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OCTOBER 2003 NO. 1


Greetings, jambo, and namaste! Welcome to the debut issue of the GoNOMAD Around the World newsletter. Read on and enjoy an inexpensive dip into the world of RTW travel, a world where the only deadlines involve airline timetables, buses that leave when full, and rising with the sun.

My own RTW trip was in 2001, when I set off alone with the notion of circumnavigating the world without airplanes, live on the internet. I pulled it off - mostly - but not without the occasional hiccup that seemed extraordinarily horrendous at the time and hilarious later.

Like the time I broke ribs in an Ethiopian truck accident and then came down with walking pneumonia a week later in Khartoum, while a BBC radio reporter was on the phone asking me about the "highlights" of my trip. Ha! What a riot! Okay, just kidding about it being hilarious but it sure did make me sound tough when I got back home. I still pull that one out at parties.

Anyway, some of you may be planning a RTW trip, or have recently returned from your own. Some of you may have jobs that you like and do not desire to leave, and may never intend to go on an extended trip. But that's okay, GoNOMAD welcomes voyeur-gers in addition to voyagers. Have a read and give us your feedback.

-Marie Javins
GoNOMAD Transports Editor
October 2003

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* Live from the Road -- 'round the world by bicycle
* Destination News -- Alaska's Marine Highway auctions off a ferry on EBay
* Operator Update -- from West to East Africa by land
* Responsible Travel -- to Burma or not to Burma
* Health -- get thee to the WHO website
* FAQ -- how to carry your cash

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And you thought I was off my rocker for going around the world by minivan, ship, and camel! AlastairHumphreys is going around the world on his BICYCLE! And you can follow along.

Al has biked through Europe, the Middle East, and Africa over the last two years. Hewent from Cape Town to Rio by sea and is currently in Peru. He's heading north to the US soon, so drop him a line and see if he is coming through your town. As he goes, he is seeking funds for charity. Donations don't go to Al -- he survives on banana sandwiches.

It is less time-consuming to not follow the example set by Alastair Humphreys and myself. Take advantage of modern technology and be sensible by taking planes around the world instead. You can play "fantasy-routing" on Airtreks TripPlanner and begin your own trip by simply looking at the options.


"Sold, to Salmonman1953!" Alaska is retiring the M/V E. L. Bartlett, one of its fleet of nine ferries that serve as local transport on the Alaska Marine Highway. Alaska doesn't have many roads and southern coastal transport relies almost entirely on ferries. The Bartlett has worked faithfully for 34 years and is being replaced by a high-speed ferry in 2004.

What's the 49th state state to do with an old ferry? Why, sell it on EBay of course! On August 10th, the Bartlett sold for $389,500. 27 bidders placed bids over ten days, and the winner was Salmonman1953 with a feedback rating of "0."

So who is the mysterious new owner with the silly EBay ID? Nobody knows. But it won't be a secret for long. The Bartlett is a 193-foot ship. Surely the neighbors will notice.


When looking for a land route out of East Africa, I lamented the war in Congo and the closing of Libya as an option. I settled for going from Ethiopia to Egypt via Northern Sudan and skipped West Africa altogether. Things have changed a bit and here's good news for those who look at maps and say "there's GOT to be a way!" There is a way. And it is NOT via the Algerian desert, where 32 European travelers were kidnapped earlier this year.

Independent travelers on RTW journeys or cross-Africa journeys have been safely traveling via Chad and Northern Sudan. Southern Sudan is not safe, so no taking shortcuts. If you don't happen to have your own personal Land Rover or motorbike, and you want to make the trip, join up with an expedition truck run by Dragoman and Encounter Overland. This is adventure travel that is not for the weak, and visits remote areas that reward the visitors with extreme hospitality in addition to extreme adventure. Book through Adventure Center in the US.


To go or not to go? The government of Myanmar (Burma) recently cracked down on pro-democracy dissidents. More than 100 are missing and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was re-arrested. Some groups from within Burma support an international tourism boycott, but we'd just been cheering on Aussie small group travel operator Intrepid Travel for starting their Burma trips again after a two-year boycott. The government had been more flexible than usual, and the people who were suffering from the international boycott were not government officials but regular people, who stood to gain a lot from the influx of tourist dollars. Intrepid deals with grassroots businesses and keeps most of their clients dollars out of the hands of the government and in the hands of small local operators.

But after the crackdown, the crimes of the junta could not be ignored. Intrepid, along with many other tourists, regretfully pulled out.

Tourism boycotts are complex and GoNOMAD advocates responsible travel and recommends considering each situation on a case-by-case basis. To boycott or not to boycott is a personal decision. When it comes to Burma, we follow Intrepid's lead closely as they keep daily tabs on the situation.


Visit the WHO International Travel and Health site to brush up on that latest in malaria prevention, or to decide for yourself if you're as likely to get West Nile Virus at home as you are SARS from abroad. You can search their database by country, disease, or you can use their maps to check out the latest outbreaks in each region you'll be traveling through. Just remember, the travel guidelines issued by the World Health Organization, may or may not concern you, but they probably concern your travel insurance company!


Send your questions to

Q: I am going to be on the road for a long time and will be going through many countries. I am traveling on a budget and won't be at a lot of hotels that accept credit cards. I will be in Africa, Asia, and Europe. What is the best way to carry money, cash, traveler's checks, or credit cards?

A: Never carry thousands of dollars in cash. Instead, plan ahead and give yourself some options.

-take $400-$700 cash in US dollars. Carry some small denominations, but large denominations are good too. Some banks offer better exchange rates for $50 and $100-dollar bills. Stock up on dollars in major cities when you can.

-use ATMs to get local currency from your checking account whenever possible. Make sure your PIN is 4-digits before you go.

-take US dollars traveler's checks in varying denominations. Get them from a major company such as American Express or Thomas Cook. Follow instructions of the check suppliers. Record the serial numbers of the checks and keep them separate from the checks, also e-mail these numbers to yourself along with the emergency claim phone number. Occasionally, banks also request to see the original receipt from when you bought the checks, so keep that with your passport.

-carry a Visa card. Some countries accept only Visa, not Mastercard. Get a 4-digit PIN before leaving home in case you need to get a cash advance from an ATM. Remember hefty cash advance fees and don't get cash advances unless you have to! Leave a positive balance on your credit card to avoid interest.

-carry an American Express card and take a few personal checks. Cardholders can cash personal checks at American Express offices throughout the world. Great for times when ATMs are down or not on your home network.

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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