Ok, before I start this post, I want to make something extremely clear: travelling is a privilege that not many can afford. As I write this, I am very well aware of the fact that I am one of privileged 0.1% from my country and perhaps even the world at large who are exposed and can actually afford to travel abroad for leisure. I acknowledge my privilege and I understand that travel is a luxury that not many can afford, but this does not mean that, travelling is easy for me. At present, the Bangladeshi passport allows me visa free travel to 38 countries. Most of them islands which are pretty far, so its been a long and sometimes exhausting journey to travel to the 73 countries that I have been to, across 5 continents. Here are some tips and tricks I used during my travels, hope you find them useful!
1. Start with countries that do not need visas, there are some countries in the world that offer visa free or visa on arrival access to basically any country, for example: Maldives, Seychelles (pictured left), Ethiopia, Rwanda, Madagascar (Except Palestinians – in Bangladesh we offer visa on arrival to you, so please know you are welcome in other places!), North Cyprus (everyone except Armenians and Nigerians) Cambodia (everyone except Nigerians), Cape Verde, Dominica among others. Its not going to be easy, but there is somewhere for everyone, I promise the world is kinder than it seems!
2. Yes, Visas are awful, they suck, I hate them too. But, they are necessary. If you do want to get the damn visa and visit, I would suggest getting a visa that gives you a run for it’s money and effort. So for example, some visas, such as Schengen, UK, USA, Canada, when they are multiple entry, allow you access to several countries! As I write this post, I am sitting in Mulberry forest in rural Albania, having entered the country on a multiple entry Swiss (Schengen) Visa, although Albania is neither in the EU, nor in the Schengen. Pretty much all the countries in the Balkans (Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia) that are not part of the EU allow this. You can also use the above mentioned visas to purchase proxy e visas for Turkey and Georgia. I will write a more detailed post on Visa Hacks in the coming days, so watch this space!
3. This is going to be a hard one, but here it goes: stop drinking/smoking or at least reduce it significantly. I am not saying this from the point of view of your grandma, I am saying this because it has a major impact on your finances. You save almost 1/3 of your salary/earnings/allowance, depending on where you are in the world, if you quit drinking. All those casual glasses of wine or the beer after work, they pile up and in turn cut out a bunch of money that should go to your travelling fund. Plus, it just racks up in dollars and hangovers (therefore wasted days) when you are travelling! My suggestion? Every time you say no to alcohol or smokes, put exactly that amount of money into a travel jar and before you know it, you will have enough money for the long weekend trip to Mostar 😀
4. Eat in as much as possible, while at home and while travelling. I am a huge foodie, obsessed with food and trying new types of food. And while I completely understand going all in when it comes to eating out, I also know that it leaves a hole in the pocket. When I am not travelling, I rarely eat out. Not because i don’t want to, I just find it easier to cook healthy food at home, plus its way cheaper. I am a flexiterian, meaning I eat meat very rarely, usually only if I have to. So this cuts down my cost of food massively. While i am travelling, I like to try the local cuisine because food is like a very big part of the travelling experience for me. But after that, I choose to stay in places where there are kitchens so I can cook my own food. It can be something very simple like Noodles and a salad or pasta with pesto, but it saves money when you stay in the same location for more than 1 day. (pictured above is instant noodle ala eggs and frozen vegetable, garnished with ketchup. At €1.50, this also leaves some leftovers!)
5. So, although I am 27, I still stay in hostels sometimes. Ok, ok, hear me out. Hostels are an amazing way to meet people and find cheap tours. Often enough, when you are travelling solo, it can be difficult to do things alone that are cheap. So, making friends with people in hostels can be very useful, not only because you get to meet travellers from all over the world and share incredible bonding moments based on your love for travel, but you also get to do things together which can often make things cheaper. Plus, I met some of the nicest people in hostels! Other ways to save money on accommodation could include couchsurfing and airbnb. With regards to couch surfing, things can be tricky, I have had a terrible experience and several incredible experiences, made life long friends and memories through them. If you are a solo female traveller, I would urge you to either only surf with female hosts (with at least a couple of reviews) or with male hosts that have a LOT of reviews. Just that from my experience, things can go super south, super quick.
STREET SMARTS6. Pack light but pack smart, this will come in handy in many ways: a) budget airlines including busses in some countries, charge extra if you want to check in luggage. You can save quiet a lot of money on luggage if you pack light. b) When you pack light, you are able to walk longer and are generally more mobile, this will help you cut down costs on taxis or so on. My cut off point is around 15 kilos including both my bags, my laptop, chargers, epilators, go pro etc for a 3 month trip. c) Pack some essentials such as a first aid kit with essentials such as paracetamol, bandaid etc, at least 4 pairs of underwear, 2/3 types of shoes (flip flops and hiking/running shoes), a dry bag to keep your things dry when in water, a small bag for day trips.
7. Download apps like map.me, google translate (with languages you need to know downloaded), maps.me: will help you download offline maps of cities you will visit. Where google fails, maps.me prevails :D, this way you will never be lost :D. Google translate will help you when you are lost a little less literally, in translation, perhaps. :). (Pictured right, me laughing my ass off in Madrid, 2011, because we were so lost. Long before maps.me era!)
I hope this post has been useful and informative for you! If you can think of any topics you want me to write about please be sure to email me on : email@example.com. And if you like this article, please show a sister some love, head over to instagram and follow my page: @maliharoundtheworld:D
Maliha Fairooz is a 27-year-old Bangladeshi solo traveller, who has travelled to 83 countries, on a Bangladeshi passport. Through her blog www.maliharoundtheworld.com, she shares her experience of travelling as a brown, Muslim, Bangladeshi woman while simultaneously encouraging a culture of travel amongst Bangladeshi youth.