TRAVEL TIPS

TOP TIPS FOR SAFE and ENJOYABLE TRAVEL

Hope. Fear. Excitement. If you are traveling for the first time or on your 20th trip, it is normal to have conflicting emotions. We are excited about new possibilities but afraid of the unknown at the same time. The world isn’t dangerous or unsafe. Quite the opposite. There are some desperate places and people, even in your home town, but these are a minority. In fact, you’re more likely to get into trouble at home.

BEFORE THE TRIP
1. Prepare for Your Trip But Don’t Over Plan
The more you plan, the worse it is. I cringe when I meet travelers who have booked every hotel, mode of transportation and experience from home. My advice is to pick a starting point, your bucket-list, must-do activities, and an ending point (or not). Then just let the universe determine the rest.
Want to stay longer? Leave sooner? Change hotels? Go somewhere different you have never heard of? Who you meet and want to join up with? If you pre-planned your trip, that’s something you can’t easily do. When every day is planned out, when there are timetables to follow, you get stressed. When you plan too much, there’s no room to experience the happy accidents of travel. Travel brings a lot of unexpected events that can cause you to change your mind about a lot of things. Put some flexibility into your schedule, and go with the flow. It’ll make for a more enjoyable and less stressful experience. You just might be surprised by what unexpectedly happens and the people you meet. Let life unfold the way it should be.
BUT: Read books from your library or bookstore, find out what life is like where you’re going, know basic rules and etiquette to help you avoid any misunderstandings and leave a favorable impression. Figure out the clothing necessary for visiting during the season you are visiting. Some visas require entrance and exit flights or a list of all accommodation (just about always you can pick a few cities, find a hotel but not make bookings and this satisfies visa rules), so for these more preparation is necessary.
For most of my trips, I get the Lonely Planet, read and highlight it, make cursory notes and plan a rough way to see the country hitting my bucket list places. For Eastern China where I had a 60-day visa with an exit flight, I had a large NG map, marked all the Unesco World Heritage sites, added several natural places and hikes and connected the dots so that I didn’t retrace my steps. Even though it was a busy trip, I saw virtually everything I wanted to. That was much more planning than I normally do.
Usually my travel is planned on a day-to-day basis. Take tours only when it makes the logistics or costs of seeing a destination easier. Traveling as an independent traveler with no fixed plans is much more rewarding. Use guidebooks appropriately. Guidebooks are good for an overview, some of the main tourist attractions, maps, and transportation information but you’ll never find some of the best stuff in there. And, even if it is there, it’s often dated information. For some of the best stuff, hook up with the locals and ask them. Talk to them. People are your best resource for information. Ask your fellow travelers.
“A tourist (on a tour) doesn’t know where he has been and a traveler doesn’t know where he is going.”

2. Be Prepared for Anything When Traveling
When you travel the world, anything can happen. Stepping out your door into the unknown is what makes travel so exciting. Each day brings endless possibility, but that possibility is for both good and bad. You may enjoy a day sightseeing or get robbed or get food poisoning. But if you’re prepared, you’ll be able to face whatever happens to you on the road:
Take multi-purpose gear. Carry a small first-aid kit. You can find modern medicine anywhere in the world, but a few essential items are Ibuprofen, gravol for nausea, Band-Aids, scissors, hydrocortisone cream, anti-bacterial ointment, and a small supply of doctor-approved antibiotics. Pack a small flashlight or headlight. Bring an umbrella, the best way to deal with rain anywhere.
Learn basic phrases. Knowing a few key phrases will not only make interactions easier, it will also help you when you bargain for goods, order food, get lost, or need help. Download the latest language app for your iPhone, or use the excellent pocket language guides in Lonely Planet Guidebooks.
Study non-verbal communication to appropriately read a situation and defuse tense situations with taxi drivers, vendors, and hotel owners.
Keep emergency cash with you (at least $US200), have back up cards (at least one extra credit card and debit card), and carry cash, often the only way to pay for things in most third-world countries.
Make extra copies of your passport, health/travel insurance paperwork, and credit cards, scan them and email them to yourself.
Know what to do when you lose your passport: Fill out a police report, go to your country’s website, print and fill out the necessary forms, take them to your Embassy or Consulate during morning hours, tell your upcoming travel plans, and bring a passport-sized photo. Hopefully your temporary passport will be available that day or in a few days.
Carry a list of emergency contacts and allergies.
Have travel insurance. Shit happens and only a fool travels without it.

