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TRAVEL TIPS

Fundamental, important and useless suggestions for your adventurous independent holidays
Wildtrips.net: kayak, sailing itineraries in Italy, adventurous trips around the world

There are different kinds of holidays: from relaxing in a beach resort to skiing across Antarctica.
Therefore, it's important to pick the right holiday for you. For example, if you hate physical activities, don't try to tour the whole Asia by tricycle, even if it sounds great.
This website is about quite adventurous explorations of (usually) exotic countries. These journeys in freedom are for everyone: they just need a bit of organization.
So, the following recommendations are for "normal" (or slightly mad) independent travelers. However, also quieter or crazier travelers will find some nice ideas.

Wild traveling Camels on a dune in the Merzouga Desert, Morocco
The spirit with which you travel accounts for half of the success of your trip.
This website encourages independency, desire for discovery, improvisation, an active search for sensations and amusements... A holiday shouldn't be just a break from the daily routine, a brief moment of fun in a life full of annoyances. It should fill the soul, leave great memories, open one's mind and teach something that will last forever (something practical like rigging a sail or something more profound like smiling when facing small problems).
Hopefully, from wildtrips.net trip reports you will get this sense of "childlike" (not "childish") way of traveling, that is with curiosity, open to be surprised and with a lot of irony. This is why it is important to travel wild: not necessarily through the jungle with a machete, but definitely in freedom, without prejudice and without too many restraints.
(Well, ok, it's all very interesting... but where are the useful information you promised? Here they come!)

Picking the destination Chiaia di Luna, Ponza, Italy
It's the most important, funny and exciting moment.
Enter a library and browse through the travel guides until something inspires you. Or, you can try in a travel agency: maybe they'll propose a trip that you think you can do better, independently, enjoying more of the country while spending much less money... this way it becomes almost a challenge! Of course, look for suggestions from friends, family and websites (especially this one :-) ). And then, it's all up to you and your preferences.
How to pick a destination among many possibilities? Well, first of all there are some constraints that can't be overlooked: weather, money, time, etc. Moreover, some places may be for everyone, some are better suited for couples, other regions may be dangerous if your aren't in a big group....
Once you have some precise ideas in mind, start getting some information. It's another funny phase.

Getting information
Stealing brochures in a travel agency is always fun (and also a deft display of skills), but Internet is nowadays the best source of information. With a Google search you'll find interesting news, the maps may help you imagine an itinerary, and the images will tell you if you will really find the beautiful places you are looking for.
More detailed information can be found in the following travel forums http://www.tripadvisor.com/ForumHome and http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/. Also http://www.wikitravel.org is pretty useful. (www.wildtrips.net is the best, of course!!)
Keep in mind that even if you have some very original ideas for your holidays, most likely someone has already done it. You'll be able to make it unique by sleeping in a tent on the beach, by mooring in a deserted bay, by drinking wine in the middle of the jungle... you'll have infinite decisions to make, infinite possibilities to do something original, spectacular or just plain stupid. Still, for a good part you'll have the opportunity to follow someone else's steps. Another idea is to pick some destinations from an organized trip, just to have some pivotal points, and then follow your instincts in between.
Organize your trip with your friends or wife or girlfriend or lovers or dogs, because happiness should be shared, but keep in mind that a group of six or more persons is difficult to manage... it may become hard to agree on the many decisions that must be made during an adventurous trip.

Safety Lion in the Etosha Park, Namibia
Every country has its own website managed by the ministry of foreign affairs that provides information about health and safety in the other countries of the world. Of course, these websites are always a bit alarmist, and rightly so, because they have to advice against any danger. However, every bit of information should be analyzed carefully. For example, in most countries terrorism is a danger, but probably it is more likely to die at home slipping in the shower. Try to compare different sources of information and to reason about them (this recommendation is also for life).
How dangerous is travelling? There are two ways to face this question:
1- Panicking: "Help!!! Planes crash, criminals commit crimes, sharks bite and we will be at their mercy!"
2- Reasoning, getting info and stats: this way, you'll realize that cars are more dangerous than planes, that cows kill much more than sharks and you'll find out many other reassuring knowledge (unless you live with a cow).
Of course, logic and good sense must filter any information: for example, there are also misguiding stats.
In conclusion, always be careful, but don't be afraid of cows.

