Long-term travel: top tips for a fulfilling trip


 

Kate Morgan 16 July, 2012

Most of us have fantasised about ditching the daily grind of the office job and domestic duties for a one-way ticket to happiness. Now more people are taking action in striving for a more meaningful existence, and travel is at the top of the list.

The ease of leveraging digital technology is giving rise to a new workforce – digital nomads. It’s now possible to work from any far-flung corner of the world. Couple this with the increase in budget airlines offering low-cost airfares and the dream is fast becoming a reality for a lot of people.

While there’s no doubt long-term travel can be a rich and rewarding experience, it does come with its own set of challenges. These tips will help you maintain your new nomadic lifestyle – and avoid chucking it all in after a few weeks.

Pack like a pro

Pack very light. This is an obvious tip but one that can’t be underestimated. Invest in a good lightweight backpack from a reputable store that can fit you for the right size and weight. Don’t stock up on basic toiletries at home, you can buy items like shampoo, soap and toothpaste anywhere and you’ll find a lot of hostels now supply these, so avoid the extra weight and just pack the essentials. Also invest in a set of packing cubes which helps separate your clothing and mean no more dragging everything out of your pack to get that one t-shirt.

Save on accommodation

A long-term traveller’s biggest expense is accommodation and it’s the first place to start making savings. Try Couchsurfing or Airbnb, join the YMCA in destinations you’re visiting for discounts, and ask at hostels if there is any work going where you can swap a shift for a couple of night’s accom. If you plan on being based somewhere for a while, look into short-term rentals or sublets rather than hotels.

Long-term travel = slow travel

While it’s easy enough to travel at a frantic pace for a month or so, this is not sustainable in the long term. If you move too fast, stresses and exhaustion will outweigh the benefits of travel. Slow it down and spend at least one week in each place where possible. Set time aside for relaxing and just taking it easy in between those early starts and late nights.

Exercise

It’s difficult to find the time and place for exercise when you’re on the road but it’s essential for maintaining your health and keeping a positive state of mind. If you’re near a park or the beach, go for a run, take a swim or do a spot of yoga. Ask around about gyms or fitness centres that offer facilities for day visitors. As most people travel with laptops these days, it’s easy enough to download your favourite exercise DVDs before you leave home, then all you need is a little bit of floor space – no more excuses!

Log your expenses

Money can take on a ‘Monopoly’ feel when you’re dealing with different currency all the time or swiping your credit card all over the place. Make sure you keep a log of expenses so you know exactly where it’s going. Create a basic spreadsheet on your laptop and update it at the end of each day, each week or whatever works best for you. Otherwise before you know it, you can be back at zero in your account without a flight home.

Back up

Have a good back-up system for all your files and photos. If travelling with a laptop, grab yourself a portable hard drive like the Seagate Go Flex and back up every so often – particularly if you are working on the road. Save your digital photos to your computer and send the original memory cards home for safekeeping. Or open an online storage account like Dropbox. Otherwise you could lose months of memories and important documents.

Treat yourself

For most of us, travelling long term means travelling on a budget – cramped hostels, hard beds and cold showers. It’s inevitable that you’ll get fed up and yearn for a bit of indulgence so treat yourself every so often, no matter what it is. Eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant or stay at a boutique hotel for a night or two to break things up.

Know why you are travelling

Before you jump on that plane it’s important to know why you have decided to take this new path. What’s your travel goal? What do you hope to get out of this experience? Once you have established this, have your travel goal or ‘mission statement’ written somewhere. You’ll have hard times on the road and you need to remind yourself why you’re doing it in the first place.

Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/themes/big-trips/long-term-travel-top-tips-for-a-fulfilling-trip/?intaffil=lpemail#ixzz2M0aQNf8i

Festivals of the world: where to go in March


This is an excerpt from Lonely Planet’s A Year of Festivals.

