• DO google "(place name) for backpackers" to get the best, most relevant information online about a place you are visiting. Unless of course you have money and you like top notch, fancy places, then don't do what I just said.
     

  • DON'T take extra currency out of the country. Exchange it for local currency of your next destination or USD before you leave and you won't get stuck with, for example, $37 USD worth of Rwandan Francs that you are offered 10 USD for.
     

  • DO always get all your belongings out of the car/trunk before paying your driver, unless you like your crap being held ransom. For the record, this has never happened to us, but it very well could!
     

  • DO plan your ATM cards right. A few months prior to your trip, order a new fresh bank card. Then shortly after that, order a replacement card BUT don't activate it, keep using the other. Now you have a card that should work in even the most ancient machines (my older card doesn't, Bridger's newer one does...same bank, different age) and you have a backup in case your first disappears in any number of possible ways.
     

  • DON'T tell rando people where you are staying, especially 100% never when you are traveling solo. Inevitably for some reason, they'll ALWAYS ask, but it's definitely good practice not to share. A simple "I have a rule and it's I don't tell people where I stay" will do!
     

 

  • DON'T for the love, fly Ethiopian Airlines. I know they're cheap and it's so so tempting but seriously, the Addis airport sucks balls, the staff are so rude, your checked baggage might never be seen again and you just might miss your flight while waiting at the gate or something ;)
     

  • DON'T if you ever find yourself in Africa and ever actually get your choice of seat, sit in the middle bench of a matatu. If at all possible get the back or the front but not the middle or you'll be sitting 7 people across mashed in while also getting up, out, back in 450 times per hour when somebody else needs to get out/in.

 

  • DON'T try to use your GoPro on a safari. Also don't try to use your iPhone 4 on a safari. Ok we have the worst cameras ever for safari'ing. You'll inevitably be doing ALOT of zooming in and well, they both suck at it. According to our photo evidence, all animals, including elephants are fuzzy or one mm tall. Get a freaking proper camera for the love of god.

 

  • DO go for walks through/around local villages around the time the kids are getting out of school and walking home. You will be something similar to a celebrity and I promise, you'll have a pile of fun and laughs hanging out with them!

 

  • DO take note of important landmarks around your hotel. Unless you're staying at the Sheraton or Hilton, no driver will ever know how to get you back home to Joe-Blow hostel name. They will unequivocally, positively NEVER tell you that. You'll add 20 minutes to every trip stopping at 14 other random hostels/hotels the driver knows tourists frequent in a probability game to find your spot. And you'll possibly be extorted for money because "it was longer than expected". Either way, you lose.

 

  • DON'T use WIX to make your blog while traveling without a computer in countries with low internet connectivity. Basically about 2% of computers have the power to open the blog editor. That makes for shitty blogging.

 

  • DO buy your flight directly from the airline if you have the choice when searching with a flight search engine. Even if it costs slightly more, on a one way travel plan, this gives you much more flexibility. You never know, you might end up changing your plan less than 24 hours in advance and it will be much easier on you to go direct through the airline than a second party ticket dealer who have a reputation for terrible customer service.

 

  • DO fly in to a destination in the daytime and out at night or vice versa.  Ok, if you are anything like us, you will likely just go for the cheapest flight option, but if the difference is a few bucks, this is totally worth it. Places look so different in day and night and you will see things you missed the first time around. And it is just an awesome thing to do.

 

  • DO move your GoPro camera at least 5 feet closer than you initially put it when taking pics of people. Unless of course you want everyone to be the size of a speck of sand, then leave it where it is.

 

  • DON'T leave black items on the floor (or the wall) in countries that have spiders. Trust me from experience...they WILL go there and attempt to make it their new short term home. And then you will be without one.

 

  • DON'T go to local holiday spots (i.e. the only piece of coast in the entire country) over weekends if you can at all avoid it. There is a great chance prices will rise dramatically and you will be left without a card to play.

 

  • DO check the local weather forecast prior to booking a flight to your new destination. There might be a typhoon or something on the way...

 

 

  • DON'T create your blog from the road. I know when you're so busy preparing everything for your trip it seems like a non priority to-do item "because you can do it from any computer on the road". You'll mostly find computers without plugins, software, working keyboards and unbelievably slow download speeds. And you'll need to learn how to use a website to make a blog under all these conditions AND you'll be paying per minute for it. Do yourself and your sanity a favour and just start early and do it from home.

 

  • DON'T ever, ever leave for a trip on a Monday. Inevitably you'll have some last minute panic attack things to get done before you go and there's no day worse than everything's-closed-Sundays.

 

  • DON'T stop and arrange transport or anything else from the bus station, pier, gravel pit or otherwise where you initially get dropped off when arriving to a new place. You'll almost always get an insanely inflated rate for everything. Grab your shit, get out of the scrum and figure stuff out from one block down the street. Usually we are too sweaty/lazy to follow this rule ourselves... 

