Armenia is a severely underrated holiday destination. There are lots to see and do in the country; whether it’s the somber beauty of the monasteries surrounding Lake Sevan or the ruined seventh-century Amberd Fortress, Armenia is a country shot through with centuries of history. If you’re planning to visit this wonderful country, you’ll need to make sure that you’re adequately prepared; it simply isn’t possible to visit everything this shimmering jewel of Eastern Europe has to offer in a single trip. Here’s how to plan your first trip from the UK to Armenia.
Build up some funds
Holidays to Armenia can sometimes be less expensive than other, slightly more popular tourist destinations, but they can still be pricey. You should make sure you’ve got adequate funding before you embark on your trip. There are lots of ways to accrue enough money to travel; you could ask friends and family (with whom you’ll potentially be traveling) for help, or you could look at your savings. Alternatively, you could find a source of quick loans so you can get the money you need without any hassle. However you choose to do it, just make sure you’re well-funded before your trip.
Research where you’re going first
It’s always worth looking into where you’re going so that you can stay ahead of the curve. Some of Armenia’s most popular tourist destinations, like Republic Square or the Armenian Genocide Museum, will probably be quite busy all year round, but other places might be less packed. It’s definitely worth making sure you know when each destination is at its busiest, so you can plan your trip around that. If you want to avoid the crowds, it’s generally best to go as close to opening time as possible; crowds tend to congregate as the day goes on.
Pick your traveling buddies
Figuring out who you want to travel with is more important than you might think. While it might initially seem like a good idea to travel with family members or certain friends, you may actually find that they don’t make appropriate traveling companions. You can test this out by going on a day trip with them. If everything works out fine, then they’ll likely be good companions for a long journey. Have an honest discussion with them afterward about how you and they think the trip went. Discuss whether you think it’s a good idea to go on holiday after the trip you’ve just been on.
Research laws in Armenia
There are some important differences between Armenian law and UK law that you’ll need to know if you want to visit. An example might be issues pertaining to LGBTQ status; while homosexuality is legal in Armenia, it is unfortunately frowned upon socially, so if you’re over with your affections, you may face discrimination. Generally speaking, public displays of affection are not acceptable in Armenia, but this is sadly especially the case when it comes to gay couples. Issues like this are important to research, as they could land you in hot water without adequate preparation.
Try to remain apolitical while visiting
To as much of a degree as possible, if you’re heading to Armenia for a nice break, try to remain apolitical. Don’t get involved in discussions about political hot-button issues; stick to sightseeing, tasting the local cuisine, and giving money to local businesses. Make sure to check that the place you’re visiting welcomes travelers, because you might be heading somewhere that is hostile towards tourists, and you should respect the wishes of whoever lives where you’re going. Armenia can be beautiful, but you need to ensure that you’re experiencing it right.
This tip applies to pretty much any trip, regardless of where you’re going, but you should ensure that you’ve packed everything you need well in advance of actually heading out. The worst thing you can do is start packing late; this can result in panic, and you can quickly find yourself overwhelmed by the enormousness of the task ahead of you. Start packing a few days to a week before leaving and do a little packing each day. This way, the task won’t overwhelm you, and you’ll accomplish it swiftly and efficiently. Create a list and stick rigidly to it, allocating a place for every item within your luggage.
Learn the language
You don’t need to be fluent in Armenian if you want to get by in the country, but having a grasp of the basics will certainly help. Just a few conversational phrases - directions, asking for help, et cetera - will stand you in much better stead for exploring your chosen destination and finding where you want to go. You can even chat with Armenian locals about their home and what they like best if you’re confident enough. Apps like Duolingo can help you learn, but they’re not great knowledge bases; there’s no substitute for traditional linguistic teaching in this regard.
Learn COVID regulations
It’s an unfortunate fact of the pandemic world that we need to learn the regulations of each country we’re traveling to. At the time of writing, the UK government was not advising against all but essential travel to Armenia, as the COVID situation isn’t as dire as it once was. However, even if COVID does recede, it’s still worth knowing what Armenia’s particular regulations are when you travel. After all, countries are hit by waves of the pandemic at different stages, and the situation in the UK at any given time might not be the same as it is in Armenia.