What makes an Indie Traveller?

So week 2 of BnA’s 2012 Indie Travel Challenge:

What do you think? Are you an indie traveler? What do you think makes someone an indie traveler?

Well, my inner English pedant would stipulate that I would agree I am indeed an indie traveller ūüėČ ¬†(although it’s not a phrase I use myself in everday language, I can’t think of a better way to put it) but what does that mean? It is more than just someone who is travelling independently -i.e. without a tour company or travel agent arranging things for them. I think it’s more a mindset, an approach to travel and to the world at large. It’s being completely open to new experiences and to taking life as it comes, an unquenchable deep need to see, taste, touch, hear, learn, and just to be out there exploring. It’s an attitude, and if you take it far enough (as some would argue I may have by now), it’s a way of life. ¬† More


Things to do in (insert place here)

So yesterday I landed in Kuala Lumpur, the first stop on my one-way wanderings around Asia. I’m couchsurfing here and had not really done much research on things I wanted to do or see in the city whilst here before landing – and now I have a travel-buddy date with a fellow surfer to do touristy things today, and neither of us have a guidebook!

No fear. This past year I have visited several cities in the same manner, and each time, my strategy has paid off: simply type ‘things to do in (place)’ into google, and hey presto!! This led to 4 wonderful days sightseeing in Cairo, ¬†including a free Sufi dance show we’d have never heard about otherwise, also kept me happily entertained in Tel Aviv and Athens. Virtual tourist usually seems to have a pretty good list, and it’s nice because it’s written by other travellers who have been there rather than a tourist board, but here in Kuala Lumpur, I’m going to start by following this gem from a blog; 12 free things to do in Kuala Lumpur. The added bonus that they are free is an obvious attraction!! Whilst budget isn’t the main reason I’m couchsurfing – more that I’m attracted to the different experience it offers staying with someone who lives here to gain a more inside perspective on a place – couchsurfing does have the added bonus of being free, so I like the idea of trying to see how much I can do here, in a big city, without spending a lot. I shall report back on how that challenge goes!


Getting jabbed up

I’m writing this with a massive bruise on my arm- I got my latest travel vaccination a few days ago, for Japanese Encephalitis, and it’s been the biggest bruiser yet! I’m already up to speed with the majority of vaccinations travellers need from my last trip, but JE is only an issue if spending an extended period in rural Asia, which I may well just do, so I decided to fork out for it. Not cheap at around¬†¬£150 for the course; but I look on vaccinations as a necessary pre-travel expense, like buying a backpack or travel insurance. I need to get my rabies boostered soon too – but I’ll probably do that whilst in Asia (specifically Bangkok), where it’ll be much cheaper! Most travellers don’t need rabies vaccines, but as my work quite definitely involves close contact with animals, again it’s a necessity.

The best website I’ve found for travel health, vaccinations, malaria prophylaxis etc is The Travel Doctor – fantastically informative. A lot of people say ”ask your GP”….. but I think it’s important to inform yourself of the risks and make your own decision regarding your healthcare choices. Your GP is only ever going to make standard recommendations, and each national health authority seems to have wildly different advice for travellers, so my recommendation: do your own homework!

Tips for UK-based backpackers: you can get your Tetanus, Diptheria, Polio, Typhoid, and Hep A all for free on the NHS. You may also be able to get Hep B for free if your GP thinks your lifestyle/work puts you at risk, or through a sexual health clinic. Travel clinic chains worth checking out for the rest are citydoc and nomad travel clinics.