One of our former neighbours asked for a list of tips for travelling like we're doing, so here it is:
Gypsy Tips - Meaningful Travel on a Moderate Budget
* If you are interested
in more meaningful, non-touristy travel, very early in your planning (at least 6-12 months in advance) spend some serious time in self-reflection and clarify the purpose for your travels. It can be anything important to you: enlightenment, self-discovery,
experiencing ancient civilizations, reclaiming closeness to nature, understanding roots… there are dozens of reasons with enough substance to provide a framework for life-changing travel. To stay sane and on track during your travels, remind yourself
regularly of that reason. It’s a big world full of distractions and it’s easy to lose balance and feel overwhelmed on long journeys, so protect yourself by finding quiet time every day. A regular practice of meditation and/or yoga while travelling
* Use guide books early in your planning and start reading/skimming them cover-to-cover at least six months before your trip. Lonely Planet, Moon Books, Bradt Guides, and some other brands provide excellent resources. These guides can
lead you to out-of-the-way places and more personalized accommodations, help you save lots of money, minimize uncertainty, and let you focus on the experience with minimal logistical worries. Books are heavy - tear out the pages you won't need, or just
take the section of the book that will use.
* Learn some of the local language before you go. At a minimum, take a small pocket-sized phrase book and carry it with you all the time. People will wait while you look up a critical word,
and will appreciate the effort. The first word to learn is the local 'thank-you'. Use it at the end of every interaction. You'll be amazed at the amount of good will that will generate and how much it will enhance your trip.
for one to three months in any area, and take day trips or overnighters out and around the locality. This gives enough time to experience something a lot closer to being a ‘local’, and it dramatically lowers accommodation costs. Most landlords
and hoteliers will negotiate much lower rates for longer stays. Look for daily accommodation rates that are around twice your accommodation budget, and negotiate a rate (at least half off) that matches your budget.
* Look for small towns or areas that
are considered backpacker-friendly. There are usually guest houses and B&B’s in these areas which are comfortable and quiet and don’t have the tourist crush. Always try to find accommodation with at least minimal cooking facilities.
Travel very light. Excellent backpacks or small sturdy suitcases are readily available - aim for 10 kg or less per person, fully loaded. You don’t need to start with anything more than traveller-sized toiletries and a few sets of casual clothes, because
anything else you need will be available virtually anywhere you travel. Laundromats are easy to find and doing the laundry every few days gives you something to build a day around. Tasks like laundry and ‘small shopping’ (a few pieces of fruit,
a t-shirt, toothpaste, some necessary gadget) are a great way to explore and give you a reason to interact with local people.
* Good walking shoes are essential, and a second pair of sandals or flip-flops is all the footwear you will ever need. Walk
every day and explore the local area. Shop in outdoor markets, go out for coffee, and often just hang out and watch the world go by.
* If you are taking electronics, think about what you’ll really need. Wifi is readily available almost everywhere
now, but the point of meaningful travel is to get away from the virtual world and discover the real world. A phone with camera that won’t cause you tears if you lose it or drop it in the ocean is useful, but get your phone ‘unlocked’ before
you leave. This will allow you to use local SIM cards which are almost always much cheaper than the ‘roaming plans’ from your regular cell phone service provider. There are always lots of local vendors willing to sell you pay-as-you-go phone plans
– ask around for advice from your accommodation people or other travellers to avoid overpaying, and go for small charges which you can top up. If you’re not travelling for more than a couple of months you likely don’t need a tablet or laptop,
besides the fact that that they’re heavy and cause you worry about losing them. If you need to get online or send an email, internet café’s are plentiful almost everywhere and are a good, cheap and worry-free alternative.
* If you
are using a smaller local internet provider at your home that may result in accessibility issues outside the country, a good addition is a Gmail account set up before you leave. Gmail works well almost everywhere on the planet. It also gives you access to
Google Drive, which is free storage space on the Google cloud. Make up a few doc’s or pdf’s with the emergency information you might need if you lose everything (bank info, contacts, electronic airline tickets, passport photo page and visas). Password
protect these doc’s or pdf’s, and store them on the Google Drive. If you lose your stuff, find an internet cafe' and get what you need to get back on track from Google Drive.