Airbnb is also a great option in many places – once you’ve had your fill of dormitories and an incident or two like this, private apartments become very attractive (especially if you’re working on the go).
Buy Me a Coffee
I was absolutely amazed when readers started asking how they could make a donation to thank me for the information they’d found useful on this site. But it does happen from time to time so if that’s you, you can do so here:
JR Pass: if you’re heading to Japan, the JR Pass is an absolutely brilliant way to see the country. For a flat fare paid up front, you get a free pass to ride Japan’s awesome rail system as much as you like for 7, 14, or 21 days. Train fares are quite high in Japan, and basically if you do anything more than Tokyo-Kyoto return a JR Pass will save you money – potentially, heaps of money. For more on whether you should get a JR Pass see my post here, or click the banner to dive in and order:
Interrail/Eurail: similar to the JR Pass, but covering most of Europe! A month Interrailing around the European continent is one of the classic overland backpacking trips (I’ve done it twice), and you can order the Interrail Pass here (or for non-Europeans, order the Eurail Pass here)
China train tickets: buying train tickets in China used to be a complete pain in the ass, but thankfully it’s become easier in recent years. You still have to line up to show your ID and collect your tickets, but at least now you can search, book, and pay for the tickets online; you’re given a booking code which you just need to show at the ticket widow (along with all passengers’ IDs) in order to collect your tickets. Obviously it’s a good idea (if you know your dates) to book a bunch of journeys in advance and collect all the tickets at once. Without a Chinese ID you can’t use the official booking site, but Trip.com is a foreigner-friendly alternative.
Korea train tickets: Trip.com is also the easiest way for visitors to book tickets online in Korea. It’s actually super-easy to buy train tickets in person in Korea – there’s no messing about with ID checks etc – but booking online guarantees you a seat on the train you want/saves you a trip to the station to make an advance booking in person.
India train tickets: overland travel through India can be hard work, but these days you can take some of the hassle out of it by booking online. The official Indian Railways site is here, but notorious for being difficult for overseas users; 12go.asia is easy to use, fully international, and probably worth the small markup (you can also use them for buses & flights)
Flights: although this blog mostly focuses on overland travel, unless you’re seriously determined you do of course sometimes have to get on a plane. I usually book through Skyscanner, unless I book direct with the airline (e.g. with Easyjet or Ryanair in Europe, or Air Asia in the Far East). Trip.com is also good, and check 12go.asia and Baolau for flights in Asia. Click the banner to search for flights on Skyscanner:
VPN for Internet Access in China
If you’re heading to China, you need to get a VPN set up before you get there so you can access blocked non-Chinese sites, check your email, and so on. See here for more on VPNs and the Great Firewall of China, but in a nutshell I always use ExpressVPN. Click the banner to sign up:
Gone are the days when you prepared for a trip by poring over the Lonely Planet guides, books which you then carried with you, using their maps, accommodation listings, orientation information etc etc to do everything on the fly. All that went with the advent of wifi and smaller & smaller internet devices, yet sometimes, just sometimes (like when the wifi in your Airbnb doesn’t work), you find yourself wishing you had a decent guide book. Lonely Planet is still the main go-to, though I’ve also happily used Rough Guides.
World Nomads offer comprehensive and flexible insurance policies (with options to include snow sports and scuba diving) and they’ll even sell you a policy if you’re already overseas (most travel insurers won’t do so, as I once learned the hard way). Get a quote here:
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