Summer holidays are fast approaching with all students encountering the proverbial question: to work, travel or chill?
Here are five things to consider for those thinking of escaping abroad.
Distance & Cost
The summer break is long, but not quite enough for an identity-defining adventure through the Andes mountains or European riversides. Keep it short and sweet. For most of us, forking out 20k and spending roughly four days just getting there and back is not a viable option. Unless you’ve got hold of Daddy’s Amex, minimising costs and distances will go a long way in creating a memorable experience.
Time of Year Matters
Don’t go to Europe in winter, or India (most of it) in July. I have made both these mistakes and regretted them instantly. Trying to conquer Berlin in -20 is as equally debilitating as being soaked by the hot monsoonal rains in Delhi. Pick somewhere with half-decent sunshine (which also helps with packing lightly). Also, why go somewhere deserted at that time of year? However much of a ‘real traveller’ you sound bragging about avoiding other tourists, it sucks being the only person in the hostel.
Alone, With a Friend or in a Group?
So, who should you go with? All have their ups and downs. The freedom of waking up each morning and doing whatever pinas your colada, only exists when you have no one else to think about. However if it’s your first time overseas, probably don’t go alone. Groups are ideal if you’re planning to party but be prepared to spend more time in one place. Once you start moving around it’s a hassle catering for everyone’s needs. One, perhaps two mates is a nice medium (just not that one prone to losing everything and getting arrested). In a group of 3 or less, you’ll still meet heaps of new people, which is harder in a group… And you’ll still have a guaranteed drinking buddy.
Party, Party, Party
Let’s be honest, for those few months between study we want to let off steam, party hard and daft punk (get lucky). This consideration might be less important if you’re travelling with a girlfriend/boyfriend, but hey, there are plenty of open doors around the place. Don’t go to some place full of middle-aged people on archaeology tours like Bhutan. Find a place where the booze is cheap, nights never end, the laws are lax and a ‘no strings attached’ is as easy as ordering a pad thai.
Okay so we want to party. But we also want to experience culture: a world that is distinct from our regular. South Thailand and Bali can feel like the Gold Coast, so it’s important you actually step out of your comfort zone, returning with a fresh impression on the world. Hanging with locals, homestays, motorbike trips off the beaten track and diving headfirst into street food and festivals are great launch pads.
Ultimately, go where you WANT.
You’re bound to have a ball anywhere; these are just some failsafes to help maximise your trip.
Our pick for an economical and eventful 3-6 week sabbatical would be South East Asia:
a) A cocktail of Northern Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.
b) The Malaysia/Singapore combo.
c) Japan (enough said).