When planning my trip to South America, on top of my list of ‘Must See’s’ was to see the Amazon Jungle! When I started researching, my dream was close to fading. Thousands of dollars for 4 days in the jungle! There was no way I could afford that.
Here is my experience and how I got there on a budget.
I recently lost my Dad to Cancer and I have been heart broken. Not only was he my Dad, he was my best friend. The only thing that helps me heal is travel. So, I took off travelling, which is also why I have been absent for so long. There are plenty of blogs to come, I promise. So this blog is dedicated to him.
This blog is solely to highlight the issues that could arise with booking a room in a private house for a first-time traveller than staying in a hostel. I believe that the accommodation booking website AIRBNB is fabulous, I have used it many times to hire a house with friends, but would I book a room in someone else’s house while I’m travelling alone? Absolutely not.
For those that are not familiar with AIRBNB, it is a great website. Anyone can hire out their house or just a room in their house for a cost. I personally have only used it to hire an entire house, over a room. I have never had an issue; the home has always been exactly like the images, and the money and key transfers were seamless.
Some alarming things I have heard lately is that young, first time female travellers are choosing to stay in a AIRBNB shared room, over a hostel to cut costs. I totally understand wanting to save money, but you can’t put a price on safety. Hostels are designed for the solo traveller who are on a budget. This is the whole reason they exist. Hostels have improved so much in the last 10 years. They are basically a hotel now for solo travellers.
Hostels have dorm rooms with anywhere between 4 to 16 beds in a dorm and depending on the hostel size, communal bathrooms, kitchen and common rooms. Some hostels have single sex dorms, others may have single sex dorms as well as mixed dorms. Personally, I would never stay in a mixed dorm, but I know of some girls that do and they haven’t had an issue apart from having to listen to the men snore all night, YUK!! No, thanks. I often hire the private room with private bathroom, yes, I’m a princess. You ask, why stay in a hostel and not a hotel if that’s the case? A hotel is filled with families, couples, business people and loners who like don’t like to socialise. I’m a social butterfly, I love meeting new people, especially other travellers. A hostel is designed to get solo travellers meeting other solo travellers. Most hostels have amazing communal areas, organised events such as trivia nights or pub crawls to help break down the walls of isolation.
A guided group tour is a fantastic way of travelling. I highly recommend it, but it can be extremely tough and overwhelming trying to decide on which is the right tour to join. What is a guided tour you ask? A guided tour can be many things, but a simple way of explaining it, is there is a guide, often a local guide from that Country, that guide is responsible for getting you to and through the destinations you desire. It’s a safer way of travelling, especially if you are travelling alone. There are short tours, some that only go for a few days and longer tours that travel through many countries, could be 56 days long. Now the hard part, actually picking the right company and the right tour to go on. It can be complicated. I have been on many guided tours with so many different companies. Some I would recommend and others I would not.
I find that going to a travel agent and asking them for the brochures is a good start. This can be very overwhelming as you might walk away with ten brochures for the region you have enquired about. If you already know the type of tour you are keen to look into, then I suggest only asking for that style, possibly age groups, or comfort levels. Some tours have age restrictions. For example, under 30’s only.
The most irritating thing you can ever say to a woman who is about to leave to travel overseas by herself is.... “Aren’t you scared”. Well if I wasn’t before, now I’m wondering “Maybe I should be scared! Why aren’t I? Do they know something I don’t?”. My experience is that they are actually projecting their own fears onto you. You do not need to take on the someone else’s doubt. If you choose to fly solo on your next trip, the simple truth is that you are about to embark on a phenomenal journey. It will be the greatest thing you will ever do.
I have travelled to so many countries by myself. I can safely say the most memorable moments from my travels have been when I’ve been by myself. Every time I’ve travelled with a friend, it’s been a disaster. When I say by myself, I mean I leave the country by myself, not knowing anyone where I’m going. I’m never actually alone. I think with all my travels, I have spent one whole day and night totally by myself.
Ngorongoro Crater, yeah, good luck trying to say that. Before I got there I just called it the Crater. The way the locals say it, it sounds like gorogoro, easy enough to say. I actually hadn’t heard about it before I started research for Africa and I saw it was on all the tour itineraries. I had no idea that it would end up being more of a highlight than the Serengeti for me. The Serengeti was the place I had always dreamed of going too.
Did you ever watch Gorillas in the Mist? I remember watching it as a young girl with my Aunty. I even remember saying to her, “one day I want to see gorillas in the wild”. My Aunty responded with "wouldn't that be amazing?". She was right, years later I did that exact thing. I saw these incredible creatures in the wild, and it was truly amazing.
Everything I'm going to explain to you will not compare to that phenomenal feeling you will get if you have this experience for yourselves. Many times I had imagined what it would be like. I had imagined walking on neat tracks and then getting to a clearing and seeing a silver back with uninterrupted views. Playing with his young in a beautiful large open clearing of the jungle. Gee was I wrong.