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NOVEMBER 2003 No. 2


Welcome to the second issue of the GoNOMAD Around-the-World newsletter. We're here to help you plan your own 'round-the-world trip. You can get a headstart by reviewing GoNOMAD's Mini-guide to Preparing for Extended Travel.

By now you've probably reviewed dozens of ways to travel and plugged in all kinds of fantasy routings to Airtreks TripPlanner, but what about the day-to-day realities of the road? Read on! And as always, let us know if you have a pressing question. We'll happily track down the answer.

Marie Javins
GoNOMAD Transports Editor
November 2003

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* On the Road -- the "skinny" on road fitness
* Destination News -- Que pasa in Bolivia?
* Operator Update -- Explore North Korea
* Technical Advice -- Toilets of the World Primer
* Health -- What about malaria meds?
* FAQ -- the new $20s
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Would you believe me if I told you that during the most physically fit time of my life, I was eating fake Spam twice a day?

No, it's not some sort of fad diet... it's the fate of the long-term traveler. When going on an extended trip, you quickly realize that the maxim "if you can't boil it, peel it, or cook it, forget it" was written for people on two-week holidays. When you're on your round-the-world journey, you will have no control over where you are during mealtimes. You might be on a day-long bus ride, where the only food available is rat-on-a-stick, thrust in through a window. You might be having that rare, coveted, intercultural experience in Alaska when a tribal leader presents you with the village's much-vaunted fried beaver tail. A family in Appalachia might serve you squirrel-and-Bisquick-pie. Or in my case, you might be on an African safari where meat from a can is added to every meal.

Vegetarians may already be heading for the peanut butter aisle, but carnivores also have worries about all this fatty road food. "What about my waistline?" worries the intrepid traveler. "All that Spam and beaver tail CAN'T be good for me."

Fear not, as Tim Leffel, author of The World's Cheapest Destinations points out, who needs a gym when you're a backpacker? Traveling independently means lifting your backpack, walking for miles every day, and possibly some swimming and biking as well. And in Asia, eating with the locals can mean delicious rice-based dishes, while in the Middle East you'll be treated to tasty falafel and hummous. Round-the-world travel virtually guarantees you'll shed pounds, but if you want to accelerate the process, add a jump rope to your suitcase. So what are you waiting for? It beats the sitting on an exercise bike for 20 minutes a day.

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Got the jitters about whether to stop in Bolivia or not? You're not the only one! The recent anti-government protests have got lots of travelers on edge. Is there danger in Bolivia or simply the possibility of inconvenience?

Dozens of Bolivians have died in the protests, but the strikes have been by Bolivians, against the Bolivian government's policies regarding income taxes and natural gas exportation. At no point were these protests directed against tourists, although transport was disrupted. Travelers should never try to cross a blockade, and be prepared for long delays. The government has changed, so hopefully the strikes have ended. Tourists in Bolivia are now reporting few problems with protests, but altitude sickness, confidence scams and petty thievery still abound, as in many regions of the world.

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Ready to see for yourself what life is like in North Korea? UK-based Explore Worldwide is currently running low-cost small group excursions to this isolated destination. It comes with a disclaimer though -- travelers are advised that tourism is tightly controlled by the North Korean government, so no wandering off.

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You've made it halfway around the world and then some. You've crossed North America, made ANZAC biscuits in Oz and visited orcs in New Zealand. And now you've hit the tip of the Banana Pancake Trail and are ready for anything that Southeast Asia can dish out. You find a charming little guesthouse in Indonesia and wander into the bathroom only to encounter your first squat toilet. You're not surprised -- you knew you'd encounter them and you are, after all, a world traveler. You've heard what the left hand is for and you know that you're supposed to dump water down the toilet afterwards. But as you stare, it dawns on you that while you understand the basic concept, you haven't a clue what that little dishwasher sprayer utensil is for, or how exactly this water scoop and left hand concept works.

Since GoNOMAD is a family-oriented publication, we won't get too explicit here. Fortunately, Gordon Sharpless of does not suffer from bashfulness. If you need to understand the mechanics behind using a squat toilet, click here.
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Confused by the different anti-malarial medications available for your subtropical trip? Ready to throw up your hands and take your chances with daily gin and tonics? Don't! Malaria can be fatal and in spite of the potential side effects of anti-malarial drugs, it is more alarming to be on your feverish deathbed than to experience side effects.

We're not doctors and can't tell you which drug to take but we do know this:
-Not all anti-malarial drugs work in all regions
-All anti-malarial drugs have potential side effects
-Do not rely solely on DEET and long-sleeves to prevent malaria
-Do not rely solely on anti-malarial drugs to prevent malaria
-Use a mosquito net and turn on the ceiling fan, if there is one

In other words, don't mess around. Read about malaria meds and your destination on the World Health Organization website consult with your physician. Read the small print -- you'll want to recognize side effects if they occur. Adhere to your pill-popping schedule, and get yourself to a doctor immediately if you have feverish symptoms in a tropical country (or within 3 months of leaving an infected area).

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Send your questions to

Q: Should I carry the new twenty dollar bills abroad? Will people know what they are
in remote rural areas?

A: Information travels quickly in today's world. I've had men in the highlands of Papua New Guinea quiz me about the Electoral College. On September 23, 2001, a Tanzanian Masai invited me into his tiny hut (sans electricity and thus sans CNN) to discuss the number and type of airplanes that had been hijacked on September 11. And currency traders, almost as if by instantaneous osmosis, always know about market fluctuations and the value of the U.S. dollar. Chances are slim that the new twenty-dollar bills will be rejected. HOWEVER, don't risk it. Carry new twenties AND older twenties. Just don't take along the pre-1998 twenties. Currency traders have been known to reject old bills as they are easily counterfeited. It won't be long before traders are refusing 1998-2003 greenbacks and only accepting the newest colorful bills.

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Thanks for reading. Check in next month to see how they celebrate Thanksgiving in other countries (ha, just seeing if you're paying attention). Send comments, questions, and favorite RTW travel tips at


For more tips like these, check out GoNOMAD's Guide to Preparing for Long Term Travel.

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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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