Helpful Tips for Planning a Year Long Trip Around the World Part 9
[Saying Goodbye / Staying Connected]
For a number of people saying goodbye is the hardest part about world travel. You’re leaving behind your friends, your family, your co-workers, your whole life. And who knows where they’ll be when you get back?
Just because you’re taking off on a grand adventure doesn’t mean that everyone else’s adventures come to a halt. You’re only the main character in your own story, after all. Friends will get married, some relationships will blossom, and others will come to an end. Family members will find themselves at high points of their life; friends will find themselves at low points. And you’ll be halfway across the world, unable to be there for them.
But just because you’re halfway across the world doesn’t mean that you’re completely removed from their lives. There are a number of ways to keep in touch with those you’ve left behind.
There’s only one way to say goodbye to friends and family, and it’s through the age old tradition of a giant party. Yes, the party – where people from all different circles of friends combine in a mass night of pure awkwardness with nothing but relation to you drawing them together. Personally I suggest a bar, or an empty house where nothing can get broken. Goodbye’s, after all, are emotional experiences and a drink or two may find itself poured.
People spend their whole lives looking for an excuse to throw the perfect party, and what excuse could be better than your embarking on a harrowing journey that could lead to instant, or excruciating death? (I’m sure you’ll be fine.)
This will give you a chance to see everyone, and it will give everyone a chance to see you. Most importantly, you won’t spend your last few weeks in town trying to track everyone down independently. Time to learn who your true friends are!
Staying in Touch
So you’re across the world, and you’re feeling a little homesick. Well that’s fair, it happens to the best of us. Especially on the fourth day of rain in a city that is already bleak, when you haven’t have a conversation in your own language for over a week. And your laundry all needs to be done. And you just lost your wallet. And you’re not sure how to cancel your credit cards. And you’re pretty sure that six foot tall three hundred pound man has been winking, suggestively, at you all night. So – what are your options?
E-Mail is a simple way to keep in touch, but it does require one of two things. Either a computer hardwired to the internet at an internet café, or a netbook that can steal wi-fi straight out of the air.
Internet Café’s Q+A
Q: Where can I find an Internet Café?
A: The good people over at Cyber Cafes have combined a list where you can search either by country or city. By using this resource you should have no problem finding a nearby café, regardless of where you are in the world.
Q: I need to use the internet to find the internet?
A: That’s an unfortunate reality of today’s resources. We assume internet is always accessible. If you can’t access it ahead of time, try asking for directions at your nearest hostel, or tourist information booth.
Q: Where can I find free Wi-Fi hotspots?
A: The good people over at Wi-Fi Free Spot have you covered this time. Although most of the spots are located within North America they do have some across the rest of the world. Another around the world free wi-fi spot list can be found at personaltelco.net.
A: List of wi-fi locating sites:
Q: There are no hot spots where I’m going.
A: Not really a question – but, if you open up your netbook and try to connect to a network, you will see either no listed networks, locked networks, or open networks. If you’re feeling a little shady, you can connect to any open network to access the internet.
Q: There are no open networks where I’m standing.
A: Well, find a populated area, and walk up and down the street until you find one. If you constantly refresh you’ll eventually come across one. Populated cities are the best for this. Some apartment buildings have over a dozen open networks in them. Standing at the base of these buildings can be quite helpful.
Q: I don’t want to look like a fool with my computer open. Isn’t there a less socially awkward way to find an open network?
A: For someone who is trying to steal the internet, you sure do care a lot about your perceptions. But yes – there are options. There is a t-shirt at ThinkGeek that will help you detect Wi-Fi spots, although this wi-fi detector shirt won’t help you in the socially awkward department.
There is, however, another gadget that will allow you to detect wi-fi signals. The Digital Wi-Fi Detector works like a charm, in that respect.
And if you’d like to broadcast signal strength to others because, A.) You lost a bet, or B.) you’re just that kind of person Think Geek also brings you the brilliant Wi-Fi Detector Hat.
Unless you have a base of operations you’ll probably not be able to receive mail, but people love few things more than a postcard. Sure they’re bound to throw them out, or lose them eventually – but in that moment they love receiving a pictured piece of cardboard! Watch out though, some of your friends may request a postcard from every place you visit, not realizing that this could cost you hundreds of dollars.
Suggest having your friends fund the postcard buying and sending, and then it’s just a matter of you figuring out how to use the mail systems across the world. And let me tell you, sometimes simply finding a postbox can be the most difficult part.
You can head on over to PostOffice.com to learn about post offices around the world. Sure the information is in the national language, and it will be of little help to you – but hey, it’s quirky.
There are a number of ways to go about using a cell phone around the world. And few are necessarily better than others – there is only one idea that is terrible: taking your regular cell phone with you.
Why? You’ll rack up a terrible amount of roaming charges and your costs will bring you to tears. In some cases it might be cheaper to just fly your friend to you. Seriously.
You can rent cell phones, buy a cell phone that uses sim cards, and then just buy sim cards when you’re on the road, or – you know – wait until the new friend you just met at the bar is sufficiently relaxed, at which point you can ask him if you can make a local call. By the time he figures it out, you’ll be long gone, right?
The website Cellular Abroad has links to places around the world where you can buy sim cards, rent phones, or just learn what your options are. There are other websites, and a quick goggle search will reveal them all. But, in this case, Cellular Abroad is quite comprehensive.
One note about Cellular Abroad: Their prices are very expensive. I suggest you do your research there, discover what you need, and then make your purchase elsewhere. A basic handset, and a handful of sim cards (easily accessible in any country) are all you’ll need.
Crazy Computer-Enhanced Voice Talk Technology
If you have a netbook, or internet access by all means just use Skype or the upcoming Google Voice.
As always, you will face some difficulties and awkward situations on the road. Don’t worry though, as a fearless traveller you’ll mange to bypass all issues, and continue on your journey hassle free. Just – don’t do anything too foolish.
Jump to other Parts
0. Index / Summary
1. Planning Destinations
2. Budget / Culling
3. Hotels vs Hostels
4. Internet Research
5. Tour Groups / Solo Travel
6. Important Travel Gear
7. Packs / Packing
8. Medical Requirements
9. Saying Goodbye / Staying Connected
10. No Fear Travel
Bonus: Overlooked Travel Tips and Tricks