Looking to see the world.

Discussion in 'Travel Talk' started by Kris, Feb 11, 2009.

  1. Kris

    Kris Visitor

    Hi guys. Anybody here travel around a lot, especially to unique places? I'm planning a backpacking trip for summer 2010. My goal is to see some unique places around the world, specifically North Africa (Libya, Morocco, Tunisa), South East Asia (Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia), and a few others like India, Mongolia, and Nepal. It will be quite a long venture, and my first. I'm very excited to do this, but I have a few questions. This would be my first time ever undertaking such a trip. What is it like to backpack around foreign countries? How easy is it to communicate with people, or find your way around? Is it worth finding a guide or just meet people at hostels? How much do you think it would cost to do something like this? I'd be travelling as cheap as possible; discount airlines, train/bus, and good old walking. How do you deal with people trying to scam or trick you? How do you even go about obtaining money in these places? Surely they don't have bank machines that accept Visa and stuff. Also, what's it like to travel alone? I've never left Canada before, so I don't know any backpackers at all. Unless I meet somebody in the next few months that is planning something similar, I'd be doing this alone. Now I've got over a year before I hope to take this trip, leaving me plenty of time to research this. Anybody know any websites that specialize in backpacking? I have so many questions and really don't know where to begin. Also...anybody up to travelling to these places with me? :D
     
  2. guy

    guy Senior Member

    if i were you i would consider this advice

    countries that are usually baking hot should be visited in spring or late summer when it isn't so hot

    countries that are normally cold should always be visited in summer

    the middle east should relally only be visited late summer or spring, winter is a pain, stuff is closed and its wet and cold.

    if you're going anywhere try turkey. get yourself a lonely planet guide book, do the coastal bus path first checking out every site on the eastern coast.

    syria is a good place its very good value and yes it is totally safe unless you do something really stupid, there are many interesting places in syria. turkey is full of historical sites, check out euromos and somewhere like nyssa. go to cappadocia and take a trip to nemrut and a tour of a caravanseri.

    jordan is ok but more of a hassle to travel around taxi drivers as well as being illiterate in arabic do not speak much english or know key streets in amman or key tourist sites of sleeping or visiting.

    greece is better in spring/ summer. it is expensive compared to what you get and the people generally unfriendly. before greece entered the eu it was quite friendly. don't stay anywhere near ommonia square, theres afew reasonable backpackers near parliament square where the kids of the british middle class have their big adventure, these places are reasonably clean and tidy. generally the further you travel from the mainland the more friendly the people, you must visit rhodes.

    egypt will be extremely annoying. stay at the "longs champs" in zamalek, it is reasonably priced and healthy for your body, the rooms clean and well ordered, you can take a taxi to where you want from zamalek, don't pay anymore than 100 egyptian pounds each way to the pyramids of giza, you can go for a stroll leaving the taxi driver to wait for a few hours or more. if you find a taxi driver who speaks english, knows where you want to go (they'll normally have a business card) - hold onto them!!! don't let them rip you off!! chances are they won't. you don't need to take a tour of the gaza pyramids just take a taxi there and wander. do not stand close to anyone who you are buying something from, they will snatch the money from your hands and then slip you back a lower denomination note as you demand your money back, if you think you've been ripped off shout police at the top of yuor voice they give you the money back quickly. there are guys supposedly trying to sell you newspapers at inflated prices on the quayside at luxor - they are just trying to rob you. instead of selling you the newspaper they try and rob you. idiots. take a nile cruise not some dirty sailing boat, you will just get sick.
     
  3. heywood floyd

    heywood floyd Banned

    You'll have to look into it, but apparently you can get an 'around-the-world' plane ticket for about 5 grand, and it lets you to go to multiple destinations around the world (I can't remember how many). I haven't done it myself so I can't go into much detail, but I met some people who were doing an around-the-world trip for about nine months. They budgeted and planned it very carefully... but not so carefully that they couldn't be flexible. I'd say ten grand including flights, but it's probably possible to do it for much less. I like to make sure I'm going to have available to me a lot more than the bare minimum-- I tend to be generous when I know the people around me are struggling. Sometimes people tend to get caught up in how much they're paying for everything... especially when there are no set prices... but if you find out you paid ten dollars more for the same service someone paid two dollars for, just consider it an experience.

    If you're going to be away for a while, and are planning on emptying your account on this, prepare for the unexpected-- things like hospital bills and emergency flights, and you'll appreciate staying in a nice place for a few nights after a week or so of cheap, two dollar/night non-AC rooms with cold showers. You might think you're going to get tough and endure, but there's no shame in a little comfort. A lot of comfort, on the other hand... is neither cheap nor interesting, and is mostly a middle aged thing.

    My advice is to have a plan, but make it as flexible as possible... if you think something will take a day, schedule two or three, if you think something will take a week, give it a week and three days. Always give yourself room to make mistakes, and have access to more money than you need. Also, be friendly, but be wary of strangers... most people won't necessarily want to kill you or hurt you, but a lot of people have no problem drugging you and stealing your money, especially in the third world. They will see you, think you have a lot of money, and if they don't want to sell you something, there are all kinds of con games going.

    I like to do lots when I travel, but moving around too much wears you out... and if I was going on an epic trip like you seem to want to, I would make sure I have lots of time to soak up the local atmosphere and have a day where I just sort of hang out and get my bearings. It usually takes at least three days to get familiar with a place... and the more you stick around, the more the place will open up. This doesn't apply to every place, of course... just the worthwhile places.

