There is nothing easier than entering a travel agency and paying for an all-inclusive package, indicating only the destination where you want to go.
I talked to tourists who didn’t want to know anything other than the time in which to show up at the airport of departure.
The guide chosen by the agency, strictly with a flag always in hand so as not to lose even the most absent-minded, takes care of delivering the airline tickets, accompanying the tourist to the hotel and then up and down from the comfortable luxury coach to quickly photograph the various selected attractions, eating in the restaurant the typical dishes (of his country, so as not to make him feel too far from home and from everyday life) and, at the end of the trip, group souvenir photos, thanks and greetings at the airport.
The “flag group tourist“ is the opposite of my way of traveling but if you recognized yourself in this category, don’t leave my site immediately.
However, there are travel agencies that understand the type of customer sitting in front of them and do their utmost to make the customized trip.
Find the inspiration for your next trip and ask me how to organize it, so as to make your trusted agency’s job easier.
My desire is to tempt you to see the world with your eyes.
If you are fascinated by this way of traveling, I suggest you start by following these steps:
CHOOSE WHERE TO GO
The first question is: where would I like to go?
Travel following your interests, your passions, your dreams, your follies.
Traveling (a lot) you will realize that the Earth will become smaller and smaller, the landscapes more and more similar, the wonder more and more difficult to try ..
But for these thoughts there is time. And thousands of miles to do.
Write on a sheet some destinations that interest you, even the most distant ones and for now you think it’s impossible to see in person.
Keep that sheet always close at hand to add a goal that has intrigued you by watching a video, a photo or reading an article.
When you come back from that trip, erase that dream come true.
In a few years you will remember where you started and where you haven’t arrived yet.
Now that there are goals on your sheet, give it a priority.
For a traveller, time is an enemy against you have always to fight.
I happened to have to postpone a trip I had in mind because the days available were not enough for my projects.
If you have a weekend available, go for a city.
If you have a week you might be able to see even two or three.
If you have one month you could see a lot of cities in one country.
I have learned that seeing many cities or countries in the same trip, and doing a lot of transfert, makes you feel free for much longer than you have really been away from home.
Some times, travelling for one month may seem like a year..
Then it’s true, mine are never vacations but real tour de force.
In 1 month I travelled around 6 countries…
But I love traveling like this.
When you think you have chosen the destination it is essential to know what documents you need.
Is your ID card enough?
Do you need a passport or do you need a visa?
If something happens, are you covered or do you need medical insurance?
Do you need a sub patent to swim with sharks without cage?
Choosing the destination, it is important to know what documents are needed.
The identity card and the health card can always be useful but they are not everywhere sufficient.
You may need 45 days to get your passport so plan in advance or you may be forced to change your destination. For some destinations it is in fact necessary to communicate the passport data when booking the flight.
In some countries, in addition to the passport, a visa must also be provided.
In this case visa is a sticker that the embassy or consulate applies on the passport.
Sometimes it will be put directly on the border (it happened to me in Cambodia and Laos), almost always it must already be present in the passport when boarding the plane.
Each state has a policy of its own, it needs to be informed in advance.
Official embassy websites are more credible than the websites of your country of residence.
Depending on your residence, it is not always convenient to go personally to the embassy or consulate. There are agencies that do this for you. There are agencies that do this for you.
Medical travel insurance is also required to travel to some countries.
In the event of an accident you may have to pay very high amounts for your care.
Annual multi-trip insurance is available for less than € 100,00.
In addition to accidents, you will also be covered in the event of loss of luggage, theft or cancellation of travel.
In any case, I always carry mydriving license and diving patent.
I also prefer to have all reservations and copies of printed documents.
Lonely Planet was the indispensable manual for every real traveler.
Recently its importance has dropped a lot since the advice is not always current. But it can always be useful to you.
Beyond its status symbol, there is (something) more.
HOW TO GET TO DESTINATION
Now it’s time to book. Choose the transport that suits your needs and your pockets.
The search may not be quick but it can be fun.
Usually the first site I look at for flight connections is Momondo.
I start to write my home city and my first destination city.
Excluding low cost airlines, return flights cost less than one way. Therefore, try to make long routes with the same airline or with companies in partnership.
Direct flights cost more than those that make one or more stopovers.
Do not consider only the airport closest to you as a starting point but also think about those reachable by car, train or low cost flight.
The European airports with many routes are Madrid, Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt and London.
Moscow, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Istanbul or Dubai are airports where you will probably make a stopover to reach Asia and Oceania.
There is also Doha, where many flights to Africa leave from.
I always avoid airports in the United States.
Search for the best combination by also calculating transit time.
Once you find it, do the same search for the second and third destination that was previously “ranked” (possibly also the fourth, fifth .. see how long you want to dedicate to the final choice).
Some times I Had to completely change my trip because at the time of booking the flight had gone up so much that I sent everything back to another time, booking for what was once the second choice (or third, fourth …).
TROLLEY OR BACKPACK?
The departure is approaching and it is time to think about the luggage.
By hand or to be loaded in the hold?
I started traveling with a trolley. At first glance it is easy to choose wheels against a weight to carry on the back. But is this still valid?
