in the world would you like to be right now?
nine years ago I was asked this question. My reply was something
along the lines of "on a beach in the Caribbean".
When pushed to explain why I wasn't on this beach, I found
myself at a loss for words. After all, if I really DID want
to be there, it was simply a matter of getting
on and doing it.
our dreams into realities can be a hassle, but here
I seek to help those who wish to see the world - that
is, without the aid of a huge great bank balance. Below
are a couple of "must do's", followed by links
to the most useful traveller's web sites out there.
Your Way Around the World
I reccomend that you get hold of a copy of Work Your
Way Around the World by Susan Griffith. This is a fantastic
publication from Vacation Work, fully revised and updated
every two years, full of addresses and contacts that
will really get you off on the right foot. Easily available
worldwide. For more information click
join WWOOF. WWOOF is the working travellers Best Friend,
especially when the working traveller is more interested
in gaining a real understanding of their destination
than simply earning money and moving on. Wwoof can provide
you with thousands of contacts throughout many countries
worldwide. On these farms and communities you can live
and work as a part of the family in return for food,
a warm bed and an insight into the local language and
customs. I personally have Wwoofed in France, Switzerland
and believe that it should always be considered no matter
where you are travelling. Click
here for more information. An alternative
to WWOOF that seems to be run along similar lines is
but I have no direct experience of working with these
are many many websites given over to travel, but unfortunately
most are a complete waste of time and don't really provide
you with any worthwhile service. Below, I have listed
those that I have found to be truly useful - including
the sites where you'll find the cheapest flights.
country coverage is limited. For teaching jobs check
Proffesionals click on www.monster.com.
If you are considering teaching in Japan then get hold
of a copy of the FREE online twice-monthly magazine
it's packed with jobs, links and other useful stuff.
Perhaps THE most popular Teaching English as a Foreign
Language website is http://eslcafe.com/search/.
This is a huge database with over 3000 links to TSL
related sites. Great for finding a job, great if you've
got one. In Japan sign up to www.findateacher.net
and let the students come to you (I thoroughly reccomend
this service). Another similar service is 121sensei.com.
, as is orangutanenglish. Also, Gaijinpot.com
should never be overlooked. Easy to use with loads
of great jobs. If you have already secured a teaching
position and need some advice and material on how to
go about doing the job, in addition to the above links
you should go to
were you will find lessons and advice that can be downloaded
and printed off. Lessons tend to be based on real news
stories such as the one about the lady who decided to
spend her retirement on a cruise ship as it wasn't much
more expensive than an old folks home in London. Recently, I've heard good things about Tokyo-based http://www.ihcway.net/ who find students for you, although I have no driect experience of the company myself.
Want to try your hand at acting for Japanese TV? I recommend Group Echo.
recently come across another website that is definately
a must-see for anyone wanting to escape: http://escapeartist.com/
Also, when in
Tokyo, check out the No.1 English language zine, Metropolis. Pick
it up for free in any big record store (and 700 other locations
in Tokyo) or go to www.metropolis.co.jp
Tokyo Notice Board is also a useful free mag.
If you are a private english teacher in Japan I THOROUGHLY reccomend The Home Sensei, a superb site packed full of resources for teachers, created by a friend of mine, Shari Custer, who has almost two decades of experience in this field.
of heading for Japan, your first click should be in the direction
The Japan branch of Wwoof
can help you to experience life as a native of this fascinating
country, by providing you with the details of organic farmers and
other orgainisations in Japan who welcome foreigners into their
homes, providing them with a bed, meals and invaluable experiences
in exchange for a few hours work each day. You can join wwoof today
by going to
GaijinPot.com has grown from its humble beginnings and now provides info on jobs, accomodation, visas, flights, learning Japanese... you name it, it's there, either in the main website itself or the many forums.
Tokyo you should sign up with the Kimi
Information Centre who will take your details and
then place ads (in Japanese) for students in the your local
area of the city. They can also provide assistance with accomadation,
visas and so on. If you have a Working Holiday Visa contact
Japan Association for Working-Holiday Makers (JAWHM)
who can help you find a job.
