Travel Tips, Advice and Links
Global Emergency Phone Number
Every now and then, we may well end up out of our depth and in a real pickle! Not just us, perhaps someone else is right up that creek and no paddle. Here is a link for emergency numbers in each country and includes mobile/cell numbers.
Link - Emergency Numbers
Global listing of Embassies around the world
This time it’s you that’s in the strife with the local government and not just because they feel your number plate is too small! No matter what country you’re from it should be here for the country you’re now in!
Looking to move on? Do you need a visa? Well you can check above with your Embassy but you can get a guide for the same site that lists what countries let who in and for how long. I do suggest caution with this as governments tend to change their minds rather quickly and I have no idea how often this site is updated. I found it great fun when doing some trip planning!
Link - Find My Embassy
I hate them, you hate them but governments love them and they want to see them all the time so you have to have them. However, I don’t want to lose my documents or have them taken off me by some overzealous border guard or reception clerk. Once he has his grubby mits on your passport then you’re kind of stuck! I tend to make a copy of my documents and have two copies (I also have two passports but that happens when you’re Irish parents move to Liverpool and have you, you get a little passport bonus). One I keep stashed away in a ‘place’ and the other in the tank bag for easy access.
I also make a scan of my documents and then email myself a copy before I go anywhere. I can then access my email on my phone and I have photograph of all the important information on the documents. While you’re doing this I also email myself the international call number of my credit card. If it goes missing and your stood there wondering who to call then this time Ghostbusters is not going to be able to help. Having the number of your lost/stolen number in your phone and on an email is going to help.
Also, lock your phone because if they steal your phone you can still access your emails from a hotel/hostel and get the information to get things stopped. You can also get online for MEM and find the number of your embassy about your stolen passport.
Show me the money!
Another required evil is the cash and card system; this is because stuffing goats in your pannier as a form of currency is problematic at best and animal cruelty at worst. Therefore, we accept that the barter system has its limits and we have a bank account.
Tell Your Bank!
If you are off to amazing places abroad and this is not normal for you then it’s a good idea to let your bank know that you’re heading off. This is something that happened to me! Merry as a Lord enjoying the culture, the foreign food (we don’t do package holidays and spend the first day looking around for a place that does an English breakfast) and picking up some objet d’art only to find that your card is not working. This inconvenience can be applied by your bank for security of this unusual spending pattern in another country. So let them know and it saves you getting a red face when failing to pay for your Nasi Gorang.
For currency rates and not just a conversion I tend to use XE, this also comes as an App if you’re into your smart phone devices. I have found that an ATM will offer a better rate than the ‘money shops’ and they tend to hang around just past the border. Fear not people, just head into town and use an ATM as it’s much more secure and you should get a much better deal.
Link - XE Currency
Sending Money Out
It may be the case that you need to send money out to someone on their travels and Iain Hall has this suggestion - Useful link for currency - Transfer wise for guerrilla forex transfers it is quite wonderful (better rates, minimal charges). If you need to send currency abroad, it’s great.
Link - Transfer Wise
Camping and Hostels
For me, you just can’t beat wild camping and in many places like Scotland you can pitch your tent pretty much where you want! You can pull up at a farm and ask permission or splash out on a swanky campsite that has toilets and everything Gucci like that! These sites have a very comprehensive listing of international campsites. They will have a guide, contact number and of course a location for you to get there. Yes, we know some of us prefer a hotel and will list them also, as the internet is littered with hotel sites we have looked at ones that are less usual if you’re looking to talk about when you get back at the next rally campfire.
This site covers 8653 campsites . 85 countries . 160 criteria . 3383 reviews and the main focus is in Europe.
Link - Campingo
Rock up at another person’s home that has let out a room for you to kip in, some of them are free but we have no idea on the vetting of the homes you may end up in! That said, they have no way of vetting you either! Feeling adventurous then this could be the one for you.
Link - Couchsurfer
Long gone are the days of seedy dives (but I have found the odd one or two in Prague) with rotting walls. These days hostels tend to be very modern and offer a host of amenities like free Wi-Fi, computer suits, bedding, kitchen or cafe and even an onsite bar. They also have a host of information on the local area and can go toe to toe with a concierge from the Hilton when it comes to knowing the sites. If this is your gig then it could be well worth grabbing a membership to get a further discount on your stays.
Link - HiHostels
Basic hostel etiquette that I’ve picked up over the years.
Many of the hostels may well have mixed gender rooms. Even if you’re in a dorm and find that you’re sharing a room with someone from a less inhibited culture when getting changed DO NOT beam and start taking pictures! This includes pretending to text while taking video/pictures with your phone.
Lights out tends to be around 23.00hrs so if you are coming in after then it’s a good idea to have all your stuff squared away so you just get changed and into bed in the dark. Unless the room is, your own entire group or you’re alone. Use a small torch or your phone light to get to your bunk and get in, don’t use your phone to video the German girl asleep in the other bunk, that’s just creepy!
