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    How to Travel Like a Local

    For me, travel is all about learning about and understanding different cultures as well as, seeing first hand how the locals of a country live.

    And what better way to achieve this than to travel like the locals do?

    Not only does travelling like a local benefit backpackers as they’re able to get a true taste of a culture but, it also contributes to the community and puts their money where it’s really needed.

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    How Much Should you Budget for Travelling in India?

    Although money is something, which you never want to have to think about when it comes to travelling, unfortunately, it plays a vital role in deciding where you can travel to and what you can to do when you get there.

    India is known for being an extremely cheap place to travel, which it definitely is! However, as soon as you head closer to the touristy areas (especially in the South) you will notice the prices of food, drink and accommodation shoot up.

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    Why I Chose World Nomads Travel Insurance…

    If you have ever tried to purchase travel insurance (especially for a longstay trip) you will feel my pain.

    Insurance is one of the most important things to tick off of your pre-travel checklist however, where do you even begin? There are SO many different companies to choose from and SO many different levels of cover to consider, that it can all get a little bit mind-boggling.

    I have spent the last two to three months sifting through different travel insurance websites, comparing prices, reading reviews, scouting for people who have had experience of making a claim, weighing up the different levels of cover, analysing the policies wordings and questioning whether my well-being is actually worth this tedious research (I joke)… but insurance is important and I didn’t want to regret my decision later on down the line hence, my extensive search.

    I first came across World Nomads through a post on travel insurance by Nomadic Matt (very helpful!) and from then on, this company seemed to crop up all over the place. Recommended by Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, Nat Geo Adventure, the list goes on, I knew from the get go that World Nomads would be a very good company to go with. However,  I had the slight problem that it was a weeeeee bit more expensive than I’d hoped to spend. Therefore, the search went on…

    I researched and researched for cheaper policies with similar coverage and came across some, which were as cheap as £200 for a year. So, why did I still end up booking through World Nomads, I hear you say? Here are my top reasons for paying a bit more to go with a better, well recommended company:

    They allow you to travel on a one-way ticket

    Unlike a lot of other companies, World Nomads allow you to travel on a one-way ticket, making it ideal for long term travellers who, like me, do not have a fixed itinerary/return date. They also don’t mind if you to take out a policy whilst you are already overseas.

    There is no limit to how long you can take out a policy for

    Again, unlike any other company I came across, World Nomads have no restrictions on how long you can have a policy with them for. Although you can only take out a policy for up to 18 months at a time, you can extend/renew it online, which will then automatically issue it as a new policy if it exceeds the 18 month limit (please note, you must extend/renew your policy before your previous one runs out).

    They come highly recommended

    World Nomads wouldn’t be recommended by the biggest names in the travel industry if they hadn’t proven their worth!

    Their customer service is great

    I called their customer service line on multiple occasions with lots of different questions and they not only picked up the phone (there were a couple of companies, which I called and didn’t get an answer once… not very reassuring!) but also answered all of my questions quickly and efficiently.

    They cover everything I wanted my policy to cover

    Medical cover is a given however, every insurance policy varies in its level of excess and cover. Cancellation, curtailment, missed departure, travel delay, money and travel documents… not every policy covers everything so, make sure you check you’re covered for all that is important and relevant to you. I, for instance, wanted to ensure that I was covered for political unrest and natural disaster and therefore, went for World Nomad’s Explorer Package rather than their standard one.

    Their website is a community of backpackers 

    World Nomad’s website is not just a place for you to go and purchase your travel insurance, it has been created into a community of like-minded travellers. They offer forums where you can ask any question you’d like about your travels as well as, scholarship and partnership opportunities.

    They support charities

    Each policy that is purchased from World Nomads gives you the option to donate to charity as a way to give back to the communities we travel through. A very important and heartwarming sentiment.

    They allow you to add gadget cover at a reasonable price

    Although some of your gadgets/belongings may be covered under your main policy, these days, most travellers (especially us bloggers) carry a fair bit of expensive equipment, which will need to be insured separately. World Nomads allow you to add specified, high-value items to your policy (at a premium), which cover your valuables for up to £2,000 with a £750 limit per item without depreciation being applied. Winner winner, chicken dinner…

    Admittedly, it took me a while to accept the importance of not scrimping on my travel insurance. It is very easy to see insurance as throwing money away… until something goes wrong!! You’ll be so thankful you are covered if, touch wood, anything were to happen to you along the way. I ended up paying £350 for a year long Explorer policy with World Nomads, which works out at around 95p a day, not bad eh?!

    Happy and safe travels!!

    N.B. Please note this is not a sponsored post and all opinions are my own. 