Tokyo City Guide & Reviews, restaurants and more - Sunnypages.jp is a good English-language website to check if in the capital.
Need a place to stay in Osaka - Umeda Dormitory is very cheap, very friendly, very clean - I've stayed there myself and thoroughly reccomend it. http://www.ne.jp/asahi/umeda/dormitory/shareroom2f_j.html (note that they now have a policy of a minimum stay of one week).
on travelling in Japan can be found at Japan-guide.com.
A fantastic website with all train bus and plane times etc can be
found at http://www.hyperdia.com.
English language Japanese news sites include www.japantoday.com and the Mainichi Shinbum, both of whom have RSS feeds.
goverment has a very
good website with lots of information. A guide
to Japanese visas can be found here.
Tokyo Immigration Information Centre is a great
source of useful info, with all visa issues explained in clear
If you are
thinking of travelling to Hiroshima, check out http://www.gethiroshima.com/ for
lots of useful info and links.
on buying flights in Japan please see below
Want to make
international calls from Japan? Pick up a Brastel phone card at
any McDonald's in the Kanto region.
Accomodation: If staying for a month or more in
the city, check out:
03 3382 0151 email@example.com
(with prices ranging from about 60,000 yen they are expensive, but
easy to deal with, none of the ususal key-money - their office is in Shin Nakano on the Marounuchi
subway line) or
Apple House 0422 51 2277 www.applehouse.ne.jp
(you've got to see it to believe it! Lots of rules but simply excellent)
From 39,800yen per month for a private room, located in Higashi
Koganei on the JR Chuo line.
For more accomodation
contacts get a copy of the No.1 English language zine,
Metropolis. Pick it up for free in any big record store
(and 700 other locations in Tokyo) or go to http://metropolis.co.jp/classifieds/m
Also, get a copy of the other big freebie, Tokyo Notice
good KOREAN based TESL (Teaching English
as a Second Language) site can be found at http://www.1-language.com/cgi-bin/jobcenter.pl
looking for accomodation in London should check out
...Another must! All I'll say is "don't leave home without it". It's virtually impossible to sort insurance out once you have left your home country. Reccomendations for students include Planet Travel & STA travel
If you're no longer a teenager you may also want to try:
Saga Travel Insurance
As well the world cruises and long-haul holidays they are famous for, Saga also specialise in Travel Insurance for the over 50's.
Another recommendation for travellers of all ages:
Cheap Travel Insurance
addition to their fantastic online catalogue of books on the
subjects of travelling, living and working abroad, they also
have a Links page packed with relevant useful organisations.
Info exchange provides a noticeboard where you can view or
post recommendations on places to work, go, see or stay. Latest
Jobs is just that - the latest vacancies in the UK and abroad.
Excellent accomodation search engine, with which you can:
- Search multiple sites for the best deals on major hotels.
- Browse their comprehensive list of independent hotels, B&B's, and hostels that aren't listed on those sites.
fantastic directory full of information for the working
traveller, including links to job sites. Check it out
converted quickly and easily here.
Foreign & Commonwealth Office Website
British passport holders should check this site before travelling.
It provides up-to-date info on where's safe and where's not.I
must admit, I hesitated in checking this one out as it's "only"
a government website. However, I was very impressed with what
I found. There is a drop-down list of countries where you
can check to see whether it is safe to travel there. Other
topics covered include: Passports & Visas, Insurance, Money
Matters, Health Matters, Drugs, Giving Blood, Top 10 Checklist
and Laws & Customs. Other topics include Before You Go, Travellers'
Tips, While You Are There and If It All Goes Wrong. This is
a great site to get the official word on what the score is
- it's style is pretty easy-going too.
my local Embassy?" No matter what your nationality or
where in the world you are, your question will be answered
here. A great traveller's tool.
site is great! As they say, "Ask any question!
