My name is Pat Blute and I just took the most amazing trip around the world as the 2008 World Traveler Intern with STA Travel. They hooked me up with a MacBook and all the tools I needed to document my journey for STATravelers.com. You can check out my video blog at http://www.statravelers.com/pat.
Now that I’m back, I put together a few tips for Young Money readers on how to truly be a world traveler. It doesn’t necessarily take a lot of money, just a lot of openness and a willingness to try to new things.
Check out these tips, and then start booking your trip:
Go Local. I was in a tapas restaurant in Quito, Ecuador, and asked the locals where the best place was to purchase cloths and hammocks. They gave me a tip about a local market near Cotopaxi with the most gorgeous goods imaginable. A similar thing happened when I was in Liuzhao, China. We asked two local girls what they do on Friday nights and we ended up going out for dumplings, having a blast at a great nightclub and then found a spot with great views of the city.
Pack Light. Less is more when you travel. If you forget something, you can always buy it when you get there. If you over-pack, you’ll end up having to leave clothes behind that you may not have planned on. Make sure to leave room for souvenirs so you don’t have to carry two large packs down a mountain in Asia – trust me, I’ve been there.
Participate. If you’re halfway around the world, feel free to let loose a little and join the party. At my hostel in Sydney, there was a David Hasselhoff Beach Party one night. I went in full garb and left with a group of friends to tour the city the next day. Student travelers flock to all sorts of places looking to meet new people, find adventure and enjoy life.
Book a Tour. If you’re leery of traveling by yourself, you can pretty much guarantee a great time by booking a tour. During my World Traveler Intern trip, I had a great experience with several different tour companies. Tours make it easier to meet other travelers and you’ll be sure to hit all of the hot spots without having to do any of the planning.
Get a Student Discount Card. During my trip, I used my ISIC student discount card all over the world. It was especially handy with currency exchange. With ISIC, I got free currency exchange at any Travelex location. It is also an internationally recognized ID, so you’ll have no problem using it to get into any clubs or bars.
Take on a Backpacking Lifestyle. If you plan to live like a backpacker, you’ll likely end up saving money and being able to splurge when you want to check out a nice restaurant or pick-up a cool souvenir. Try to get good value for your money when you travel. Hostels are not only inexpensive, they are also great places to meet other travelers. The street food in Asia and South America is pretty tasty and usually cost less than $2 for a meal.
Get a Credit Card. I was charged $5 every time I wanted to use the debit card my bank at home issued me when I was on my trip. Credit cards do charge a small fee for paying in a different currency, but they get better exchange rates than you get paying with cash. It’s also easier to cancel your credit card than cancelling a debit card tied to your checking account.
Follow these tips and you’ll have a great time on your trip. Don’t forget to stay in touch with family and friends while you’re gone. I had an international mobile phone to use, which was really convenient. I also documented my trip in videos, photos and a blog . My blog and videos were great ways to keep my friends and family informed without having to take significant time out of my trip to call home.
Good luck and safe travels!
Pat Blute, freshman at Columbia University and 2008 STA World Traveler Intern.