3. Get Travel Insurance
This is mainly for health costs if you get ill or injured while abroad. Hospital costs can quickly get into the tens of thousands of dollars, even for a minor injury. If you need to be return home, evacuation insurance is part of most good plans. Different plans cover loss or theft, trip cancellation and risky activities like diving. Insurance is worth it. Look at my long post on travel insurance.

4. Get Vaccinated
Visit your doctor or better yet travel clinic before you leave to get all the relevant vaccinations/immunizations for the destinations you’re visiting, and to learn what health precautions you should follow.

5. Some Things are Best Perfected at Home
It may seem like a breeze, but be advised that teaching yourself to ride a motorbike or jet ski in a foreign country is probably unwise. In Thailand, for instance, 38 people a day die in scooter accidents. Some travel insurance policies won’t cover scooter-related injuries so make sure you check your policy first.

6. Get a Phone
It’s can be hard to plan around e-mail. Invest in a cheap phone so you can make arrangements for transportation, accommodation and stay in touch with people better. Google Maps and Translate are indispensable. Plus it comes in handy in an emergency. Look at my post on phones.

PHILOSOPHY OF TRAVEL (see Travel – Philosophy of Travel)
1. Don’t Be Afraid
The world is not nearly as dangerous as the media makes it out to be. Fear is a powerful deterrent. It’s not scary out there. People everywhere are just like you – they have hopes, fears, want the best for their children, hate their jobs, and are just trying to make it through the day. Keep an eye out for sketchy situations but don’t let that be the focus of your whole trip. Use common sense and you’ll be ok. Most people are friendly, trustworthy, generous, and willing to help you out. 99.99% of people don’t care where you are from. They aren’t out to get you, so don’t shy away from the locals. If you’re semi-street smart, you’ll avoid the .01% who do care where you’re from.
This goes for women too. Women can and usually have better travel experiences than men. In Muslim and Hindu countries especially, you have access to half the population that is off-limits to men. Dress appropriately. India is often a challenge as there are a few hundred million unmarried men whose only sexual outlets are prostitutes, pornography and foreign women. You will get your butt or boobs squeezed, lewd things said about you in a language you don’t understand and propositioned. Understand the cultural context, smile at the attention and move on.

2. Patience Is Important
Don’t sweat the stuff you can’t control. Life is much too short to be angry & annoyed all the time. Did you miss your bus? No worries, there will be another one. ATMs out of money? Great! Take an unplanned road trip over to the next town and explore. Sometimes freakouts happen regardless. Just take a deep breath and remind yourself that it could be worse. Be flexible.
You will have many epic experiences in your travels – the day from hell or feeling like you are the main character in a horror movie, but smile, truck on and these will always be your best travel stories.

3. Laugh At Yourself
You will definitely look like a fool many times when traveling to new places. Rather than get embarrassed, laugh at yourself. Don’t be afraid to screw up, and don’t take life so seriously.

4. Think about traveling alone
I’ve learned that if I wait for others, I’ll never go anywhere. So I refuse to wait – I won’t let others keep me from realizing my dreams. It can be scary traveling alone – especially when you’ve never done it before.
Rather than putting off a trip because you’re waiting for someone to go with – just go. Along the way you’ll make plenty of friends – other solo travelers or locals interested in meeting new people. You’re never alone when you travel.
More than that, solo travel gives you ultimate freedom. You wake up and it’s just you – what you want, where you want, when you want. In that freedom and infinite space of possibility, you meet yourself. You hit the limits of what you like and don’t like. You get to make all your own decisions.
It’s sink or swim and you have to learn how to survive – who to trust, how to make friends, how to find your way around alone. That may be the greatest reward of solo travel – the personal growth. Each time you go away, you learn to become a little more independent, confident, and in tune with your emotions and desires.
Solo travel is not for everyone. But you’ll never learn that if you don’t travel once by yourself. Whether a weekend away, a two-week vacation or trip around the world, try it at least once.