Allexperts.com is the oldest & largest free Q&A service
on the Internet. Pick a category and click on a volunteer's
name to ask a question! Thousands of volunteer experts
are here to answer all your questions!" It's quite
true what they say, I tested this out by asking where
I could find cheap accommodation in a certain Japanese
city (Cheap? is that possible in Japan?!). As the volunteers
are all experts in their own field the answer was relevant
and personal. Of course, you can also view Q&As
by other people. It's a great way to find out a little
about where you're going, just give it a little time
to get your answer.
view, Lonely Planet publish simply the best guide books around.
Check out their online catalogue (a fantastic range of titles
available, delivered promptly too). Their site also contains
all the usual travel related tools, such as currency converter,
flight booking service etc. You can also upgrade any old guidebooks
you may have. This is one of the best sites around for the
Armchair Traveller, as Lonely Planet publish a great range
of books packed with tales of wild adventures on the open
road. There's also world news as never seen on TV and numerous
Guides publish a vast selection of excellent travel books
and music. I think that when it comes to Lonely Planet vs
Rough Guides it's simply a matter of taste - check out their
website and see what you think.
to travel around Europe? Interail is the way to do it! This
train ticket, valid for up to a month in almost 30 countries
(including Morocco and Turkey) is a great deal. You can travel
on virtually any train for free (there may be a small extra
charge for Supersonic services), and the ticket can be bought
in most large railway stations. Check out interrailer.com,
a fantasticly proffesional "home-grown" site with
information in twelve languages covering everything from ticket
prices to tips on where to see and stay whilst exploring this
designed for North American travellers, although much
of it can apply to anyone. Here you will find everything
you need to know about how to backpack Europe - without
having to win the lottery first. Topics covered include
cheap flights, hostel reviews, train passes, live travelogues
(good for the armchair traveller) and packing advice.
- Travelling from the comfort
of your own home
Penfriends is a great organisation that enables you
to travel without leaving your home country. I joined
I.P.F. (whose motto is "Uniting the world through
friendship, fun and the written word") over a year
ago, and I now have many good friends in countries as
diverse as Germany, Finland, Argentina, Lithuania, China,
the USA, Japan, Zimbabwe and Brazil. IPF is the oldest
and largest penfriend service in the world. They do
a great job of matching you with people in countries
that you select who share your interests and ideas.
For more information on IPF and how to join, click
here. Personally, I give and recieve a great
deal of support through this organisation.
in the Uk and want to call friends abroad? Living ouside
the Uk and want friends in the UK to call you? www.telediscount.co.uk
offers absolutely incredibly unbeatable prices - many
countries are charged at local rate!
Skype is of course another option, offering free PC to PC calls worldwide. Useful for long-distance relationships...
an Internet Cafe in your destination town? Check before you
go by using this Internet Cafe search engine. I tested this
by looking for my tiny local camera shop (which has a PC tucked
away in the corner) - to my surprise I found it listed.
you keep in touch with the folks back home when on the road?
Travelling around the world but don't want to buy a phonecard
in every country you visit? If you don't have a Skype-enabled laptop, here's the answer, Ekno a service
provided by Lonely Planet. Once you have registered you will
be able to make cheap calls from over 58 countries using virtually
any phone. Simply call the toll-free number, enter your personal
code and dial the number you want to reach. Your Ekno account
is automatically debited - you can easily recharge it by telephone
or via the internet. As a member you will also be given a
Voicemail box, a fax-to-mail number and an email account.
Don't leave home without it!
email is often the easiest way of keeping in touch with those
you've left behind. Also, if you're moving around quite a
bit it's virtually the only way that other's can be sure to
get a message to you. Of course there are millions and millions
of email service providers out there, with not much to tell
them apart. However, I recommend Gmail as not only does it have a great spam filter, but also you have a ridiculous amount of storage space (2.5GB) so you never have to delete anything. Great search function too for retrieving 6-month old emails from your airline when it's time to go home!
a mobile phone necessary when travelling abroad? Well,
despite owning five of them, I'd have to say No. The
first thing to remember is that Pay-as-you-talk doesn't
always work abroad. Also, if you're going to America
you'll need a Tri-Band handset, and when in Japan you'll
need a new one altogether... a bit complicated isn't
it? Usually I think the best thing to do is only get
one if you stay in one country for a long time - and
buy it when you get there!
