Travel forums can be incredibly helpful tools. I find myself on them frequently seeking advice from other travelers on everything from visas to overland travel to insurance. They are a great way to hear advice from people who have lived travel and relate to specific questions that only other travelers could help you answer. Some of the most helpful tips I’ve found came from these sites.
Having said all that, I also recently hit a point of travel forum fatigue. There is a limit to how many times you can read posts from people telling each other how to do their trip the right way. Yes there is a lot of helpful advice, but there are also a lot of extraneous posts to wade through to find it.
Ultimately I’ve mentally come to the decision that a RTW trip comes down to one thing: how do you want to do it? There are a plethora of ways that this can be done. Some people will tell you that you’re overplanning, or that you’re bringing the wrong size backpack, or that site that’s been on your must see list is so overrated. But my personality warrants a mixture of outline and flexibility, I would like to go more than two days without doing laundry, and isn’t the point to see for myself if something is overrated instead of taking your word for it?
Don’t get me wrong, like I said before, I love travel forums. But at the end of the day sometimes I have to remind myself to shut the laptop and stick to my decisions.
And if I end up deciding that somethings was wrong, then at least I know from experience. Isn’t that the point anyway? To experience it all, good and bad, and learn my travel lessons for myself? Sure I don’t want to learn on the go that I’ll be denied entry to a country without the proper documents, or that a 30 hour bus ride could be avoided by a cheaper 2 hour flight (unless of course I want to experience the bus ride), but if I was able to figure it all out in advance then I would be denied a certain knowledge that comes with the backpacker experience.
And it’s not like I can’t alter my preconceived ideas along the way. If I brought too much, I can leave something behind. It’ll be a lesson on letting go of an attachment to possessions. If I underestimated the amount of time I wanted to spend in Colombia then Ecuador might just have to be sacrificed or Buenos Aires cut down from 4 weeks to 2.
It is great to plan ahead. It is necessary to read up on how to travel long term. But sometimes, if I’m finding myself getting caught up in all the dos and don’ts, I just have to trust that I’ve done well in my preparations. Whatever decisions I’ve made, I stick by them, and the rest I’ll figure out as I go.