5. Smile & Say Hello
Having trouble interacting with locals? Do people seem unfriendly? Maybe it’s your body language. One of my best travel tips is to make eye contact and smile as you walk by. If they smile back, say hello in the local language. This is a fast way to make new friends. Usually all it takes is for you to initiate contact and they’ll open up.
Do the same with other travelers. Don’t be shy. It takes a lot of courage to talk to strangers. There you are alone in a hostel and everyone is sitting around talking. Speaking up takes courage. But everyone traveling is friendly. They are traveling because they want to meet new people. Just let the word “hello” come out of your mouth and everything else will fall into place. No one ever said no when they were asked “Can I join you?” It will be O.K.
I’ve met the most amazing variety of people on the road. Their company, travel and life experiences and conversations add a satisfying dimension to any trip. Put yourself out there.

6. Say Yes Often
Be impulsive and say yes when someone randomly invites you to meet their family, try a new activity, or explore a place you didn’t know existed. It’s these unexpected and unplanned situations that add spice to your travels and always turn into the best stories later. Accept the kindness of strangers when you travel — you’ll have plenty of opportunities to do so.

7. Slow Down
Please don’t try to cram 6 countries into 6 weeks of travel. Who knows when you’ll get another chance? In the end, all you have to show for it are photos, stress, and a whirlwind of experiences but no real deep knowledge of the places you went to. When you travel, less is more. It allows you time to drink deep from each culture and soak it all up. Get to know the place – where the locals go, where they eat, what they do. You’ll miss a lot if you only spend a day in a city or town. All the good stuff happens when you really take the time to explore an area. That’s when you learn about activities that aren’t in your guidebook and meet people who are eager to show you around. I can honestly say that NONE of my best travel experiences happened within the first few days of arriving somewhere. Spend more time in fewer places for maximum enjoyment. Go slow, and you’ll experience more.

8. Keep An Open Mind
Don’t judge the lifestyles or customs of others if different from your own. You are a visitor so be respectful. Listen to opinions you don’t agree with. It’s arrogant to assume your views are correct and other people are wrong. Practice empathy and put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Embrace different possibilities, opportunities, people, suggestions and interests. Ask questions. Try to understand cultural context: finding out why Chinese hork and spit will amaze you. You may be surprised at what you’ll learn from each other.

9. Break Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Challenge yourself to try things that normally give you anxiety. The more you do this, the more that anxiety will fade away. Not a hiker? Go on more hikes. Have trouble talking to strangers? Talk to everyone. Scared of weird food? Eat the weirdest thing you can find. The reason this works so well while traveling is because everything is already so different, what’s one more new/uncomfortable experience? Be Adventurous. Challenge yourself. Take risks. You may only ever do it once but you may never get another chance.

10. Get Off The Beaten Path
I know it’s cliché, but you should still attempt it. Seek out interesting and unusual places that don’t see much tourism. Many memorable travel experiences have happened to me in areas that are not easy to visit. By all means travel to popular sites, but don’t rule out other locations just because they’re not on the tourist trail. Realize that just because an area is remote or dangerous doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have a life-changing experience.

11. There’s Always A Way
Nothing is impossible. If you are having trouble going somewhere or doing something, don’t give up. You just haven’t found the best solution or met the right person yet. Don’t listen to those who say it can’t be done. Perseverance pays off.

