Category Archives: World Travel

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.

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?

Backwater Adventures in the Peruvian Amazon Part 2

Exclusive for Vagobond by Matthew Barker

Nueva Utuquinia is a typical Amazonian settlement, home to around 400 villagers who live in stilted, palm-roofed houses and lead a largely self-sufficient existence, farming their small patches of land and harvesting the abundant river and jungle.

Peruvian AdventuresAchiles demonstrated just how abundant the jungle is the following day, as we hiked from Utuquinia to the next village – a four hour walk through virgin forest. Along the way he stopped to point out tracks left by a jaguar, and later a tapir. The canopy bristled with screeching monkeys and the almost Jurassic calls of countless bird species.

But the abundance of the jungle’s animal inhabitants is almost insignificant next to the sheer quantity of edible fruit that literally drips from the low branches. Our trail was scattered with granadillas, coconas, oranges and lemons just waiting to be picked and eaten. With a few slashes of his machete, Achiles felled a small palm and stripped out the tender heart from its trunk – much tastier than the tinned version.

Amazon River stretchThat evening we ate in the village, a feast of what we had gathered along with a treat from the river; several large piranhas. I tried not to wonder on what they themselves had been fattened.

The journey back to town took another two days, thanks in part to a series of blockages in the think channels; driftwood, logs and swamp that had been washed into the river by unseasonably high water levels.

With each blockage we were forced to abandon the boat, machetes in hand and cut a channel for the boat. Fortunately the water was not too deep and we were able to drag the boat through each time, although not without destroying our propeller and getting thoroughly soaked in the process.


Peru Resources

Boutique Hotels in Peru
Hostels in Peru
Travel
Insurance for Peru

Peru Guidebooks
Peru and Around the World
Last Minute Flights, Hotels, Cars

“It’s all part of the adventure,” my friend shouted as we jumped back into the water for the third time in less than an hour. He was right, but I was still glad when we reached dry land and found my first hot shower and comfortable bed in five days.

Getting There

Trip styles in the Peruvian Amazon vary greatly. To get the most from your trip it is recommended that you work with a travel planner.

Matthew Barker lives and writes in Peru.