Backpacking Travel Advice, Information and Links

This section lists the web links that I found useful, both before departing and whilst away.

Home Office

This is a great site for anyone travelling abroad. You get the latest Home Office http://www.fco.gov.uk/ advice regarding safety issues, medical advice, visa information and troubled hotspots around the world.

 

You can request to have e-mail alerts sent direct to you. This facility allows you to create a personal profile of the areas of foreign affairs or travel destinations which are of particular interest to you.

 

Tour Companies

There are loads of tour companies operating in South America offering 20-180 days pre-organised trips to various parts of the continent. Some are for your older person, some for your frightened backpacker !

 

I did not pre-book any trips, I simply arrived in a town and then organised whatever trip I wanted to go on, with the cheapest or most recommended tour company. Most recommendations came from people I'd met on my travels.

 

However, before leaving I did take a sneak preview of what to expect on my trip by visiting some tour companies web sites. Just to see what locations they went to and for how long.

 

Most importantly I used their 'suggested itineraries' to piece together my own itinerary ....... not that I stuck to it, but it did give me a vague basic idea of how to get the most of my 4 months.

 

 

Company Name Web Address
Journey Latin America www.journeylatinamerica.com
Last Frontiers www.lastfrontiers.com
Trailfinders www.trailfinders.com
Galasam Galapagos Tours www.galasam-tours.com
Hostel World www.Hostelworld.com

 

I have recently come across a backpacker orientated on-line hostel & tour booking web site Hostelworld.com. Basically they are a bunch of backpackers, wanting to backpack for the rest of theirs lives but realise they've got to work at some point !

 

I just wish they'd have set this site up before I did my trip, as planning it would have been much simplier !

If you are seriously thinking of going on a backpacking trip you really must take a look at their site Hostelworld.com. For more information About Hostelworld click here.

 

Flights and Insurance

I used a variety of sources to find the cheapest flight. These are some of the companies that I got flight quotes from. However there are a whole host of companies dealing in cheap flights.

 

Company Name Web Address
Journey Latin America www.journeylatinamerica.com
Last Frontiers www.lastfrontiers.com
Trailfinders www.trailfinders.com
Cheap Flights www.cheapflights.co.uk

Backpackers Travel Insurance

Travel insurance .......

well this is something that you have to buy, but also something that you don't really want to be bothered about.

 

I found a couple of insurance companies on the net which did 'Backpackers' policies.

I used GoSure.com as they were the marginally the cheapest that I could find.

 

Go Travel insurance was the other travel insurance that I looked at. Go Travel offers comprehensive travel insurance policies for single trip and longer backpacker trips at competitive prices. Their policies are made for travellers going on holidays, business trips, weekend breaks or backpacking for 12 months.

 

Fortunately I was unable to test out how good they were, as I didn't have any disastrous mishaps !

 

Backpacking / Travel Clothes

South America's colder then you think ! Especially if you're doing the backpacker routes

...... most of which is at altitudes of 2000 metres plus ..... it get a bit nippy in the evenings !!!

 

It's worth taking plenty of warm clothes ..... fleeces and sweatshirts etc, although fleeces are particularly cheap in Ecaudor and Boliva. I paid around $8-10 for a couple ..... they've lasted me a good 3 years, although they're pretty tatty now !

 

I've found my replacement tops in a White Stuff it's worth having a look there for your backpacking travel clothes.

 

Money Matters - Travellers Cheques vs Bank Cash Cards

Travellers Cheque's - Well I didn't take any ! All I took was my cash card and credit card - that's all you need !

 

Provided your cash card has a Maestro or Cirrus symbol on them you are sorted.

There are plenty of cash machines throughout South America.

 

So the only cash you have to carry is what you need until you get to the next cash machine ! Thus avoiding having to carry cash and the threat of loosing a lot of money to pick pockets. But obviously you have to keep the cards safe !

 

The only draw back with using your cash card is that there is a minimum transaction charge of £1.50 each time you withdraw any money. Throughout my entire trip this worked out to roughly 2%; probably about the same as the transaction/commissions charges that would have been made had I used travellers cheque's.

 

News and Sports Updates

It's always good to keep upto date with what's going on in the UK. You can't always rely on e-mails from friends to find out what's going on. There are loads of news web sites. The ones that I used most of the time were either BBC or Sky News. http://www.bbc.co.uk - http://www.sky.com/skynews/home.

 

It's also worth a 10 minute scan to know what's going on in the world between checking e-mails from home. I found out that Kevin Keegan had resigned at 5.05pm (GMT) after the Germany defeat, whilst in an internet cafe in La Serena !

Scuba Diving

I was intending on doing some scuba diving either in the Galapagos Islands or in Venezuela; but time got the better of me. However before leaving England I did do a bit a of dive research, to see whereabouts I should aim to go.

 

The site I used was Rodale's Scuba Diving - It's a scuba diving web mag, which provides a world diving map !

 

Eco-Tourism

Top 10 tips for the responsible traveller

1. Carbon emissions – offset them!
If orangising your trip through a Tour Company, enquire about whether they need Tour Company Climate Care Regulations; all emissions generated by Travel Company trips should be offset by contributions to reforestation projects worldwide that reduce greenhouse gases.

2. Language: hello, thank you and goodbye!
Greeting people in the local language is a great way to break down barriers.
It is equally important to say your thank yous and goodbyes.

3. Local Customs: another time, another place
Familiarise yourself with the local people’s dress codes and thought patterns.
The local concept of time is likely to be less hurried than your own.

4. Water: pollution and usage
If it is necessary to wash in streams or rivers, don’t use detergents or other chemicals.
Remember, it’s someone’s drinking water further downstream.

5. Plants and shells
Wild plants and shells should remain in their natural environment, so avoid collecting any.
It is illegal to import some plant species.

6. Souvenirs and shopping
Avoid buying souvenirs that exploit wildlife or threaten endangered species.
It may be customary to haggle, but avoid exploitation by paying a reasonable price.

7. Begging
Don’t give out sweets or money, especially to children.
Giving will only teach them that begging is rewarding and can undermine parental authority.

8. Litter and waste
Many countries don’t have adequate litter collection schemes, so the less you create, the better.
Where plastics are not recycled, take a water bottle or purify your own water.

9. Packing
Keep your packing down to a minimum and avoid disposable goods.
Eco-friendly soap is an effective and responsible way to stay clean.

10. Photos: think before you click
Always ask permission before taking photographs.
Many people, for whatever reason, do not like being photographed.

 

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