Travel Questions – The Top 15 Questions Asked

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Below you will find the most commonly asked travel questions that I have received in relation to traveling. Many of these questions are asked by people who have never travelled before and who have some fears attached to the idea. Traveling should be a fun and exciting time, but doing anything new (whatever it is) will always cause a certain level of concern, so hopefully the answers I’ve given should provide the reassurance needed for people to take the plunge and go traveling.

I have split these questions into three main areas: General Travel Questions, Traveling Alone & Meeting People and Staying at Hostels, as these are the three areas that I feel most people have trouble with.

It’s likely that you’ll have more questions come up as you go, whether they’re about travel health and safety (i.e. how to stay healthy while you’re on the road), round the world travel or backpacking. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us, as we’ll look to answer any that you may have!

General Travel Questions

Q. I don’t speak any foreign languages. Will I be okay traveling abroad?

A. As long as you speak English (which you probably do if you’re reading this!) you can get by in almost any country in the world (as it’s commonly spoken – at least partially – in so many other countries). In addition to this, everyone understands the basic sign language (such as pointing at things or using your fingers to illustrate amounts of money/items). That being said, having the ability to communicate with the local people you meet along the way will make your trip a lot more interesting, so it’s worth learning some of the basics of their language (such as ‘thank you’, ‘hello’, ‘how much?’, etc). Common phrases such as these are well documented in local guide books (such as the ‘Lonely Planet’ and ‘Rough Guides’ books).
The longer you’re planning to spend in a country, the more of the language you should attempt to learn. You’ll find that local people will appreciate you making an effort to learn their language.


Q. Where will I stay while I’m traveling?

A. Typically, when you’re traveling you’ll be staying mostly in hostels and hotels. Most people worry about finding accommodation while they’re away, but as long as you’re traveling in a (reasonably) tourist friendly country, you should never have any problems whatsoever. If you’re following a well-trodden traveler’s trail (such as traveling overland from Bali to Bangkok) than you’ll probably find that you never have to book any accommodation in advance, as there are so many places and rooms available on the way. If you’re traveling to an area during a public holiday (or where there’s a large event taking place – such as the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan) you should definitely book accommodation in advance. You should also make sure you have a place booked for your first couple of nights away, because after a long plane journey you don’t want to be wondering round the streets looking for a place to stay.


Q. How do I find accommodation while traveling?

A. If you have a guide book for the area, it will give you a list of their top recommended hostels/hotels. In addition to this, you can use websites such as HostelWorld.com and HostelBookers.com to book a place in advance. These websites are great because they allow you to search for a hostel in the area you’re visiting and read customer reviews of it.


Q. Should I book accommodation in advance or just turn up on the day?

A. This largely depends on where you’re going and on the time you’re arriving. If you’re visiting an area off the beaten track, on a public holiday than it’s best to book in advance. If, however, you’re visiting a major tourist area then you can get away with just turning up on the day and asking around to see which places have rooms available.


Q. How do I protect my valuables while traveling?

A. Most hostels will have lockers that you can store your valuables in, so make sure to bring a strong padlock with you. While you’re out and about, keep your money in a money belt or a money pouch. These are like small ‘fanny packs’ that are concealed by your clothing. Another good tip is to carry and old wallet with you with a few coins of the local currency. That way, if you come across a pickpocket, they’ll only steal your wallet (with a tiny amount of money in it).


Q. How do I keep in touch with the people at home while I’m away? Should I bring my cell phone?

A. There are actually a few options here. Emailing your friends and family back home is by far the cheapest option, as internet cafes can be found fairly easily in any major town or city these days. If you want to speak to them on the phone, call them on a pay phone (either by buying a pre-paid card or by paying by the minute).

Most people are tempted to bring their cell phone with them, but this is often a bad idea. Firstly, overseas calls from a cell phone are extortionate, and if you’ve got a smart phone (with internet access) and you have your ‘roaming’ turned on (i.e. you have it connected to the internet), you’ll have to pay for all of the data being sent back and forth, even if you have free mobile internet back home. Secondly, cell phones are very attractive items to thieves, so don’t bring one that you can’t bear losing.