Festivals are a living, dancing museum of cultures and traditions in an increasingly globalised world. There is no better place for travellers to understand a country than an event where it proudly celebrates its individuality, whether through music, camel races or monumental food fights.

The top festivities for March are listed below.

Noche De Brujas (Night Of The Witches)

Location: Cerro Mono Blanco, Catemaco, Mexico
Date: First Friday in March If witches and wizards have a spiritual home it may well be the Mexican town of Catemaco, a pretty place on the shore of Laguna Catemaco considered the centre of Mexico’s witchcraft and witch-doctor industry. Read more.

Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras

Sydney. Mardi Gras. Festival.

Sydney Mardi Gras 2010‘ by andy_tylerCreative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs

Location: Oxford Street, Sydney, Australia
Date: Beginning in February, and culminating with the parade in early March
What started in 1978 as a defiant civil rights march has become one of Australia’s proudest celebrations of diversity, attended by half a million locals and thousands of visitors from around the world. Read more.

South By Southwest Music & Media Conference (SXSW)

Location: Venues throughout Austin, USA. The trade show is in the Austin Convention Center
Dates: Days vary in early to mid-March
Here’s further proof that things really are big in Texas, with a music festival so large it has almost single-handedly earned Austin the title of ‘live music capital of the world’. Started in 1987, it brings the music industry and performers together for 10 days – bands come to be discovered and music execs come to discover. Read more.

Holi

Location: Throughout northern India and Nepal
Dates: Three days around the March full moon
The most boisterous of Hindu festivals, Holi waves goodbye to winter and welcomes in spring in a rainbow of colours. In India it’s predominantly celebrated in the north of the country, and is quite rightly known as the Festival of Colours for the raucous events on Holi’s final day, when children and adults take to the streets throwing colourful gulal (powder) over each other. Read more.

Maulid

Location: Lamu, Kenya. Most of the celebrations are centred on the Riyadha Mosque.
Date: The birth date of the Prophet Mohammed; the date shifts according to the Muslim calendar
Celebrating the birth of the Prophet Mohammed, this festival has been held on Lamu for more than 100 years and involves much singing, dancing and general jollity. Read more.

Ben Aïssa Moussem

Location: Sidi ben Aïssa mausoleum, Meknès, Morocco
Date: The day before the birth date of the Prophet Mohammed; the date shifts according to the Muslim calendar
Morocco has a number of moussems (festivals in honour of saints) throughout the year but that which celebrates Sidi ben Aïssa is by far the largest. Read more.

Calle Ocho (Eighth Street)

Location: Calle Ocho, Miami, USA
Dates: Early to mid-March
Billed as the largest street party in the world, Calle Ocho is the grand finale to Miami’s Carnaval celebration. Started in 1978, it sees the closure for a day of more than 20 blocks along Calle Ocho through Little Havana, the Cuban pulse of Miami, for a party attended by around one million people. Read more.

Las Fallas

Las Fallas. Festival. Valencia. Spain.

DSC_0639‘ by joe calhounCreative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike

Location: Valencia, Spain. The fireworks displays are in Plaza del Ayuntamiento.
Dates: 12–19 March
Exuberant and anarchic, Las Fallas is Europe’s wildest spring party, which is a pretty big deal for what is essentially a glorified puppet show. It’s a time when the city is all but taken over by the fallas, which are huge sculptures of papiermâché on wood, built by teams of local artists. Read more.

Starkbierzeit (Strong Beer Time)

Location: Paulaner Keller, Munich, Germany
Dates: Two weeks around St Joseph’s Day (19 March)
Meet Oktoberfest’s little brother – the tougher, more downto- earth sibling whose company can be enjoyed without the crowds. For Bavarians, Starkbierzeit is like the opening of the fridge door to a new season of beer drinking, coming just as winter disappears and summer begins to peep over the horizon. Read more.

