Planning a big trip abroad can be an overwhelming task. Travel the World Without Worries makes it easy with in-depth advice that helps you quickly plan, pack and prepare—so that you can travel anywhere with confidence. Once on the road, you'll be able to make your trip your own and truly embrace adventure, while avoiding common dangers and costly mistakes.
Going on a RTW (round-the-world) trip, a gap year, a career break or a long-term journey? Then this book is for you. It deals specifically with some of the challenges of travelling longer, further and cheaper.
Adventure travel to developing countries does not have to be scary. This book helps you deal with issues such as malaria, travel safety and hiking advice. Whether you are on a gap year or on a round-the-world trip, you will be better prepared for what awaits.
Discover the best planning tools and resources that will help you create a realistic travel plan and stay within budget.
Know how to stay flexible and "wing it" if needed, always able to find a place to stay, get from A to B, arrange travel visas, and more.
Find out how to minimize the costs of your flights, accommodation and food, and never spend more than you truly have to.
Learn how to avoid trouble—from dengue fever to daylight robbery—anywhere you go.
Feel free like a bird, not packed like a mule! Use detailed advice to pack only what you need and leave unnecessary items at home.
Get past the awkwardness and make yourself understood... even when no one speaks your language.
Broken taxi meters, cloned bank cards, shady money exchangers: I've had to deal with them all (so you won't have to).
Travel is as much about faces as it is about places. Learn how to easily meet locals and travellers anywhere—even if you're solo or introvert.
Has your trip totally derailed? It's probably not as bad as it seems. Get hard-earned advice on managing travel adversities, both big and small.
Sage advice and relatable anecdotes will put your mind at ease... and will make you want to start travelling straight away!
Amazon UK Customer Review
The world is your oyster Whether you want to go away for 4 weeks, 6 months or 1 year, this book can help you get there. Learn some valuable career and life hacks that let you travel longer than you might have thought possible.
Getting inspired. Find out where to get the best trip inspiration. Learn the pros/cons of developing vs. developed countries, round-the-world vs. overland trips, and road trips vs. public transportation. Plus: how useful are bucket lists?
Financing your travels. How to determine a budget, save up money for your travel fund, track your expenses, and work while travelling (either by taking local jobs or by working remotely).
Finding your way. How to create a realistic plan & choosing the best time to go. Learn how to use local sources of information to adapt your plans on the go. Learn how to best use travel guides, how to get from point A to B, deal with visas, and manage day-to-day decisions.
Money-saving methods. Learn how to save huge amounts on airfare, accommodation and more. Haggle and get discounts others don't get! Learn how to best manage your money abroad.
How to pack and travel light. On choosing the right backpack, why packing lists are usually a bad idea, what clothes to pack (men and women), tips for packing light, advice for bringing digital devices, and more.
Buying travel insurance. Confused by all the head-spinning legalese of insurance policies? Find out how to get the right coverage for you, and which types of coverage might not be necessary.
Personal safety and security. Use appropriate sources to assess the safety situation at your destination—without freaking yourself out. Gain a sixth sense for scammers and thieves.
Travel health. Dengue fever, malaria, 'traveller's curse'... these are just some of the issues you may need to deal with. Get honest advice on how to stay fit and healthy.
Connecting with people. On choosing travel companions, embracing the backpacker culture, hostel etiquette, and getting to know the local culture.
How to travel solo. Honest advice on the (slight) pains and (huge) gains of travelling solo. How to make friends as well as how to enjoy being on your own, plus special advice for the introverted traveller.
Coming back home. Thoughts on reverse culture shock, and how to re-live your trip through your photographs and travel journals.
— Ketill Antoníus Ágústsson on Amazon
— Rachel LaFond-Widmer on Amazon
— R. Stuuts on Amazon
— Amazon UK Customer Review
— Francisco on Amazon
— Kristin Foss on Amazon
— Rob from the United States (via e-mail)
— Nathan on Amazon.com
— Paul Smyth on Amazon UK
— Amazon UK Customer
This book is all about helping you achieve your great travel ambitions. If you ever dreamed of going away for longer than just your typical holiday—if you want to travel the world for weeks, months, or maybe even a year or beyond—then this guide is for you.
Whether you are planning a round-the-world trip, a career break, a gap year, or a summer backpacking trip, this book will show you how you can travel further and longer for less. It will guide you step-by-step through all the pre-trip planning and preparation, and it will arm you with a wealth of trail-tested tips and techniques that you can use to make your journey more adventurous and fulfilling.
Going on a big trip abroad is very different from going on a regular holiday. It’s more challenging, but it’s often also much more rewarding.
If you have done it before you will already know this, but it’s amazing to go deeper on your travels. The difference can be hard to explain, though it reminds me a bit of the difference between snorkelling and scuba diving—two activities that I’ve often enjoyed while travelling in tropical destinations...