    Also, be sure you afford some down time where you relax, stay in your room and watch TV for a day or so, or go to a movie theater or do something normal where you can get in touch with the world you left behind. It's fun to stay in a country and make sure every day is an eye-opening experience, but you will get weary and it's important to take time to recover.

    I agree with ^^^ guy to some extent--if your priority is nice weather, you should take this into account. BUT you should also take into account that off-season prices are often much lower. I went to Indonesia in the 'off-season' (apparently, the monsoon season as well)-- and there were fewer tourists, cheaper hotel rooms, and to tell the truth, the weather wasn't so bad. If you go to some places in the peak season, the weather might be nice, but there could also be a lot of annoying, touristy crowds.

    If you can brave the heat/cold, it adds authenticity to the experience to have the place all to yourself. On the other hand, if you go to a place when it's cold, it also means extra weight in your bag, because you'll need winter clothes.

    Lonely Planet has guidebooks and phrasebooks all of which allow you to communicate without actually learning the language. They have books on specific regions as well-- but the hostels you stay may have copies to borrow.

    When you're packing, don't take anything that isn't 100 percent necessary. Take your MP3 player, your camera, maybe two or three pairs of pants, and one or two pairs of shorts. Button-up shirts are great-- when you're hot, you can roll up the sleeves, and when you're cool, you can roll them down. Take a good waterproof/windproof jacket, hiking boots, sandals, flashlight (better yet, a headlamp), mosquito repellent, sunscreen, a flexible brim hat is nice, a towel... anything that will dry quickly. I'd take five pairs of socks and underwear. Depending on what you want to do, you might want to take a sleeping bag and tent... but a lot of areas rent this stuff out, this would be more if you want to get off the beaten path.

    From what I've heard, India is hard for some people to get used to... cows roam free on the streets, which are also basically toilets. The Ganges has decomposing bodies floating in it. You will be unable to avoid getting sick. I've talked to a lot of people who had to cut their trips short because they just couldn't take it... sure, it has a reputation for being 'spiritual', but it is also probably one of the dirtiest places in the world. I've been to southeastern Africa, but not the North... where I was, you were advised to stay in the hotel at night.

    If you're going straight from clean, temperate Canada into some tropical or desert third-world country, you're going to be in for a bit of a shock. Indonesia to me was pretty nice and caters to tourists-- most people speak decent English, the signs are English, it's easy and cheap to get around, so you might want to keep that in mind if you're looking for a starting point. Nepal will be a relief if you go to India first. Mongolia is extremely cold in the winter... Ulanbataar is the coldest capital city in the world, and a lot of things shut down at that time.

    Anyway, now that I've written a book, good luck with your journey!!!
     
  4. heywood floyd

    heywood floyd Banned

    I forgot to add-- most of the big touristy destinations have international ATMs available, and most places do take credit cards. If you're going into a jungle for a few days or something like that, you should make sure you have enough money beforehand... but usually big cities and tourist destinations around the world will have international ATMs... even in Africa, they had a British Bank where I could make withdrawals with my Canadian debit card... I can't recall the Bank's name, but they're all around the world. Not sure if the banking problem in UK now is going to effect that or not.

    Traveller's Checks are a pain in the ass. Few places take them, but they do mean you can get cash if a machine eats your card (this happened to me once). For a trip this epic, you'll probably want to have some in case of an extreme emergency, as sometimes the banks are jerky about letting you buy cash with your credit card.
     
  5. guy

    guy Senior Member

    just to add this

    if you are going off the beaten track in east asia

    make sure you always apply mosquito repellent

    i know at least one person who decied to go hiking in thailand and ended up with malaria. the locals tried to use all their local lore to cure it but it failed because malaria can't be cured by black magic, she endured days of them (the locals)scrubbing her skin to no avail, she was too weak to resist them.

    thankfully she managed to get back into town and a hospital which probably saved her life.

    if you are travelling to primitive cultures you should sweep all the psychobabble away about these cultures and use your brain and eyes to tell you the reality of these cultures.

    she will have malaria for the rest of her life - it is incurable

    going somewhere when the weather is crap will only make you miserable and resentful about these places despite ssaving money. i've done the whole money saving techniques and it just wears you down. marching along some dusty godforesaken road in the blazing sun with a nail from the boot digging in your foot , with massive splits in your trousers and being robbed by the arabs of marseille of your backpack whilst you fell asleep for 15 minutes is no holiday (i found a can on the side of the road, tore it apart and folded it up into a square that blunted the nail of the boot)
     
  6. FunkyPhreshMama

    FunkyPhreshMama Visitor

    I had a few friends visit Morocco a few weeks ago and they had a blast........ I have yet to go there, hopefully I can make a trip there before I have to go back to the states.
     
  7. heywood floyd

    heywood floyd Banned

    Yes, mosquito repellent, and anti-malarial drugs. Unfortunately, there is no way to stave off dengue fever... except avoiding mosquitoes, and that shit's nasty. If you're sick and away from home, completely reliant on the local medicine, it really really sucks... and multiply that by about a hundred if you're completely alone.

    And about off-season travel-- I've had success in Southeast Asia going just before peak season is about to begin or just after it ended, not right in the middle of the monsoon season. It was cloudy a couple of times, but all in all, the rain wasn't bad... actually, it cooled things down. Maybe I was just lucky though.

    I can't speak for Morocco or those kinds of places, though... but anyway, it's all an experience, and it will only make you tougher in the end.
     

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