Spring Equinox

Location: Chichén Itzá, Mexico
Date: 20 or 21 March
At the ruined temple city of Chichén Itzá, the creators of the El Castillo pyramid devised a quirk that would shine on for centuries longer than Mayan civilisation. Such is the pyramid’s architectural precision that during the vernal equinox – when night and day are of almost equal length all over the world – the morning and afternoon sun produces a light-and-shadow illusion of a serpent ascending or descending the side of El Castillo’s staircase. Read more.

St Patrick’s Festival

Location: Dublin, Ireland. The parade starts on Parnell Sq and heads down O’Connell St, through College Green to an appropriate end at St Patrick’s Cathedral.
Dates: Five days around 17 March
Wherever in the world there’s a Plastic Paddy, there’s a St Patrick’s Day festival with green beer, blarney and craic, but the most authentic way to celebrate Ireland’s patron saint is in the country’s capital, Dublin. Read more.

Nyepi (Balinese New Year)

Nyepi. Bali. New Year. Festival.
2008-03-06_1801.32_Ogoh_crowd.JPG ’ by mattspongCreative Commons Attribution

Location: Throughout Bali
Dates: The Lunar New Year, according to the Balinese saka calendar, falling on the first new moon after mid-March
Bali’s major festival pushes one year noisily out the door and very quietly ushers in the next one – if raucous, riotous New Year events are not your thing, then Bali well and truly has the celebration for you. Read more.

Hanami (Cherry Blossom Viewing)

Hanami. Japan. Spring. Cherry Blossom. Festival. Boats.

IMG_8985 ‘by KimonBerlinCreative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike

Location: Throughout Japan, but especially good at Yoshino
Dates: Cherry blossoms can begin to appear in Okinawa as early as January and not until May in Hokkaido, but through the bulk of the country they’re usually in flower near the end of March.
One of the most beautiful natural sights in Japan is of groves of cherry trees in full blossom, giving the appearance of earthly clouds of flowers. Read more.

Crucifixion Re-Enactment

Location: Barangay San Pedro Cutud, San Fernando, Philippines
Date: Good Friday
If you thought Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ was uncomfortably graphic, spend a passionate Good Friday in the Luzon city of San Fernando and you’ll think it was The Sound of Music. On this day, fanatical Christians re-create the final days and the death of Christ, though it’s no simple pantomime. Read more.

Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/asia/travel-tips-and-articles/76351?intaffil=lpemail#ixzz2LKKGlBTP

Best places to get married – and best places to go after a break up!


 

Leh town and surrounding fields.

 
 
  • Outdoor tables in Plaza Amolto, Colle di Val d'Elsa.
  • Band performing at Night and Day Cafe, Northern Quarter.
  • Coastal views from the highway that leads to the Cape Point Lighthouse.
  • Large Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua)rookeries - the biggest in the Antarctica Peninsula.  Named after JMA Cavalier de Cuverville, a French vice admiral.
  • Fishing boat, Havelock Island
View gallery

From the giddy heights of romance and commitment to the best places to be miserable and alone, we’ve got places to suit, taken from Lonely Planet’s 1000 Ultimate Experiences.

1. Leh, India

From the town of Leh in the northern Indian region of Ladakh you can depart for a two-day trip (from mid-July to mid-September only) across the ‘roof of the world’, a lovely global precursor to the roof over your heads. Get married at the end of day one and test your bond on day two. This strenuous pass will take your breath away at 5600m. Make each other proud by crossing the perilous swing bridges between canyons. Buddhist monasteries dot the serene landscape: pay a visit for first-hand instruction in kindness and tolerance.

From 1–15 September the Ladakh Festival spices up Leh and surrounding villages; plan your trip at www.lehladakhindia.com.

2. Tuscany, Italy

Why not make the wedding just as memorable for your friends as it will be for you? Schedule the event as follows: hire the main villa for you and your mates, and a series of connected cottages nearby for both sets of family. Get everyone to arrive the night before and meet up in the irresistibly convivial atmosphere of the local pizzeria – ideally it’ll be in a hilltop town, accessible only by foot. The next day, after a lazy, sunny morning getting ready, be married in the little fresco-painted chapel on the property. Hold an evening reception on the lawns, surrounded by fireflies and caterers with gallon jars of homemade red plonk.

