5 Tips for a Round the World Backpacking Trip

 

backpack

1.       VISIT PLACES OFF THE BEATEN TRACK

One of the advantages of travelling as a backpacker is that it is easy to discover hidden treasures lying off the beaten path. You have time and flexibility to adventure, making it much easier.

Morocco may be a tourists’ hot spot but if you look closely you will discover places that are lesser travelled. The Anti-Atlas ranges for example are less frequented; here your senses are going to be intrigued by the intoxicating wilderness in this region. The small Berber villages offer a resting and friendly aboard to its visitors. You will experience the Berber culture uncut.

Moulay Idriss is the holiest town in Morocco and due to the fact that only Muslims were allowed to enter. In the past most visitors still keep off so head there and explore this mountain perched town.

 

2.       GET SUITABLE HEALTH INSURANCE

While on a backpacking trip it means you will probably be exposed to many risks because you will be travelling to numerous locations. You should never leave home without travel insurance, and a good one at that.

You should do your research carefully when it comes to this; learn exactly what your policy covers before you purchase a plan. Choose a policy that works with the activities and places you are travelling to.

Keep in mind that in some countries you pay the local doctor in cash so keep the receipts as your travel insurance provider may reimburse the funds later.

 

3.       STAY IN LARGE ACCOMMODATION TO SAVE

As a backpacker your main aim is to travel to many places in the world without extravagant spending. Accommodation in foreign countries is one of the major setbacks to any backpacker because staying in hotel rooms is expensive. To avoid unexpected expenses it is great to try staying in larger group accommodation to cut on costs. Along the way on your route you if you are alone you will definitely come across other backpackers whom you can lodge with or choose to stay in hostels which are cheaper.

 

4.       PACK LIGHT

The reason the trip is called backpacking trip is because everything you should pack should fit in the back pack. The world is now a commercialized place and you don’t have to squeeze your favorite hairspray or lotion in your bag assuming that you cannot find them anywhere else, you may be surprised. Almost anything you would need abroad can be purchased easily without hitches from medication to cosmetics. Can you imagine what you would need for a year? It would require a crane to lift that, so just travel light.

 

5.       KEEP IN TOUCH…..BUT NOT OVERLY SO

With the advanced technology one is able to update statuses from anywhere in the world. However sometimes on a trip like this all you need is for just that one caring someone to know your whereabouts for security. Otherwise avoid being obsessed with social media and concentrate on the wonders of backpacking. The results are not only rewarding in the long run but also achievable. You will also be saving on internet charges which may be high in some countries.

Bucket List…of sorts :-)

In the next few months I will be traveling through much of southern and eastern Africa, and like any traveler, I have a wish list for my trip. Rather than listing every single tourist attraction I’d like to see, this is a list of personals feats – both mental and physical. After all, traveling isn’t about where you are…but how you change and what you learn, because of it.

1)      Correctly identify at least one species of animal during my stay.

2)      Learn how to play traditional music – doesn’t matter where, as long as it’s authentic and not a (total) tourist trap!

3)      Witness the World Cup in South Africa…and actually learn something about football!

4)      Learn how to cook local foods…and be able to *try* and do it again at home (in Florida!).

5)      Travel by myself, successfully!

6)      Stop at a random town, and just look around.

7)      Resist the urge to do adventure sports…expect for scuba diving, that is!

8)      Climb a big scary mountain. Preferably something that takes several days. The longer it takes, the harder it is….right?

9)      Become more sure of myself!

10)   Eat everything without asking what it is beforehand.

11)   Volunteer through the WWOOF program at an orphanage…away from internet access and modern day convenience.

12)   Camp…in the wild…and stay positive about it (Hello, Equatorial Guinea).

13)   Pretend like I actually know what’s going on at border checkpoints, and therefore avoid unnecessary trouble.

14)   Not be scared to talk to people and meet people.

15)   Accept help from strangers, and (hopefully) not become too jaded by a few bad incidents.

16)   Not calling family too much – nothing spurs homesickness like talking everyday to people at home.

17)   Finish the ENTIRE trip…without ending early.

18)   HAVE FUN!

I’m sure there will be moments when I wonder why the heck I’m traveling alone, with only four sets of clothing, and in a country seven or eight time zones away. This list will help remind me that life isn’t, in fact, as bad as it may seem.

Any of these strike a chord with you guys? I’d be interested to know what you think!

Finals thoughts: Equatorial Guinea here I come!

Hey Everyone!!!

Less than 48 hours until I’m on a plane to Equatorial Guinea, and I am definitely getting nervous (in a good way) in anticipation of the unknown. I’m a little miffed that I have to be at the airport at 4:30am for a timely security check…but it’s all in the name of good travel!

Last night I used google maps to look up pictures of the various areas I should be going; they didn’t really do anything to satisfy my curiosity. My image of the country is completely based on what I’ve been able to piece together from my Lonely Planet travel guide, an informative history novel, and online forums. For the first time in my life, I actually feel like I am truly traveling into the unknown. Having lived and traveled around Europe, there is not much that surprises me here. It’s not that Western Europe is boring – far from it – it’s that I can usually get along very well knowing English and German. Many locals come equipped with a Hilton, McDonalds, and Woolworths (or some similar alternative). Accommodation, a greasy burger, and cheap, synthetic wool tights are sometimes an adventure to find, but are nevertheless available. Perhaps my perception of Equatorial Guinea is completely off, but as far as I can tell, it will be the most different country/culture/place I will ever have visited up to this point.