 

  • DO alot of things around eating (caveat: none of these things are remotely based on science):

    • Eat local food. It's cheaper, tastes way better than the cardboard hamburgers and other western delights you'll fine and I'd argue you're much less likely to get sick off it.

    • Eat vegetarian. It's cheaper, tastes better and you're less likely to get sick off it (hey yo, meat in the land of long transportation times, +40 degrees and limited refrigeration capabilities).

 

  • DO account in your budget for the fact that prior to your trip you will spend way more money than you think. Better yet, start buying stuff slowly a year before your trip so the gouge to your actual trip money won't be so noticeable.

 

  • DON'T think about it, the what ifs, anything. Just don't. The less you know and the less you are actually thinking about what it means to be teetering on the edge of that Laos cliff at the top of a mountain, the better you will be.

 

  • DON'T book through travel agents if you don't have to. Travel agencies in foreign countries are ruining tourism for everyone. Inflated prices, subpar and borderline if not completely deceitful offerings for a regularly crap product, particularly when it comes to transportation. Whenever possible, do it yourself.

 

  • DO always preload your Google map...so long as you've done this, your GPS location dot will be on telling you exactly where you are. Zoom in and out as far as you need to to have access to the whole area. Preload it on wifi to your current  neighborhood before you leave your hotel and you can use it as a real time map for getting around your city (and let's face it, back to your hostel that you may or may not lose almost every new place you are in!) Before leaving one place, preload your map to the next place you'll be so you will know where you are and where you need to get. And you'll see if that taxi driver is taking the garden path to run up the meter (though whether you're too Canadian to actually say something about it is debatable!)

 

  • DON'T pack your crappy underwear for a long trip. I know it seems like a good plan to not ruin your good underwear on the road but think about this: you have say 7 pairs of underwear, you will now be doing laundry with those same 7 pairs of underwear every week. Forget that you've had the same pair of underwear last you since high school, those got washed one out of like a 35 underwear rotation, by a washing machine not to mention. Now your already crappy underwear will be washed once a week, likely by a hand against, I'm quite certain a rock and your already weathered underwear will become a mangled mess very, very soon. And then you'll be desperately shopping for replacement underwear in a foreign country which may or may not have a proper shopping mall...and which may be Asia where the North American medium becomes a size quadruple extra large which, trust me, won't be found and you'll have to try to slide into SE Asian underwear (or any pants product for that matter) which will make it approximately up to your knee and then you'll slink away in shame. Just pack new underwear.

 

  • DO arrive to a new place early whenever possible. Arriving in the daylight affords you a much more relaxing and safer way to get oriented to a new place than after dark. And it allows you to get first choice of accommodation...cheapest and best (see Koh Rong Samleom update...)

 

  • DON'T take minibuses if you can avoid it, particularly in SE Asia (I have no idea in other countries if this holds true). Mostly they are overcrowded, more expensive, less comfortable, less direct and a total screwaround.

 

  • DON'T ever bank on (haha) being able to get money out of ATM's. They are nonexistent, out of service, for local bank cards only, are out of money or eat your card on an all too regular basis. I err on the side of caution with ATMs and always carry a float of a few hundred US dollars that I don't touch outside of emergencies...USD is the universal currency and in my experience, will always be accepted.

 

  • DO bring as much sunscreen from home as you can afford bag space/weight for. You can easily get sunscreen abroad but is usually very expensive for very small containers and usually one imported, likely expensive, brand.

 

  • DO source out the local bakery for very cheap, beautifully bready meals/snacks on a budget. Healthy and cheap unfortunately don't often go together...

 

  • DO carry packets of Kleenex with you at all times. Never bank on that public (or sometimes hotel) bathroom having toilet paper and let's face it, emergencies happen.

 

  • DO always make a point to figure out the exchange rate between your/local currency before arriving in a new location. This will make your life much easier and save you from that inevitable moment at the ATM where you take out 10,000 of local currency because that seems like a big enough amount only to find out that you've just taken out $1.50 and paid $5 plus dollars in ATM fees for it before doing it all over again. Or getting ripped off by the travel agent ticket selling lady which, unfortunately, may be the first person you encounter in a new country.

 

  • DO source out a "gaming internet cafe" to do all your picture uploads, downloading, blogging etc. These tend to have much better and faster sanity saving computers than your average cafe. Though be careful because your frenzied and constant uploading may or may not prevent all the gamers from being able to play their games because you're using up all the computer juice or whatever it's called in computer land...

 

Traveling is full of endless learning opportunities. Sometimes we do things that are awesome while traveling and then sometimes (alot!) we screw up. Here's the list of DO's and DON'Ts from our experiences on the road so far!