Planning Your Trip

Overview:

This section provides all the travel research and aggregated information we collected to decide what to do, when and how. We have found the best policy is to not produce a plan, which invariably changes due to many factors. The key is to understand the options as much as possible in order to make good decisions regarding what to do and how to do it. This enables you to be informed and know the best bet in as many siutations as possible to give you flexibility, while being effective in taking action. This also helps you avoid looking like a lost cat up a tree, flailing your arms around and looking through the Lonely Planet as well as numerous maps at the same time. Just don’t do it. You don’t want to look like an idiot, attract thieves or other people offering you a lower than adequate service.

We also like to avoid the Lonely Planet where ever possible. Due to its massive success in providing such comprehensive information many, many people use it for their travels. Some use it to plan and execute their ‘adventure’ exclusively. We argue that this is tuning travellers into sheep, following each other around the world and for us this is contrary to the goal of travel.

We have managed to discover cheaper hotels than advertised in the Lonely planet and also opportunities that have arisen through simply getting involved, taking to locals and spotting an opportunity. For example, staying with a family in a balcony space that is not advertised because we talked with them at a local bar. Although this is not the most planned and ‘secure’ way to travel it really does keep you on your toes and work with locals, rather than being surrounded in a bubble of advice that is shared only with fellow, western travellers. That said we did purchase the Loney Planet for key countries that we were particularly interested in visiting as it does provide a wealth of useful tourist sites, climate information and practical tips from someone who has visited the country. More detailed information like bus times and numbers etc often change very regularly in more remote places, which means that despite purchasing the latest version of the Lonely Planet, bus and other transport information can be wrong.

Cash:

The following is a great table from XE that allows you to manage your budget and includes the bank charges that you will incur that are part of this consideration.  It completes the currency conversion for you also.  http://www.xe.com/tec/table.shtml

Insurance:

Good insurance with global coverage of countries  is normally quite expensive. Cheaper policies will not cover personal possessions, only medical costs and often attract a large excess. If you do have one or a number of valuable items, such as a top-of-the-line camera, it can make more sense to not even try to have them covered on normal travel insurance and instead go for a specialist insurance company, which generally have better terms and prices for these items.

While away make sure you don’t do anything silly like travelling against medical advice or take part in an activity that you know is not covered.  It just is not worth the risk as the repercussions are massive if something goes wrong.  On that note ensure that you are covered for dangerous activities such as diving, rafting and climbing if you may take part in such activities.

The most important thing is to take your policy details away with you. If anything goes wrong on your trip do everything by the book, including contacting the company immediately (they will give you a hotline number).  Ensure that you keep all receipts for items that you are taking with you.  You need these to make a claim later.  If you do not have it then it is not worth insuring!

Visas:

Always try to obtain up-to-date visa information, which can be hard to come across unless on the ground in the area. Guidebooks and websites are often out of date.

Poor Visa planning can waste days in administration through bureaucracy, or mean that you are not able to enter a country.  As a result make sure you know the proceedure for obtaining Visas and that you follow all possible steps at home as possible.

Remember when picking up visas en route to be flexible – things don’t always go the way you expect and you certainly can’t go anywhere you want, when you want. Visas maybe available next day in many embassies, but if you apply on Friday, you won’t be able to pick it up for three days. In addition be very wary of festivals that bring everything to a halt and unexplained rejections or transit/shorter visas being issued when a full one was requested.

Patience  is needed to deal with a lot of pointless bureaucracy in some places.

