As we’ve watched the countdown to our round-the-world trip go from months to weeks and now just mere days, the excitement and anticipation is nearly at breaking point. However, mixed in with those two emotions is a little dash of healthy fear of what we’re about to embark on.
To help deal with that fear and to prepare ourselves for our journey, we thought we would ask some of our favorite travel bloggers to give their single best piece of advice for the would-be round-the-world traveler. After all, there’s nothing better than useful advice from an experienced traveler, right?
We received a fantastic response and sure learned a lot from our peers in the process. Hopefully you can learn something from these great tips as well and remember them the next time you head overseas.
Planning/Before You Go
Make the most of the planning stages
From Sarah, Footprints of a Backpacker
As unbearable as the wait to leave can sometimes be, the time really does rush by. Enjoy the time you get to spend with friends and family. Relish the opportunity to make the most of seeing your home-town before you leave. And enjoy the unique challenges that planning a round the world adventure can bring. The adventure starts the moment you decide to travel.
Subscribe to travel blogs
From Garreth, Red Hot Raggle
Fill up your Google Reader! Seriously, there’s so many great travel bloggers out there. Maybe it’s like a drug addict getting a hit. But reading those blogs keeps me going and also keeps the excitement building up inside me. Seeing these people going all these great places and being able to read about it is brilliant. The amount of places I’ve added to my SE Asia bucket list thanks to bloggers who are there right now is incredible. The travel blogosphere also seems to be a very friendly place where most people are happy to share experiences or provide answers to questions for you. Maybe it’s because of their lifestyle and being able to do something they love allows them to be so great. Get adding those RSS feeds!
Sign up for Couchsurfing
From Dani, Globetrotter Girls
We only signed up for Couchsurfing a couple of months ago (after over a year on the road!) and we have already had some great experiences. It saves you so much money for accommodation (especially in North America!), you get excellent insider and ‘off the beaten path’ tips from your hosts, and you get to know neighborhoods of the towns you are visiting that you wouldn’t get to know if you’re staying in a downtown hostel/hotel. Even just joining a local Couchsurfing meeting can be a fantastic experience where you meet like-minded people. We are now asking ourselves: why did we not try it earlier?
- Smile, the world is your oyster. (From Lily Leung, via our Facebook page)
Take a guidebook
From Dani, Globetrotter Girls
There are a lot of travelers who don’t use guidebooks (anymore?) and even though you can find a lot of information online, we were still glad that we brought a guidebook. There are so many places that we would have missed had we not read about them in our guidebook, and there are always good hostel & food recommendations. Of course you should still discover great eateries on your own, but especially when you don’t have much time in a place, it’s good to have some recommendations that you can (usually) rely on. Guidebooks also have city maps, transport information and border crossing details and eased traveling a lot.
Bring an external hard drive
From Cam, Traveling Canucks
The other thing that I would add is to bring an external hard drive. Before we bought our notebook, we spent so much time and money burning disks with our photos. It was not only frustrating but time-consuming. I had no idea we would take so many photos (and that was before we started playing with HD video!). Even with a notebook, you can avoid damage or loss by having a back up.
Pack a sarong
From Jeannie, Nomadic Chick
A great thing to pack is a sarong, it’s thinner than a towel and can be used as a spare sheet or for the beach. And I’ve heard even boys using it. Gasp!
From Mariah, Slacker Backpacker
Jeans have been directed some serious hate from the travel community. I know they take up more space, but seriously those zip off pant/shorts are not cute.
From Ant, Positive World Travel
I would agree with packing jeans as well. We travelled without jeans for 8 months and when we got them is was like all our Christmas’s had come at once.
- Take your laptop!! Keep in touch with everyone at home, find out info about where you’re travelling to and to keep you entertained. (From Monica, Total Travel Bug)
- Remember to take the mobile charger with you. (From Fernando Garcia, via our Facebook page)
On the road
Do what YOU want to do
From I Should Log Off
Live your own trip. Do what YOU want to do, not what the guidebook or others suggest you do. Don’t go somewhere you have no interest in just because it’s recommended!
From Jennifer, Edventure Project
Making the transition from tourist to traveler takes a while and the line is blurred. Perhaps the best thing you can do to help the process is to slow down, plan less and give the road time to change you. Hard and fast itineraries, a check-list focus and comparing your journey to that of other travelers is the fastest way to kill the joy in your journey and avoid the real depth of experience that can come from long-term travel. Resist those urges, breathe deeply, live in the moment and really live your life and your adventure.
From Andrea, Inspiring Travellers
I’d also like to remind travellers to stay flexible – or as flexible as possible. Once you get out there you’re going to be presented with all kinds of opportunities to stray off your intended course. Sometimes these can be the life-changing experiences you go off travelling for in the first place. Don’t let them pass you by!
From Jeremy, Living The Dream
The single best piece of advice I can offer is the eternal phrase by the late Douglas Adams: “Don’t Panic” You can plan all you want, schedule out every little detail, and something will still go wrong. You may get lost trying to find your hostel and unable to communicate with any locals, maybe miss a train, or even have something stolen. In the end, you’ll end up just fine. So if you don’t make it to the Great Wall of China or end up coming home early (like I did), it all works out. Don’t panic.
From Erica, Over Yonderlust
Don’t fret about the small things and try to laugh at the absurdity of things sometimes.
From Global Basecamps
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Not everything is going to go according to plan. Try not to stress out over the small problems and the trip will be much more enjoyable.
From Kate, Adventurous Kate
Take time to do absolutely nothing — whether that means sleeping until noon or watching cat videos on YouTube all day. Travel takes a tremendous amount out of you, and in between exploring and running, you need to recharge. And there’s no shame in that!
Learn to be patient
From Jaime, Breakaway Backpacker
I’ve always been the impatient kind always in a rush and wanting to get things done and over with ASAP. Well now that I have been on the road about 4 months I have learned that its not going to be like that in many places on the world. I’ve learned to have the most patience on “Transportation Days”. Read that post and you will see why you need it.
From Ant, Positive World Travel
Pack a whole lot of patience and be willing to compromise on the road as your plans will change on a daily or even hourly basis. Being about to adapt and go with the flow will make your journey much more smooth.
It’s OK to have a bad day
From Reclaiming My Future
That it’s okay to have bad days. It’s ok to hate that 14 hour journey to be dumped in the middle of nowhere or having to pack and unpack your bag every few days. Just because you’re on a gorgeous beach it doesn’t mean that you will forget the things that annoy you – you’re only in a different location. So BE KIND TO YOURSELF. Take time out, have a day where you feel like punching everyone and then get back to it – the rewards are worth it!
- Go local. Eat where the locals eat, travel the way they do whenever possible, etc. (From Talon, 1 Dad 1Kid)
- Trust the process… not every day will be postcard perfect. You have to be flexible and trust in the decision that brought you to where you are today. Don’t second-guess your decision. You made it for a reason. Trust it. (From Kelly St John, via our Facebook page)
What’s the single best piece of advice you would give to someone embarking on long-term travel? If it wasn’t listed here, please leave it below in the comments!