Weather
It’s always useful to have an idea of the weather patterns in the place where you are considering for a journey. There are many websites full of statistics about temperatures, monthly rainfall and much more. I like the weather records provided by http://www.wunderground.com/history.
For example, if you want to go to Kathmandu, in Nepal, the next August, just check on Wunderground how the weather was in August last year and the year before and so on. You'll find out that it rained almost every day. So, you can try to change month, for example you can pick October, and - voilà - you'll that at Kathmandu in autumn it's almost always sunny. So you can either postpone your trip or change destination.
Good and bad luck are always important components of the human life, but at least they can be (partially) controlled.

Flights Hot-air balloon in Cappadocia, Turkey
So you picked the destination of your dreams, but you still have to book the flight. Here are the best websites:
- www.lastminute.com, which has a useful function to find the cheapest flight in a range of days;
- www.cheaptickets.com, which is useful for "Multi-city" flights, for example: Rio de Janeito-Iguazù-San Paolo, or Milan-Beijing-Hong Kong-Milan.
Other website are edreams, skyscanner, and many more and it's good also to have a look at the air company website (especially for low-cost carriers).
Before choosing a destination it's useful to have already had a quick look at these websites, to make sure that the flights are within your budget. Useless to say, at Christmas prices are steep. Flying out the days before the 25th of December is generally cheaper than in the days after. There are always quite unknown destinations reachable without spending too much money.

Adventure or organization? Motorcycle in the heavy traffic of Bali, Indonesia
Of course this website encourages traveling independently, exploring a region, an island, a country or a mountain in an active way, without following the crowd.
However, there are different situations in which a kind of guide is necessary. For example on a sailing boat it's good to have a skipper who knows the best places for a dive or for mooring and most importantly allows relaxing and avoiding most of the work!
Also, guided day-trips are a common and recommended way to explore certain countries. In fact, back-packers who travel by public transport will find day-trips organized by hostels (and hotels) very useful when they stop in town. This is especially true for South America and Eastern Asia, where rental cars are less common.
If you are in a small group and you can hire a car, of course, you'll find it a very conveniente means of transport that allow freedom and improvisation.
So... what's better to book in advance?
- Rental car;
- The first or the first two nights in a hotel when you arrive in a new country: this is going to be useful also in case your luggage is lost during the flight, as it will (probably) be delivered to your hotel address after one day;
- The hotel in any town where everything might be full for a certain special event (for example, you can check out in advance on this website to check the hotels and see how many available rooms there are, and then you can decide what to do).
- Trips in National Parks that limit public access.
It's a good idea to improvise everything else (or to book day by day during the trip). One of the best parts of an adventurous trip is to discover secluded places, unknown paradises, so this flexibility allows staying more in the places you particularly like and to move on when you don't like something.

Accomodations
Besides the websites listed above for flights, there are many others to book accomadation. In particular, this website compare prices of all hotels found on the internet, thus saving you a lot of time. Try it out.

Rental car Jeep on a dune in the Al Sharqiya Sands Desert in Oman
Usually it's better to book the car in advance via internet. You can try a search engine like Rentalcars or company websites such as AutoEurope, Dollar, Budget, Hertz and many more. If you look for special vehicles (for example a 4x4 with rooftop tents to travel through Namibia) there are specific operators and you should look for information on the internet, on dedicated forums and on this website.

Luggage
Just don't bring too much stuff, because objects are constraints. For the flight keep in the hand luggage all the useful stuff for the first days.
Sometimes, especially in case of stopovers, the embarked luggage is lost, so it's good to reduce possible problems. You and your travel companions might also want to split your stuff in different bags, so that if one is lost the damage is not too bad.
Before leaving, make a list of all the important things to bring with you: passport, driving license, phone and camera chargers (which must be kept away from shampoo, soap and any other liquid), flashlight and multi-use knife if you camp, etc.
I find it useful to have a cheap tablet or an e-book reader with travel guides and maps (they are much lighter and smaller than actual books). Also, a cheap tablet (with SD slot) is useful to make a copy of your photos during the trip, so that your precious images are not lost.

Money
The use of credit cards is fundamental to withdraw cash around the world (and to pay hotels, restaurants etc). It's good to have both Visa and Mastercards as in some countries one of them might not be accepted (there are online bank accounts that are free and provide with the desired credit card: they might be used as travel deposits).
Bring a bit of cash for any emergency.
Here you can find updated currency exchange rates: www.xe.com/ucc/.
Have a wild trip!
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