23 Jul

Earplugs and hashtags - planning your graduation getaway

ABTA's Natassja Etherington reveals her top tips for planning the perfect post grad travels.

As results and graduation season approach there will be thousands of students thinking about celebrating the end of education abroad, whether that’s doing a ‘season’ in Ibiza, sky-diving in Australia or an animal safari in India. I celebrated the end (or what I thought at the time was the end) of my academic career exploring the breath-taking sights and vibrant cities that Thailand has to offer.

Having never ventured out of Europe without my family before I was unsure as to what to expect and how I would cope with being so far away from home if something went wrong. I had a great time and learnt a lot, but here are my top tips that I wish I had known before I went travelling.

it’s amazing the incredible sights and travel tips you can find that your destination has to offer, just from a social media hashtag.

1. Plan your time.

This may well be the best holiday of your life and particularly if you’re only away for a limited amount of time, you don’t want to regret missing key sights and experiences. As a rule of thumb, the shorter the length of time you have, the more you will benefit from planning in advance. Research the area you are going to beforehand to find out the most highly recommended sights and then decide which of those are of most interest to you. Not planning can lead to a lot of wasted time trying to decide which sights to see.

My favourite way of researching is to ‘hashtag’ search my destination on social media – it’s amazing the incredible sights and travel tips you can find that your destination has to offer, just from a social media hashtag.

2. Pack light

We’ve all come home from holidays with clothes that never made it out of the suitcase. Packing light is essential for travelling, especially backpacking, when you have to carry your belongings around with you. I use the ‘second-thought’ rule. When packing, if you give an item a second thought you probably don’t need it.

3. Ear plugs

Ear plugs are one of my most treasured travelling possessions. Who doesn’t want to block out screaming babies, the loud snorer in the dormitory or the sound of busy traffic and beeping horns in the middle of a busy city?

4.  See the sunrise

Waking up early can make all the difference, you can sleep at home or on trains, planes and buses to new places, so why waste the time when you could be out exploring your chosen destination.

5. Be safe

Photocopy all your important documents and keep them separate to the originals. To be even safer, email yourself a copy in case you lose them both. Take a travel first aid kit with all the essentials (plasters, painkillers, allergy cream etc.) and always, take out good quality travel insurance. If you plan on doing any adventure or water sports, check that your policy covers these kinds of activities, as most standard policies don’t, leaving you uncovered if you have an accident, even if it wasn’t your fault.

6. Keep in contact

With the increasing number of internet cafes and availability of Wi-Fi, there is no excuse not to update friends and family, as they can often get worried if you drop out of view for a day or two. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram make it easy to reach a big audience at once and to let everyone know what you’re up to.

7. Check out the Foreign Office travel advice

There’s lots of useful tips about local laws and customs and dos and don’ts on the FCO website.