22 September 2017

Planning a 5-Month Backpacking Trip

Planning a 5-Month Backpacking Trip
Being a Hobbit for a day at Hobbiton in New Zealand

I started planning for my 5-month backpacking trip around New Zealand and South East Asia a year ago. It's still so strange to think that I've been and come back- the time has just flown by as it always does. There was so much build-up and planning beforehand that it crept up on us and after we had booked the flights to New Zealand, the few months before we went were a complete blur! Now if you're planning a trip longer than 5 months then you may want to give yourself a bit longer than 6 months before you leave, but this is essentially the main process we went through to go from deciding to go traveling to sitting on a plane.


If you want to just book the first ticket out of the country and wing it then go for it! But for those organisational freaks among us (I see you), you need to have some idea of where you want to go. Now, this sounds easier than you may think- if you've got enough funds and time to travel the world then what are you still doing here?! Go explore! If, however, you have a set budget or time limit then do a bit of research for places that fit with these two. You may decide to do what we did and hit a certain continent in one go, or you could just focus on a couple of countries. You could easily spend the same amount of time in Australia than you do in South East Asia so it's just down to what places you want to explore. 

You will find if you want to visit multiple countries that travel between each of them is pretty straightforward and you'll have plenty of options of transport. Whatever you decide, remember not to keep it set in stone. There will be certain events that will happen while you are out there that could make you change course. This could be that you are starting to run out of money and either need to cut your trip short or think about going to a country to work to fund the rest of your travels. This could also be the wonderful thing of meeting fellow travellers along the way and deciding to travel somewhere together! Don't push opportunities like this away as being spontaneous with your travel can really make your trip that bit more special. 


Something you can't ignore or run away from is the money situation. You either need to save up before heading off or fund your travels by working as you go. But it doesn't just end there as you can't just throw cash around when you're travelling. Working out how much you're going to be spending in each country and on what is super useful to help make your money stretch! I found Backpacker Banter and Lonely Planet's survival guide really useful as they give a rough estimate of what costs are like for spending a month in different countries. 

Work out how much you'll be spending each day for each of these categories: accommodation, food and drink, transport, activities and miscellaneous things like visas or big trips. Then from that daily budget add up how much you'll be spending for the time you're in that country. You then have a budget! To keep track of the budgets for each country I used the app Trail Wallet to keep an eye on what I was actually spending each day. At the end of your trip in that country, you can see how much you spent in each category to see whether you blew the budget or not. 

Remember, it's okay if you blow the budget a bit if you had fun doing it! Don't just use your money to get wasted (at least not all the time) as alcohol is a huge drain when travelling because of the tax in some countries- I'm looking at you Malaysia! We justified spending large chunks of money on big trips and attractions such Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Universal Studios in Singapore and Maerim Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand as those were things we really wanted to do.


Nine times out of ten, this is determined by commitments like work or your money situation. We've already established your budget, so let's focus on time. You may find that you are limited to the number of holiday days your job allows, in which case you're probably not looking at doing 5 months like we did! We were thinking of travelling for much longer, but I was being a bridesmaid at my friend's wedding so that capped our time at 5 months. 

Working for my mum and acting means that I was lucky in the respect that I could go back to my job when I returned home. But for others, the only other option is to quit their job and go for as long as they can! If this is the case, have a look at the places you want to go and a rough amount of time you want to spend in each place to see everything you want to. You could start off looking at 6 months, and then if you feel like you want to go for longer, then maybe try a year! 

One thing to remember like I said previously is that you should try to be spontaneous with this. Don't plan where you'll be down to the week otherwise you won't get the most out of your trip! If you like a place, stay longer. If you don't, move on to the next. Once you've reached your last country, you can start to think about booking a plane back home. 


This is where things start to get fun. This is the time where you can start planning what country you'll go to, when! If you have no clue where to start, a simple Google search will turn up lots of itineraries that will suit you. One thing to consider when you're planning this is what the weather will be like in each place. We found that it was better doing New Zealand in February as it was the end of their summer, and then we managed to only skim the monsoon season in Asia. 

