Friday, February 20, 2009

Needless tips for lengthy trips

I haven’t really blogged here since coming home from my trip a long while ago but in the last couple years I’ve heard from a lot of people planning their own trips and I thought I’d write an entry of tips and suggestions to answer some of the most common questions I get…

First, remember your passport. And remember that it’s the only thing you really need for a big trip. Everything else is truly a detail.

Scan your passport and e-mail it to yourself. Make a few copies and stash them in your bag.

If you’re bringing valuables (like a laptop), insure them through Safeware and lock them in a wire-mesh bag from PacSafe.

Remember a padlock, a tiny flashlight, and a Swiss army knife.

Get a Lonely Planet guidebook but don’t become a prisoner to it. The region guides (Southeast Asia on a Shoestring, etc) are sufficient unless you’ll spend more than a few weeks in a single country, then its worth springing for a country-specific guide.

Under-pack. If you really end up needing something you can buy it on the road.

I usually travel with 3-4 pairs of socks, t-shirts and underwear. Then one long sleeve shirt, one pair of jeans, one pair of shorts. One bathing suit and a pair of pajama bottoms come in handy too. And a very lightweight raincoat.

You’ll quickly find an efficient way to organize your bag; try to stick to it. Whenever I misplace something its because I’ve put it back in a different place than usual.

You don’t need to pre-book hostels unless it’s a super-busy season for the destination. The only time I’ve pre-booked was for Oktoberfest in Munich.

You don’t need a phone.

Check the foreign transaction and ATM-withdrawal fees charged by your bank, they’re probably outrageous. Capital One offers a “direct banking” account with no foreign ATM fees, which can save you hundreds of dollars over time. I’ve heard Charles Schwab has something similar but don’t know the details.

I like having a family member listed on my bank account in case something needs to be taken care of while I’m away.

Doing your taxes before you leave might be helpful.

High-deductible foreign health insurance is pretty cheap and can be a big help if something medically expensive happens.

Now go.


At 7:00 PM, Blogger Anthony said...

Just when I thought you were done blogging on this particular blog, you return! LOL at not needing a phone. When is that doc rolling?

At 3:10 PM, Blogger Manali + Terry said...

Awesome! We just watched your movie to get pumped up for our trip that we've been planning for years - it totally got us psyched! We loved it!

We can't wait and have made all our friends/family watch the DVD as well so they can "understand" why we're quitting our high paying corporate jobs :)

At 7:56 PM, Anonymous Anne said...

Hi Brooke! I saw your trip "a map for saturday" a few months ago. i realy loved it and it made me want to travel, around the world someday.
i wanna be familiar with trips so i'm going to travel this summer.I have a question concerning the safety of our documents (passport,credit card). When you travel with a backpack usually in the day, how do you keep all your documents safe? In the summer it doesnt look proper to bring a money belt hidden, since its hot and he bring less clothes on, and the money belt its perfectly recognizable.
Thats all, loved your documentary.
Wish it could be longer
Kiss and greetings from europe, sorry my english

At 10:30 AM, Blogger Brook Silva-Braga said...

Hey Anne,
Thanks for saying hi. Securing your stuff is easier than you think. First of all there are just a handful of sensitive things: passport, bank card, money. Most days you'll already have a place to stay and can keep it in a locker there. I still just keep my passport in my pocket, its not much use to a robber (in fact when i was mugged in Brazil I called after them for my passport and they left it).
When i'm traveling somewhere new I keep all the expensive stuff in my day bag which i keep at my seat on the bus.
I scatter bank and credit cards (and emergency cash) between a pocket at the bottom of my bag, my shaving bag, and even under the sole of my shoe.
I've never used a money belt, they seem like an unnecessary hassle unless you're in a place with a lot of violent crime.
Good luck on your trip!

At 2:06 PM, Blogger Manali + Terry said...

How did you figure out how much physical currency to take with you for each country - did you just exchange a lump sum at the airport?

At 4:48 PM, Anonymous anne said...

I'v just finished to buy a waist belt to sleep with in the hostels since i'm going to greece and it seems there that there isn't a lot of crime there(even that im taking some precautions).
I will follow your advices and make security in the normal way, like everyday... :)

When are you going to travel again and make another 'film'?

Its your family from Portugal?
I'm asking that because 'silva & braga' are surnames from portugal. By the way Braga its a city in the north of our country. If yes it would be nice to make a kind of 'documentary' :p

At 8:59 PM, Anonymous Robert said...

How do you feel about the Eurail pass thing? I do not think you used it, but would you suggest it? Have you heard anything about it?

At the end of the documentary you said you spent $20k. How did you manage to only spend that much in 50 weeks?

At 4:08 PM, Blogger Katrina said...


I was given your documentary by a new friend I have made since being home after 14 months of traveling through Australia and NZ. I can't even begin to tell you how much it affected me. Everything you said, and from those you interviewed hit home for me.

I don't want to bore you with all the details of my travels and life now that I am home as I am sure you get a lot of that from those who have seen your film.

I just wanted to thank you for creating a masterpiece when it comes to independent films. I will spread the word to everyone I know and meet along my travels to get out and buy your movie.

I have ordered my own copy from your website just a few minutes ago, after finishing watching the one I was lent to by my friend.

I wish you the best, and I hope it's alright I come back here to read your blog! I have one too from my travels if you are ever bored and want to read more about Australia and NZ ;)

Cheers mate

Katrina Guthrie

At 9:45 PM, Blogger chanakas said...

I have to laugh about the "passport" tips which I wish I knew about sooner. You live and learn. When I was in London, I lost my passport. Talk about feeling like an illegal. I got lucky that someone picked it up and call the American Embassy, which saved me some cash.

Definitely, make copies of all your paper work and keep your driver's license handy as well. Good thing I kept my driver's license with me.

Great tips.

At 3:58 AM, Anonymous Moving said...

Brook, you have a fantastic blog. Please return soon

At 6:47 AM, Blogger derwydd said...

Recently watched your movie, and gave me an even greater desire to travel. Thank you very much for sharing your experience.

I was also curious about your 'silva & braga', since I'm Portuguese and in fact these are very common surnames, like Anne said.

At 11:44 AM, Blogger karen said...

Brook, I love your documentary. I have only been outside my country once and I long to travel more someday.

Like you, I am a TV producer and as much as I enjoyed the visuals and the storytelling of "A Map for Saturday," I was also impressed by how well it was all produced, considering that when you left, you were just a one-man crew.

That aside, I am amazed by your courage to leave your comfy job and embrace the uncertainty of going around the world alone. I loved the sincerity of your writing and the updates from the people you met during your journey made them more human and not just characters in a movie.

Thank you for such a wonderful, heartfelt and inspiring piece of work. I know in my heart that someday, I will be just as brave as you in pursuing my dream to see the world. :)

Karen from the Philippines

At 6:20 PM, Blogger Gar said...

Great trip. I'm setting off on my own trip next month with a couple of differences. I don't intend to stop. Another difference is I'm almost 64 years old. Do you know if Will, the 73 year old backpacker you met, has a blog? I would like to get some tips from him. My blog is:

Best to you, Gar

At 6:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greetings from Colombia!!!!!
I´d like to show "a map for saturday" to my girlfriend but she doesn´t speak english, so, I wonder if you have spanish subtitles in order to sending me them, pleasea? thank you!!

At 5:55 AM, Blogger Alston Kane said...

Nice and useful information about PASSPORT PREMIERE REVIEW. I really liked it.
Good work.



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