12. Travel More
Since I started my travels nine years ago, many people back home love to tell me how lucky I am while making excuses why they can’t travel. It’s too expensive. They can’t get time off work. Who will feed their pets? When I suggest solutions to these “problems”, they still don’t take action. Why? Because they’re often hiding behind the true reason: they’re scared.
Most people who wait to travel the world never do. You don’t need to sell all your worldly possessions. Just get out there more than you do now. Start with a weekend in a different city, province, state. Then maybe try a week in the country next door.
The new car, remodeling project, and iPhone can wait. If you truly want to travel more, you can make it happen. Career breaks are possible. You have friends who would love to watch your pets. It’s a big, beautiful, exciting, and fascinating world out there. Explore some of it now, rather than later.
Some of my life adages are: It’s not what you make, its what you spend. Spend your money on experiences. Possessions don’t make you happy, they only complicate your life. Create a different set of priorities.

13. Take More Money
You could do Asia on 15 dollars a day or Europe on 70, but have available a lot more money than that because you never know. There are a lot of unexpected costs on the road and, no matter how well you budget, you can never plan for them all: unexpected purchases, changes of plan, courses like diving, expensive flights. No matter what happens, something will always come up and eat into your budget. Take more than you think you need so you have more flexibility.

14. Don’t Give to Beggars
There are exceptions to this rule, such as monks seeking alms. But, in general, don’t give away money to people on the street. This applies especially to children. Apart from the fact that you may have to get your wallet/purse out, encouraging begging is not the most efficient use of your money (and goodwill). If you want to help out then do some volunteer work in the destination or donate some money to a local charity for the homeless or loan some money to a poor entrepreneur via Kiva.

15. Wake Up Early
Rise at sunrise to have the best attractions all to yourself while avoiding crowds. It’s also a magical time for photos due to soft diffused light, and usually easier to interact with locals. Sketchy areas are less dangerous in the morning too. Honest hardworking people wake up early; touts, scammers, and criminals sleep in.

16. Splurge A Bit
I’m a huge fan of budget travel, as it lets you travel longer and actually experience more of the fascinating world we live in rather than waste money on stuff you don’t need. You can travel many places for $30 a day with no problems. That said, living on a shoestring gets old after a while. It’s nice (and healthy) to go over your budget occasionally. Book a few days at a nice hotel, eat out at a fancy restaurant, or spend a wild night on the town every now and then. Many of the best places cost money: the Galapagos islands, Easter Island, the Inca Trail, Unesco sites in Sri Lanka, National Parks in China, diving. Travelers on limited budgets often miss all the good stuff.

17. Use Your Camera Wisely
You may only see these places & meet these people once in your lifetime. Great photos are the ultimate souvenir. Just remember once you have your shot to get out from behind the lens and enjoy the view. Look at things for visual memory. Think twice about that big SLR camera: they take up a lot of room especially if you carry extra lenses, most people don’t know how to use all their features, most don’t make the effort to take the outstanding photos most benefited by good cameras, and they are a target for thieves. A camera phone or point and shoot is often good enough. Look at the amount of time you spend sorting, discarding, uploading, photoshopping and emailing those 400 snapshots a day. If it takes a couple of hours, you could spend that time in more valuable ways.

HAVE AUTHENTIC EXPERIENCES (see Travel – Accommodation)
1. Volunteer Occasionally
Make it a point to volunteer some of your time for worthwhile projects when traveling. Not only is it a very rewarding experience, but you’ll often learn more about the country and its people while also making new friends. There’s a great site called Grassroots Volunteering where you can search for highly recommended volunteer opportunities around the world.

2. Meet Local People
Make it a point to avoid other travelers from time to time and start conversations with local people. Basic English is spoken widely all over the world, so it’s easier to communicate with them than you might think, especially when you combine hand gestures and body language. Learn from those who live in the country you’re visiting. People enrich your travels more than sights do.
Ask the locals to point out the best restaurants, spots to watch sunset, the best coffee shops etc.

