Photo courtesy of www.advfactory.com
15 best adventure touring tips
Touring & travel
24 May 2010 16:38
Be a tourist or be an adventure traveller: it can mean the difference between going for an epic ride, and being taken for one.
1. Simple is really good
Less than less makes for easy travel. Just one really good shirt costs less than three crap shirts, lasts longer than all of them together, and feels better, works better and can still be washed overnight and be – mostly – dry to wear the next morning.
Same applies to everything else. A little of what's really good in kit is better than a lot of what's really rubbish. And will work out cheaper. And take up less space.
2. Less is better, #2
Less is better does not apply to money. Take more, and more in cash, than you'd planned.
Dollars as cash are losing ground to the euro in most of the world; less forged euros and they're just, er, well less American.
3. In the global village the old days of selling Levi jeans or branded cigarettes for top dollar – er, euro – are close to gone.
But a bottle of whiskey still seems to rise in cash value the further you get it away from a place where you can legally buy whiskey.
4. Be a trader
Many things are cheaper – much cheaper – somewhere else. Business cards? A few quid for hundreds, and good quality, in India or Mexico.
Belts, jackets, boots – indeed anything top end in leather – are a steal in Argentina.
In some Chinese towns you can buy the Mona Lisa, though you'll want to wait for the paint to dry.
5. It's global village. #2
Pretty much everything you forgot to pack and need you can buy wherever you end up. And probably for less.
And if they're really not selling deodorant in the local shop, maybe the locals aren't too bothered about you – or them – honking a bit.
6. A photocopier in your pocket
Use a digital camera to photograph everything from the whole of your bike maintenance manual through the instructions for setting the time zone on your watch, maps of places you might just go through to whole chapters from guide books.
And any paperwork you might need or come across. Download onto a USB. Voila, a reference library in your pocket, too! Everything in one tiny package. Just so you can loose it all in one go.
Far more men get into trouble travelling than women.
Here's a simple rule of thumb; if something – girls abducted; foreigner murdered - hits the main news you can guarantee that it's a rare event. For real risks look in the small news stories of local papers.
Road deaths, smoking related disease, and dying of old age. Those three happen all the time and to everyone. Those are your big risks wherever you are in the world.
8. Foreign drinking is different
Whether the enforced hospitality of 'vodka terrorism' in former Soviet states, secret drink parties in Tehran ending in jail, psycho-drinking Ozzy style [“hey you guys down there, I'm going to dive on you and you see if you can catch me, y'right? Here i go....”], Ireland in general!
Good drinking stories are great, but when they go wrong they tend to get reported with the road deaths in the back pages of local papers.
9. If you play guitar take one with you
It's better than a platinum credit card; it'll get you drinks, meals, friends and into good parties.
Check out www.travelerguitar.com or www.playawayguitars.com for quality portable guitars that – really - will fit into a side pannier or on a rack.
If you play the piano, forget it; learn how to play the guitar.
10. Language is just a tool
Given enough need anyone can make themselves understood in any language.
Sure it's hard to mime replacing a busted drive-chain, but if the alternative is spending the rest of your life in some Saharan town you'll be like Marcel Marceau on speed with the local mechanic.
11. Avoid mid-range hotels
Go cheap or go expensive; Mid-range tend to scrape make their profits on add-ons or cutting corners; splash out on a swanky hotel and you can find everything from free WiFi to all-you-can-eat buffet breakfasts.
Wanna-be-smart hotels get snotty about how you're dressed; the posh ones are used to casual clothing from the film, music and creative industry big spenders.
Which of course is what you really are. Rather than a teacher, right.
12. Be low-key and dull
When you're asked for your profession especially by authority or when applying for visas don't tell them your a journalist/rock star/outlaw biker; tell 'em you're a teacher (we're all teaching somebody something right): to authority it explains long holidays to travel in, you're a good-guy bringing light and education to another generation, and you're too badly paid to be worth shaking down for bribes.
13. The police are always paid by someone
In democracies it's the taxpayer, in other places it's the dictator currently in charge; some places it's the gang boss; in many places it's the drivers they stop on the road and hit for 'fines.'
Just avoid police – anywhere and everywhere.
14. Carry 'disposable' ID
When you have to leave surety – for a hire-bike, a hotel room, whatever – you don't want to be giving your passport or your driving licence as guarantee.
Anything with 'international' in it's title and better still a fuzzy photo will do for a lot of people.
An international Youth Hostel Card seems to fit the bill pretty well. Or a library card, maybe.
If you weren't as honest as you are, you could drive that rent-scooter over the border with the down side being never staying in a youth hostel again. Ever. Shame.
15. Cultivate a unique 'trademark'
Get known as 'the guy with the Davy Crocket raccoon tail on his helmet' and on-one hand you're always easy to find, when that's a good thing.
And when you want to disappear just take off the tail. Puuuuuffff. You're gone.