we wanted to drop everything, and go backpacking across Asia, Australia or Europe?
Some of us do it through exchange programs during University which allow you to accumulate credits while traveling abroad.
The rest of us, the more adventurous ones, wake up one morning, sell everything we own, get on a plane and see where the wind takes us. But sometimes, what was just a light breeze - turns into a tornado real quick. If you don't plan ahead before making this impulsive decision, you might regret making it in the first place.
Now, don't get me wrong - I still believe you should quit your job and get out of town, but before you do, there's a set of guidelines you should follow so you don't come back broke, jobless and re evaluating your entire life. Take it from someone who has done this before...
1. Save money
Obviously. Who travels without any money? (You would be surprised) Go prepared. But how much is enough? Do you plan to bring enough to last you just a month, and the rest you'll find a waitressing job and wing it? Or do you want to go with your entire life savings to make sure you are safe. All questions you need to ask yourself before leaving. Another VERY important factor that most people tend to forget is to KEEP money for when you get back from wherever it is you're going. Do not touch your savings account dedicated to buying a house in the near future, or your wedding fund. You'll still need that eventually.
2. Stay organized
Make a plan, set a goal, reach it. Scratch things off your bucket list. But also stay on schedule. Wake up at sunrise, you'll skip traffic and won't have to wait in line to do various activities. You'll also get the best pictures in the morning. I suggest having an itinerary or building a "to do" list. There's so many things you'll want to do, and sometimes you'll get carried away and will forget.
3. Do your research
If you plan on visiting Egypt for example - where do you want to go exactly? What do you want to see? Do you want to eat a specific type of food? Visit pyramids? If you are going to South Africa - will you check out the Serengeti migration? A safari? Make sure you've done your research even if it's just browsing various blogs from travellers who have been to these places, you'd be surprised just how much information you can acquire from them. It's nice to get up and go, to tell yourself "I'll figure it out as I go along" but you also don't want to waste time. Time is money, which is very precious - don't waste it. Stay organized.
4. Learn the language
Even if it's just a few words. You have no idea how differently you'll get treated when you connect with someone linguistically. It's a sign of respect, and it means you took the time to learn more about them, where they are from, instead of walking around speaking english looking for foreigners to answer you. If you have some time, I suggest actually joining a beginner's class in Spanish, Mandarin or whatever the language associated to the country you are going might be.
5. Don't travel alone (unless you've done it before)
It is glamorous and you'll feel so adventurous to travel the world and meet different people from set cultures, but don't do so alone. Especially if you're staying in hostels or backpacking. If you could, grab a friend into your madness, or go somewhere where you have distant family or friends doing an exchange. It can be dangerous to move halfway across the world and have no place (or person) to call home.
6. Finish school first
If you still have two semesters left to get your Bachelors, finish it first. Consider an exchange program so you're not there "wasting" time. There's nothing wrong with taking a year off school to travel, but why not just wait that extra year, save up some money and do it right. There's a slight chance you'll come back and want to finish. Or you can always consider doing a summer trip in this case. The semester ends in April and starts again in September, that gives you plenty of time to travel.
7. and if you're not in school, educate yourself while abroad
Take a cooking class, or learn a trait. Visit art galleries, historic monuments. Feed your brain, not just your stomach.
8. Don't forget where you came from
Now that you're this new adventurous person, you will have plenty of stories to tell. People you've met, connections you've built all around the world. But don't forget the core existence of your being. Where you come from, who and where to call home. Don't get lost in the dream, remember your reality. Check in with your parents, your siblings, your friends. Many travellers forget to do this and spend years abroad, which will disconnect you harder than leaving your phone at home.
9. Set a return date and stick to it
This one is very importance, and i'm not talking about booking a return flight, I mean a realistic date that you set yourself to come back home. Now unless you meet the love of your life decide to move to Bali to live with her and raise children on a beach while selling pineapples at a nearby shop, then that's a different story. But if you keep postponing your return date, you might never have one. Deciding to move your life somewhere else and get a career in that specific city, is not the same as being a traveler, and never settling down anywhere. That could be dangerous because that adventurous part of you could last a lifetime and then eventually
10. Start a blog!
And finally, document your trip for other travellers who are on the same mission as you - to discover the world. Even if it's just a visual blog with the places you've seen, the people you've met - connect others with it.