This post is for the first time independent travelers not for the seasoned travelers, just a few helpful advice to get you started on the great adventure. Seasoned travelers can add to this to help.
Get the funding right, whatever people say how cheap places are like Asia for instance unless you want to be looking thru bins and sleeping on the beach or in partly built buildings it's not. Also have money put aside for emergencies.
Do check out current accounts for the best deal. If you are away for months on end the cost of withdrawing cash can be high.
Have your savings drip fed into the current account so you still get interest, don't put all your money into one account. It's easy to set up a standing order.
Take at least two credit cards with you and pay off the full amount monthly, cards stop working for no reason at all it's happened to me several times.
In most countries you'll not have a problem withdrawing funds from ATMs but in Africa cash is king so get a money belt or you might find you get stuck without any means of getting your hard earned money out, ATMs are few and far between.
In China we found the only bank which we could withdraw from was the Bank of China.
To start decide on the parts of the world you are interested in traveling too and do the research, what you have as interests may not be what someone else finds interesting
If you are going to be doing all the tourist things this costs money keep this in mind.
If you are going round the world you will need to decide which way round this is based on climate/weather this is important so check out all the countries for the months you expect to be there.
For flights you can buy basic round the world tickets bought either on line or via an agent check out this vs booking individual flights or a mixture of both and domestic flights. This will take a long time and I would suggest you ask an agent for prices and do the comparisons yourself.
We have always managed to get discounts from agents, ask they can always say no and you can go somewhere else. It's your money so get the best deal you can.
For trains check out this site for worldwide travel
Whatever people say do not go without medical insurance
Well before you leave take a list of all the countries you are visiting to a healthcare professional and they will inform you of all the inoculations injections and tablets you will need. DON'T BE A CHUMP AND THINK YOU ARE SAVING MONEY BY NOT TAKING MALARIA TABLETS MALARIA KILLS.
If you take medication take the full course with you with a letter from your doctors explaining the use.
Take a prescription if you need to wear specs.
Visas cost money some are more expensive than others and you will need to get them on route so make sure you know where to get them, check out the countries requirements from the online embassy for your nationality, it will tell you the length of stay allowed the cost and whether it is from date of issue or predated.
The Russian visa is different you need to apply for an invitation and then you can apply for the visa.
It is usually cheaper to apply from the embassy than thru an agent.
This is up to you but when we travel long haul I always have a hotel booked at the other end for a couple of days it can be exhausting traveling thru time zones and who wants to be looking for accommodation dragging round your case/backpack.
I book accommodation normally a week to two weeks in advance the only time I would say you need to book well in advance is for Christmas New Year and any holidays the country as that you are visiting.
Hostels, remember if you are traveling as a couple it can be cheaper to go into a budget hotel because the hostels charge per person but the hotels charge per room. Always check the room out before paying if you are not sure.
The plus for hotels for some people are you will meet like minded folk.
If you want to meet locals try this website but make sure you meet up during the day for safety.
Allow at least 2 nights in a place allowing 1 full day to see the sights this is the least time you should ever spend in a place otherwise it's not worth visiting.
Well must go I'm in Egypt at the moment and need to eat.
Best of luck everyone there's a great world out there just for the seeing but keep save.
Read the information on this website it's a good site for independent travelers
To keep in touch with family and friends while traveling check out this site I used it for my round the world.
To calculate distances between locations
For world weather
Just a thought on ROUND THE WORLD TICKETS
READ the small print.
you will be flying with alliances, these are companies who join together to get you around the world without using their own planes for the full journey.
The reason I say read the small print is if you want to change the dates of any flights or even change the route this can be mega expensive with some airlines.
Just consider this and ask the question how much will it cost if I change my date for some reason, when you are traveling for months on end plans can chance and do and you don't want to be worrying about the cost.
You will know up front if you asked, Oh and get it in writing.
The most expensive thing to change is the route this is a biggy so think very seriously about this before you pay out your hard earned cash.
VISAs forgot to mention if you are wanting a working Visa this is different to the ordinary tourist Visa and will take longer to process so give this some thought.
You'll need to provide more information on the application plus you may be expected to have an employer willing to take you on.
These Visa can be for a year or more or you may be able to extend the Visa at later date.
Most countries expect you to have at least 6 months left on your passport so take this into account when you are traveling for months.
