1) A must read! For extended travel
we strongly suggest the book:
2) Decide on regions instead of
countries! It is critical to choose a regional base
from which to plan "mini-adventures". Bangkok
and Johannesburg served us well as begin and end points.
Focus your planning energy on purchasing airfare to
and from your "base" and deal with local
transportation and flights when you arrive in the
area. Developing some familiarity with your base city
will increase your confidence and reduce hassles when
problems arise. Obtaining visas can be done while
enjoying the sites of your base city.
3) Travel light! You must plan on
buy clothes appropriate for local climates along the
way. Remember that in the tropics cotton is king.
Although they dry quickly poly blends trap heat and
don't absorb sweat like cotton. You will over pack.
Donating unneeded clothes to a local Red Cross or
Red Crescent is a nice option and they can easily
be found in countries where donations are most needed.
Consider beginning a trip in Bangkok. Khao San Road
has an unlimited supply of inexpensive travel gear
for an entire expedition. Having light packs will
provide you with the agility needed to move around
4) Beware of cab drivers! Have a
supply of small denomination currency and exact change
prepared before arriving at your stop. Get change
before leaving the cab. Visually inspect the seats
as you get out. Drivers will always stall to see if
you get out without taking your change. If you're
in a hurry to get somewhere agree on a flat rate (usually
at a premium) and watch how well the driver knows
the city and how quick he can get you to your destination.
Being on the meter may save you a dollar or two but
you might sit in traffic for an unnecessary amount
5) Security! Day packs scream "Tourist".
In dodgy areas blend in by carrying items in a canvas
shoulder bag or plastic shopping bag instead. Never
allow a purse to hang street side and don't walk too
close to the roadway in cities. Two member teams of
thieves on motorcycles are notorious for snatching
purses as they drive by. Even if you are lost walk
briskly with confidence and people will get out of
your way and not hassle you. When checking maps back
away from the street and put your back against a wall
or go sit down in a hotel lobby or cafe so you can
focus your attention on the map. Don't make a bad
situation worse. Tell police you cannot give them
your passport because it does not belong to you. It
belongs to your government and you will be more than
happy to take them to the consulate to seek permission.
6) Know where you are staying! Obtain
a business card from your hotel/hostel to provide
cab drivers for hassle free return trips to your hotel
especially important if you don't speak the local
language. When checking luggage in for a flight write
an address of any upscale hotel from your guidebook
on the tab. Do not write your home address! It'll
be easier to retrieve baggage in case of a separation
if it's in the same country as you are.
7) Prepare for theft! Conceal stashes
of cash throughout your belongings. Credit cars and
ATM cards should never be stored in a wallet you carry
all the time. Have emergency contact info in an email
sent to yourself. In high risk areas use a hanging
neck wallet as an ankle holster for your passports,
credit cards, and money. The string part ties neatly
below your knee and the string won't slip over the
bulge in your calf. In dodgy areas carry a throw-down
wallet with some money in it to quickly appease muggers.
8) Track you budget! On extended
length trips you will be surprised at how fast your
money disappears. Make a budget and track your progress
against it. Make adjustments to spending to get back
on budget. A daily expense diary also allows you to
keep track of the sights you see.
9) Must haves! EARPLUGS for overnight
trains, bus trips, heavy rain on tin roofing and snorers
in guest houses. Ever try taking a nap on a bus in
Thailand? FIRST AID KIT as medicines on the road can
be hard to obtain, of questionable quality or outright
counterfeits. Your own MOSQUITO NET especially in
malaria endemic areas. Got Roaches? Slap on your padded
EYE SHADES and sleep with the lights on. Don't forget
the bathroom light, if there is one. Turn lamps on
their sides and lay them on the floor. TRAVEL CUBES
inside your backpack are a real help to keep clean
clothes separated from dirty ones, a necessity in
the tropics. POSTCARDS of your hometown and photos
of your family. They really help break the ice when
chatting with locals. Just point to yourself and the
postcard and let the picture fill in the gaps.
10) Have small gifts to give! Postcards
from home. cosmetics samples for girls. Baseball cards
for boys. Ink pens with logos on them. Magazines from
airplanes. A gift need not be expensive. They're a
way of saying "hello, I like you" not a
redistribution of wealth. Small gifts will ignite
a smile and can overcome resistance to pose for photos.
11) Read our "What
is it REALLY like traveling for an extended period
of time?" story. It has a list of questions
we were asked by our friends, family and strangers
who heard of our travels and our answers.