The romantic medieval city of Lucca is a great place to explore the rest of Tuscany; hear bells ringing at the church of San Michele, Duomo of San Martino and Basilica of San Frediano.

3. Manchester, England

Make an instant chemical friend every night in one of Manchester’s myriad dance clubs. You may not even have to talk, but you’ll immediately know you’ve found one of your kind on the dancefloor at Poptastic or in a darkened comedy night in the Northern Quarter. But don’t expect these clubs to stay the same. Tomorrow’s a new day – possibly even a Happy Monday. Manchester After Dark lists all the city’s hottest spots; information about dealers is harder to find.

4. Western Cape, South Africa

Say your vows (and your prayers?) in a shark cage off Gansbaai, 175km southeast of Cape Town. For those who dated at scary movies, this is just a natural progression. Admittedly your celebrant will have to be capable of some depth and your parents might be practising speeches long before the event. But if the cage is as strong as your love, you’ll be fine. Great white sharks are now on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species – although critics maintain that humans are more endangered since shark-cage diving started, as the pelagic predators are encouraged to associate bait with us. April to October is the peak shark season; the working fishing village of Gansbaai is a 2½-hour limo ride from Cape Town.

5. Antarctica

For those who have decided to ignore the cold feet and dedicate themselves to the mating season, what better place to marry than Antarctica? Join your life partner on the good ship Aurora, on your deliciously slow way down to the largest continent on earth (you could propose here too, as it’s the ultimate icebreaker). Ecotourism honeymoon expeditions can include polar adventure activities such as sea-kayaking, scuba diving and camping, and there’s the potential for interaction with whales. Take a tip from the emperor penguins: the best answer to the weather is to go into the most natural of huddles. Life will seem cosy after this trip.

Travel in November to see whole penguin colonies engaged in courtship rituals; February to March is when you’ll see the newborn chicks.

6. Nicobar Islands

It’s a rare thing when two ‘morning people’ find each other. What better way to demonstrate your purposeful compatibility than to marry at dawn? Somewhere along a line in the Indian Ocean, the sun creeps first onto hundreds of tiny islands, islets and rocks. Sparrows fart first here, in the idyllic Nicobar Islands, a union territory of India, located in the Indian Ocean. Isolation has preserved lush forest cover and flourishing fauna, and there are people of many faiths, including Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs. Should make designing a wedding ceremony all the more interesting.

Havelock Island in the Andamans is a jewel in the crown of this island-studded region; from Port Blair hop on a boat at the Phoenix Bay Jetty and five hours later you’ll be in paradise.

7. Buenos Aires, Argentina

The World Tango Festival, held in venues all over a summery Buenos Aires, is a perfect opportunity to find a new partner who’ll hold you like you want to be held. Workshops are run by the Great Masters of Tango, milongueros. Held in the best dance halls and sports clubs and culminating in the grandest ballroom in the city, the Palais Rouge, the workshops are accompanied by six ‘orchestras’. In broader terms, this dance is also a physical interview for that greater tenet of coupledom: commitment. Can he take the lead and is she capable of following? Has he got big feet? Will he drop her? Test it out.

The festival is held in October. Related events include scores of tango dance classes; check session times and book online here.

8. Elora, Canada

Just over an hour from Toronto, this rustic sandstone mill town preserves the pious ways of the old world, when couples huddled together through fierce Canadian blizzards. The local Mennonite community will teach you how to cook and sew. You’ll learn to survive without TV, takeaway, computer games, shoe therapy, haircuts or counsellors (no powerlines means it’s time to talk to people around you). Best of all, now you can eat what you like: try locally produced maple syrup with every meal or organically grown veggies, the choice is yours. Go on a date with a new prospect in a horse-drawn buggy.