Noise is the same thing and do try and make as little as possible. I know I’ve been on more than few bike events and been in an all male dorm and there are noises that are going to happen in the night that are not controllable. I find soft insert earplugs work a treat for the snoring but I’m yet to find a solution to the smell, even menthol run over the top lip won’t beat 12 lads who’ve all been out for a curry.
Clean your stuff up! If you’re a messy bugger then make sure that the area you left is the same way as when you found it. Most of the staff will be fellow travellers that are working for room and board. This is not a hotel chain where the cleaner gets paid to sort out some random strangers crap. Bag it up and take it to the bin, sort your bedding and check around to see that all is in order. If you are planning on making an early dart then sort this out the evening before so as not to disturb your fellow guests.
Security tends to be very relaxed at a hostel, a sort of bond of the fellow frugal traveller but they will tend to have lock ups and I always take my own padlock and key with me. When I pack the bike I keep everything small and vital in the tank bag, lock the panniers and the bike and then lock the tankbag away in the hostel lockers.
There are stacks of international hotel chains that cater for the budget traveller and here are a few that I have enjoyed that work internationally.
Ibis run around 1800 hotels around the world and work on budget but comfotable, clean rooms looking at the site you could book in London for £36 a night.
Link - Ibis Hotels
F1 or Formula1
In France I use HotelF1 where you can stay in a secure compound for your bike and around 19Euro a night.
Link - F1 Hotels France
Hotel Search Engines are everywhere and so they should be, they are a great way to get around and they have some real bargins to be taken. The main players for me are Booking.Com, Trivago and Trip Advisor. Between the three of them you're looking at over a million hotels wordewide! Let's have a quick test play and see where we can stay in Magadan Russia.
Booking.com = 5 Results
Trivago = 5 Results (all from Booking.com)
Trip Advisor = 13 Results
It very much depends on where you are going but over on Wikihow there is a rather cool guide to making drinking water from the basics of boiling water to making water when out in the wild as an emergency. Wikihow has a lot of funstuff to look at and it seems true that there really is no question too stupid to ask.
Link - Wiki Water Pure
This always think of a few mates of mine; Sam Manicom and Graham Field. Both found themselves out on the road and ‘time rich, money poor’ as Graham puts it. Sam had a load of jobs as he travelled around and working on a meagre budget you come to know the important things like, sleeping, eating and drinking. There are a selection of ways to earn as ride and here are some of the more popular ones. Trust me they sound a lot better than the stories that Sam told about fruit picking!
TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language. You can do this in so many countries and you don’t need a degree in English to get it either but you will have to shell out for a course. Well worth having in your arsenal as you travel and you never know where it may lead.
Link - TEFL Courses
WWOOFING – Hard work! But if you’re into your organic farming then this could be the workout you’ve been looking for! They will give you a place to sleep and fill your belly while you learn about organic farming. If you're on the road and run out of cash you have a place to sleep, know you're not going to starve and you'll meet some cool people while you learn something... sounds like exploring to me.
Link - WWOOFING
Moving Your Bike by Train
There are a number of companies that will ship or fly your bike to almost anywhere you want them to for a price. Did you know that there are a number of trains that you can get on with your bike as part of the journey? Well there are and this awesome site lists them in great detail. In Europe for example you can ride over to Holland get on the auto sleeper and take the train with the bike all the way down to say Italy, just like parking up on the Eurotunnel only you get a nice seat and don’t have to sit on the floor next to your bike. Leaving you to arrive fresh and relaxed ready for playtime and missing out all the autobahn mundane travel in with the deal.
Link - The Man in Seat 61
Moving Your Bike by Truck
BIKESHUTTLE - Bikeshuttle is the only roll on roll off European Motorbike transport company in the UK with a purpose built motorbike transport system. How it works
You meet the purpose built shuttle truck at thier Northampton (NN7 4SE) base. (They can arrange to pick your bike up from any UK location at extra cost). The Bike is then stowed securely along with your helmet and leathers and boots. We take you to Luton Airport, or Milton Keynes station for Heathrow departures. (Not included in price) You then fly to Geneva (not included in price). There is a free transfer to our hotel meeting point. (Accommodation can be booked by Bikeshuttle at the time of reserving your places, (see site for charges) The next morning, feeling refreshed you meet the truck at our Hotel meeting point just by Geneva Airport. By 11.30am you’re off on your bike… See our hotel meeting point
For booking flights, (Now published by Easy-jet for 2016) They suggest you take the Easyjet flight from Luton on the day the shuttle departs (Tuesdays at 1750hrs / 20.30hrs flight no 2061) and then take their morning flight back on the day your motorbike arrives back in the UK (Thursdays at 1030hrs /11.10hrs flight no 2052). Our minibus transfer connects with these flights.
This I found from a guy that makes his way around on foot. Regardless of the mode of transport the advice and ethos that he gives is of value to any traveller, regardless of the mode of transport. Seem simple enough but how often we can forget the little things when under pressure.