Jenni in KS (when she’s not disputing what I’ve said or trying to pick holes in my posts) sometimes makes valuable contributions to the Dingo. In this case she has asked a number of questions on behalf of her son’s friend. So, while I’m sitting on the plane waiting to take off for Moscow (that’s a metaphor guys, don’t send me any emails asking how long I’ll be gone for!) I’ll answer them, and add a few bits of advice as well.
It sounds like you worked for a while until you got enough money for one of your journeys, then worked again once you were out of money until you could afford to go again. Did you have a place to come back
to in between?
Yes and no, I worked in either mining or industrial construction in remote areas of Australia to earn enough money to get me on the circuit* again. I did this for two reasons, a) at the time they were the best paying jobs in Oz, so I didn’t have to work too long, and b) accommodation (including all meals) was provided, which meant that I didn’t need to keep a base of my own. However, I did have some stuff in my parent’s garage in Sydney, and I did stay with them from time to time in between journeys. I should add that I worked for four years straight as an apprentice electrician before any of this happened. Once I got my Electrician’s Licence I started to travel.
Did you work odd jobs while on your travels?
Normally I worked as an electrician in Oz to earn the bulk of my travel money (around a thousand dollars was enough in those days, but I usually tried for a thousand in spending money after tickets), however there have been times when I’ve wanted to extend the trip, so I have also worked as a builder’s labourer, painter, carpenter, waiter, translator, handyman, fruit picker, wood cutter, car deliverer and a few other odds and sods. I’ve worked in New Zealand, America, Canada, Thailand, England and Bali (and of course, Australia).
What kind of places did you stay while you were travelling? (He specifically asked if you had to spend all your money on hotels or if you were sleeping on park benches.)
I have never slept on a park bench, and I never will. Oh wait, there was one time when I went to Queensland with my brother and his car broke down, so we had to sleep on park benches and in picnic shelters while we waited for dad to send him the money to get it fixed (he always was a dependant sort of a person, still is from what I’ve seen). But I don’t take any blame for this, as I had only just turned 15 at the time and I was 700 miles from home and didn’t have much control of my destiny yet. (When I was robbed in NZ six years later I didn’t even tell dad, as I knew he try would to get some money to me, and I didn’t want any help.)
One thing that you learn if you want to stretch the adventure out as long as possible, is to always do long trips overnight, that way you get accommodation thrown in, you may be sitting up, but you’re safe and you haven’t had to fork out for a room. This is actually why I flew to Athens via Moscow (but I’ll explain exactly why in the next episode, if there is enough interest for me to keep writing).
Another thing that helps is that there is a loose travel fraternity, and it’s not uncommon to meet someone in one country and stay with them in another (generally their homeland), for this reason it pays not to be a prissy whining traveller, if that’s how something is done in a country , that’s how it’s done; either deal with it, or fuck off back home to where things are done how you’re used to! It also pays to travel by yourself as you’re more likely to get invites when you’re on your own, plus you’re also more likely to meet people. Where couples tend to stick to together, singles (out of necessity) tend to mix much more.
Have I not been paying enough attention while reading your posts?
Probably not, you’re usually too busy trying to find fault with what I’ve written.
Any other thoughts?
Yes, I wouldn’t mind a cheeseburger. Oh yes I do have another handy travel tip, taught to me by a Texan by the name of Howard. The best way to pack soft luggage (which is the only luggage you should ever travel with – handlers hate suitcases and regularly take out their frustrations on them), is to get a few nylon sack type backs with string pulls (you can buy them in any camping store now, but I used to get my aunt to make them for me). You need one for t-shirts, one for socks and underwear, one for sweaters (it’s best to follow the seasons, then you don’t need too much heavy clothing, one for your blanket (make sure it’s thin and pure wool), and a slightly larger one for dirty clothes. To pack your clothes (say your tees for example), fold them in half lengthwise and lay them neatly on top of each other, trying to keep the wrinkles to a minimum, then roll them up as tight as possible and stuff them into the sack, which should be just a fraction smaller in diameter than the clothes that you have just rolled up. You’d be surprise how good they look when you unroll them when you get to your destination.
Just one more thing, always carry a flashlight small enough to hold comfortably in your mouth so that you hands are free, a pair of tweezers. a pocket atlas (I find Bartholomew make the best ones) and a universal plug (there’s usually a sink but there’s never any plugs, this way you can always wash your underwear).
*There is a distinct low cost travel circuit that is fairly fluid in nature and can change without warning due to the changing popularity of destinations, the current political situation, the cost and standard of
accommodation as well as the cost of travel.
To join the circuit, basically all you have to do is
find a place where travellers congregate and tag along, you’ll eventually find out where the cheap and safe places stay are. Unfortunately this doesn’t work so well in America for some reason. But anywhere else, all you have to do is stay in a few backpacker hostels and you’ll soon have a pretty good idea of where the current circuit is.
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