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Koh Phi Phi, Thailand | © Tyshchenko Photography/Shutterstock
Koh Phi Phi, Thailand | © Tyshchenko Photography/Shutterstock
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20 Things to Know About Travelling in Your 20s

Picture of Alex Jordan
Travel Editor
Updated: 19 September 2017
Your 20s are a decade in which to broaden your horizons and there’s no better way to do that than by travelling as much as you can. Not all the experiences you encounter will be positive but that’s the point. Here are some useful things to consider before your next adventure.

Travel light

Leave room in your bag for memories. Take only the absolute essentials and you’ll be freer to explore new possibilities you encounter.

Take advantage of your freedom

You’ll never have fewer commitments, so spend that time wisely and book off-peak. See more places and visit out of tourist season for an authentic experience.

Learn to cook one local dish

Expand your repertoire of dishes by learning one recipe from each country you visit. Impress your friends back home with a delicious Moroccan tagine or home-made Italian pasta dish.

Grinding chillies in West Java, Indonesia | © Maulistya/Shutterstock
Grinding chillies in West Java, Indonesia | © Maulistya/Shutterstock

Learn to make one local cocktail

The same goes for drinks. A well-made dawa can transport you back to Kenya, while an authentic Manhattan will have you longing for your time in the Big Apple.

Hang out with locals

Make friends in towns and cities around the world. Not only will you broaden your horizons but you’ll also have a couch to crash on next time you visit.

Don’t be afraid to travel solo

Take the opportunity to spend some time in your own company. New experiences are amazing when shared with friends, but you’ll find them equally rewarding in a different way when travelling alone.

Find more than just yourself in Florence | © RossHelen/Shutterstock
Find more than just yourself in Florence | © RossHelen/Shutterstock

Challenge yourself

Throw yourself in at the deep end. Avoid comforts that will stop you from experiencing a new culture to the fullest. Try the language, taste a dubious delicacy and hunt down that bar all the locals rave about, even if it’s miles away.

Go off the beaten track

A guide book is a great way of accessing new destinations, but the experiences you really remember are the ones you can’t find online or in the pages of a book.

Travel slow

Take the train, bus or walk whenever you can. American-Canadian author William Gibson describes travelling by plane as ‘soul lag’. You may arrive but your soul plays catch up for days.

Be like the dutch and grab a bicycle | © RossHelen/Shutterstock
Be like the dutch and grab a bicycle | © RossHelen/Shutterstock

Travel with purpose

Be in the moment as often as you can. You’ll see and hear things that tell you more about the people and places you’re visiting than if you’re tuned in.

Make the most of each day

Wake up early and go to bed late. Sleep when you’re back, you’ll regret letting tiredness get in the way of a great opportunity.

Blend in

If you want to have an authentic experience try and stand out as little as possible. Dressing like a local will help you move through the streets quicker and probably save you some money too.

Smile

Part of every seasoned traveller’s arsenal. There’s nothing more contagious and will help you make new friends and open up new experiences.

Don't forget to smile | © Aila Images/Shutterstock
Don’t forget to smile | © Aila Images/Shutterstock

Do your research

Plan for the worst case scenario and work backwards. What if your wallet gets stolen or you lose your phone? Be aware of your surroundings and figure out what’s the most cost effective way to travel, whether taking a prepaid credit card, cash or using a mobile bank.

Stay a while

The freedom of travelling in your 20s means that if you fall in love with a destination you can work there for a few months. This will give you a deeper understanding of the culture and a new perspective on the working world back home.

Be honest with yourself

Sometimes the people you meet while travelling might be perfect for your situation, but the key is knowing when to say goodbye to avoid getting stuck on a path you didn’t intend when you set off.

Learn new skills

Try something you wouldn’t normally do back home. You’re more open to new experiences when travelling, so why not learn samba in Rio de Janeiro or stand up paddle boarding in California and pick up a skill for life?

Surfing lessons | © Daxaio Productions/Shutterstock
Surfing lessons | © Daxaio Productions/Shutterstock

Practise key phrases

Like smiling, learning how to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in the local language goes a long way. Even better if you can learn how to compliment someone on their cooking or hospitality and they will be eager to help you further.

Keep a record

It’s amazing how one photograph, tweet or blog entry can trigger hundreds of memories. It might seem tedious at the time but document as much of your journey as possible and you’ll be able to relive it countless times years later.

It will give you new perspectives

Embrace the way you’ll feel about your life back home. Being abroad might make you realise you want a different way of life to the one you’re used to. Maybe you connect with a culture that’s not the one you were born into.

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