Embassy Addresses:

Embassy of Argentina in London, United Kingdom – 65 Brook Street, London W1Y 1YE. Tel: (44 20) 7318 1300. Fax: (44 20) 7318 1301, 7318 1349. E-mail: feruni@mrecic.gov.ar

Embassy of Bolivia in London, United Kingdom – 106 Eaton Square, London SW1W 9 AD. Tel: (44 20) 7235 4248, 7235 2257. Fax: (44 20) 7235 1286. E-mail: embolivia-londres@rree.gov.bo

Embassy of Brazil in London – Embassy of Brazil, 32 Green Street, London, W1K 7AT. T : 020 73999000 F : 020 73999100. http://www.brazil.org.uk/ info@www.brazil.org.uk

Embassy of Colombia in London, United Kingdom – 3 Hans Crescent, London SW1X OLN. Tel: (44 20) 7589 9177, 589 5037. Fax: (44 20) 7581 1829, 589 4718. E-mail: colombia@colombia.demon.co.uk

Consulate of Colombia in London, United Kingdom – 15-19 Great Titchfield Street, London W1W 8HZ 3. Tel: (44 20) 495 4233. Fax: (44 20) 7495 444.

Embassy of Costa Rica in London, United Kingdom – Flat 1, 14 Lancaster Gate, London W1 3LH. Tel: (44 171) 706 8844. Fax: (44 171) 706 8655. E-mail: info@embcrlon.demon.co.uk

Embassy of the Dominican Republic in London, United Kingdom – 13 9 Inverness Terrace, London WZ-6JF. Tel: (44 171) 727 6285. Fax: (44 171) 727 3693. E-mail: general@embajadom.london.demon.co.uk

Embassy of Ecuador in London, United Kingdom – Flat 3, 3 Hans Crescent, London SW1X 0LS. Tel: (44 20) 7584 2648/1367/8084. Fax: (44 20) 7823 9701.

Embassy of El Salvador in London, United Kingdom – Tennyson House, 159 Great Portland Street, London W1N 5FD. Tel: (44 20) 7436 8282. Fax: (44 20) 7436 8181.

Embassy of Honduras in London, United Kingdom – 115 Gloucester Place, London W1H 3PJ. Tel: (44 171) 486 4880. Fax: (44) 207 486 4550. E-mail: hondurasuk@lineone.net

High Commission of India in London – High Commission of India, India House, Aldwych, London, WC2B 4NA. http://hcilondon.in. info.in info.inuk@vfshelpline.com

Embassy of Japan in London – 101-104 Piccadilly, London, W1J 7JT. Tel: 020 7465 6565 Fax:020 7491 9328 www.uk.emb-japan.go.jp

Embassy of Paraguay in London, United Kingdom – 344 High Street, Kensington 3rd Floor, London W14 8NS. Tel: 44 (0) 20 7937 1253/6629. Fax: 44 (0) 20 7937 5687. E-mail: embapar@londresdy.freeserve.co.uk

Embassy of Venezuela in London. – 56 Grafton Way, London, W1T 5DL. Tel: 020 7387 6727 Fax: 020 7383 3253. http://venezuela.embassyhomepage.com

Embassy of Uruguay in London, United Kingdom – 140 Brompton Road, London SW3 1HY. Tel: (44 207) 589 88 3544. Fax: (44 207) 581 95 85. E-mail: emb@urubri.demon.co.uk

Sources:

The key to being prepared is to do as much upfront planning through a variety of sources.

Wikipedia

World Travel Guide

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/uk

http://maps.google.com

lonelyplanet.com – thorntree forum : Reviews from other travellers

Trip Advisor : City, hostel and hotel reviews

Seat 61 : Train information and links across the globe

India Environmental Portal :  Environmental information for India

www.indiamike.com : Travel in India from other travellers

India Travel Guide :  Indian travel information

Festivalsofindia.in :  Complete guide to festivals in India

Aardvark Travel – South America :

Aardvark Travel – Asia

travelindependent.info

travelmoney.moneysavingexpert.com

minihostels.com

Volunteering:

Helpex.net

ecoteer.com

independentvolunteer.org

voluntaryprojectsoverseas.org

wwoof.org

idealist.org

volunteerlatinamerica.com

truetravellers.org

visozial.org (german)

charity-charities.org

missionfinder.org (Christian)

