Curious about all those little questions that need answering before you get on the road? I was in your shoes, and have racked my brain to recall all the details I needed to know. If you have your own additional questions, drop them in the comments section below, and I will get to them asap. If you’re really losing sleep over them, email me here, and I will get back to you as fast as humanly possible.
Who can travel long term?
Anyone can do this. You need to be able to say goodbye to your material possessions (even temporarily). You need to tell your boss you want to grow, and your parents not to freak out. That’s all. We’ll get to all the other questions. Come along, don’t be scared…
What do I need to do before a trip?
Read this site, follow the information. Trust yourself.
If you’re still nervous, shoot me an email. I’ll calm you down, and give you the confidence to get on the plane. The world will take it from there.
Should I use a money belt?
Would you go out in Chicago with a money belt? Didn’t think so.
If you want to use a moneybelt, then keep your passport and everything else in there, but still use a daily wallet. Put as much money as you have budgeted for the day in this wallet, and use it as normal. Think of a money belt as a safe and NEVER ACCESS YOUR MONEY BELT IN PUBLIC.
Should I lock my backpack?
For practicality, yes. On overnight bus/train journeys it’s always nice to be able to close both eyes and know your stuff is safe. Also locks are necessary for hostels. Some may provide lockers, but not always locks. It’s going to cost around one dollar, and the peace of mind will be priceless.
I don’t know the language. How can I overcome the language barrier?
There is no excuse to not learn at least 5 to 10 phrases in the local language.
With the availability of language learning courses, free iPod downloads, and the Before You Know It program you can pick up the very essential language skills to show that you’re trying. That’s all it takes.
Nearly everywhere you go, someone will know a little English. Don’t forget about body language!
Will my atm cards work?
Check with your individual bank for the answer to this specific question, but in general, yes.
You will need to pay an overseas transaction fee as well as possibly a percentage of your fee. Again, check with your bank.
I tend to recommend the PayPal debit card to avoid any confusion, international fees, and taxes.
Should I have travel insurance?
The simple answer- yes. You can go without, but…why risk it?
Wouldn’t it feel better to have it just in case? Check out World Nomads for the best value I’ve come across. No, World Nomads didn’t pay me to say that. Yes, I wish they would.
How can I travel around the world for free?
Check out the Free Travel section of this site. Get your mind blown. Get on the road.
Do I need shots?
Yes- for some places. The best way to find the answer is this handy Net Doctor select your destination and see what Dr Net says. Having said that, I am currently traveling without my “recommended” shots, and haven’t gotten anything… yet*.
* bear in mind that you should never take medical advice from me as I’m not a Doctor and don’t want to hire a lawyer.
Can I travel as a vegetarian/vegan?
Yes BUT if you know you have an inflexible, regimented diet and are going to remote places where people are lucky to have food at all… I ask you to think about cultural sensitivity. Bring your own food, and don’t get huffy when the local vendors aren’t able to cater to your diet. Millions of people die each year because they simply do not have food. Be grateful that you are able to eat, and remember people come before animals.
When is the best time to leave?
Yesterday. Postponing the trip until “things settle down” or you “save a lot of money” or, or, or… I said it best in my personal diary in 2009, when I quit an amazing job to travel long term: “It’s not like I woke up one morning and all signs pointed to ‘sell everything you own, get on a plane with 25lbs of possessions and never look back’. There will never be a time when it seems logical, or sane, or rational to leave a perfectly great job, friends, the person you love, and a gorgeous homeland for the unknown.”
As you may be able to guess, I made the leap and never look back with anything other than satisfaction at my decision.
Can I hitchhike?
You can do anything you want! Hitchhiking is a lot like anything else in life, it requires thought and luck. Read the articles on free transportation while traveling here to learn more about hitching around the planet. All the single ladies, be thorough in your examination of cultural norms- don’t hitch hike at night, and don’t hitch with single men.
What if something goes wrong while I am traveling?
What if something goes wrong while you’re sitting at your office job? Life happens. It happens in the Caribbean and it happens in Colombia, life just got real in Colorado, too. Gather your thoughts, check your resources, and solve your problem. You can overcome anything life throws at you. Of course, it always makes sense to keep the phone numbers of your travel insurance, embassy, and emergency contact with you in your day pack at all times- just in case.
Why should I travel?
I don’t want to go alone.
Spending a lot of time on the road alone leads to two things: learning yourself very well, and making new friends. If you are a super social person and always need to be around people, search for CouchHosts who say they like to spend time with their guests, stay in party hostels, smile at strangers (but don’t give them the special smile- that could be too inviting…).
You just might find that you enjoy traveling alone.
Where should I go?
Take a gander at my PixFix and click a photo that makes your heart pound. Do some research into what that country has to offer. (Google Image Search is a great tool for this) Then find a cheap ticket to your dream vacation.
What about my phone?
Get a global, unlocked phone and you will be able to buy sim cards.
How will I get there?
Check out the transportation tab for information on cheap airfare, trains, buses, even boat-hitching and hitch-hiking.
I’m scared to travel.
What’s more terrifying than having unfulfilled dreams and a bunch of “what-if’s” at the end of your life? Nothing.
“The worst thing one can do is not to try, to be aware of what one wants and not give in to it, to spend years in silent hurt wondering if something could have materialized – never knowing. ” Jim Rohn
How do you travel alone?
It’s not always easy. Sometimes you get scared or frustrated, or really just want someone to watch your pack while you go to the bathroom. Two things can happen: you learn how to do everything completely self sufficient and become infinitely more capable than you were before, or you learn to ask for help. Both are great things. Don’t be afraid- you can travel alone.
Can I still party?
Part of the fun on the road is the party. Shaking your booty and your (probably dirty) hair on the dance floor, drinking a drink you probably paid too much for. The road is a great place to meet fellow travelers who all know how to get down. The same rules apply to getting down abroad as they do at home, be smart, be safe, and always let someone know when you’re going out- even if it’s a fellow hostel roomie. This is another opportunity to use couchsurfing, as most cities have groups- join the group, and you’re able to see the activities going on. People are usually creating low cost events with a community feel, that are most importantly- a safer option.
How to be culturally sensitive/aware?
Check out the wikitravel portion on customs and norms in the area to which you are traveling ahead of time. The countries in which you will be visiting will be aware that you might not know the way things are done, and will simply laugh when you eat with your left hand instead of right, or drive down the wrong side of the road on accident. This doesn’t excuse you from doing your research. You will find that people are happy to help, all you have to do is ask.
Am I going to be safe?
Contrary to popular belief, media hype, and government propaganda- the world is not as dangerous as you imagine. Bad things happen everywhere, but if you keep your wits about you- you’re going to be okay. There are many travel warnings on your local government webisite- ahem. (travel.state.gov) I’ve directly disregarded such warning and am living to type about it to you.
How to avoid dangerous situations?
The same way you avoid danger at home. Keep your eyes open and be extra aware when you’re in a new place. Ladies, don’t walk alone at night down dark streets. For that and other revolutionary tips, check out General Safety for Females Abroad. Men, don’t get plastered at a pub alone if you’re an angry drunk. Common sense will take you far.
What about food poisoning?
Again, common sense to the rescue. If it looks like it’s been sitting outside all day, and smells weird- don’t eat it. If there’s 100 locals eating in the place next door, and none in the next restaurant, skip it. If you want to take a chance, better wash it down with a nice bottle of wine- alcohol kills germs right?