Book you and your new beau a room at the historic Elora Mill Inn; check out other fun pursuits at www.elora.info.

9. Hustadvika, Norway

Chaotic, salt stained, yet free – this stretch of ocean in a storm is a perfect metaphor for your dark heart. Stare out at the fantastically wild waves and contemplate how you got dumped. Or muse over the notorious history of this coast: ships have been sinking here since the Middle Ages. Then jump into an appropriately Scandinavian car and head down the Atlantic Road towards the western fjords and the fishing village of Kristiansund. Along this winding stretch you’ll cross no fewer than 12 bridges over less troubled water.

Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/south-africa/travel-tips-and-articles/69803?intaffil=lpemail#ixzz2KfYRO7lR

80 things we wish we knew before we started traveling


 

by  on MAY 5, 2011 · 40 COMMENTS

 
on a boat

Photo: Ross Borden

Tips from experienced travelers, for newbies and veterans alike.

HINDSIGHT IS 20/20, right? Well, foresight can be near to it when you have the expertise of some seriously savvy travelers at your fingertips. Like the Matador team. If you’re starting out on your first trip, this is for you. Hell, even if it’s your 20th trip, this is for you too. I know I learned a lot putting it together.

On preparing for your trip

1. Print your entire itinerary and flight tickets/confirmations. Store these with your passports. You can’t always rely on Internet access or electricity to pull this info off your phone or laptop.

2. Keep a copy of your passport and never have all of your forms of identification or access to cash (ATM/credit cards) in the same bag. If that one gets lost or stolen, you are SOL.

3. Check in with friends and family from time to time, especially when traveling alone. It’s a good idea for someone to always know where your next movements are, just in case.

On talking to airline agents

4. Always be patient and polite. This person could be the difference between you getting the flight that night or having to spend it on the airport floor.

Travel in low season. In places like Thailand and India, food and accommodation can be half the price.

Bad: “Can you get me on the next flight out – I can’t miss my connection to Europe!”

Good: “Excuse me, Barbara. I totally understand you guys are slammed right now, but if you have one minute, I’d really appreciate if you could try to get me on that next flight out, otherwise I’ll miss my international connection. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.”

5. Call the airline if you’re getting stonewalled, and find an agent that is willing to help you. Keep calling until you get the answer you want. Many times agents are trained differently and some are better than others.

On budgeting abroad

6. Travel in low season. In places like Thailand and India, food and accommodation can be half the price. And there is still plenty of sunshine.

7. Use the Share-a-bill iPhone app when traveling with friends. It helps to track who spends what so no more arguing about money.

8. Track your spending. If you have a laptop, use a spreadsheet and set up some simple formulas to automatically add up your purchases. Or simply write it all down in your journal. Be vigilant.

9. Set up a new account to pull from on the road. Limit yourself to that, so when it’s gone, you come home.

10. Check your bank account options. Withdrawing overseas can be a huge cost, so make sure you know the fees. It might be worth it to upgrade to a premium account that includes international ATM withdrawals (and sometimes your service fee can be waived if you keep a minimum amount in the account).

11. Know the exchange rate of your destination countries ahead of time.

foreign atm

Photo: Z17R0

12. Don’t use traveler’s checks. These are a pain in the ass to cash in, and the fees can be very costly.

13. Have local currency when you arrive (preferably small denominations). Having to exchange money at the airport when you land is expensive. If you do have to exchange at the airport, shop around a bit if possible. The first one you encounter is likely to be the most expensive.

14. Try your hardest to avoid currency exchange places. The exchange rate at these are the worst, especially in airports and train stations. Always better to get the local currency from an ATM.

15. Buy food and booze at large grocery stores, instead of going out to bars and restaurants.

16. Do research ahead of time and book a reservation at a hostel that is both nice and inexpensive. Walking around with a backpack on looking for a cheaper place to stay isn’t fun when you’re exhausted from traveling all day.

