the Long's Strange Trip
into the unknown...
Gear and Resources
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I wish I could give you the "Magic Link", the one that contains all of the information you need to travel the world. Unfortunately, we haven't found it. Cruising around the Internet yields a TON of information, some helpful, some less than helpful. You'll find that as you look at older web sites from people who have done this, and compare them to newer web sites, many have benefitted from those that have gone before them. The best advice I can give you is to give yourself plenty of time to research and prepare. Decide how what level or preparedness you need to feel comfortable, then plan accordingly. Here are some sites that we found helpful.
Your computer (assuming, again, that you're taking one) is going to be the biggest purchase of your pre-trip planning. You want to consider weight, computer power, modem speed, and screen size (in my opinion, very important) when purchasing. cnet.com is a tremendous resource for information on virtually any electronic equipment you might need, from laptops to digital cameras. Not only can you read their reviews on various items, but you can also read the opinions of actual consumers who bought the stuff. It was invaluable to me in choosing both the laptop and the camera. In addition, they will also search the web and find the best prices on equipment you select for price comparison purposes.
One thing to keep in mind when ordering on-line: e-tailers don't always have the capability to tell you when you order from them when they'll ship. If you're ordering the hottest new digital camera from an e-tailer who has a great price, it may be backordered and you might wait longer than expected for it. In my opinion, it's always best to call before ordering to check availability. Also, look out for exorbitant shipping prices. Sometimes, that's how they make up the difference they're losing out in charging the lowest price.
To date, we've signed up with four different ISP's. AOL and AT&T claim to have the largest number of POP's around the world, but we found a service called iPass that allows customers of ISP's to use iPass' 5000 POP servers worldwide. We signed up with Speedfactory, a local ISP here in Atlanta, in order to gain access to the iPass network.
Finally, you have to figure out who's going to host your web site. I'm using Mindspring, because they deal with Microsoft Frontpage extensions, and not everybody does. You can get 30MB of space for $29.95 per month. Although I'm no Microsoft fan, I do recommend Front Page. It makes designing a decent site pretty brainless, and if you decide to do a trip like this, you're going to find out that you don't have alot of time or inclination to learn the intricacies of HTML.
Hey, we all love the Internet, but let's face it - 99.44% of the information in the world (yes, I made this up) is still contained in some book, somewhere. That goes especially for travel information. Fodor's and Let's Go! both have slightly lame sites. Lonely Planet's site is actually pretty good - the best part being the Thorn Tree, where travelers start and add to discussion threads on subjects ranging from finding a good hotel in Playa del Carmen to how to use a squat toilet (THIS I'm not making up). Still, we needed books for the nitty-gritty information. For that, we turned to the Granddaddy of e-Commerce, amazon.com. Click here to see exactly which books we bought, plus what music we're listening to on the road.
When it comes right down to it, the best advice comes from those who went before you. I have been amazed at how many people either have traveled RTW, want to, or know someone who has. This is how we've met lots of people who have given us help.
Scott and Laura Kruglewicz traveled RTW from September 1998 to September 1999. Their site, Worldwide Wanderings, has been featured in the New York Times, and Scott is currently writing a book about their travels. Not only have we used their site as a resource, since they also live in Atlanta, we've gotten together with them on several occasions to share travel stories and get advice.
Shane Finkelstein and Courtney Gibson left the U.S. in January 2000 for their adventure. Shane is not only keeping a running dialogue on his site, WorldTraveler 2000, he's also writing a column in the weekly paper he used to publish here in Atlanta.
We found another great resource in Kristina Johnson and David Franke. They traveled for nine months in 1998, and have an incredible site called Wired 2 the World. I have corresponded with Kristina via email, and she has lots of recommendations world travel. She's even hooked us up with a Nepalese guide who will be taking us on a trek in the Himalayas!
We have a new internet friend from Germany, Thomas Heuser, who found our site, and has decided to take off on his own 'round-the-world trip. His website is www.allaroundtheworld.de.
A great resource for RTW travel is the Round the World Travel Guide.
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