All posts by Vago Damitio

Vago Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. He jumped ship from a sinking dotcom in 2000 and decided to reclaim his most valuable commodity, time. He bought a VW bus for $100, moved into it and set out on a journey to show the world that it was possible to live life on your own terms. That journey took him from waking up under icy blankets in  the Pacific Northwest to waking up under palm tress in Southeast Asia. Three years later, his first book, Rough Living: Tips and Tales of a Vagabond was published. After diving into the Anthropology of Tourism and Electronic Anthropology at the University of Hawaii (with undeclared minors in film and surf) he hit the road again in 2008. Since that time,he's lived primarily in Morocco and Turkey, married a Moroccan girl he couchsurfed with, and become a proud father. He's been to more than 40 countries, founded a successful online travel magazine (this one!), and still doesn't have a boss. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook
Flowers in Bordeaux

Tips for World Travel Planning #2

Travel Around the World, huh? You have probabley decided to take a trip around the world and since you are reading this, you are probably looking for some assistance in planning your trip. First let me say this, planning a trip around the world is fun, but it’s not necessarily easy.

towers in SpainThe hardest thing to decide? Where will you go? Sure, you’d like to go everywhere but unless you’re one of those fortunate enough to have big fat bank accounts, that’s not very realistic. The first thing to do is to really dig into where you want to go. There are a multitude of destinations and activities you can do. Which ones? Are you going to ride elephants, camels, or donkeys? Are you into resorts or hostels? Will you be looking for boutique hotels or couchsurfing with local hosts?

The first thing you should do is to sit down and create a top ten list of the places you want to visit. My advice is to first write down everywhere you have ever dreamed of going and cross them out until only your top ten remain. Don’t worry, you may be able to see those other places, but you have to figure out your main route before you do anything else.

Now go to the trip planning tool and see if you can chart a reasonable trip to those places going either clockwise or counterclockwise. Don’t worry about seeing them in the order you placed them. The important thing is to see them, not the order, right? Besides, you don’t want to take long flights or transport and end up doubling back over your journey.

Berber old womanSometimes, a destination just won’t work in a round the world trip. For example a visit to Zanzibar may not work if you want to go to Russia and take the trans-Siberian after visiting Munich and before going to Tokyo. You might be able to make it work, but try to make things easy on yourself.

Once you’ve got your basic route planned out, start reading about the destinations you’ve chosen. You can find a wealth of information on Vagobond and Wikitravel is a great resource or you can pick up guidebooks that cover just about everywhere on the globe in bookstores or on your kindle.

You probably have a good idea of what you want to do in your destinations, but research might just point out some things you didn’t think of. Are you into cultural travel, adventures, or culinary travel? Will you be white water rafting, hiking, biking, roller skating, or scuba diving?

Flowers in BordeauxI know you want to do all those things, but do you have the physical capability? Do you have the equipment? Is the equipment available for rent? Can you afford it? All of these things need to be thought about and written down.

In all liklihood you will be on ‘the tourist trail’ which means you will probably be seeing things that have been written about and experienced by others but if you want to discover new things about your destinations, you will need to get off the beaten trail. It’s not always easy to do.

There are many factors for why touristic places have become touristic. Usually they are easy to get to and they are safe. When you leave the tourist trail, you step away from those factors. One way to find off the beaten path experience is to get online and find the locals at sites like couchsurfing, tripitini, or vagobonding.com. The travel industry offers the easy path if you prefer not to put in the effort of talking with people who live in a place.

Kadikoy Beach Marmara SeaChances are, you are going to be visiting big cities. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but most big cities are pretty similar. There isn’t a lot aside from the cultural attractions that differentiates them. To really experience a place you need to head to small towns, the countryside, or even non-touristic suburbs. Sure, Sultanahmet and Taksim in Istanbul are great, but when you stay in Sisli, you get to really soak in what life in Turkey is like.