17. Check out CraigslistHomeAway, Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO), and AirBnB for apartments to rent in the places you’re visiting — these are often cheaper than hotels and hostels.

18. Use Couchsurfing for free accommodations. [*Note: Never use this site solely for free accommodations. The main purpose is cultural exchange and to meet people. Reciprocate if possible when you return home.]

19. Don’t book domestic flights at the same time you get your international flights. Booking close to the departure dates from inside the country can be much cheaper. For example, flying into Kathmandu from New York is really expensive if you make that your destination and book from the US. It is much cheaper to fly from JFK to Bangkok, spend a night or two, and then book the flight from BKK to Katmandu on a local Asian airline.

On meeting people when traveling alone

20. Use Couchsurfing to meet folks for coffee or tea or to join in a group event. If you’re hesitant about it, check out Overcome Your Fear: How to Practice Safe Couchsurfing.

bartender

Photo: casers jean

21. Sit at a bar and strike up a conversation with the bartender. They’re possibly bored, know a lot about the town, and might introduce you to other regulars.

22. Stay in a hostel, even if you want to stay in a private room. You can always meet people in the common areas.

23. Share information with other travelers. What goes around comes around. When you give others a leg up, it comes back to you down the road.

[*Note: Meeting people is never compulsory. Don’t feel bad if you’re not up for it.]

On researching a trip vs winging it

24. Be flexible, situations can change very fast and you don’t want to miss out on things if you have a rigid plan.

25. Research Couchsurfing and similar sites to find forums for cities you plan on traveling through. Ask locals and expats questions. You might even make some contacts before you go. Don’t forget to check the Matador Travel forums!

26. Understand you never have time to see EVERYTHING. And be okay with it.

27. If you don’t have time to research or buy a guide, at least have a map, whether it’s downloaded to your handheld, printed, or bought.

On adapting to a new country

28. Get out and about as much as possible. Orient yourself as soon as you can, and learn at least some basic expressions of the language ASAP. Taking a course locally can help with meeting people, too.

29. Talk to the front desk staff at your hostel (if you’re staying in one), they will have all kinds of advice for you. They know what they’re talking about, so reach out to them.

30. Find a room in a shared house with locals.

On food

31. Learn food words in the local language. You’ll be eating three times a day in whatever country you’re in.

32. Have snacks (e.g. nuts, fruit) handy. There’s nothing worse than settling on something because you’re too hungry and annoyed to keep looking for the perfect restaurant.

33. Carry a couple Cliff Bars with you. The train might be late, the bus ride might last four hours longer than you thought. Keep your mind working at its best by staying nourished.

34. Avoid fruits and veggies that can’t be peeled or cooked when in developing countries. For more info, read Robin Esrock’s How to travel in India and not get sick.

35. Eat street food. In many places, this is how the locals eat on a regular basis. It’s a great opportunity to get an inside peak into the culture.

On taking taxis and other transport

36. Find out the procedure and price for getting a taxi. You will most likely get ripped off at least once, but don’t worry about it. Let it be a learning lesson.

Carry a “dummy” wallet with some expired credit and bank cards. Hand that over if you get robbed.

37. Pay attention to how things are done, like observing how the locals get on the bus and pay. Every place has their own system.

38. If you’re driving in “sketchy” places, make sure the back doors are locked, keep your bags on the floor instead of on your lap, and be vigilant when stopping at intersections.

39. Always negotiate the price of a cab BEFORE you start towards your destination. If the cabbie is unwilling to agree on a price when you get in and he’s not using a meter, get out and find another cab.

40. If you’re on a long bus trip and there’s a break, always make sure you keep an eye on the driver – when he/she gets back on the bus, they’re going to leave.

