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GoNOMAD Around the World Newsletter

Number Four, February 2004

Welcome to the fourth edition of the newsletter that celebrates and encourages your own personal AROUND THE WORLD voyage. Remember that planning is a journey in and of itself and that if you can get through the planning, the rest of the trip will be easy! So sit back in your travel armchair and get ready for another totally-opinionated view on the sorts of useful things that got me from New York to East Timor to Mongolia to Sudan and then back home again on in 2001.

Marie Javins
GoNOMAD Transports Editor
February 2003

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* Big in 2004 -- Where to Go Around the World

* Destination News -- Airtrain to A train in NYC

* Festival Update -- Happy Holi-day in India

* Daring the Darien-- On not driving the length of the Americas

* Responsible Travel -- giving back with Intrepid

* FAQ -- What's your bag?

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So where do you want to go in 2004? What's your big dream stop on your RTW journey?

Airtreks reports a huge upswing in interest in southern hemisphere destinations. Okay, so London was their number one most requested destination plugged into their Trip Planner, but also hot were Thailand, New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia. And Lonely Planet's audience responded to a survey that put -- again -- New Zealand, Thailand, and Australia at the top of the global "to do" list. Their staffers agreed, but added Croatia and Peru to the mix. And lots of other places were thrown into the mix -- India, Nepal, Egypt, Jordan -- showing that people aren't scared of Asia, the Middle East, or bird flu.

I personally am willing to add Croatia to my short list, alongside Mali, Tunisia, Bhutan, and Romania. What about you? Where do GoNOMAD travelers most want to go in 2004? E-mail and tell me why at


New York's airport transportation has long been the stuff of mystery. Whose idea was it to build three airports and have no easy way into Manhattan? Fortunately, Newark's Liberty Airport added a rail link recently and now Kennedy Airport has come into its own with the JFK Airtrain. For a mere $5, passengers can go straight from their terminal to the Howard Beach "A" subway or to the Jamaica LIRR train station.

Sound great? Sure, but all I want to know is... does this mean the free shuttle bus that made the same trip has gone the way of the dodo? D'oh.


Dreaming of driving from Alaska to Argentina on the Pan-American Highway ? Keep dreaming. The legendary Darien Gap, the 54 miles of diverse rainforest dividing Panama from Colombia isn't getting paved over yet. You can drive from Alaska all the way to the small Panamanian town of Yaviza but there the pavement ends and the jungle begins.

Once adventure travel companies offered rugged soul-testing foot and boat tours through the Gap but Colombian guerillas and drug traffickers have put an end to that. Even Robert Young Pelton, most famous for his CNN interview with "The American Taliban," was kidnapped there (and later released) last year.

The day will come when you can traverse the Darien Gap by foot and boat again, but for now, you'll have to settle for reading about it.


The only thing I have to say about handing out candy/pens/peanuts/toys to begging children as you travel is DON'T. It'll make you feel good for a few minutes but what have you just done in reality? Encouraged children to beg like a dog? Encouraged the illusion that the tourist is Santa Claus?

There are ways to help that will not bring instant glory onto your own basking self but will give something back that is anonymous and effective. You can quietly give a box of pens to a teacher so that every student can benefit from your altruism. You can hand a hundred dollars to the head of an organization like KOTO, a hospitality school for street kids in Hanoi.

There are many charities worthy of your hard-earned cash but here are a few clear-cut benefits to the Intrepid Foundation:

-Intrepid Travel matches your money, dollar for dollar.Intrepid puts its money where its mouth is when it comes to generous donations
-Intrepid Travel covers the administrative costs of the fund, meaning every cent you donate reaches its target.
-You can specify exactly which project your funds will support.

So leave handing out bon bons to the vagabonding dentists and contribute in a way that will last.

Or you can participate in direct giving through a fund such as Intrepid's innovative, grassroots "Intrepid Foundation."

Explore. Serve. Understand

mizade encourages intercultural exploration and understanding through community-driven service-learning courses and volunteer programs.

 Service-Learning Courses offer graduate and undergraduate credit to students interested in challenging academic and service experiences with communities around the world.

 Volunteer Programs offer a rewarding combination of exploration, service and understanding in communities around the world.

Amizade, Ltd., 920 William Union, Pittsburgh, PA  15260 USA
(888) 973-4443 FAX (412) 648-1492


Send your questions to

Q: What kind of luggage should I take?

A: Leave the suitcases and wheelies at home. Weight and comfort count as you'll be carrying your bag from bus/train station to hotel or at least across a border or two. Plus, the day will come when there are no taxis and you must walk a mile at 5 a.m.

So buy a backpack ("rucksack") or hybrid travel pack, but remember, size matters. A wee gal has the disadvantage that she can't carry as much as a burly muscle-head, which means that when burly muscle-heads brag about traveling light, they may in fact be carrying twice as much as that wee gal who is struggling under the weight of her Tevas, raincoat, and medical kit.

The author with one of her backpacksTravel packs usually zip open like a suitcase and feature a zip-off daypack. Backpacks are often top-loading and designed for hiking, which adds unneeded features when used for travel but the upside of backpacks is that they are ultra-light and highly technical with great fits. Heavier travel packs make it easier to access the stuff inside, but zip-off daypacks tend to be a design-afterthought. In zip-on mode, the pack becomes too wide to fit on buses. In zip-off mode, the daypack is usually too small. I erred and bought a travel pack that fit me well but weighed seven pounds when empty. Oops! If I bought again, I'd buy a lightweight top-loading pack from a professional who knew how to fit it properly. A good pack will distribute the weight to your hips so that you don't hurt your shoulders or back.

But don't stop there. Bring a combination lock,packing cubes,compressors. A rain cover is useful not just for rain but also for dust, but a garbage bag is equally -- or more -- effective.

Carrying your worldly possessions on your back may sound tough, but just think of how buff you'll be by the end of your trip!

For more tips like these, read GoNOMAD's Guide to Preparing for Long Term Travel. Also, traveler Randy Johnson has an entire manuscript's worth of useful tips, including luggage tips, on his site Footloose and Fancy-Free in the Third World. And while you're at it, check out John Gregory's essay on luggage at Art of Travel.


Thanks for reading! See you next month. In the meantime, send me your comments, questions, and favorite RTW travel tips at



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