For getting around, I think local transport is one of the great joys of travel. Commuter trains, shared cabs, minibuses, bicycles, and the always wonderful feet. Cabs are easy, but you won’t get much more than a ripoff with most of them. Sometimes you meet a great cabby though and…they are usually safe.

too many bags

World Travel Tip – Bag Storage

too much luggageSometimes when you are traveling the world you find yourself in a city that wasn’t necessarily on your agenda. There can be a few reasons for this:

-A layover
-A cancelled or missed flight
-A bus breaking down
-Or maybe just random chance

In addition to having travel insurance, another thing you can consider is making the most of your time in a city or town you didn’t plan on being in. The big impediment to that is usually that you have your luggage or gear with you and you don’t want to lug it around while you explore. Never worry, this vagabond tip will help you to overcome that challenge.

First of all, you should know that most bus stations, train stations, and even some airports offer lockers or bag storage for short term. What that means is that for just a few dollars you can leave your bag in safety and wander around, have lunch, take photos, or just take a nap without worrying what is happening to your stuff.

too many bagsEven if you just need to go out and find a hotel or hostel, this makes things considerably easier. So, what if there isn’t a locker or bag storage?

Easy. Hotels and hostels often offer free bag storage for their guests so that they can check out but not have to carry their bags with them. The secret is that you don’t have to be a guest to store your bag! Just pop into a hotel or hostel and ask them if you can leave your bag with them for an hour, a day, or sometimes even longer. Often they won’t charge you and if they do, it will only be a couple of bucks. To be honest, higher priced hotels tend to be more friendly than most hostels when it comes to this. Frankly, it’s because since hostels are cheaper, the guests get treated worse and as for non-guests, well, you don’t get any sort of respect – generally. So you are better off picking a fancy place than a dive or hostel.

After that you can visit museums, tourist attractions, restaurants, or make arrangements for your next leg of travel without having the bags with you.

Where do you store your bags when you want to explore a place? Do you have favorite places in favorite cities? How much do they charge and how long can you leave your stuff with them?

Belgian rain

Off the Beaten Track: Tips for Getting the Most from Adventure Travel

Adventure travel provides excitement and exhilaration at every turn but it can also make you very vulnerable. To ensure you enjoy your trip as intended and make the most of your experiences, keep the following tips in mind.

hiking in ServiaKeep comfortable

Chances are you will spend more time walking and exploring by foot than you will by public transport on an adventure trip which is why comfortable clothing and equipment is a must. Certain conditions and climates may not always be the comfiest but as long as you come prepared, nothing will mar your enjoyment. Durable footwear and a spacious, well-designed backpack are essential items, especially if you intend to travel light.

Prioritise your health

There is nothing worse than wasting days of your precious vacation confined to your room with a bug or an infection. Unfortunately many things can trigger an illness while abroad such as the local water supply or certain foods but it’s possible to prevent illness by taking the suitable travel medication before and during your trip. Prebiotic like ‘Travel Aid’ are preferable to traditional probiotics since they give your immune system a much-needed boost and prevent bad bacteria from thriving to avoid any further complications.

Belgian rain

Use adventure travel apps

Travelling is generally all about enjoying the moment without any distractions or much interference from modern technology, but there is no harm in using it when it may be able to save your life. Phone apps can help you in emergency situations and may even enrich your experience. Everything from deciding how to tip in foreign countries to needing medical assistance can be stressful when travelling and thankfully many apps can make light of these common issues.

Android apps like ‘Tipping bird’ for example can actually calculate the appropriate tip to give according to the country, type of service and even the individual i.e. cleaning staff or baggage handlers etc. An equally useful travel app is the ‘Help Call’ app which cleverly detects your location, scans a database of local emergency numbers and calls the nearest one to you.

Adventure travel doesn’t come without its risks, but this is what makes it so exhilarating. Experiencing your destination in a unique light is what makes travel worthwhile and spurs you on to try new things.

If you want to get the feel of offbeat accommodation on your travels, hoteliers such as Chic Retreats offer the weary traveller a quiet and secluded spot to call base camp, featuring an array of private hideaways that concern themselves more with charm and character than a magnet for tourism.