You simply have to take care of a number of things when you’re preparing to travel around the world. As we discussed in part one, not taking care of visas, vaccinations, or coming up with a budget and saving accordingly is a recipe for disaster. Good intentions are not enough here, you need knowledge that you’ll only get through planning and preparation. Once you’ve taken care of the essentials, however, it is only the fun stuff that is left.
Planning your trip should be fun. This is where you start getting a feel for the places you are going to visit. Learning about a country’s history, the people who live their, the culture that binds them now and the cultures that bound them in the past will allow you to make informed decisions when you’re out there on the road. This is not about stuffing your itinerary with epic experiences to tick off. Preparing for the fun stuff on your long trip overseas is about wetting your appetite for the feast that is to come.
Get the guidebooks out
Not everybody embraces the guidebook. They can be seen as a way to find McExperiences that lots of travelers share. This may be true, but even if it is guidebooks offer a fantastic starting point to any traveler’s research. At the very least guidebooks give you plenty of things to Google and search for on Wikipedia. If you’ve an inquisitive mind these will then take you deeper and deeper into the wonders that await out on the road.
Take a thread from your guidebook and then dive into that Wikipedia rabbit hole that started in Machu Picchu but ended somewhere in Paraguay, where an Australian guy set up a socialist colony back in the day.
When to go
Not completely necessary, but it will give you a good idea about what type of weather to expect and even better what types of local festival you can expect to find, and what activities will be available.
I’ve taken this particular one for granted as after going back to the UK and Ireland for a month we’re off to South America first and my Spanish is quite good from living in Spain. We’re then going through the US to get Australia. We’ll be a good four months into this trip before we get to Malaysia and be in a place where we won’t speak the local language.
For then though I’ll be doing my best to be in a position to offer at least basic pleasantries wherever we are. Hello, goodbye, please and thank you should be the bare minimum if you’re going to treat a country and the people who live there with the respect they deserve. From there you should feel free to add whatever small phrases you think you might want to use quite often, with a bit of effort you’ll pick up these phrases quick enough. Being an overly polite Scouser I find I say sorry quite a lot so it doesn’t take to add that to my vernacular.
If like us your an English speaker you’ll probably do well and find most people will be able to talk to you with very little effort. On a trip to Nepal years ago, that took me to remote villages of no more than a few families, the only person I encountered who didn’t speak English was a Spanish guy on my connecting flight home through Doha. After six years living in Spain, with four working as an English teacher, I can tell you that in Barcelona, at least, almost everybody speaks English now too. Again though, as a Scouser, a valuable lesson I’ve learnt is that if somebody is speaking in your language so that you can communicate the least you can do is speak your language in a way that is easy to understand. That doesn’t mean condescend them with baby talk, but take the hard edges off your particular accent and try to enunciate clearly.
Yes, here we are. Let’s get into food. Is there any greater way to connect with the foreign lands where your adventures take you than to share a table their peoples and fill your belly with the food that built the place? Food in and of itself is an adventure, if you’re willing, but what can you expect to eat in the countries that you are going to visit?
Disclaimer: Food is very much a fun thing to research about trip abroad. If, however, you have some serious food allergies this could be essential. If you have a serious nut allergy you don’t want to be ordering Pad Thai of a street vendor in Bangkok as it will likely end badly for you. Check out your allergies against the local food in the countries you’ll be visiting.
Honestly, there are loads of things that you can look into, but when you’re at this stage you’re going to learn so much more when you’re actually travelling. All you’re doing now is whetting your whistle and getting yourself excited for when you finally hit the road. Obviously, the more you know the more you’ll be prepared for, but once you’ve taken care of what needs to be taken care of, anything else is up to you.