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Oh, if I only knew then what I knew's a couple tips I've picked up on my way that may help you on yours:  
Gonzo at the Taj

  • Beware what you read on the Internet (no irony here, nope, none).
  • Trust your instinct - it's amazing how loud it becomes before getting into a cab held together with elastics.
  • It's not about the quickest way from A to B, it's about how not to get lost
  • Every day, try and experience something new. Oh, and nothing makes you appreciate life more than when you risk it.
  • When walking uphill, especially at altitude, walk SLOWLY! You'll save your breath and energy and still reach the top.
  • Save the traveling days for when you don't have the squirts!
  • Buy a cheap stick before hiking the Inca Trail, it will become your best friend.
  • Book exchanges: Usually two for one or one for one plus a small fee. Hard to find good books, so prepare to read lots of airport material, mystery romances.
  • Don't put your daypack in the storage above your head on night buses, Keep it by your feet. I also tie a shoelace connecting my bag and leg, in case I nod off and someone tries to lift it.
  • Get rid of the small change when you leave a country. Buy anything, because as soon as you cross the border, the change is worthless and heavy and cannot be exchanged.
  • Always keep an emergency stash of cash somewhere in your backpack. Sometimes you'll find yourself in a town without a bank, and unable to cash travelers cheques.
  • LCD headlamps have become really popular, but every time I put mine on I feel like a bloody miner in a coal mine, especially late at night in a youth hostel when I'm trying to read my book.
  • If you staying at a guesthouse in India, SE Asia, South America etc, calm your paranoia by using your own door lock. Just don't lose the key.
  • Floss. Sounds kinda silly I know, but travelers fall prey to gum disease because of their naturally weird diet and the stress of travel itself.
  • When a guide tells you to bring a complete change of clothes, bring a pair of shoes or sandals too.
  • If a stranger approaches you on the street, chances are they want to sell you something, or rip you off. Unless you've got the time or inclination for either, firmly move on.
  • Buy your history books (if you're into researching countries or regions) from Amazon's Used section. It will save money, and also the time spent going to 5 bookshops looking for something they don't have. (Central American history, it seems, is not a big seller).
  • For more tips from Robin, visit his website:


    Travelling around the world has taught me the rules of the road: what to pack, what to wear and how to survive on the cheap. For those planning an extended backpacking adventure, here are a few things you need to know before you go:

    • Research travel insurance, immunization shots and tourist visa requirements.

    • To keep track of your finances from anywhere, sign up for online banking.

    • Carry various forms of payment: bank cards, credit cards, U.S. and localcurrency.

    • Pack lightweight clothing that doesn’t wrinkle or show dirt.

    • I like to travel with older clothes, so I can donate them and buy new ones as I go.

    • If you’re addicted to certain brands, stock up before you go. Everything else you can get overseas.

    • Bring a headlamp, perfect for those all-too-frequent power outages.

    • A retractable clothes-line to hang up freshly washed socks and underwear.

    • A calculator helps to convert currency and avoid rip-offs at borders.

    • Don’t forget plug adapters, a quick-dry towel and an alarm clock for early morning flights.

    • If you’re buying a new backpack, get one with “panel loading.” It opens like a suitcase and is more accessible than a hiking backpack.

    • Lonely Planet is the best guidebook series. It’s usually less expensive if you buy it abroad.

    • Don’t reserve all your accommodations in advance. Book the first night, then just go with the flow.

    • Organize tours locally. It’s cheaper.

    • If you’re visiting during low season, ask your hostel for a discount.

    On the road
    • Double check when your tourist visa expires. Don’t overstay your welcome.

    • When asking for directions, check with a few different people. If everyonesays the same thing, then go with that.

    • Expect different perceptions of distance. If they say “It’s just near,” it usually means it’s too far to walk.

    • Carry small bills, for both safety and convenience.

    • Take an overnight train. It slashes travel time and saves on a night’s accommodation.

    • Schedule flights so they arrive in the morning or afternoon, not at night. It’s safer.

    • If you want to buy souvenirs but can’t carry them, hit the post office. Sea mail takes a few months but is the cheapest way.

    • If you want to meet and mingle with fellow travellers, hang out at a localhostel.

    • Ask trust-worthy locals what the going rate is for food or taxi rides. You’ll be less likely to get ripped off if you’re well informed.

    • Embrace the fact that you will get ripped off. It’s a learning curve.

    • Read local newspapers for information about what’s going on in the city.

    • Carry toilet paper and anti-bacterial lotion with you everywhere.

    • Don’t live by the guide book. Explore, go off-the-beaten-track and ask fellow travellers for advice.

    • You can’t be a hard-core tourist all the time. Take days off to kick back and enjoy.


    For more of Julia's travel tips, check out her website

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