How to bag yourself a budget trip

It’s every student’s dream to jet off all around the world. But how can you do that on a shoestring (or Tesco Value stringy spaghetti) budget? We spoke to former Editor-in-Chief of Platform turned blogger Sophie Hannah about why backpacking is a great traveling option:

1.       What have you been up to since leaving Platform?

I went backpacking straight from university and went to Australia and New Zealand for 6 months. Then when I came back I moved to Cambridge for work and got my first full-time job. Over the last 4 years, I have moved from job to job, but now I work for the Spinal Injuries Association where I do their PR and marketing. I work full-time but have my travel blog on the side, so I do that on the weekends and around my job.

2.       Describe what your blog is about

Sophie’s Suitcase is an adventure lifestyle blog, and it focuses on all different aspects of travel, well-being, adventure and exploring. My niche, because I work full-time, is showing how accessible travelling is around a full-time job. It shows that you don’t need to quit your job and sell everything your own in order to go travelling! It doesn’t need to cost the earth to travel the world.

3.       Where have you been backpacking?

When I went to Australia and New Zealand, I did four months in Australia and two months in New Zealand. In New Zealand, we travelled around the North and South, and we travelled with experience. It meant that you got to see lots of places and it was fairly cheap as well. We then went to Australia and travelled down the East coast from Cairnes to Sydney. For the last part, we had a campervan, which was a really slow and steady journey. Obviously, we went to the Great Barrier Reef and Fraiser Island – lots of different places! I’ve also backpacked in South East Asia, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.

Photo courtesy of Sophie’s suitcase

4.       What’s your favourite part about backpacking?

The freedom. It’s the idea of being able to explore and not to have set rules, traveling to places that are lesser known and doing it at your own pace. You’re in full control of your route and where you want to go. Backpacking is the cheaper way of seeing the world as opposed to traveling luxury. The way of life while you’re doing it – living on a budget, being able to see places from a local’s perspective. The best part of backpacking in South East Asia was being able to wander down the streets and find a little corner shop or cafe owned by a local family, and eating there. Finding where the locals want to eat basically!

5.       What dangers should backpackers be aware of?

There are obviously dangerous places such as war zones but in terms of the touristy places… I won’t say any of them are dangerous as such, but you’ve got to be really aware of your surroundings when backpacking. Make sure you haven’t got high-end technology on you, being safe and aware of your surroundings, and the people you’re around. When people say to me they’re scared of going to, for example, South East Asia or Vietnam, and about being mugged, I say to them that that could happen in London or Nottingham too. Just because you’re further away from home, it doesn’t mean you’re particularly more at risk.

Photo courtesy of Sophie’s suitcase

6.       What are some key items that travellers should pack in their bags?

In terms of technology, I’d 100% say take a Go-Pro. They’re the best technology to use when backpacking because they’re light, easy to work, you can put them in a solar-powered bag, and they’re waterproof so you can use them for snorkeling or scuba-diving. I would also take mosquito spray – most places where you go you’ll need to protect yourself against them. A travel towel is handy too. Depending on where you’re staying and what your budget is, most hostels won’t provide towels so it’s handy to have one you can wrap up small and chuck in your backpack. They dry quite fast too, so it doesn’t matter if you have a shower and then hit the road 13 minutes later. A good quality, a secure backpack is the best thing as it will make life so much easier when you’re getting off buses, boats or trains.

7.       Is there anything else you’d like to add?

My key piece of advice for people who are leaving uni and want to go backpacking is to take everything in your stride. You’re completely in control but don’t try to plan too much, as when you arrive you may find something else you want to do or you might make friends you want to go to certain places with. Sit back and enjoy the journey, no matter how cliché it sounds!

Interview by Eve Smallman

Find out more travel tips from Sophie at

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