Another tip that I found super useful was starring all the places I wanted to go to on Google Maps. Then, when it came to creating a route through each country, I was visually able to see a route. This also made it easy when looking for places to stay as we could make sure we were nearby the attractions we wanted to visit.


Unfortunately, it's not as simple as booking a flight and leaving. Before you go, you need to find out whether you need any vaccinations or visas for where you're going. You'll normally need vaccines for developing countries, and will need to buy malaria tablets to take with you. The NHS site fitfortravel and the gov.uk's foreign travel advice are two great sources of information about health risks and what medication you might need. Make sure you start getting your injections at least 6-8 weeks before you go to allow time between injections. I actually ended up getting my last hepatitis B injection out in New Zealand as my surgery messed up my injections, so make sure you get these done and out the way in plenty of time! 

When it comes to visas, there are a couple of options- you will either have to apply for an e-visa or send off your passport to the embassy of the country you're visiting. Or, you can just enter the country without doing a thing. Think I'm pulling your leg? Read on...

If you're from the UK or from other select countries, you are automatically given a free visa in some countries for a certain time period. Every country we visited apart from Cambodia gave us a free visa when we arrived, and this really helped the money situation!  A great place to check whether you need to pay for a visa or not is STA Travel. You can search for tourist or working visas and you can even apply for visas through them (though we did find their processing fees were sometimes a bit expensive, so do shop around on the country's official government website)!

If you do have to pay for a visa, you may be freaking out about applying for one. But believe me when I say this- it's honestly not that bad. Even when you're stood at the land border crossing and are told your visa is taking a while to process while your boyfriend has been let through...can you tell I'm talking from personal experience? If you would like, I would happily do a more detailed stand-alone post about applying for visas so do let me know if that's something you'd like to see! But for now here are some things to remember:

Most times you can apply for e-visas that will automatically apply to your passport when entering the country by plane and at some land crossings.

You can also pay for a visa on arrival, but make sure you have cash and a passport photo!

You can sometimes extend your visa while in the country.

Get your visa in plenty of time, otherwise, you'll be paying a hefty price for quicker processing times.


Those are just some tips that helped us plan our 5-month backpacking trip! I hope this was helpful to you and if you want me to talk about anything in more detail, please do let me know! I learned so much on this trip and I am happy to share it with you all!


Two Months Into Travelling New Zealand and South East Asia


  1. Five months is a long time! You cover many important things here. I especially like the reminder to make sure you have completed any necessary vaccinations required by the country to which you are visiting- this is something people don't think about

    1. It went so quickly though! So glad you liked it :) it's true and the information isn't that easy to find

  2. Five months is a long time, I couldn't imagine going away for that long, but it sounds like such an incredible experience. All of these tips are really great, and I can imagine the planning process will take a very long time xx

    Hannah | luxuryblush

    1. It was, so definitely tried to cram in as much as possible! Glad you enjoyed, it really does xx

  3. ohh realy girl thats a very long time travel period butt its full of fun.. thanks for the tips... :)
    https://wpthemesfree.website best wordpress themes

  4. Hey! I would love to know more about visas if you're ever in the mood for talking about them in a post. I always thought you had to apply months and months in advance for all of them and spend plenty of money and wondered how someone like you, that has been travelling back and forth through so many different countries, managed to get all of them - and if you ever met any problems.

    I'm not planning a trip myself as I have just moved to the UK this year and I am trying to make sure that Brexit won't kick me out in the near future, but I would love to do some travelling once my life is more stable and I have saved enough money :D The first place on my list is definitely New Zealand, as I have relatives there, but I would also like to visit Thailand and China and maybe some places in South America (probably not all of them in one trip though!).

    Martina | paperplanepond.co.uk

    1. *moved to the UK in 2017, my brain hasn't processed it's 2018 yet :P

    2. Of course, that's a great idea!