3. Smile & Say Hello
Having trouble interacting with locals? Do people seem unfriendly? Maybe it’s your body language. One of my best travel tips is to make eye contact and smile as you walk by. If they smile back, say hello in the local language. This is a fast way to make new friends. Usually all it takes is for you to initiate contact and they’ll open up.
Do the same with other travelers. Don’t be shy. It takes a lot of courage to talk to strangers. There you are alone in a hostel and everyone is sitting around talking. Speaking up takes courage. But everyone traveling is friendly. They are traveling because they want to meet new people. Just let the word “hello” come out of your mouth and everything else will fall into place. No one ever said no when they were asked “Can I join you?” It will be O.K.
I’ve met the most amazing variety of people on the road. Their company, travel and life experiences and conversations add a satisfying dimension to any trip. Put yourself out there. NB: I’ve repeated this one twice.

4. Observe Daily Life
If you really want to get a feel for the pulse of a place, I recommend spending a few hours sitting in a park or on a busy street corner by yourself just watching day-to-day life happen in front of you. Or take long walks. Slow down your thoughts and pay close attention to the details around you: the smells, the colors, human interactions, and sounds. It’s a kind of meditation — and you’ll see stuff you never noticed before.

5. Try Couchsurfing and other alternative accommodation
Couchsurfing.org is a large online community of travelers who share their spare rooms or couches with strangers for free. If you truly want to experience a country and it’s people, staying with a local is the way to go. There are millions of couchsurfers around the world willing to host you and provide recommendations. It’s fun and safe too.
On this vein, other ways to have authentic experiences are: hitchhike, WWOOF, stay in a monastery, volunteer.

6. Get Lost On Purpose
If you want to see the parts of town where real people live & work, you need to go visit them. The best way to do this is on foot — without knowing where you’re going. Write down the name of your hotel so you can catch a taxi back if needed, then just pick a direction and start walking. Don’t worry too much about stumbling into dangerous neighborhoods either, as locals will generally warn you before you get that far.

7. Eat Local Food
Think you already know what Mexican food tastes like? You’re probably wrong. Taste a bit of everything when you travel, especially if you don’t know what it is. Ask local people for recommendations. Eat street food from vendors with big lines out front. It’s usually safer than restaurant food and you get to see it prepared in front of you.

8. Use Work Exchanges
helpx.net, WWOOF.org, workaway.info, and staydu.com all involve working a few hours per day in exchange for room and board.

SECURITY (see Travel – Travel Security, Travel Scams)
1. Back (packer) Glance
Get in the habit of looking back when you get up to leave somewhere. Travel is very distracting, and you’re probably carrying more stuff than when you’re at home, so you’re more likely to leave a jacket or journal at that cafe table where you were people watching. Make a complete inventory of the accommodation you are about to leave: the bathroom for you toiletries, under the bed, the plug-ins for your chargers, your locker. Every year I lose an amazing variety of stuff for not following this rule.

2. Separate Your Sources of Money
You know how you keep all your bank cards in your wallet/purse when you’re at home? Well, don’t do this while you’re travelling. Keep at least one in a different place, preferably not on your person. If you lose all your cards on the road it is very difficult to get replacements, and being without money in Timbuktu can be kind of unfun. If going out at night, leave your wallet and cards in a safe place in your room or security at the front desk. Only take enough money for the evening putting the majority in an inside pocket or under the sole of your shoe. Have some spare change in a pocket to give to the thief.

3. Don’t Keep Your Wallet/Purse in Your Jeans’ Back Pocket
To avoid being pickpocketed, keep your wallet in your front pocket, especially a pocket that can be buttoned or zippered up. Best of all, use the inside pocket of your jacket or have a pocket sewn on the inside of all your pants and shorts. There are also a load of different ‘money belts’ that either hang inside your shirt or wrap around your waist (under your shirt), etc. Make sure it’s waterproof because travelling can often be sweaty/perspiring work. I’d advise against the bum bag/fanny pack varieties. There is no better way to advertise the fact that you have valuables on you…and, of course, they were never ever cool.

4. Scan All Your Major Documents
Scan your travel documents and email them to yourself. It was traditional to photocopy your passport and visas, travel insurance etc, and keep them in a separate part of your luggage. But that’s old school. These days, digital is best – that way your documents won’t go missing even if your bags do.