Have you ever had to carry your suitcase up a steep and endless stairway with all its weight on one side of your body and then be completely unbalanced?
To me, on the metro in Paris and in many other places …
Have you ever been in the flood in a place where the roads are made of sand and the wheels of the suitcase are just another slowdown?
To me yes, in Isla Holbox in Messico and in many other places…
These misadventures led me to travel with my backpack.
Or better, backpacks.
I have always had little confidence in airport baggage delivery and I always try not to carry the backpack. But this, especially when come back, is not always possible.
So I organize myself like this: 2 backpacks with different uses.
I have a special bond with certain clothes: some t-shirts, sweatshirts, sweaters and scarves have traveled the world with me. They represent my being everywhere.
And then 2 changes, a pair of trousers, possibly costume, mask and snorkel.
The phone for me is just a phone and I often forget its existence on the road.
But I like to take photos and therefore cameras are always at hand: a serious one, but pocket-sized and with excellent zoom.
The other always serious but underwater.
Never miss some sd and an accessory that saved me often: the portable solar panel with more USB outputs to recharge anything.
I use recycled paper but I always prefer to print reservations and photocopies of documents.
You could to use a pen.
Don’t forget some medicine, a rope and, if you are not able, a whistle.
It’s very important to choose which one will be your travelling partner for years.
I use a Ferrino backpack with a built-in waterproof cover.
Towel, slippers, trousers, and gearboxes go in here.
At least at the start of trip, I put the small backpack inside the big backpack, so I have only one piece of hand luggage.
On the way back I will use the space for the memories of this trip…
WHERE TO SLEEP
Traveling at night does not always mean sleeping, or at least not a deep sleep. Every day have its organization.
Tomorrow will be more useful the hotel breakfast, the location of the hostel, fast airport check in or don’t waste time and sleep in a night bus?
– Night train or bus: I often optimize my times by using them to make long journeys. In this way you save the money of a night in a hotel / b&b / hostel and arrive in the morning at your destination, ready to start a new day.
Night buses have such large and comfortable seats that they can look like real beds.
However, try to respect those in the seat behind you. You may also have chosen the fully reclining seat, but if it means hurting those behind you, understand it without having to receive guerrilla all night.
In Peru it happened to me that the ignorant man in front of me was trying to totally recline his seat, even if he was banging on my legs.
Neither of us slept that night…
– Airport: I spent a hundred nights in about twenty airports and a few stations, waiting for the first means of transport in the morning. Perhaps it will seem strange to you, but spending a night in a comfortable airport space, perhaps dark and with a nearby charger, can be a choice, both economic and of hourly comfort.
And if you don’t believe me, the sleepinginairports.net site will show you that many airports are reviewed based on the needs of an “airport bum”.
– Hostel: If you imagine you have to spend the night with your eyes open and your luggage under the sheet because the other guests in the room are there to rob you, etc., you have a completely wrong idea about hostels.
Many hostels have private rooms with private bathrooms so you don’t have to share anything more than in a hotel.
If instead you choose a bed in a shared room, it is true that you will be able to find all the other beds occupied (but someone could free his bed at 2 am, someone could arrive at 5.00 am) but those who choose this accommodation want:
1) save money
2) tell in the room or in the common areas
3) get to know other people with whom to share part of the journey
(and not everyone wants to go beyond the first option, you are not obliged to speak)
I’ve never had any problems in hostel. Try to be respectful (don’t make too much noise if you have to leave the room in the middle of the night and don’t turn on all the lights if you come back into the room at night) and tolerant (everyone gets snoring, don’t wake up with cushions who disturbs your sleep )
– Hotel: happen to find some cheap offer for a hotel rather than a hostel. In this case, my priority always goes to the area: proximity to the metro, buses or points of interest. I book breakfast only for the first night. Eventually I’ll pay next breakfast directly at the hotel.
– B&B: prices are usually closer to hotels than to hostels. I rarely choose this option.
– Couchsurfing: hosting or being hosted for free (usually in exchange for small gifts, cooking aid, etc.) is another way to travel knowing the city with your eyes and the experience of those who live there. You could also contact those who live in your destination to ask for some advice or, why not, help those who come to your city.
LANGUAGES AS A LIMIT TO TRAVEL
Many avoid a demanding journey on their own, thinking they will not be able to overcome the obstacle of the unknown foreign language.
Do you speak no language other your?
The school taught me only English. And that English didn’t help me almost anything.
I’ve always had a mental repulsion for English. I discreetly understand it by reading it, I speak it sufficiently to understand and be understood, but I never accepted its superiority given by an “anglo-united-states-centric” worldview.
I have never studied Spanish but I manage to untangle it well by talking about it, both for the influence that the Aragonese had on Sardinia and therefore in the Sardinian language, and for the numerous trips on the Iberian peninsula and in South America.
I only did one language course, Russian, with the excellent organisation of the Belarusian Consulate in Cagliari. This course has certainly simplified my stays in Russia but it is not an essential knowledge to go there.
Traveling with a minimum of knowledge of the local language or, depending on the destination, English, is certainly a great advantage, but when I started traveling I had spoken nothing but English within the walls of my school.
Languages are learned by talking to them, learning to travel only by traveling.