A regular vacation is a bit like snorkelling… it’s a lot of fun, but it also has certain limits. You might be able to see some wonderful things on the reef down below, but you are always at the surface level, and you are always on the outside looking in. There might be some amazing things just at arm’s length (like some obvious tourist spots), but you know that the true wonders lie deeper down below. That is, to me, what being a tourist often feels like. You can only ever dip in a little bit, but you can never go all the way. It’s often more difficult to go to places that are a little off-the-beaten-track, and it’s more challenging to slow down and get to know places more fully.
A backpacking trip is more like scuba diving. It takes more preparation, and it’s maybe a little scary at first. But when you do it, you unlock a whole new world. You can dive down and truly immerse yourself in all the places you go. A more adventurous trip lets you go deeper, stay longer, and see things that people at the surface will never see.
If you are planning a shorter trip, that’s okay; you will still get a ton of valuable travel advice from this book. But if you want to travel for several weeks, months, or even longer, then the advice in this book will apply perfectly to your situation.
Although I travelled for well over a decade on shorter trips and weekend breaks, it wasn’t until my first-ever backpacking trip that I truly I fell in love with travelling. I have been constantly going on trips ever since. One of these lasted an entire two years, taking me gradually through every country in Southeast Asia, and then from Mexico all the way down to Argentina overland. While much of my travels have been in the developing world (as you will notice from many of the examples and anecdotes to come), I have also travelled extensively all over Europe as well as in the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan. Throughout my travels I’ve kept a blog called Indie Traveller (www.indietraveller.co) where I regularly share inspiration and advice, and which quickly grew into one of the Top 30 most visited travel blogs.
Travel The World Without Worries is essentially the book I wished I had before my first big trip. While it would be silly to claim that you need a book like this to travel the world and come back in one piece, you’re likely to make costly, unnecessary, or embarrassing mistakes if you are not adequately prepared.
I myself had to learn some of the lessons the hard way. I once got stranded with a broken car on a mountain in Guatemala at night. I got robbed in broad daylight in Rio De Janeiro. My debit card got swiped and cloned in Honduras and more than $4000 disappeared from my bank account (which thankfully I could still claim back). I once spent the night in a pay-by-the-hour “Love Hotel” thinking it was just a normal hotel, which was just a little awkward. At an airport in Australia my taxi drove off with my luggage still in the trunk, and when I ran after it with my arms flailing the airport terror alert got triggered causing police to swarm on my position (I got my luggage back eventually). I lost my smartphone in the jungles of Laos, got scammed a dozen times in Vietnam, and got a nasty ear infection in Thailand for which a village doctor inexplicably gave me a jab in my butt (somehow I was concerned that he’d not noticed me frantically pointing at my ears).
Of course, these are just a handful of extreme anecdotes from several years of constant travel. The challenges you normally face will be no more extreme than figuring out which bus to take next, or finding a place to sleep for the night. But even such basic challenges can seem difficult, especially if you haven’t had to deal with them in foreign countries before (or maybe just not for many weeks or months on end).
This book incorporates all the lessons I’ve learned, as well as many insights shared with me by the countless travellers that I’ve been so fortunate to meet on my journeys. By the end of this book, you will be able to hit the ground running and travel with confidence. While you will no doubt still feel giddy when you get off that plane and set forth into the unknown, you can feel assured that you have thought of everything.
The chapters in this book are mostly self-contained so that you can jump around to find specific answers if you’d like, though it is best to read the book sequentially. It roughly follows a chronological order, starting with pre-trip planning, onto life on the trail, and finally coming back home.
Good luck, and bon voyage!
Deciding where to go can be difficult. The world is such a big place that you can easily become paralysed by choice.
Before I went on my first big journey, all I knew was that I wanted to get away for a while. I had no idea where to go. I taped a world map to my wall, blindfolded myself, and threw a dart at the map. Fate would show me the way! Then I hit Somalia… shit.
While I was looking for adventure, spending time in a failed state torn apart by warring factions was not exactly high on my bucket list. So I told myself this initial dart throw was just a practice round and that the next one would be for real. I threw again and hit the very north tip of Greenland, an area with nothing but ice and rocks for thousands of miles.
So the dart board technique pretty much sucks.
If you want to travel abroad, it’s best to carefully research your options and then to make a reasoned decision for where to go. There are certainly some romantic tales out there of people catching a last-minute flight to some entirely unplanned destination, but this approach is more suited to international fugitives than to travellers looking for specific experiences. Not knowing anything about where you’re going will surely lead to disappointment, or worse.
