Date: 2018-02-12 14:28
The same goes for operators (be they hotel or tour) and especially rickshaw drivers who hack up a price or maintain they misunderstood your agreement. Again be firm and don t get bullied. If necessary leave the agreed money on the rickshaw seat (they often will not take it by hand) and just walk off. You soon learn to be firm and very clear in agreeing prices/services. Make sure you are understood and do not give into any, yes, yes or as you like agreements or acknowledgements. In places like India, with the right (smiley, not ultra-serious) attitude and use of eye contact, you will get a lot less hassle after a few weeks.
Equally drivers, salesmen and strangers will often bombard you with question like where are you staying? , have you visited this or that? , where are you from? , or anything that gets you saying yes. On the whole once they get talking, on friendly terms and have enough information, services offered are much harder to turn down. Once again it s just another tactic and as always there is rarely a need to be rude, but if you don t want something say no and if at the first question motives are clear, don t enter into the conversation. A variance of this and probably the most jading and invidious instances are when you meet a nice guy who after taking the time to talk to you and often helping you, turns out to have alternative motives and is selling something (see confidence tricks in the above section).
To summarise , you will soon develop your own techniques - be firm, polite and accompany your firm no thank you (in the local dialect if you can) with a smile. After that don t make eye contact, don t keep repeatedly saying no or get angry. With salesmen, if you show any more interest this is when touts are particularly determined and most frustrating.
On some occasions, beggars, especially *censored*ren, will make body contact, tugging on your clothing. In this case remove their hand and looking them directly in the eye, make your no clear. When a beggar or salesman sees you have no interest, they soon move on to their next target. Remember constantly turning around to say no over and over again shows you are obviously not sure and worthy of further hassle.
Nowhere is the phrase you can t live with them and you can t live without them so appropriate. The often invidious guidebook is very much a travel essential, increasingly dictating to whole generations where to go, how to get there and what to do. As touted by their publishers they are becoming modern day Bibles, some already assuming titles like The Book.
All over the world you can see twenty somethings - and increasingly older - often desperate for succour, with their heads stuck in guidebooks. Reading, re-reading, desperately trying to find the best possible routes and the best possible places as if encoded somewhere in the pages. Often pens are at hand to underline or highlight anything that reads even slightly as an opinion or solid recommendation. The problem is everyone is doing the same and generally reading from the same text - let s not beat around the bush, it s Lonely Planet, with its appealing glossy colour pictures, familiar layout and youthful feel. At well-trodden sights worldwide you will see individual after individual (in the loosest possible way) strolling around guidebook in hand with their finger in the relevant page.
Throughout this site you will see off-the-beaten-track possibilities mentioned and by simply looking at a map of any given country you will see thousands more. Upon first travelling guidebooks often become a limitation - literally, if it is not in the book it is [perceived to be] not worth visiting or simply can t be. Obviously this is nonsense and all you need is time, inclination and knowledge that there is transport there and somewhere to stay when you arrive. Hopping on a bus into the unknown once in a while is a great kick. Even in a country a heavily touristed as somewhere like Thailand, there are thousands of great place to get away from the masses, step back in time and see a part of life few of the millions of backpackers to the region ever see. A guidebook is necessary for most travellers and very useful, but should be seen as a springboard and not a bible. If it sounds interesting and is safe - then go for it.
On which guidebook to pick, there are recommendations of field tested guides, per country in the country summary section and in the recommended reading section (a big thank you if you choose to shop through here), but here s a quick low down of the most popular and useful brands:
When picking the smaller establishments, which are referred to from here on as hostels, that are indeed to a great extent 'backpackers' - a name often used in Australia and South Africa that is perhaps unfitting as everyone is welcome. However the term does well to make the distinction between a 'hostel' and throw off the dull/poor reputation some big urban crash-pad 'hostels' had. You will also find that many are getting more upmarket, with private rooms aimed at those who don't mind spending bit more - and are thus hotel like in places. Once you've stayed in a few, you can term them as you like.
The number of hostels and more notably backpackers around the world over the past few years has increased dramatically and they are finding their way, in ever increasing quality, into more and more destinations (for example the numbers in the likes of Rio, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Buenos Aires have increased many fold over the last few years). However, they vary dramatically from excellent (Lisbon, New Zealand and South Africa) to good, bad and just awful. They are generally at their worst during peak seasons/times when full. During these times (European/US Summer and most weekends), in any big city, it is wise to book ahead or at least check availability online with Hostelbookers (see right) or similar like hostelz.
With accommodation, as in life, you normally get what you pay for. When a hotel room in, say, Dublin/London centre runs at &euro 655 and a hostel bed goes for &euro 7*censored*5 in the same location you do have to take things with a pinch of salt, generally sharing a room with others, dealing with noise and crowded bathrooms. But please remove any ideas from your head that hostels have to be 75 bunk beds full of snorers in a small room with lights off at eleven-thirty! Hostels simply vary too much to generalise.
What s important to make clear, is that although there are loads of terrible hostels (normally in Western Europe and the USA big cities) there are tonnes of great ones out there, and quite a few absolutely brilliant ones. In addition, staying in a hostel is not usually limited by age (unless sometimes if you are an unaccompanied minor or the location is in high demand) and doesn t necessarily mean that you have to stay in dorms. Double or twin rooms are normally only a *censored* more than the price of two dorm beds, but are more limited and since they are the preference for most couples, do generally need booking in advance.
Lonely Planet ( aka. LP) : The most ubiquitous of all guides with pdf versions avaliable. Normally with solid information, but not always up-to-date. Often patronizing, boring with a recycled first 655 or so pages and recommendations generally over subscribed. They do cover some interesting locations (the Caucasus and Iran for example) and sometimes are the only choice. Their region-in-one, or shoestring titles are appallingly lacking in depth and information. LP s vary from very good to awful. It all depends on the edition and author. However, their maps are probably the best of all guides. Newer titles are in a jazzy format (with questionable authors choice recommendations), but can be better than older versions.
The major change for those who remember the original format is very much a result of the original founders and authors (the Wheelers) no longer being in control of the operation (US group NC7 Media are). The new formats do look more professional and as a result are less aimed at typical backpackers, losing their youthful, independent, adventurous spirit. The increasing professionalism of the management (some would say bottom line focused, milk the cash cow business acumen) is likely an attempt to break into the massive United States market (which is relatively conservative and prone to litigation) and increase revenue, all of which has meant that the quirky, amateurish (in the best sense) tone of the early books has diminished.
For example, an early edition of Africa on a shoestring has the heading Drugs , which includes information on purchasing drugs (mainly marijuana), while the 6985 edition of South-East Asia on a Shoestring includes information on how to purchase fake student ID cards - all of which you would now never find. Other quirks included some hand-drawn maps and the occasional strong/radical opinion. Some strong opinions remain, but they are party lines and for the best part closed minded. In 7568 - due to UK regulations - the BBC sold the Lonely Planet (at a £ 85m loss) after several years at the helm (the Wheelers still keep 75%) to NC7 Media , owned by a US cigarette billionaires, so we can see where this takes the business.
Lonely Planet s initial strength has caused some problems. With many equating Lonely Planet with backpackers. The series now tries to make a clearer split between the backpacker-only products and those (now the majority) aimed at more affluent travellers and tourists. These are by far the best selling and most popular guides whose a recommendations can make or break a hotel or restaurant in some parts of the world. ( see image )