In Japan you'll need your Gaijin Card (from your local City Office) if you want to get your own phone (even pay-as-you-go), so your best bet is to get a Japanese friend to go with you when you buy it, and use their details to register. Pay-as-you-go phones are available very cheaply (although calls made with them are very expensive), and can be topped up using cards from Convenience stores etc.
Flights & Trains
Did you know that a return flight from London to Tokyo will DOUBLE your annual Co2 output?
Rather than take a flight, why not REALLY travel, and take the train? Travelling by train is not only far friendlier to the environment, but also gives you a true feeling of travelling, of covering vast distances. You will also meet many more people, have far more exciting adventures, and not be annoyed by those screaming children in row 23!
I have decided that whenever possible I will avoid using aeroplanes. My plane-free lifestyle starts in 2007, with an epic 4 week journey from Tokyo to London, taking me through China, Mongolia, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France.
For all the information you could possibly need on travelling by train anywhere in the world, please visit
The man in Seat 61 - a true wonder of the internet.
Still, if you must take the plane...
a complete listing of airline websites,
where you look on the internet you cannot miss links to online
travel agents. Your first stop if flying from the UK should
definately be www.cheapflights.com.
This site is essentially a huge search engine that encompasses
many other sites - I bought my Aeroflot ticket from London
(via Moscow) to Tokyo through this company - £300 including
tax. Absolute bargain, especially so when you consider that
I ended up being transferred to a direct flight from London
to Tokyo with B.A!
out the following websites of various international flight
don't forget your local high street travel agent. They sometimes
have fantastic offers on, and at the very least you can get
a good idea of current prices.
When it comes
to flying within Europe there are a couple of companies that shine
above the rest pricewise, although destination airports are limited
in number. First and foremost, check out www.easyjet.com
With easyjet I have flown from London to Switzerland for just £15.00
(approx US$23.00), and with Ryanair from London to Milan for the
same price. Bear in mind that tax is extra, and you MUST observe
baggage weight restictions or you'll get badly stung. Other possibilities
particular should try www.statravel.co.uk.
If you are serious
about saving a bit of money, get hold of a good travel
guide or a copy of Work
Your Way Around the World - countless airlines, discount
flight agents and companies such as Airhitch are listed. You'd be
crazy to pay the normal price for any flight - there are always
special deals available. Another option is taking a Courier Flight,
where in exchange for a lower fare you carry documents from airport
to airport. For more details visit the homepage of the International
Association of Air Couriers.
in Japan? Try these discount flight agents (all speak
english and are Tokyo-based)
03 3340 6745 www.across-travel.com
No.1 Travel: 03 3200 8871 www.no1-travel.com
Just Travel: 03 3362 3441
Can Tour: 03 3352 5200 www.cantour.co.jp
Hit Travel: 03 3473 9040 www.hittravel.co.jp
Sapporo contact Map International: Tel. 011-210-0231
if in Europe go to www.easycar.com.
You used to be able to get a Mercedes A-Class for between £5 and £9
a day through this sister company of Easyjet, if you booked in advance - although this may have now changed. Great service, nice
cars, cheap. WARNING: Make sure that they are blocked from taking
any more money from your credit card after you have returned your
car. Three months after I returned my car I recieved a £130
parking ticket fine from Easycar.com- The offence took place in
London on a day when I was over three hours away from the city,
finally, don't forget to take...
tickets and money! I once spent 10 hours hitching towards the English
Channel, before discovering upon my arrival at the ferry terminal
that I'd left them all at home!
photocopy of all important documents (including your plastic bankcards
medication abroad ALWAYS have a letter from your doctor and make
sure the bottles are labelled correctly.
take a VISA credit card (but don't have the intention of using it!).
If you will be withdrawing money from your bank account back home
during your voyage, set up telephone and/or internet banking before
than that, just make sure you have your copy of Work
Your Way Around the World, and remember, if I can do
it, so can you!
you recommend any work/travel related websites? If so, please