If you absolutely must bring your phone with you (and your phone has been ‘unlocked’), buy a pre-paid SIM card while you’re away and use that instead of your own SIM card as it’ll be cheaper, and don’t forget to turn the ‘roaming’ feature off!

Traveling Alone & Meeting People

Q. I’m traveling on my own, and I’m worried that I won’t meet anyone…

A. As long as you’re staying in hostels or going to tourist areas, you’re bound to meet plenty of other travelers. The first few days of traveling solo can be tough, and you’ll have to push yourself to make the effort to meet other people, but once you’ve done it a few times you’ll realize how easy it is and how friendly 99% of people are.


Q. Are there any groups that help independent travelers meet each other?

A. You have two options here: You can go on an organized tour with a group of other people (such as Trek America), or you can join a travel network/society, meet people on there and then plan your trip independently. Two of the most highly used online travel networks are www.Gapyear.com/travelmates and www.Companions2Travel.co.uk (for UK travelers). In addition to this, most large towns and cities will have their own travel groups. These are great because you know that all of the members are from your area (which makes traveling together easier).


Q. Where are good places to meet travelers?

A. In my experience, hostels are the best places to meet other travelers. Local bars and pubs are also good (when I say ‘local’ I mean close to the hostel). Don’t be afraid to go up to people and say Hello. Just relax, be friendly, smile and enjoy yourself, and you shouldn’t have any problems meeting other travelers!


Q. Is going on an organized tour group a good idea?

A. It can be. Organized tours are great for first time travelers, as everything is taken care for you. They’re also great for solo travelers, as you’ll be traveling with a group of other people for the entirety of your trip. That being said, they do offer you less freedom and room for maneuverability, and you may feel like you’re being rushed from one place to the next without really having the time to appreciate it.

Staying at Hostels

Q. What is a hostel?

A. Hostels are like inexpensive hotels with a community aspect. They provide lodging, food and entertainment, and are aimed at travelers and backpackers. Multiple guests will often share the same room, and the community kitchen and lounge areas make them great places to meet like-minded travelers.


Q. Are hostels safe?

A. Most definitely yes! Like most places, hostels are extremely safe so long as you employ common sense. Hostels will provide lockers for you to store your valuables in (so make sure to bring a padlock), and most people that stay in hostels are friendly and trustworthy. The most common fear with staying in hostel is that you’ll have something stolen. As long as you keep your valuables locked up and you keep the rest of your gear (i.e. your backpack) in your room (preferably under the bed) you shouldn’t have a problem.


Q. Do I need a special membership to stay at a hostel?

A. No. Some hostels do offer discounts for membership holders, however. Becoming a member of Hostelling International is a good idea if you plan to stay in a lot of hostels, as they offer discounts in hundreds of hostels all around the world.


Q. Is there an age limit to staying in a hostel?

A. In most hostels (i.e. in backpacker’s hostels) there is no age limit and everyone is welcome. Hostels that are part of the International Youth Hostel Federation (or that are advertised as ‘youth hostels’) may have an age limit (making them only available to people of 25 years old and under).


Q. What are the rooms like in hostels? What are dormitories?

A. Dormitories (also known as ‘dorm’ rooms) are similar to what you might see at an army barracks (although they’re far friendlier!) There is no limit on the amount of beds that there’ll be in a room, and they can range from 4 beds all the way up to 20+.

Dormitories are a great place to meet people (especially if you’re traveling alone). The beds used may be bunk beds or single beds. Some hostels have mixed dorms (i.e. male and female), some have single-sex only dorms and some have a mix of both.

Most hostels (in addition to having dormitories) will also have double or private rooms. These usually only contain 2-4 beds (or even one double bed) and are much more private than dormitories.

Double rooms or private rooms can consist of 2 or more single beds up to 4 in a room or a double bed. Check with each individual hostel for their exact room arrangements. Often hostels will only have a few private rooms, so it’s best to book ahead if you want to secure one.


Q. What kinds of facilities are typically available in hostels?

A. Typically, a hostel will have a kitchen (which can be used by everyone), a lounge area (which will probably have a TV) and communal bathrooms/toilets. In dormitories, lockers are often provided for you to safely store your valuables in. Many hostels now also have internet access. Some hostels will let you use their computer for free, whereas others may charge you for the amount of time you spend on there (e.g. $1 per 30 mins).

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