Some of the best advice for young travelers is often passed along by other independent travelers. Here's how you can tap in on helpful tips before you leave home:
When Cory, a U.S. budget traveler, arrived in Hong Kong he discovered "money changers in Hong Kong offer the highest rates and advertise no commission, but then charge 4% to 8% per dollar for converting travelers checks."
His advice to other budget travelers: "Go to a branch of the bank that issued your travelers checks; you might get a lower exchange rate and there will be fewer hidden charges."
Jonathan Spencer of India followed the suggestion of a guidebook and used the name of a major hotel in China as his postal address. He was expecting six letters when he arrived but was disappointed. "After three days of persistence I managed to locate one letter and was told that all letters are returned to the sender after one week." His suggestion: "Other travelers used the International Post Office and American Express. . . ."
Both tips are from the quarterly newsletter by Lonely Planet Publications. Lonely Planet is an Australian company that publishes 37 destination guidebooks for adventurous, independent budget travelers in Asia, the Pacific region, Africa and the Americas. The tips are comments and suggestions offered by travelers who have been using their guidebooks.
Often the newsletter describes good budget hotels and restaurants that travelers have found. But it also passes along valuable warnings of potential problems.
For example, in the most recent 42-page issue two British girls warn about teaching English for a certain language company in Hong Kong. They still had not been paid for 30 hours of work when their plane was due to depart.
Problems can be even more serious. One young man said he was detained for three days in Turkey for walking in a military area. Other travelers said they were befriended, drugged and robbed in India.
Another said: "We were part of a group of nine who got robbed during a trek with a northern Thailand trekking company. The guide was unauthorized (authorized guides have a guide card) and he knew he was taking us into an area forbidden to enter."
On a more positive note you'll also find the newsletter contains recommendations on good services including medical, dental, foreign travel services, student discounts and sightseeing.
Another young traveler has offered the name of a shipping line in Wellington, New Zealand, which had a work-your-way program to the United States. "You work on the boat (engine room, painting and scraping, etc.--not glamorous) in exchange for free passage to the first port of call in the United States (usually Tacoma, Wash.)--it takes about two weeks."
You can order the newsletter for $3 per issue or $10 per year from Lonely Planet, 1555D Park Ave., Emeryville, Calif. 94608.
Three new Lonely Planet guidebooks are being released this summer: "Tibet" by Buckley & Strauss, $7.95; "Fiji," by Kay, $7.95, and "Indonesia," by Bruce, Convernton & Samagalski, $14.95.
The books, usually referred to as "A Travel Survival Kit," are updated about every 2 1/2 years. They are researched six months to a year before publication, so remember prices may have risen due to inflation.
Lonely Planet books updated this year are "Hong Kong, Macau & Canton," $7.95; "Katmandu & Nepal," $7.95; "Canada," $9.95, and "Africa on a Shoestring," $14.95.
Within the next few months updated editions will also be released on "Australia," $12.95; "Bali & Lombok," $6.95, and "South America on a Shoestring," $12.95.
Lonely Planet guidebooks are available in bookstores or from the publisher. Write to Lonely Planet Publications for a complete price list.