Photo: Don't forget your passport.

Travelling is a liberating experience. Whatever worries or headaches you may have disappear (or more likely are postponed) as you walk through the departure gate and you're free to throw yourself at a brand new environment bereft of identity and free from any restraint. This freedom can be just as exhilarating as it can be intoxicating. Here's ten that fall into the latter.

Because you're overseas you should get drunk as much as possible

Run over by a car in London, stabbed in London, bottled on Ko Phi Phi and nearly impaled by a fence in Sapa — they're the ones I'll own up to — all go hand in hand with drinking too much. Way too much. Just because beer is a tenth of the price of at home, doesn't mean you should drink ten times as much.

The roads are soft in Asia

In case you didn't know, bitumen in Asia is much softer than in the west. That is why it is not necessary to wear a motorbike helmet, nor long pants, not a shirt or shoes. Really you should just motorbike in your speedos or bikini. That way you'll be guaranteed to have the best gravel rash scars to show off. Falling off a motorbike in Phayao when you're not wearing a helmet really really really hurts. Really.

Yes, this man is an idiot

If you get on enough boats that look like they'll sink, one will

Being on a boat that is sinking may sound like fodder for great stories, and to an extent it is, but at the time it isn't so cool. How far can you really swim? Fully clothed? How far can you swim while trying to hold a bag above your head? How far can you swim holding a camera and a bag above your head? Believe me it will be a shorter distance than you think. If you get in an overloaded boat, being driven by a local who is obviously drunk and stoned, to navigate even a short distance in dangerous seas, from, say for example Ko Bulon Lae to the Thai coast, you deserve to end up in the water.

It's perfectly ok to ride a motorbike while drunk

This sort of ties in with the first point. But if you ride a motorbike while drunk in Bali, you'll most likely have an accident and even if you're lucky enough to not harm anyone else, you'll at least injure yourself (and even if you don't manage that, expect a veritable bollocking from your significant other).

Always argue with police officers, especially in Asia

The best way to prove you are smarter than the average police officer is to argue with them. They'll respect you more. Especially if you call them stupid and corrupt. Double especially in Cambodia. By the time they're finished with you you'll be hoping they're corrupt just so you can get the hell out of there.

Drugs are cool

Just because it's cool to grow pot in Canberra doesn't mean it's cool to smoke pot in Asia. Sure in some places you can get away with it, but the Vietnamese Embassy in Vientiane, Laos is not one of those places. If you get caught, expect a best case scenario of having to pay a lot of money — maybe just stay in Canberra.

Travel insurance is for punks

Real travellers don't need travel insurance. It is a waste of money. Real travellers are totally self aware. Anyway, the travel insurance companies never pay out. Tell yourself that when you're on a beach in Cabo San Lucas left with nothing but a camping stove, a sleeping bag and the Unbearable Lightness of Being.

Always take the cheapest airline

When we hit the bottom of the drop and the oxygen masks tumbled out amid a frenzied environment of flying dutyfree booze and cigarettes, the SwissAir flight from Bangkok to Singapore seemed to be really worth the extra $8 that I'd saved by grabbing a Biman DC-10. I still can't look at a Biman jet without cringing.

Always argue with customs officers

As with the police point above, be sure to be as obnoxious as you can manage. This is especially helpful when travelling from Canada to the US — say on a flight from Toronto Montreal to Boston. They'll be especially responsive if you look like you've just run out of Death Valley, are wearing bright purple tie dye pants and have a six inch beard. The cavity search will forever be a travel memory you can treasure.

It is the principle

It doesn't matter that you've spent the last thirty minutes beating down the rickshaw driver in Jaipur over what is effectively five cents. It is the principle dammit. Stand your ground. Who does that guy think he is? You must get everything for a local price, even though you are not, well, a local.

Take a breath

Travel is fabulous — life changing for many. But without wanting to sound like your Mum, please stay in control and treat others with the respect you expect yourself.

P.S. Nearly all of the above happened years and years ago ... I'm much more sensible now ... really.

By
Last updated on 4th October, 2010.

Top of page

 Be sure to have adequate insurance cover before you travel. We recommend World Nomads


Further reading

Planning well is an integral part of getting the most out of your trip. Be it picking the right backpack, the right vaccinations or the right country, the simple decisions are often the most important.


Getting started

Put your hand up if you just have no idea what you're doing. No idea where to go, when to go or even how to go. Should you be travelling independently, or is an organised tour the better way to go. Where are some of our favourites? Read on.


How to plan

You know when you're going and you know when you're coming back. In between there is a big gap. How do you fill it? Here are some quick pointers.


Insurance

Please let us make this very clear. If you can't afford adequate insurance cover, you can't afford to travel. Period. Read on to find out why.


Health & safety

Despite all the thought that goes into packing, one of the most common things forgotten is common sense. Here are some pointers to keep in mind if you'd like to stay healthy during your trip.


Money & costs

So what is this trip actually going to cost you? More then the bus to the airport and the flight ticket, that's for sure. Read on for some handy budgeting tips.


Travel with kids

People travel with children? Really? Are you one of them? Are you mad?


Accommodation

When someone tells you the accommodation is a bit basic, what does that actually mean?


Food & drink

Useful for staying alive. Also delicious and occasionally sickening. Read on for the skinny.


Transport

Southeast Asia has planes, trains and automobiles. It also has ojeks, xe-oms, songtheaws and horse carts.


Volunteering & work

Volunteering and paid employment may well be a bit more complicated than back home, and, especially with volunteering, may not be as helpful as you thought.


What to pack & gear advice

Packing is like an all you can eat buffet. You may want to eat it all, but that is rarely a good idea.


Top of page