On staying safe

41. Don’t keep all your cards and cash together. Use multiple pockets so if your cash gets ripped off, your ATM card doesn’t have go with it.

pickpocket

Photo: matiasjajaja

42. Carry a “dummy” wallet with some expired credit and bank cards. Hand that over if you get robbed.

43. Don’t carry your passport with you. Keep it locked in a safe if possible or hidden away. Carry a copy of the passport.

44. Keep your eyes peeled. Stay aware of your surroundings. If you get the feeling that something isn’t right, pay attention to it. That feeling is real.

45. Don’t get drunk. This is when you’re at your most vulnerable and can make poor decisions.

46. Wear a jacket with an upper-breast zipper pocket where you can put passport/docs, even camera/wallet. Pretty impossible to thieve from.

47. Don’t travel with a laptop unless it’s necessary (e.g. your work). There are cyber cafes all over the world for easy Internet access.

48. Don’t wear any jewelry, don’t carry your dSLR in a brand new bag that screams CAMERA, don’t carry a fat wallet in your back pocket, and don’t pull out a big stash of money when you are paying for something at a counter.

49. Keep all your valuables and documents close to you when taking long distance bus rides. Not in your backpack that’s in the luggage compartment.

Read How to NOT Get Robbed When Traveling in a Dangerous Country for more tips.

On health while abroad

50. Drink lots of water. To help with jetlag, drink at least three liters in the 24 hours before your flight. Don’t let yourself get thirsty.

drink water

Photo: anaulin

51. Pack some Ciproflaxin (aka Cipro). This is a miracle anti-biotic that is used to treat all kinds of things, from a bad stomach bug to a bladder infection or UTI.

52. Always bring Neosporin and bandaids. Neosporin is another miracle medicine. It’s a simple over-the-counter ointment that will fight off infection in open cuts. It will also fight off any sort of rash or skin irritation and it can be tough to find in local pharmacies.

53. Carefully consider bringing malaria pills or not. Many places the health office says you need them, you don’t. Inoculation/immunization is big business and they want to sell pills. Do your research carefully and read forums with advice from other travelers.

On connecting with locals

54. Learn some of the local language. It will not only give you confidence, but will give you a ready-made excuse to talk to anyone (to ask for help or practice).

55. Avoid getting trapped in expat bubbles — tap their knowledge but don’t use them as a comfort blanket.

ABC. Always Be Charging. Whenever you can, plug those electronics in and keep those batteries juiced.

56. Keep a “promise book” with you (can just be the back of your travel journal). Use this to help keep the promises you make to the people you meet on the road (e.g. sending the photo you took of them). Be good to your word.

57. Don’t just seek out conversation with your peers. Some of the best connections you can make abroad are with the very old or very young, even if all you get out of them is a warm smile.

On carrying electronics

58. If you do decide to take a laptop, get a cheap and light netbook. You have the benefit of having a familiar keyboard and if all the computers are taken at the cyber cafe, you can just find wifi somewhere.

59. ABC. Always Be Charging. Whenever you can, plug those electronics in and keep those batteries juiced.

60. Find out what adapters you need for your trip and make sure those are packed. Also make sure your electronics meet the electricity standards of your destination (110V AC, 220V AC, etc).

On taking photos without being obnoxious

61. Smile. This is key; it will make you seem approachable and non-threatening.

62. Make an effort to communicate even if you don’t speak a common language besides “hello”, “thanks”, and “goodbye”. Hand gestures work as good as verbal conversations.

63. Observe their work and, if possible, momentarily partake in their work with them to let them know it’s not insignificant — whether helping a porter take down the tent, or lending a hand to a baker. This also builds a quick transient level of trust.

photographer

Photo: Cameron Cassan

64. Respect and sensitivity should always trump the perfect shot. Let people pray or meditate in peace. Stop following that monk or little kid around. Let people pull you into their lives when they are ready.

65. Make eye contact with the people you are photographing, even if you are taking pictures of their merchandise. Make eye contact with parents when taking photos of children.

66.Show your photos to your subjects. Make good on your promise if you tell them you will send them copies.

