There are many reasons to travel. Some people travel to get new experiences. Others to discover the human condition is universal. Travel can be an expanding experience. It’s also possible to travel in a little “cocoon” which doesn’t move you out of your comfort zone and is merely entertainment. I appreciated the article 20 things I learned from travelling the world by gary arndt
These days, especially if you have a smart phone, you can get away with amazingly small amount of planning. I have done trips were we do our “planning” during breakfast, but generally I like to do a fair bit of planning before I go.
- follow-on to Iceland thread on reddit
- google quiet virtual walk location to get a sense of what you will see
I am of the “one bag” mindset. That is minimize what you bring so everything can fit in a single, carry-on size bag to maximize your freedom.
- Safety: State Department Advisories. You can get much more complete info from the UK FCO including excellent Country Advice.
- Language Skills: Pimsleur Method (start at least 30 days in advance), Duolingo or RosettaStone.
- Culture: check out travel etiquette so you don’t offend locals. Joshua Project is a site about distinct peoples (ethnic) groups of the world. List comes from a Christian perspective, but interesting to anyone wanting to discover different cultural groups. For people who haven’t crossed cultures before, the book Foreign to Familiar is quite good.
- Health: CDC Travel Health including their Travel Notices. TravMed has a number of useful resources and IAMAT English speaking hospitals
- Essential Travel Documents
Sharing Economy & Community
Service / Volunteering
Mixing travel with service / volunteering / culture exchange can be extremely rewarding. Often you need to pay for the opportunity. Some will do an exchange of room/board for service. Be aware that many of these opportunities are scams. The other issue is that often volunteering doesn’t really help that much. Often a small amount of money in the hands of the people (such as micro financing) is much more effective. For long term service, things like the Peace Corp, Doctors without Borders, etc do great work, but you won’t be moving around. Some decent shorter term options:
- servas – housing for service and understanding
- WorkAway – no personal experience, but met a few people who liked it
- wwoof – organic farming
Low Cost Travel, Nomadic Life
- Art Of Travel: Written by John Gregory in 2009. Subtitled “European and World Backpacking On $25 a Day or Less”
- Foot Loose and Fancy Free in the 3rd World (archive): by Randy Johnson based on 6 years of independent travel.
- The Backpacking Site : Useful resource for people considering travel during a gap year.
- BootsnAll a site which serves the community that lives for travel.
- How to Travel: Chris Arnade’s travel on the cheap, like a local, and without a lot of luggage
- Digital Nomads Resources
- Alternatives to AirBNB
I am not a fan of the nomadic life for two reasons. First I really value community which is often best cultivated in a fixed location. Second, while working, I find the overhead of navigating life in a new location over taxes me. I don’t have the energy to deal with a new city and give my work my all.
Tickets and Transport
- Tickets: Ultimatefares | Kayak | google flights | Expedia | Travelocity | Orbitz | Priceline (and bid recommendations)
- megabus.com very cheap around mid-west USA
- see what seats are good … JetBlue A321 and FrenchBee premium seats have been the most comfortable “economy” seats I have used
- Live Flight Tracking
- TSA Wait times (SFO)
- If you are stuck in an airport it’s useful to know the best places to sleep. Some people join prioritypass to get into numerous lounges. I have been un-impressed given the limited hours and services accessible.
Hotels and Inns
- Fodor’s B&B Finder
- California Bed & Breakfast Inns
- Select Registry of Inns & BandBs
- cheapest timing: 15 days in advance
- resort fee checker
- Rent By Owner