The challenge is to go somewhere that not only suits your goals and interests, but also matches your level of travel experience. Where you go enormously affects your budget requirements as well, and in turn your whole approach to your journey. For example, it can take a lot of dedication and creativity to make travel sustainable in the long term when focusing only on expensive Western countries. Go to inexpensive developing countries and the financial aspects of your trip will be much easier to manage, rewarding you with a greater sense of freedom as well.
While there are many things to take into account, the inspiration phase can be a lot of fun. Researching different countries and regions, imagining all those far-flung wonders of the world, and letting yourself get excited about it all is a big part of your journey—that is, before it has even started yet.
This chapter aims to give you a high-level overview of some of the options that are out there: different ways to travel the world, different high-level routes to consider, and different sources of inspiration for you to dig into. More specific trip planning is covered in Chapter 4: Finding your way, which deals with such topics as itinerary planning, accommodation booking, and managing the day-to-day decisions of your journey. For now, let’s simply dream of the broader possibilities.
Covered In This Chapter: finding the purpose of your trip, best sources of travel inspiration, travelling to developing vs. developed countries, rough cost estimates for different parts of the world, deciding between round-the-world or overland travel, descriptions and maps of the most popular overland journeys, road tripping vs. public transportation, how to buck the bucket list mentality, and more.
You trudge through the airport terminal in a numb haze, the halls echoing with announcements in languages you don’t understand. It’s been a long flight and you’re tired and jet-lagged—yet you’re feeling excited all the same.
This is it. This is the start of the trip you have been dreaming of. You eagerly make your way through the labyrinth of immigration checks, duty free shops and service desks, until one final hallway funnels you into the arrivals hall. As the automatic doors slide open, a new world is unlocked to you… one that you know is filled with limitless potential for adventure. You can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone!
But then you just stand there, the proverbial tumbleweed passing you by…
Uhh, right. So… what’s the plan now? Where do you actually go from here?
All those things you hear about travelling by your own rules and just sailing with the wind might be nice and all, but they completely ignore the practical nitty-gritty of travel. How does it actually work? How do you figure out where to go, let alone where to start?
The answers may be entirely obvious and intuitive to the experienced traveller, but they can be real head-scratchers to someone planning a big trip for the first time. Many of the questions I receive from readers of my blog are about how they should actually plan their journey, or how they can deal with the basic getting-from-point-A-to-B machinations. Someone might tell me, “Okay, I know I want to travel in South America and I’ve been reading about it for months. But what do I do now? Do I start booking things? Do I just show up to places?”
These are all good questions. Having covered the pre-trip inspiration phase earlier, let’s turn our attention now to the more practical aspects of travel, such as day-to-day planning, finding places to stay, moving around from place to place, and dealing with entry visas. By learning a little bit about these topics now, you’ll ensure that once you arrive at your starting destination, you won’t just be paralysed by that vast horizon of possibilities ahead of you…
How to wing it with a plan
As travel writer Paul Theroux once put it, “Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travellers don’t know where they’re going.” The idealized image of the drifter or wanderer is a powerful one, and many travellers will happily embrace such romantic notions of following your own path and letting the chips fall where they may.
But that may actually seem a little scary. It doesn’t give you anything to hold onto. And the truth is that some planning is still required for a big journey, even if you were to play things mostly by ear.
Ideally you should plan enough to have a clear sense of what you’re doing, while keeping your plans flexible enough to pursue unexpected opportunities as they come along. Striking that balance can be difficult, and many travellers do unfortunately end up over-planning their trip (and as a result, wasting a lot of time and effort in their planning phase).
So what should and shouldn’t you plan in advance? If you are a long-term traveller wishing to embrace the spirit of adventure, here’s exactly what I recommend...
Covered In This Chapter: what to research carefully and what best to leave to improvisation, creating a high-level itinerary, ways to stay flexible, choosing the best time to visit specific countries, how to use travel guides in your research (and how not to use them), the best online planning resources, how to get free travel guides, how to book accommodation in advance, where to get the best word-of-mouth recommendations, getting from point A to B, modes of transportation, arranging visas, making your day-to-day decisions, dealing with travel fatigue, and much more.
One of the easiest mistakes you can make is to overpack. Often I see people trudging around with big bulking backpacks designed not for travelling but for long-distance trekking. They will fill these to the brim with an outsize wardrobe, too many pairs of shoes, unnecessary equipment and a plethora of travel gadgets brought just-in-case but most of which end up never leaving that bag at all. They sweat, they toil, they curse.
This is not a great way to travel. The more items you bring, the more you will burden yourself with carrying, storing, and looking after those items all the time. Packing less is better. After all, you want to feel free like a bird, not packed like a mule.
It’s easy to see where to instinct to overpack comes from: usually it’s what we already know from going on holidays. The process for packing for a shorter holiday is typically not so complicated, especially if that holiday is going to be in a fixed location: you just grab a big suitcase and fill it with whatever you think you’ll need. For clothing, you might just grab multiples of everything so that you can simply choose what to wear at your destination. Carrying a heavy suitcase is, after all, not that big of a deal if you’re only going to be in transit for a short period of time or visiting only a few places.