For those of you who totally clueless as to where Equatorial Guinea is (and what I’m doing there), take a look at the google map: the cute little pointers/bubble-thingies indicate what city I will fly into and where (I believe) my “home base” is, when I work for an American researcher to complete a census of the island’s jungle/terrain. The job is organized through the BBPP, approximately 3 months long and will involve camping, trekking, and a fair amount of monkeys, turtles, and awesomeness. Internet access will be limited, but I plan on writing about my travels as I go and uploading them onto the blog when I can. If you want more information about the BBPP, and doing paid volunteerism with them, you can check out their website: www.bioko.org. For a really, really neat report on Equatorial Guinea and the BBPP, read the national geographic article or watch a short video, also put together by the National Geographic!

[googlemaps http://maps.google.de/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=de&msa=0&msid=101813222189103241493.00047be3c41dd794ac7cd&ll=3.536704,8.720398&spn=0.370082,0.115356&output=embed&w=425&h=350]

Finally, I want to say “thanks and cheers” to all of the people in Erfelden, Germany who kept me well fed, warm, and busy during my lovely twelve-day stay there. It was WONDERFUL to see/meet all of you! Special thanks to Mona for giving me music for my ipod; my ears are very thankful.

Alrighty – time to go grab some lunch/dinner. Spoiling myself by staying at a five-star hotel in Frankfurt for the last night of my stay…but am not too excited about the burger and steak dinner offerings.

Only a few days until I touch down on my third continent!!!

Planning, planning, planning – bioko island, vaccinations, and goodwill donations :-)

Hey Guys!

Today I did the unthinkable – I started going through my clothes so I can donate them goodwill! It’s just under two months until I leave and I’m starting the process (slowly) of decluttering, organizing, and packing. After my second glass of wine I decided that unworn clothes should be the first to go. I’ve been promising myself I will “one day” fit into about five pairs of jeans…and now they were the first articles thrown into the plastic trash bag. Sayonara lumpy sweaters and high school prom shoes!

So now that I’ve heaved my garbage of unwanted clothes to the front door, I’m nursing a glass of German sparkling wine (sounds so elegant!) courtesy of my German family, and I’m considering the next steps in my trip preparation.

Tomorrow: Travel clinic appointment AND the final round of interviews for my possible job position in Equatorial Guinea (which I found through the Ecolog listerv, mentioned in this post). By tomorrow night my left arm should be covered in little sore spots (thanks to my vaccinations) and I will hopefully be booking my flight to work for the BBPP on Bioko Island.

Speaking of Bioko Island, I feel like Equatorial Guinea is so off the backpacking trail – I haven’t seen it mentioned in any of the online blogs or in African itineraries, despite its almost pristine biology. I finally did some research into Equatorial Guinea and what the political and historical situation is like on this island; thankfully it seems to be pretty sound. I’m expecting the occasional bribe, but by all accounts, the BBPP is well respected, and I’m hoping to avoid most trouble by associating myself with it.

Thanks to my helpful comments on my previous post I’ve decided to take the plunge and buy a netbook! Ideally, I’ll be able to use it (and extra memory) to store my pictures and I’ll also be able to keep a computerized journal, making it much easier to blog when internet does become available.

Coming up this month, I’ll also be buying my camera!!! Both my sister and my dad have amazing Nikon cameras (which were also suggested by a reader) so I’ll be buying something when I find a good Christmas special. I’ve been practicing my photography skills, so hopefully I’ll be able to post some nice “artistic” pics :-)

Alrighty! It’s back to the wine and a delicious spaghetti dinner. I’ll be armchair traveling to Africa tonight…who is coming with? :-)

 

 

 

How to drive on the autobahn in Germany…and survive!

Driving on the autobahn is a little scary, let’s be honest. I would know because I drove on it!
In the summer of 2006 a few friends and I decided to do a two-week tour of Germany. After doing the math, it was cheaper for us to rent a car (even with gas costs) than it would have been for us all to buy train passes. Renting a car is not hard. All you need is the ability to be able to drive manual (after trying numerous big-name companies like Hertz and Budget, it became obvious to us that no one was going to be able to guarantee us an automatic vehicle) and a valid, American driver’s license.


Our cute little rental car – stopped somewhere on our way down to Munich, Germany

Anyway, being under 25, we were only allowed to rent the smallest class of cars and we were entrusted with a cute little VW. Being German-built, we assumed it would hold it’s own. Wrong! Careening down the typically narrow lanes, we urged the car onwards (the max speed being only 180km/hr), only to be passed by BMW’s and various other luxury (and non-luxury) vehicles. After our initial shock at the country’s penchant for speeding, we soon acclimatized and were more than happy to join in on the fun.


Our VW tryin‘ to keep up!

Don’t let me dissuade you from driving your Europe trip – the Autobahn is really not as bad or as unsafe as its reputation might suggest. I have read that the Autobahn actually has a lower fatality record than that of the United States (although, I have yet to find reliable stats on this). The idea of a zero speed limitations on the Autobahn is actually more of a myth. Granted, many areas do allow you to speed your dear heart out, but just as many areas (around cities, in high traffic areas, around construction, and in mountainous terrains), speed limits are in effect and strictly enforced using speed cameras. Likewise, the rumors of unsafe and reckless German drivers are also false. German drivers, from my experience, were safe and courteous. Just make sure to move over and allow people to pass you!


Myself, as the navigator!