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9 Steps to Prepare the Trip of Your Lifetime

You want to finally escape your daily routine and spend some time somewhere on a beautiful corner of the globe. Before you can experience the Statue of Liberty in New York, the Niagara Falls or piazzas in Rom an important to-do list stands between you and your trip. Because traveling or sometimes even planning a trip can be more of a stress the following simple steps will help you make your trip a memorable one.

Set a budget. It’s important to establish a budget as early as possible – even before you know your destination, travel dates or itinerary. It helps you to plan and enjoy the trip within your limits.Your task is to research the costs in your destination at the style of travel you want so you can avoid any disappointment that could arise as a result thereof. Some destinations are generally cheaper than others, but there are ways to save everywhere: travel in the off-season or pick budget accommodations. Always estimate a little more than what you might need.

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Pick a destination. Now that you know how much you can spend, where do you want to go? You have the choice of so many beautiful places all over the world to go to. Depending on your budget some might already fall away. Pick a particular site that’s on your must-see travel list, and plan your vacation around that. Picking a destination is immensly important as it gives you a definite goal. Not only will your trip become more concrete for you and easier to commit to, but it will make planning easier as well.

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Get your documents in order. Depending on your chosen destination you need some important documents. If you don’t have a passport, it will take four to six weeks from the time of application for you to receive one. So make sure to take care of this well before your trip. You already have a passport? Check its expiration date. For some countries you must have valid visas in addition to passports. Check what type of visa do you need and apply for one as early as possible because obtaining one is a complicated process and can take weeks even after you have been approved.

Consider travel insurance. There are several kinds of travel insurance, it’s much more than just medical protection. It covers you when your camera breaks, your flight is cancelled or if something is stolen. Also check your medical insurance coverage to see if you’re covered overseas. If not, you may want to purchase medical insurance to cover certain situations. It’s always the best to be prepared for the worst.

Book your flight. Because your flight will probably be the most expensive part of your trip, you’ll want to book it before anything else. This will allow you to be more flexible with your dates, which is a great way to save money on your flight. So make sure to book your flight about a few months in advance.

Create a rough itinerary. Once you have chosen your destination research sites and places you really want to explore and then figure out which ones you have the time and the budget to get to.

Book your accommodations. Once you planed a itinerary fill on some places to sleep. As is the case with pretty much everything you book for your trip, the earlier you make arrangements, the better – especially during high season. Do a bit of research and keep your eyes open for tiny bed and breakfasts, hostels or even couchsurfing. So you can save more money for other important things on your trip. It’s always better to book your stay if possible so you don’t have to worry about this at night after an exciting and exhausting day.

Pack light and right. Pack only the essential things and start thinking about what you’ll need to bring at least a week before you leave. Depending on your chosen destination, carry clothes that are comfortable and right for the season and especially for the specified weather there.

Have realistic expactations and enjoy your trip. Go on your trip and have fun! Head to the airport, board your plane and enjoy the fruits of your labor. By considering this simple steps you can better organize and prepare for your trip. So you can spend less time worrying about your travel arrangements and more time staring at pictures of castles and amazing landscapes. Enjoy the holiday by managing what you can with the time you have. Embrace each moment, whether good or bad.

 Author:Maike Schüssele

7 Reasons To Volunteer Abroad

Each year we ask us the same question “What should I do in this summer?“

We make several plans, do a lot of internet research, apply and eventually end up doing exactly the same as the summer before. This year do something different. Here are several reasons why I believe you should decide to go on a volunteering internship and have the summer of your life.

1. Exploring

Volunteering gives you a chance to explore new countries and cultures in a different way than by just travelling and sightseeing in these countries. Doing a volunteer internship shows you the country from inside out, allows you to get to know the culture, locals and their habits. You will see places and areas you would never have the possibility to go to as a tourist. Some people might have travelled the country but in doing a volunteer internship, they sometimes feel they’ve been here for the first time.

„Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.“ (Robert Frost)

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2. Connecting

Meeting many new and different people is another great aspect of volunteering. Working with young people from all over the world is a big advantage nowadays. This diversity can help you improve your soft skills and give you the opportunity to make friends across the globe. Sometimes, it’s hard to get in touch with local people as a foreigner, but as a volunteer it will be impossible not to get to know them. Another positive aspect is that for your future career, it’s important that you have the skill of adapting to different environments and work in a team with diverse people.

3. Communicating

 By communicating with people you might even soon call your friends, you’re able to improve your language skills or even learn a few words in another language. And we all know that improving language skills, especially English, is always “the yellow from the egg“.

4. Doing amazing things

 We don’t want to forget why we volunteer. Besides many positive aspects, the most important thing is that we can make a difference by helping: helping children learn English, contributing to the environment or helping the locals. For you it’s just a few weeks of exploring and helping, full of new challenges. For them it could be a life-changing interaction. Always be aware what you are able to do and change just in helping step by step.