In the UK you can ask for additional pages when you apply for a new passport and I believe have pages added at a later date but I should double check this.
Oh take a number of passport photographs with you for Visa applications it will save time when you need them.
Ok you've found a bed for the night what's the first thing you do, unpack NO
check out the bed pull the cover down and have a really good look for anything crawling about.
I say this because if you get into a bed with bugs you'll know about it and not only that if they get into all your clothes it is a real pain because they lay eggs and what a job you'll have getting rid of them.
After all the years of traveling we have done we only had bugs once in our bed it was in London in a very nice perfectly clean hotel would you believe.
We checked the bed and there the little blighters were walking along the pillow as cheeky as you could get and not giving a care in the world for my tired body.
To say I complained was an understatement, we got moved of course and didn't have to pay but I couldn't sleep all night for thinking about them.
I thought the difficulty in spotting bedbugs is that they are attracted out by body heat so they are hidden inside the bed till the quiet of night. That's what a pest controller told me anyway. He said to check inside the creases of mattress piping to find them.
Re the recommendation of wikitravel, a while back the community of editors on there left and now use wikivoyage hosted by Wikipedia, so that may be a better resource. Last time I looked wikitravel is overrun by spammers.
Hi Andy thanks for the input
Well all I can say about bedbugs is from my own experience and I wasn't in bed and they were happily walking on the pillows.
Yes you should check the piping around the edge of the mattress that's where they could be. If you do miss them you'll know in the night because you'll get bitten.
I took advice from the environmental agency when we got back from London and they recommended all our clothes being put into a freezer for a few days to kill the eggs. Of course it would be difficult to do this if you are traveling.
When we were in St Louis staying in a hostel one of the dorm rooms was infected with the bugs and everyone was sleeping on the corridors, we were lucky in that our double room was OK but we quickly left the next day.
Please keep adding to this list seasoned travelers because I've noticed on here there are many first time travelers who just don't know where to start and as travelers there's nothing better than advice from people who have experience.
What to carry your gear in, WHEELED CASE, BACKPACK, WHEELED BAG
This one is personnel chose,
You might say how can you go backpacking with a case it's easy I did
Cases are easy on level roads but difficult on stairs, I prefer the ones with 4 wheels.
Backpack, if you can't lift it above your head it's too heavy.
It's easier walking up and down stairs and along rough ground.
If you are walking long distances a heavy backpack can be very uncomfortable.
My husband knows this from experience, there was flooding on the NYC underground and we couldn't get a bus or taxi, thousands of people without transport and we had to walk for over 3 hours not much fun on a hot day with a heavy pack on your back.
There are backpacks that have wheels although I've never tried one.
I've used wheeled bags, similar to case but you can't get as much in and you have to be careful packing anything that might get damaged. You will need to use locks.
In addition to a case I have a tiny day backpack for passport/visa etc wear this on my front.
and a larger day backpack which I put my netbook in, kindle, camera anything expensive that I don't trust to the case when flying.
Before you start thinking about clothes there are so many things to take which add to the load.
Some people travel light and that's great if you can do it.
Just an example of things that we pack
First aid kit, bandages, plasters, dressings etc
Imodium,travel sickness tablets, antiseptic cream, tablets for headaches, medication, itch and bite cream(Boots sell a good one)having an itch at night is a nightmare in hot climates.
shampoo, conditioner, sun cream, safe hands,ear plugs, sink plug,comb, brush
plugs, extension,scissors, plastic bags.
camera/recharger.netbook/recharger,kindle/recharger, Ipod/recharger, mobile/recharger(worldwide)
kettle, hair straighteners, toothpaste/brush/floss, hard soap (for washing clothes)pegs/line(useful)
snorkel/mask, sun glasses, spare specs, reading glasses
women/men personnel stuff
There will be things on the above list which you wouldn't take but things that are in addition to this,
thing is you need to think about what you will take and usually these things come to more than you imagine.
There are so many things other than clothes and if possible try and cut it down but I can't and luckily as a couple we manage to take what we need it's obviously more difficult if you are traveling solo.
With clothes this usually comes in at under 20kl each for us.
Some airlines and long haul will allow in economy up to 23 kl but you have to consider if you need to take domestic flights the baggage allowance could be less so check out the airlines you will use.