Bangkok

Where to stay in Bangkok If you want pure tourist backpacker hell stay on Khao Som Road. Be prepared to be ripped off and not have a more ‘local’ experience. We didn’t stay in Khao San, but heard it is noisy and dorms are full of drunk backpackers, from locals and visitors alike. Stay a …

Bolivia

Map: Weather: Bolivia is a country of contrasts in landscape. It has the Andes which is cold and dry, the deserts of the South West, which is hot and dry and then the jungle, which is hot and wet. Seasons generally revolve around being wet or dry rather than a winter to summer structure found …

Rice paddy fields in Cambodia

Cambodia

A changing country: Cambodia, like Lao and somewhat Thailand was influenced historically by India. Buddhism, the primary religion came through Sri Lanka and the temples are based on anchient Indian architecture. The country is one of the poorest in the world and has been beseiged by war and famine, through various invasions and the domination …

Laos

General Information: Laos was once called Lane Xang- Land of a Million Elephants. It is a landlocked country with the Mekong River forming much of the border between Laos and Thailand, while the Annamite Mountain range separates Laos and Vietnam. Laos also shares borders with China in the north, Myanmar to the north west andCambodia …

Maps

All the maps we have ripped and/or adopted from books we have borrowed en route.  Credit given where credit was found and due!  However most of these maps were photos taken of road side maps and those we found when entering tourist destination.  We have tried to especially include maps when they are hard to find …

South America

Flights: www.lan.com La Paz- Salvador is about GBP700,it takes 27hrs and there are 2 changes; in Lima and Soa Paulo. www.aerosur.com Bolivian airline Santa Cruz-Sao Paulo rakes approx 5hrs. Costs GBP140 www.voegol.com Linea Aerea GOL is a Brazilian airline. It operates several destinations around the world. In Bolivia it runs a Santa Cruz, Bolivia – …

Good boots are crucial

What to take

This section provides a live example of what we decided to purchase and what for, with the prices so you can see how much things add up to.  We found no such source and thought it would be massively useful to other travellers. What to consider: A balance must be struck between what you need …

India Planning

India Planning Overview: India is a place of extremes in every sense of the word. That is exactly what makes India so appealing to explore.  Extreme heat and dust, then torrential rain and flooding. Not the UK’s version of flooding, we are talking FLOODING. The Indian way of life also varies from the cities, which …

Peru

The land of the Inca trail, but with so much more to offer than what the sheep tend to do. Volunteering: intiwawa.de

Hong Kong

You cannot buy a through ticket, but it will cost around £70 or $110 one-way in total.  It’s a good idea to book the Hong Kong-Guangzhou & Guangzhou-Nanning trains in advance by email through an agency such as www.chinatripadvisor.com, www.chinatraintickets.net or www.china-train-ticket.com, or perhaps in person through a travel agency in Hong Kong.  The other …

New Zealand

New Zealand is in the Southern Hemisphere and lies in the south-west of the Pacific Ocean. It is comprised of two major Islands (North and South) and a number of lesser islands, the largest of which is called Stewart Island. New Zealand Information View information options by clicking on a region © 2007 New Zealand …

Vietnam

Weather: Like the rest of South East Asia Vietnam experiences the South East monsoon from May till October in Ho Chi Min, October till Jan in Hue and September till Jan in Danang.  Average rainfall is experienced throughout the year in the highland states of the north. Check out typhoon warnings if you are heading …

Nepal border crossings from India

Nepal and Bhutan

Overview: The land of Everest. Unsurprisingly Nepal is generally the home to visitors wishing to get involved in trekking and other outdoor activities. Kathmandu Valley has thousands of Hindu temples and Buddhist stupas, as well as rich nature reserves on top of the popular trekking persuits. The country is a very remote place and so …

Travel Tools

Travel tools that will help you check your flight, find out where to get cash out and then how much you will need to withdraw.  We have always liked making things easy… If there is anything we could add please add your thoughts via a comment and let us know what you think of these …

1 comment

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