Macca Sherifi is no stranger to adventure. In 2009 he set off on a trip that lasted for 20 months, never settling in one place for more than a week or two. He’s backpacked, volunteered and worked abroad, been the editor of a travel website and spoken at a number of travel events around the UK.
All that travel leads to some pretty serious knowledge – and now he’s only gone and released a FREE e-book. Your Round the World Trip Planner is aimed at 17 – 35 year olds planning their first big trip, and is designed to give you all the info you need to know before you go.
We caught up with the author to ask him a couple of all-important questions about travel, touring and erm, Turkish baths.
Q1. If you could go back in time to before you set off on your big trip and tell yourself only one piece of advice from this book, what would it be?
What a first question! It would be: "if you are seriously ill, go to the doctor."
On my round the world trip, I got seriously ill three times, and each time took out two to three weeks of my trip trying to recover.
Being a stereotypical backpacker, I didn't want to spend a penny on anything other than accommodation, food and having a good time, and I certainly didn't want to spend money on going to a hospital.
The problem was - and this is where my advice comes in - I spent much more time and money trying to make myself better than paying someone to do it for me.
Also, my insurance would have covered it all, so my decision to do nothing on each occasion was definitely the wrong one!
I would go as far as to say the chapter 'How to Stay Healthy on Your Round the World Trip' is probably the most informative and useful in my book.
Q2. What are the benefits of planning your trip rather than showing up and hoping for the best?
I think there are three major benefits of planning your trip, and I think they all follow on from each other. The knowledge you gain from researching your trip gives you the confidence to travel the world, and from there you start to anticipate seeing certain sites and attractions.
For example, if you research where you are going beforehand, you will learn all about the country, the capital city, the currency, and a number of other things too. This means, when you finally arrive there, you won't be completely overwhelmed by the situation and you'll have the confidence to know exactly what you are doing.
Secondly, there's the anticipation. If you've done your research, you will know what all the major sites and attractions are in a particular place. Knowing this will make you damn excited when it finally comes around to your trip!
Your Round the World Trip Planner is supposed to give you the knowledge and confidence to travel the world; it really is everything you need to know before you go.
Q3. Pace it or race it – which do you prefer when you travel? And which is the better option for new travellers?
I much prefer to pace it. Only then do you get to know a country inside-out.
Even though we talk about round the world trips as going all the way round the world in a circle, I don't really see them as that.
I would argue it's much better to spend six months travelling around South America or Southeast Asia as opposed to doing your average round the world trip of UK - Thailand - Australia - New Zealand - USA - UK. That way, you really get to know an area of the world, and you really get to immerse yourself in the local culture as opposed to seeing just a section of it.
I go into this a lot in Your Round the World Trip Planner, but at the end of the day it all comes down to what type of person you are and what you want from your trip. That's where my second chapter comes into play!
Q4. When – or for what type of person – would you recommend a tour over independent travel?
Easy question. I would say there are two types of people:
Firstly, I would recommend a tour to first-time travellers aged 17 to 21-year-olds to start off their round the world trip. You're always guaranteed to meet a bunch of like-minded people, and it gives you that little confidence boost you need to go off on your own trip.
Secondly, I would recommend a tour to independent travellers who know they'll be spending large amounts of time alone on their trip. Often, meeting people is easier said than done; if you go to under-travelled countries and there aren't many people to meet, there's not much you can do about it!
That's where tours come in - again, you're always guaranteed to meet people.
Q5. Lastly, can you admit to something that you were embarrassingly naïve about when you first started travelling?
Budapest in Hungary is really famous for its Turkish baths. Now, there's a bit of etiquette when it comes to the baths - 99% of the time you wear swimming shorts, but by doing so you've got to accept the fact that you might have to lose them if it's a male only naked bath, and you accept that fact because that's the normal way of doing things.
Well, when I was in Budapest, I went to one of the male only naked baths 100% certain it was indeed that; a naked bath. So, there I walked out in my birthday suit with confidence that this was the right thing to do.
It was only when I got into the first bath that I realised everyone was looking at me with disgust on their faces. It was around that time I also realised they were all wearing loin clothes; I was the only one naked.
I have never been more psyched out of a situation, and after about three minutes of sitting there awkwardly, I decided to go back to the changing rooms and put swimming shorts on.
At some point on your trip you're going to mess up - that's a fact - but as long as you minimise the damage and do it with a smile on your face you'll be fine. At the end of the day, it's the times we mess up most that gives us the best stories!
For those people looking to go on a jaunt through Europe or an epic round the world trip, you can download Your Round the World Trip Planner for FREE. It's got all the advice and information on everything you need to know before you go.
Depending on what device you've got and from which country you are downloading from, you can find the full list of links on Macca's website.