5. Don’t Trust Strangers
It is hard to get to know the locals at a destination if you don’t trust them, but there are limits to how much you should trust them when it comes to your personal safety (going with them into a risky area of town), money, and consuming their food or drink (if they are not consuming it themselves). When people are being overly friendly (especially where it is culturally not done, like in China), they are usually up to something not in your favor. Do a search on Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree forum for the latest scams that travellers have reported for where you are going. Also, look at the ‘Dangers and Annoyances’ sections in your Lonely Planet guidebook and ask your hotel/hostel staff for safety tips.

6. Avoid PDAs
I mean Public Displays of Affluence (not affection). If you’re travelling abroad then you’re more than likely to be richer than most of the locals, but advertising this fact by wearing gold jewelry or carrying a $2000 camera around your neck is not advisable. It makes you a target for thieves. Leave your jewelry at home and keep your camera in a bag when you’re not using it.

7. Don’t Leave Your Belongings Unattended in Public Spaces
This is so obvious that I am embarrassed to mention it, but people do it all the time. Most notably, travellers leave their bags at their feet or hanging from the back of chairs when they’re at cafes or restaurants. Either keep them on your lap or wrap its strap around your leg. Buses, especially ones you sleep on, can be a problem – don’t use the overhead racks or put bags under seats.

8. Give It Up
There is a simple rule that people find hard to follow: if you are mugged, give over your wallet, watch etc. This shouldn’t be a problem if you have insurance and you’ve left all your irreplaceable stuff at home. Just do it, and walk away uninjured.

9. Be Wary of Using Your Credit Card at an Internet Cafe
Internet cafes’ computers may have keylogger software or hardware that records your key strokes, so unscrupulous characters (not necessarily the owners of the cafe) can see the username and password to your online accounts (banking, email etc) or grab your credit card details. A good trick to make this more challenging for them: open a couple of other browser windows (for the website you are using) and half way through entering your passwords or credit card information type incorrect information into these windows.

10. Stash Extra Cash
Cash is king around the world. To cover your ass in an emergency, make sure to stash some in a few different places. I recommend at least a couple hundred dollars worth in US funds. If you lose your wallet, your card stops working, or the ATMs run out of money, you’ll be glad you did. Some of the best stash spots include socks, under shoe inserts, a toiletry bag, around the frame of a backpack, even sewn behind a patch on your bag. That last one’s for you, Canadians.

11. Don’t Pat Stray Dogs and Cats
You may be missing your pets at home, but stray animals may be carrying rabies and other fun infections (and big teeth). You should also not feed monkeys, for the same reason. In fact, you should never feed wild animals anywhere – it causes dependence, the animals get used to being fed and become aggressive and human food is not animal food.

12. Check the Fine Print and Certificates of Instructors
If you’re doing a specialist course (scuba diving) or something risky (bungee jumping) then check the operators have legitimate qualifications and a good safety record. There’s usually a reason a course is cheaper than the others. PADI has a list of qualified diving operators.

13. Your Worst Enemy May Be Your Travel Companion
Often your travel companions will take risks that compromise your safety. They’ll ask for help from people who you wouldn’t go near, they’ll aggravate a situation with arrogance, or they’ll break any number of the no-nos mentioned above. Don’t submit to their peer pressure. Stand your ground. And if they continue to be unsafe then consider parting ways.