“The world is changed by you, do something awesome!“ (Kid President)

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5. Getting to know… You

 Just dare and you will see soon that you will learn so much more about yourself than you’ve ever imagined. By volunteering you will experience so many new things and challenges. By doing so, you will truly reach and extend your limits. But in the end you will feel absolutely nothing but self-fulfilment when you look back at what you were able to do in a few weeks.

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6. Learning

After working several weeks on amazing projects and in NGO’s, you will not only improve your soft skills but also gain valuable knowledge and practical experience – for example entrepreneurial experience, which can be helpful for your personal and professional life. Volunteers don’t do it for the money; they do it for the impact.

7. Getting off the couch

Going abroad for several weeks and working there is always a challenge for oneself. You have to step outside your comfort zone and be dare, because nothing will happen if you don’t take the first step. It won’t be always easy, speaking of cultural differences and cultural shocks (be excited for our next blogpost) but you just have to break down barriers. There will always be obstacles or challenges in your life and no one can prepare you for them, but in learning how to overcome them, you will get a feeling that you’re unstoppable. So go outside, dare, challenge yourself and get the hell out of your comfort zone!

And always remember when volunteering:

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind“ (Neil Armstrong)

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Thomas stepping out of his comfort zone while volunteering in Ghana

Author: Julia Wünscher

8 Travel Must-Haves on your trip

It’s always hard to decide what you need to take with you on the trip. Most of the time it seems like you need to take every little thing that you have at home. You never know what is going to happen, right? But it ends up with you paying at least 50 Euros for the overload and you are shocked, because you still had a lot to put in your luggage! You haven’t even packed your favorite blanket and a full-sized pillow! And how about a full-sized umbrella? All right, let us help you to make your trip easier and joyful and not to stress out about unnecessary things.

First of all, please forget about the full-sized umbrella! Who are you, Mary Poppins? There are also free blankets and pillows aboard and in a train (just don’t forget to ask a conductor), so you better leave this stuff at home.

Now let’s pack your bag all over again!

1. Camera

A camera is one of the most important things you will need on your trip. You will want to picture all memories you are going to have during the exchange program. After the trip you can print your photographs, put them into a frame and use them to decorate your room. A good motivation to improve your photography skills! Your little pieces of art might also be the souvenirs from your trip, just use them as a postcard. Save money and don’t fill up your luggage with little statuettes of Christ the Redeemer (Brazil) or The Leaning Tower of Pisa (Italy). Don’t forget an extra battery. It would be really frustrating, if your camera would turn off in the middle of the Rio-de-Janeiro parade or the Venice carnival.

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2. Comfortable sneakers

Invest in a comfortable, good quality pair of sneakers. Make sure they have good breathability and water-resistant material would also be a nice addition. Hint for the girls: You don’t need to bring five pairs of shoes; sneakers go with everything!

3. Mini sewing kit

Sewing kits can be very useful for wardrobe malfunctions, missing buttons or even for the things completely unrelated to clothing such as a quick repair of a tent or jewelry quick fix. You will realize the importance of this little lightweight travel sewing kit after fixing your favorite t-shirt for free.

4. Medicine

Don’t forget all medicines that you usually take. Just in case ask your local doctor to write a recipe in English and put a stamp on it, so you won’t have a problem buying the medicaments you need abroad. It’s important to take the medicine for food poisoning, especially if you are going to a country with totally different food cuisine. Don’t forget band-aids for small cuts and wounds. If you’re heading to a tropical place like Costa-Rica, mosquito repellent is also a good idea.

5. Essential clothing

We strongly recommend taking comfy yet smart clothes that can be mixed and matched. Clothes may look light, but they are also bulky, so it is advisable to take a minimum and what you do take should be of decent quality and fit for as many purposes as possible.

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6. Wet wipes and Hand sanitizer

Wet wipes are good for freshening up after some hard travelling or hiking, if you can’t shower or getting some of the grime of world travel off you. Hand sanitizer also comes recommended particularly if you are eating on the go and this is one thing you might struggle to find abroad.

7. Pen and Paper

A pen is always great to have on international flights, since there’s usually a landing card to fill out. Throw in a pad of paper as well and you can use all that airtime to do some work, write letters, or even play Hangman with your seatmate.

8. Smart Phone

A Smart phone includes an alarm clock, a music player, a web browser, a translator and many other useful apps. You will be able to catch Wi-Fi everywhere. Well, do we even need to explain you the importance of it?

Remember, before you pack something ask yourself if you are really going to use it. Cover all possible scenarios and make a checklist of what you need, you may even realize that you’ll need to purchase a few items before leaving.

 

Hopefully, these quick tips will help you pack your bags more efficiently for your trip.

We wish you bon voyage and keep on traveling!

Author: Aigerim Mambetova