Wait, what is this doing here? I took my first *package* vacation to Cancun, and had a really great time. It's easy to travel this way and requires little planning. Good community websites exist for recommendations, asking questions and getting answers. For Cancun I used CancunCare.com, VirtualTourist.com, and the travel company sites (Expedia, iTravel2000, etc)
Package vacations don't need much planning, so I won't write more about it here. Backpacking, on the other hand, is a whole different type of travel and has its own incredible rewards if you are of the right mindset.
Traveling to the 3rd world?
On the chance you're visiting India or another developing country, I have written these travel pages as a resource for you. I've spent a year living out a backpack and kept good notes along the way. This is information I wish I had before my first trip to the other side of the world.
I like to travel very light - as light as possible. Since I am a writer I have to lug around a laptop computer, its power supply and cables, a digital camera, and a nice notebook inside along with my clothes and accessories, all with a small sub-50 litre travel pack. It wasn't easy. At first, the pack was stressed to the seams *without* the computer. But after a year of travels many things were lost, given away, left behind or mailed home periodically. Twelve months later I was still carrying my travel pack, looking just slightly worn but working fantastic. Not overstuffed, either. Nothing stolen, arms and limbs in tact.
Wherever you are in the world, clothes are important. :-) Wear stylish, comfortable clothes that look great and show off your good features. Tropical and sub-tropical weather makes for thin, light clothes which you can often purchase there. A thin sweater, even in these hot climates, can be very useful late at night, on a motorcycle or scooter. Don't forget at least a week's worth of condoms, if you are single. :)
All my shit took me 30 minutes to pack, on a lazy day. In a panic situation, when I'd overslept and almost missed the bus, I could pack it in 10 minutes flat and not lose any of my life's posessions. I took an extra 5 minutes double-checking the room, once I dropped off my bag in the bus. The bare minimum time I need to move my entire life is, therefore, 15 minutes.
I tried several methods of packing. I tried folding my clothes, stuffing them, and other useless methods. My favorite super-small packing tip is to roll all the clothes into three giant rolls, each tied with cloth. I put them flat inside my pack, using the remaining space to stuff in electronics and smaller items. Then I zipped up, tightened my pack, and was gone.
Preparation for a year of travel is essential. I spent many, many hours researching the places I'd be visiting. Lots of good information out there, in guidebooks, books, and on the web. But the best information comes from other travelers who you meet, who've already been to where you're going. The few people I met who'd been to Laos before said it was an incredible experience... so I made sure I went there, and absolutely loved it. I got good intel in India too, which is great because it's such a large country.
Next up: packing your bags
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