TECHNICAL (also see Travel Apps, What to Bring)
1. Tech Tips
a. Google Alerts. As a content change detection service, it emails you when a word or phrase is published online. You can customize the alerts to come in once a day or as they happen. Also use to notify you of sports updates, stock alerts, news stories, monitoring political situations, health advisories and storm predictions. www.google.com/alerts
b. Evernote. This is a way to store notes online forever. Create notes from either the desktop, mobile or web versionof evernote. Categorize with tags and synced to your mobile devces for remote access. When researching a trip, scour the Internet for articles and reviews about your destination, add relevant tags and store them so they can be accessed from your mobile device. Notes can be shared with people you are traveling with. Evernote has a clipper extension that transforms web articles and pages into easy to read copies.
c. Google Earth. Use in 3D, extensive location directory and plugins that enhance the amount of information and experiences available. Explore the area around your destination through pphotos and points of interest submitted by other Google Earth users.
d. Geocaching is a modern-day take on the scavenger hunt: Participants use GPS positioning to locate hidden treasures and a log book to record your visit. Go to geocaching.com, a central site for the hobby for hundreds of thousands of marked caches. Register with a free account with the site and download a Google Earth network link to see all the different types of caches near a location. A “Travel Bug” is a cache that you are encouraged to move around to a new location. Enter the cache’s coordinates so that other geocachers can track the bug as it travels around the world. Wherever you go in the world, geocaching can take you to all sorts of interesting places off the radar of normal travel.
e. Keep Your Phone Safe. With your phones remote device manager, you can locate your phone with GPS, ring it to find it, and even delete all the information on it if has been stolen. If you phone has been stolen when traveling, find it with help of police.
f. Tweet. Get quick customer service if having difficulty getting through by phone or email is not fast enough. www.twitter.com.
g. Digitize Your Documents. Scan or take a photo of all the documents you may need when traveling: passport, credit and debit cards, drivers license, health care cards, immunization record – and upload them for cloud storage (eg Google Drive offers 15GB of free storage. Evernote would also work. Dropbox.
h. VOIP. Voice over Internet Protocol is the transmission of video and voice over the internet, all for free. Skype.
i. Pinterest. Allows access to the millions of other scrapbookers that create, curate, collect and organize ideas into boards that cover almost any interest you could imagine. Check out any travel category.
j. Public WiFi. Protect your self on unprotected public networks using a Virtual Public Network that encrypts all your data.
k. Google translate, maps and currency converter

2. Back Everything Up
When your laptop computer gets stolen, having most of you important documents and photos backed up will save your ass. Keep both digital and physical copies of your passport, visas, driver’s license, birth certificate, health insurance card, serial numbers, and important phone numbers ready to go in case of an emergency. Backup your files & photos on an external hard drive as well as online with software like Backblaze.

3. Listen To Podcasts
Podcasts are awesome. It’s like creating your own personal radio station and filling it with shows and music you always want to listen to. I never thought I’d actually look forward to a 10-hour bus ride. But with podcasts, it’s possible (well, as long as the seats are comfortable). Time will fly by as you listen to incredible storytelling, fun music, or interviews with experts. Here are some of my favorites: This American Life, The Moth, RISK!, Radiolab, Blogcast FM, CBC Radio, and Electro-Swing.

WHAT TO BRING (see Travel – What to Bring)
1. Pack Less Stuff
You don’t need half the gear you think you do to travel anywhere. We’ve all done it. It’s a right of passage for travelers to slowly become better at packing less. Often your first bag will be 70 liters packed full, and with practice 50 liters packed 2/3rds full will be about right. As a full-time traveler, everything I need fits on my back. If you’re not sure about packing something, you don’t need it. It’s also possible to buy most things at your destination country if you discover you need them.

2. Pack A Scarf and/or a Sarong
Shemaghs and sarongs work great too. These simple pieces of cotton cloth are one of the most useful travel accessories with many different practical applications. They are great for sun protection, a makeshift towel, carrying stuff around, keeping the sand out of everything at the beach, changing clothes in public places, an eye mask, and much more.

3. Sleep
Earplugs muffle the sounds of crying babies, drunk Australians, barking dogs, honking horns, dormitory sex, snorers, natural gas salesmen, and more. A traveler’s best friend. An eye cover makes sleep possible in all sorts of places. A neck pillow (inflatable best) make sleep anywhere possible.

