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Experienced World Traveler Gives His Top Travel Tips For Planning And Packing

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 21/03/2016 Quora
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These questions originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.Answers by Leon Kitain, World Traveler on the Cheap: 30+ Countries Total, 6 Months in Asia in 2015, on Quora.Q: How do you plan your trips e.g., how do you decide where to go and for how long?

A: For planning this trip, we actually started with a couple of givens.

  • We wanted to spend around 2 months in one place, and that one place had to be on the beach.
  • We wanted to spend the majority (4+ months) in places where we could have nice lodging for less than $30 a night.
  • We wanted to minimize long distance traveling, as that's expensive.

So with that, we considered three regions that we thought we could work.

  • Central America
  • South Eastern Europe (Balkan area)
  • South East Asia

Given that we wanted to live somewhere more than travel somewhere, there's a set of books called Moon's Guide to Living Abroad.

We got one for Thailand and for Nicaragua, and as we could not find anything for the other area, we just got some travel books. Then we spent a few weeks reading these and discussing.

The thing that came out of this is that ultimately, I have a lot more affinity for Asia than I do for Central America, and that neither of us were comfortable with the depiction of casual crime and corruption in Central America.

Eastern Europe was still an option, but we realized that weather wise, the time to enjoy the beaches there would be peak tourist time, and it was actually very expensive during peak time.

Thailand on the other hand seemed like it was the best of all worlds.  Warm enough for beach enjoyment year round, and cheap enough in the monsoon season for us to fit within out budget.  It was also fairly central, with the rest of SEA becoming the travel destinations.

All that was left was making a rough schedule outline, and then booking our flights!


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Q: Do you like to plan every minute of your travel or do you do just wing it with a bare minimum of planning?

A: We planned some things in broad brush strokes. We were staying with friends in Australia, so we knew when we had to arrive there. Similarly, we were meeting someone in Cambodia, so had to give him a date when we'd arrive.

But other than that, we rarely had very specific plans. When you have a lot of time, you no longer need to cram as much as possible in a short time period, so you no longer have to optimize your days.

We had some days for example, where we would see one museum, and then instead of say going to another one, we would find a coffee house and sit and read our kindles for a few hours. And on other days, the weather would look crappy, so we'd just relax in our hotel or apartment, and not budge outside except for to eat.

I think as a result, now we will often meet with people who had taken just 1/3rd the time that we had in a location, but had done it as part of a vacation, and ended up seeing way more attractions than we had, because they had planned everything out and crammed as much in as they could.

We didn't, and neither of us regrets it.


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Q: What are the most essential things you carry in your backpack while on international travel?

A: Other than clothing there really wasn't much.

  • Sunscreen - that stuff is super expensive in Asia, so we carried a metric ton of it.  We also had to stock up again in Australia cause we ran out.
  • Medicines of all sort (antibiotics, advil, anti cold/flu, anti nausea, anti malaria, anti fungal cremes, etc)
  • Travel adapters for electronics
  • Electronics (laptop, phone)
  • Backup copies of all our key documents
  • Cash
  • Printed out access codes for Gmail as I use 2 Factor authentication and would have no other ways to access if I had my phone/computer stolen.

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