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[31M]First time going overseas, is 2-3 months too much?

Sydney, Australia
4 posts
[31M]First time going overseas, is 2-3 months too much?

I'm planning a trip to Guatemala, Mexico and possibly some time in Belize (San Ignacio, possibly Hopkins) mostly to stay and lean Spanish in Xela and check out some of the Mayan sites (hopefully Aztec stuff if I get to Mexico City too) but having never been overseas before is it a bit too ambitious to go for 8 weeks possibly as much as 12? I am not cashed up, it will be on a shoestring but I have enough to cover 8 weeks I think, the reason for thinking of 2-3 moths is to not rush the trip but also because I will be out of a job soon (company in decline) so I figure it might be better to use the end of the line at work as a chance to travel for longer than I can whilst in a job.

I will be going alone but hoping to spend longer periods (up to 4 weeks) in Antigua, Xela and Lake Atitlan in the beginning before going on the travel scene to the likes of San Cristobal, Palenque, Flores, San Ignacio and possibly ending in Mexico City.

Even 4 weeks seems a bit rushed to me, I could cut it down to 6 but 4 weeks would pretty much just see me doing a bit of Guatemala.

12 replies to this topic
Level Contributor
299 posts
11 reviews
1. Re: [31M]First time going overseas, is 2-3 months too much?

If you haven't travelled solo before, the best is to try traveling closer to home for a few days and see if you like it. Solo travel is not everyone's cup of tea. For some, the loneliness is too much. For others who post here, solo travel is an elixir.

Have you travelled solo within your country? More importantly, where are you from? Shoestring depends upon what your currency is and what your lifestyle is like.

r c
Portland, Oregon
Level Contributor
10,043 posts
1 review
2. Re: [31M]First time going overseas, is 2-3 months too much?


Remember that travel is a do over!

You also need to put your location in your profile.

Drpending on YOU, 1 week maybe too much. There was a poster thet turned around and wemt home at the arriving airport.

You NEED to figure this out for yourself. No one can tell you this. And you may leearn your limits on your trip too.

If you could i would do a short one first to see how you like and do, but with your job sit, it may not happen.

$$$$ and time is always a factor. So consider them both.

You will want to check on vaccinations and VISAs too.

What you may want to comsider is getting your viccinatioms anyway since some last lifetime or years. That way it will be 1 less "cost" and thing you need to worry. If an impromptu trip happems, you can go.

Personally i wpuld be really concerned about $$$$. You need it and once you get back what will you do. If you can have a nest egg at home so that you have time to lok for a (better) job and maybe with mor vacation.

I live in usa and its norm to get 2 weeks. My 1st job took me 10 years to get 4 weeks then they closed.

From what i hear that europe gives more vac. If you can in your job search make sure its part of the package.

Good luck

Destination Expert
for Kent, Solo Travel
Level Contributor
15,110 posts
141 reviews
3. Re: [31M]First time going overseas, is 2-3 months too much?

Hello jumble_track and welcome to the solo forum.

Wow... what an interesting trip! As you aren't rushing back for a job, it seems an ideal time to take an extended trip.

Everyone has a budget, & different energy levels. So what suits you may not suit me. The longest trip I"ve ever taken was for 8 weeks, & on a very low budget! My trip would have been longer, but I ran out of money.

Cash is probably the deciding factor for your travels, especially if you still have domestic bills, like rent/mortgage and utility bills to maintain. You may also need to keep some funds to keep you afloat until you get a new job.

With a multi destination trip, research is much more important than for a fly and flop 2 week break. You'll need to factor in 'hidden' financial matters, like comprehensive insurance, possible visa fees (& application processes), banking & currency costs. The relatively high costs of internal flights within South America is also a consideration.

If you haven't taken a solo trip before, you may want to read the info item called Top 100 Tips for Planning a Solo Trip, held in the Top Questions box. It's the collective wisdom of many fellow solo travellers and isn't destination specific. The Bargain Forum also has a series of info items from their "Know How To...." range and include topics like air travel, insurance etc. Also in the Top Questions box.

Flights are going to take the biggest bite out of your budget. Due to the vast distances within South America, you may have to mix long distance bus/coach travel with flights, but it's a compromise between cost and time. The Air Travel forum may be able to suggest both carriers and routes to help you maximise both your budget and your time. It's a very busy forum, and also has invaluable info items in their respective Top Questions box. One of the main themes in the Air Travel forum is NOT to book with a 3rd party website, but to book directly with an airline.