For long-term travel, a more considered approach is needed. Being light on your feet has many advantages, especially when you won’t just be rolling luggage trolleys around at airports or taking taxis everywhere. Imagine running with all your luggage to catch a last train, wading through shallow waters to board a catamaran, or trying to cram your bag into the luggage rack of a rickety local bus that’s already stuffed with bags of produce and live chickens. Big luggage is clearly just awkward in these situations.
Backpacking demands a bit more mobility than conventional travel. But even the less adventurous long-term traveller will still be faced with having to pack and carry their luggage again and again. Keeping things lean will save yourself a lot of sweat and tears.
It seems that, inevitably, every traveller learns the value of packing light eventually. I once had to help carry people’s bags onto a boat in Panama when one nearly did my back in, surely weighing at least 30 kilograms. It required two people to get the bag on board, hoisting it up as though it was a bodybag containing some monstrous cadaver. This bag’s owner confessed that it had been doing her back in for weeks, and swore she would never pack so much again. On Bali in Indonesia I met a guy so frustrated with carrying too much stuff around that he donated half his clothes to a local charity. Before he had arrived at this decision, he told me he despised his heavy bag so much he wanted to burn it in a fire.
This is why it is better to err on the side of packing less and not packing more. Try to get into the mind-set that everything you bring has a hidden cost: that of you having to physically take it everywhere.
Another aspect worth examining is the bag itself. You may of course already have a backpack that you can use, though perhaps you will want to buy a backpack specifically for your trip. If you have some money to spend, investing in a good backpack will pay off generously in terms of comfort and convenience.
Backpacks, by the way, offer many advantages over suitcases—at least for the type of travel covered in this book. Travelling with a suitcase is not ideal unless you plan to spend time exclusively in comfortable tourist hotspots or in modern and easy-to-navigate cities. Hard-shell suitcases are particularly cumbersome, and wheeled luggage is especially awkward when walking along dirt roads, cobblestone streets or sandy beaches.
Travellers keep telling me that, in hindsight, they feel they spent too much time prior to their trip trying to plan out their itinerary in too much detail, while not spending enough time packing well. Travel plans can remain quite fluid, and figuring out the precise details of your trip is arguably better done on the ground than at home. The opposite is true for getting your luggage and its contents right: this is far easier done before than during your trip. Properly taking care of this now will pay dividends throughout your journey.
Covered In This Chapter: the case for a smaller backpack, finding the right backpack, the 100% essential items to bring, the pitfalls of packing lists, packing your clothes, best footwear, which travel gadgets are actually useful, packing and organization tips, how not to lose important items, tips for bringing digital devices, and much more.
Many people sadly still think of travel as something you only do with friends or with a partner. Solo travel, surely, is only for the hardcore vagabonds who play the harmonica and have birds living in their hair.
Before I set out on my first long-term solo trip, I admittedly felt a bit self-conscious about it. I expected I would have to explain my circumstances to people… explain why I could not share this trip with a friend or partner, and why I am doing this ‘all on my own’.
A few days into that trip, I realized I wasn’t the unique and courageous little snowflake I thought I was. I met other solo travellers virtually everywhere I went; in some places it even seemed like solo was the default mode of travel, and those travelling together were in the minority. Rather than having to explain myself or having in any way ‘deal with’ travelling solo, I quickly got to see it as something very natural, very accepted and also very exciting. There is, honestly, nothing weird about travelling solo.
But it is a little bit scary.
A solo traveller has to be very self-reliant. There is only one person responsible for every decision, and that person is you. Fear of loneliness can also be difficult to deal with, and many first-time solo traveller worry if they are only going to have themselves for company the whole time.
Recognizing that solo travel can be a bit more difficult than travelling together (at least initially), this chapter will go through some steps you can take to make solo travel work for you. Ultimately, it is somewhat of an acquired skill and it is not for everyone, but it also not as challenging as many people think.
One of the great advantages of solo travel is that you are no longer dependent on others to travel. Sometimes your friends just aren’t able to join you due to work or other obligations, and it is especially rare for friends to both be in a situation allowing them to get away for a longer-term trip. Solo travel, by the way, is not only for those who are single. Some people travel both with their partner and on their own.
Personally, I think it may just be the best way to travel, and hope to convince more people to do it.
Topics discussed in this chapter: the highs and lows of solo travel, how to stay 'in the zone' when you travel alone, how to make friends on the trail (and when is it okay to 'tag along'?), how to get through the critical first few days, and what to do if you are not especially extroverted.
(Not travelling solo? Another chapter in this book covers how to be succesful travel partners...)