MAJOR TRAVEL MISTAKES
1. Overpacking. It’s tempting to bring outfits for every possible occasion, but it makes for a lot of weight, possible baggage fees and at least twice as many clothes as you need. You won’t wear all of them, you don’t have to sacrifice style, and you can always do some laundry on the road.
2. Not Checking Your Cell Phone Plan. Avoid data roaming fees by turning off your data before you get on the plane and leave your phone in airplane mode (you’ll still be able to connect to wi-fi). If data is important to you, look into buying an international plan or buying a local SIM card once you arrive. Americans, should consider T-Mobile with free data in 200 countries and it has literally changed the way we travel. (even with no affiliation with T-Mobile, pay your monthly plans.)
3. Not Booking Enough Time In Between Flights. Flight conditions can be unpredictable. If one gets delayed, you might not make the connection in time. Plan for at least a two-hour layover especially if you have to go through security just to get from one flight to another. Over-top-security issues in the USA in 2016 have produced huge lines, delays and missed flights.
4. Not Grabbing Some Local Currency at the Airport. As soon as you leave the airport, you’ll need local currency to take transportation in many countries. Sometimes the airport’s ATMs gives better exchange rates. Credit cards are of limited value in third world countries and incur a service fee of at least 3%.
5. Not Informing Your Credit Card Company of Your Plans. Credit card companies flag foreign transactions in case of credit card fraud and may freeze your account, so be sure you inform them ahead of time. While you’re at it, find out foreign transaction fees.
6. Not Buying Travel Insurance. Travel insurance covers medical expenses. Coverage for cancellation fees may not be necessary.
7. Not Checking Visa Requirements. Being turned away at a foreign checkpoint will be expensive, time-consuming, and possibly put an end to your trip. There are several websites that list visa requirements for different countries, so find out ahead of time.
8. Packing Too Many Activities or Countries Into One Trip. This limits your opportunities. You’ll be too busy to find hidden gems or follow up on tips from locals, and the hassle of so much travel can be stressful. Make sure you give yourself some time to relax and soak up the best of what each destination has to offer.
9. Not Keeping Track of Your Reservation Details. It’s an unnecessary hassle to have to rummage through your bags for your itinerary, and you might not have access to a printer for another copy if you lose it. If you can, keep your itinerary in its own pocket of a bag or keep an electronic copy on your phone.
10. Not Keeping Your Valuables Safe. Theft is the last thing you want to deal with, so avoid having your cash, electronics, or other valuables stolen by purchasing anti-theft bags and by keeping them with you whenever possible.

MISCELLANEOUS
1. Keep Good Notes
My memory for details sucks. Information like the names of people I met, conversations I had, feelings about a new experience, or what a particular town smelled like. If you ever want to write about your travels, these details are handy. Start a travel blog (this website is one of the best things I have ever done; you can write anything you want).
Everyone has their won way of memorializing their trip. For most, their photographs will be a mainstay. Some keep paper diaries (when combined with drawings, these are often true mementos. I use my web site as my travelogue. Write most days – it is so easy to get behind.

2. Treat Your Body Well
Travel can throw your body out of whack. When you’re moving from place to place it’s difficult to maintain a workout routine, and many of us slack off. Or we don’t sleep enough. Or we eat too many cupcakes. I’m guilty of not flossing my teeth. Remember to be nice to your body. Get enough sleep, stay hydrated, eat healthy, use sunscreen, develop a yoga routine and exercise often. And, yes, flossing too.

3. Stay In Touch
Remember to call your family & friends from time to time. Maybe surprise them by sending a postcard. Travel isn’t lonely, far from it. You constantly meet other people. But many of those relationships are fleeting. So maintaining a strong connection with the people who know you best is important.

4. Get Contact Information
You will make a lot of great friends on the road. Some of them will become lifelong friends. But sometimes you don’t get their contact information and you may regret it forever. With Facebook, it is easy to stay in touch with people for years after your trip. You may grow apart, you may never see them again but what will bother you the most is that you never got that person’s email just in case you are able to see them again. They become lost to you forever and you may wonder what happened to them.

5. Business Cards
Often very cheap, your own personalized card is convenient, fast and considerate. Keep in contact with all the locals and fellow travellers.

About admin

I would like to think of myself as a full time traveler. I have been retired since 2006 and in that time have traveled every winter for four to seven months. The months that I am "home", are often also spent on the road, hiking or kayaking. I hope to present a website that describes my travel along with my hiking and sea kayaking experiences.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.