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.
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
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!
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 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
The key to being prepared is to do as much upfront planning through a variety of sources.
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