On haggling

67. Haggling is not a competition — it’s a way for the buyer and seller to agree on a price that is acceptable to both parties. Humour goes a long way in defusing heated situations.

68. Try to learn a few sentences like “How much” or “That’s too expensive” in the local language. It’ll make the vendor smile and often will agree to lower the price.

On border crossings

69. Know well in advance the visa requirements for all your destinations. Some can take weeks to obtain.

70. Have solid and prepared answers when crossing borders, especially between the US, UK, and Canada. Check out these tips learned from an experience crossing from the US to Canada.

71. Always check that your passport is stamped with a correct date before leaving the immigration center. If there’s a mistake, you can get in trouble (not the immigration officer).

72. Never say your purpose for entering a country is “work” if you are a journalist on a press trip. You can avoid the 20 questions game this way and also ensure they don’t try to charge you extra for a different visa.

On packing

73. Bring cable ties and ziplock bags. Cable ties for holding things closed or tying bundles together. Ziplock bags for things that are wet (damp clothes, stuff that is stained, etc) or things that might break and mess up other things (suncream, that bottle of snake wine, etc).

packing

Photo: koalazymonkey

74. Always pack a headlamp. You will be surprised at how often you will find a use for it.

75. Bring a sarong with you (men too). It can be useful for so many things like covering yourself in holy places, a bedsheet in shady hostels, a towel, a beach/park blanket. Tip: to keep cool at night in a hot place, soak the sarong and wrap it around you while you sleep.

On relationships

76. Sex with random people while you’re traveling won’t make you feel less lonely or forget the (ex)partner you have (had) back home.

77. Sometimes a stroll with someone you’ve just met, holding hands (with optional “make-out” session) in a plaza somewhere in Costa Rica or Mexico, feels better than anything.

78. You can’t expect it, but it’s possible to meet your life-partner while traveling. She or he could be right there on the bus with you.

79. Have reasonable expectations (or, better yet, none at all!). If you take a trip to heal a broken heart, be aware that you could potentially feel worse.

On place

80. There’s a tendency sometimes to think “this place will always be here. I can do more here later.” Places change a lot faster than you can imagine. Whatever it is you need to do, do it now. 

Tibet Travel Permit Update Released on Jan 22nd, 2013


This morning, all in a sudden, the Tibet tourism bureau announced that the travel permit is stopped issuing at least until end of March and they will release an update by then. This means it is impossible to travel to Tibet in February and March. In the past 4 years after 2008, Tibet is usually closed in March, and re-open in April. So this is a normal situation, if you are planning to come after April, just go ahead plan your tour with us.

Buyer beware: 10 common travel scams


 

Tom Hall and Kylie McLaughlin 10 July, 2012

Rome police in full uniform, .

While you’re often safer overseas than you are in your hometown, a few scams seem to pop up all over the world. Repeat the mantra: if it looks too good to be true, it must be too good to be true…

1. Fake police

Sometimes also the real police, they’ll demand to see your passport and find something wrong with your visa, but then suggest your troubles will all be over if you pay a fine. To them. In cash. Right now. Standing your ground and offering to accompany them to the station will usually see the error ‘excused’.

2. Gem or carpet deals

On entry into a store, often prompted by an enthusiastic taxi or rickshaw driver, you will be offered a deal so preposterously lucrative that refusing it seems unthinkable. Think again – those gems are going to be worthless and the carpet you buy may not make it home at all. There are legitimate traders selling both jewels and rugs, and they don’t act like this.

3. Airport taxis

Drivers taking you into town might try every trick in the book, from asking you for an inflated fare to driving around the streets to raise the price higher. This is usually harmless, but you should only travel with licensed taxis and, if you can’t pay in advance, agree on a fee before starting out and don’t pay until you get where you want to be.

Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/themes/big-trips/ten-common-travel-scams/?intaffil=lpemail#ixzz2K5bkwHBi

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