As you aren't sure if you can sustain a 2 to 3 month trip, you may want to think about a fully flexible return ticket for your flight home. There are advantages and disadvantages. If you need or want to come home earlier than intended, you can change your homeward flight without incurring change penalties (subject to the usual T & C's) The main disadvantage is the cost. A fully flexible ticket is more expensive, but, in general a 'walk up' flight can be massively more expensive than a return. You'll have to weigh up the benefits yourself.

BTW..the trip advisor phone app is far too limited to support all this info, so you'll need a pc/laptop/tablet to access the Top Questions and info items.

Energy levels. travel fatigue, loneliness, homesickness? This effects everyone in different ways. Some people find 'slow travel' a better fit for them. Other people find their expectations quite different from their travelling realities. As you are just a wee bit older, you'll know yourself better, & perhaps be better able to take the rough with the smooth. You'll know yourself when you've had enough and want to come home.

My advice is to basically research as much as you can, plan as much as possible, but be prepared to alter your plans as circumstances dictate.

Good luck!

Level Contributor
52,580 posts
22 reviews
4. Re: [31M]First time going overseas, is 2-3 months too much?

Yes I think it's WAY too much to jump into on your first trip!!!

On a shoestring, new to travel, new to Mexico/Central America, never traveled... I mean everyone has to start somewhere but why not start with easier logistics and a less complicated and lengthy adventure?

I would start out with something a lot easier... like one month in one country. Mexico is hugely diverse but more developed than some of the places you mentioned. You could pick 3-4 cities all within Mexico and have a decent first experience, while developing your "travel chops" before attempting a more ambitious trip in the future.


Edited: 20 September 2018, 22:55
Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
12,344 posts
157 reviews
5. Re: [31M]First time going overseas, is 2-3 months too much?

Yes this seems ambitious, but I also understand the timing and reasoning. If you start in Spanish school, you will have the benefits of easing into the culture, but you might find (if is the case) that changing locations and schools every few weeks to be counterproductive. If it is one 4 week school with travel to the other areas, then that is a solid basis.

However, Mexico City is a long distance from either Xela or Belize. I recognize that the Maya history is in Guatemala, as it is in Belize and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. In proximity, these may fit better, and it could be interesting to see the differences between the culture - geographically. Yucatan is very rich with archeological sites and might be worth a few weeks in itself.

Otherwise, stay longer in Guatemala, forego Belize and head up to Mexico City and whatever Aztec ruins are along the way.

It is a lot to bite off at once, and as said, travel can be a 'do over', but the flip side is that if you need to cut it short, despite the extra flight costs - you can.

Level Contributor
52,580 posts
22 reviews
6. Re: [31M]First time going overseas, is 2-3 months too much?

Good point above. To "stay and learn Spanish" ... the longer in one place the better. I think you'd want at least a month to commit to a Spanish course or class or immersion. And obviously that'd be in Mexico or Guadamala, not Belize :)

Edited: 21 September 2018, 00:34
England, United...
Destination Expert
for Somerset, Solo Travel, Exmoor National Park
Level Contributor
35,567 posts
111 reviews
7. Re: [31M]First time going overseas, is 2-3 months too much?

It does seem a long time but you know yourself best.

I did 7 weeks in Oz between jobs. I don't regret it one bit but coming home to no work wasn't great.

Now I spend a lot of time on my own quite happily but I did begin to find it tough going at a couple of points and even then I started by visiting a friend for a few nights and everyone spoke my language. I was able to access libraries, do hobbies etc.

It may help that you are doing different countries so there is stimulation, variety and excitement there.

If you think you can enjoy a longer time and will be learning Spanish that is going to give you credit looking for work when you return. You're showing initiative and independence and organisation and return with a new skill. Also you return refreshed. Employers should see that as a big plus.

But I agree, if you can find the time to do a week away on your own somewhere that would help you see if you're suited and help you iron out anything you need to add to your trip or take with you.

But I do think it's a really good point in time to do a big trip.

Edited: 21 September 2018, 01:30
Level Contributor
52,580 posts
22 reviews
8. Re: [31M]First time going overseas, is 2-3 months too much?

<I am not cashed up, it will be on a shoestring>

Just as a general rule of thumb for budget traveling... your money goes further if you stay in each place longer and don't try to move around so much.

Level Contributor
10,941 posts
81 reviews
9. Re: [31M]First time going overseas, is 2-3 months too much?

A shoestring budget means different things to different people, Please give us a specific number for your planned trip like $5000 or 3000 pds or whatever currency you use at home.

Also remember once the vacation ends reality will hit again and you will you need money for housing and food back at home. Do you have plans for a job?

Level Contributor
52,580 posts
22 reviews
10. Re: [31M]First time going overseas, is 2-3 months too much?

If the shoestring budget can cover a 3-month trip, I would rather do only a 2 month trip and not have to worry quite so much over having enough money.

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