Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ

About us? Who we are, what we do and why we are here.

Some might have wondered, others have asked. Here are a few frequently asked questions:
About Us

Thanks for asking. I am Giles. I make my home in central Europe, but naturally spend a good deal of time away from home, either for work or keeping this site as up to date as possible.

But hang on, I am not the only one who makes this site what it is. I wrote most of the original content, but many people have helped and contributed over the years.

Practically everyone we meet who has travelled recently or is travelling, we always quiz all those met on the road as to past and current experiences/info. That is on top of hundreds of e-mailed comments and updates each year. A special thanks should also go to Peter John (based in the UK) who provides lots of detailed updates and proof reading efforts and to Alex Schofield (based in Southern China) who has written and updated numerous summaries. Juan Diego Tinoco and Billy Hanley were also big helps.

Could you help? Even with just a bit of proof reading, web design (SEO) work or simply updates from the road?

We employ an artist (Niloufer) from India and a web developer (Jim) from Indonesia, who without this site would not look and feel as it does. We would recommend their services wholeheartedly.

Many thanks also to Angela Van Dyke and Sam at Travellers Point (a Travel Community site worth having a look at). If anyone else can help, then please don't be shy.

In 2002. After my second major trip with some free time on my hands I set out to write something that would answer all the questions and settle all the trepidation I had before leaving home the first time (when I assumed I'd get robbed on my first night and the whole world would be out to get me). With every trip I have added to the site with the support and contribution of others. Since then life has changed remarkably but the passion for travel and to share its enjoyment remains.

logo (airplane)No. I am guessing probably rightly no one is interested in my travels. So I try and add practical information that answer questions I had before visiting anywhere rather than just sharing my holiday photos. In fact you won't find a single picture of me on the site and the word 'I' is used only on this page (and once on the home page).

Hell no. That would be terrible. Many of the most boring, uninformed people I have met in my life are long-long-term travellers who have totally lost perspective of the world and just bum around. If you want to really travel and see all parts of the world it is hard work (even if you are well funded). Sitting on a beach in Thailand or Greece is not really travelling - we can all do that. I'd rather have a life, work (where else would the money come from?), see my family and make long or short trips as often as I can (which I am lucky can be pretty regularly) and take in different parts of the world without the travel fatigue you so often see in those on the road more than six months. To see the world is part of life, understanding it is another and finally to make something in it [life] is most important.

On the other hand I have lived abroad for most of my adult life so maybe I do travel full-time depending on your definition!

Tiepe TowerRoughly 75 percent of them at least once and about half or more than one instance. I'd be a charlatan if I had not seen a major chunk of the world to have a site like this. You see plenty of opinions on travel sites from those who have seen only a dozen or so countries and all in one or two regions (normally South East Asia) - you would not read a film review from someone who had seen only films in on genre or trust a food critic who only tried one type of cuisine. The main areas of the world I have not seen - for safely, cost, visa and logistical reasons are in West/Central Africa and the tiny Pacific islands. I am lucky enough to tick off the whole of Europe, Americas and all but a few Asian/Caribbean countries. It has been hard work, but you never know what gems you find or what somewhere is like until you go. So go.

I've been guilty of it at one stage, but counting countries is something we all need to grow out of. Statements like 'I visited 100 countries' really are pointless if not put in context. Where were they? How long did you spend? What did you do or understand? Take a look around the web and there are plenty of country counting websites and travel blogs (there is even a 100 country club!) with numbers of countries quoted as self-promotion. Dig a little deeper and you see most are often trips comprised with runs for border towns for the sake of it.

One of my greatest travel challenges has been responding to the question on a Russian visa application: 'list every country you have vistited in the last ten years with dates'. Obviously I lied heavily, but did have to at least reflect the nearly full passport I was using at the time.

Umm, it is called work. For most reading this, you probably don't realise that you are living in some of the world's richest countries full of opportunities that the vast majority of the world don't have. I'd rather work for a year and have an amazing six month trip, rather than work for six months and have a shitty twelve month trip where I miss out on the best the world has to offer and make myself miserable. On the other hand travel is not that expensive (if you are sensible) and I have given up on many of the luxuries my peers enjoy - no car, renting apartments (rather than owning housing), living with parents for spells, not eating out and rolling up my sleeves to get well paid work. Oh and a strong currency really helps!

Yes, a bit. You may have noticed a few Amazon links (please use them), but not enough to really be more than beer money after web hosting, web design and artwork is paid for (we employ two freelances). I'd rather have a trustworthy site than push e-books, links and other rubbish I know is not helpful or realistic.

RecommendedJust look for the 'Highlight of Independent Travel' next to certain destinations on the site. Things and places change, so do visitor numbers (which make a big different), but ultimately I love the places that took my preconceived opinions and flushed them down the toilet. Places that totally wow me because I thought they would be something very different. Places like Iran, Ethiopia, Korea, Chile, South Africa. People, food and the feeling of 'discovering' something new (lack of other visitors) do it for me.

Because you need have no fear in setting off without a tour. It is frightening going somewhere new and a tour is a safely net you just don't need in most cases. The world and travel is really easy and accessible (even in those exotic and scary places you saw on CNN). Sure take tours on the way, but I wanted the site to provide the information to install the confidence to go independently. You will also save a ton of money and meet much nicer and more interesting people.

CigarI am afraid excitement and danger don't lie around every corner. The reality is much of the world is very well set up for tourists (it is the world's biggest industry after all) and certainly this is the case around anything close to a major attraction. It does not make for a great story, but it does help to emphasise the fact that travel is safe, easy and there is typically nothing to fear (with commonsense). I have never contracted a deadly tropical disease (but got plenty of colds). I have never been mugged or held up (okay once breaking one of my own rules). I have never experienced more than small petty theft - and always when I was careless with my valuables. I have never been taken hostage, nor been arrested be the police. Despite frequent trips to places like the DR Congo, Kazakhstan and Cameroon, I have almost always avoided paying bribes and I have never been caught in a war zone. All very dull I am afraid.

If you have any other questions or feedback, please, please get in touch.

"The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper"

W. B. Yates