    The Perks of Volunteering

    Whilst backpacking through India during my gap year, I decided to book myself onto a six week volunteer program. As I was travelling solo and was going to be starting my English degree when I got home, I thought volunteering would be a great way for me to meet some like-minded people whilst also, getting experience teaching English to people who really needed/wanted to learn it.

    During my project I taught English to children between the ages of two and fifteen in a Day Care Centre in a slum in Jaipur. It was an eye-opening and unforgettable experience, which I would recommend to any traveller.

    Therefore, if you are on the fence about whether you should book yourself onto a program, here are my top perks of volunteering to push you straight over that fence:

    The Perks of Volunteering - Bedroom - My Culture Craving

    Most projects include food and accommodation 

    Although many volunteer programs can be off-puttingly pricey, most projects include food and accommodation in the price. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about budgeting for these necessities whilst you are there.

    As well as this, the daily meals tend to be cooked by locals, which means you get the chance to sample authentic cuisine that you may not have otherwise stumbled upon.

    The Perks of Volunteering - Swimming - My Culture Craving

    You will meet other travellers

    Whilst volunteering, you are bound to meet travellers from all over globe who have come from completely different walks of life. During my time in India, I made friends with people from Canada, USA, France, England, Poland, Ireland, the list goes on. 

    On top of this, if you’re travelling solo, volunteering is the perfect way to ensure you make new friends (ooooo travelling friends) and find potential travel companions for any other trips you may have planned.

    I was lucky enough to meet a girl from the UK who I ended up travelling around India with for a week or so. This cut down the time I was travelling alone considerably and, meant I had a pal to ‘cheers’ my Kingfisher with at the end of a long day of sightseeing.

    The Perks of Volunteering - Teaching - My Culture Craving

    You will be thrown head first into a country’s culture

    By volunteering you get the invaluable opportunity to be thrown head first into a country’s culture. Although wandering around a buzzing bazaar or visiting a well-known temple gives you an insight into the religion and culture of a country, it doesn’t even scrape the surface of the reality of how many people live.

    Volunteering exposes you to this reality.

    It wasn’t until I approached the slum I volunteered in, weaved my way through the back alleys of the houses where sewage and rubbish cluttered the walkway and entered the dark, box room, which was where I was going to be teaching my classes, that it dawned on me that this was the children and their family’s reality. But they didn’t mind. They were so incredibly happy, friendly and content.

    It is insights such as these, which are not readily available for tourists to see and ones that I feel, are the most important.

    I had the chance to visit the kids homes, chat with their parents about their outlook on the importance of health and education for their children, try staple food dishes, which were cooked and served in an Indian household and even had a sari top tailored by the local seamstress!

    These are all cultural experiences, which I would not have encountered without volunteering.

    The Perks of Volunteering - Culture - My Culture Craving

    You will get to talk to locals

    Volunteering is the perfect opportunity to have a good ol’ chinwag with the locals.

    You can ask them questions about the culture, religion, politics and traditions of their country, which you wouldn’t necessarily be able to ask a stranger on the street and believe me, you’ll probably be surprised by a lot of the answers…

    Favourite Moments of Travel - Indian Wedding - My Culture Craving

    You will get opportunities you might not have otherwise been offered

    It is likely that where you will be living,  you’ll be surrounded by locals on a daily basis – the cooks, cleaners, project managers, translators etc. will all be from the area, meaning, you might get great opportunities, which you wouldn’t have otherwise been offered.

    A few weeks into my program, I had the once-in-a-lifetime chance to go to an Indian Wedding (read about my experience here), which was one of the most fascinating and memorable experiences of my time travelling.

    There is no way I would have been lucky enough to go, if it hadn’t been for one of the project managers inviting us.

    The Perks of Volunteering - Classroom - My Culture Craving

    You will make a big difference to the lives of others 

    So far, most of the perks I have mentioned above have been, to put it rather bluntly, daymmmm right selfish (check out my post on the ‘Philosophical Question of Volunteering’, where I have written about this in a bit more depth).

    And this is why I have left the most obvious and most important benefit of volunteering until last – making a difference to the lives of people in need. Although all of the advantages above are great reasons to volunteer, the desire to help others, tends to be at the root of wanting to partake in one of these programs.

    There isn’t anything more rewarding than helping people who are less fortunate than ourselves… especially when it is so appreciated.

    I came away from my project very teary eyed, but knowing that I had (hopefully) taught the children a considerable amount of English, drummed into them the importance of hygiene and had a lot of fun playing games, singing and laughing…

    SO, have I pushed you over that fence yet ;)?

    If you’re still unsure about whether you want to book onto a volunteer project, please comment, Facebook or Tweet me. I’d love to help/answer any questions you might have!