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Travel Tips for Pathfinders

Below you'll find some tips from previous Pathfinders. But most of all, make sure you've done your research, enjoy the journey, and have fun!

General tips
Travelling with other Pathfinders
USA/Canada 

Asia 

 General

  • Seven-hour + bus rides are doable – but if you take as huge a bag as I did, remember that it can get cumbersome and frustrating.
  • Consider journeys where you sleep on the bus, as that saves a night's accommodation.
  • Take buses – the side of each country you see by staying with hosts is not representative (who’d have thought it?). Buses let you see things a little differently, and experience each country in a slightly less clinical way than flying everywhere.
  • Talk to strangers (good advice even in the UK).
  • If you don’t have a smartphone, I strongly, strongly recommend one.
  • Make the most of the hosts, but never take them for granted.
  • LYFT, UBER, MEGABUS, AIRBNB, COUCHSURFING, BOLTBUS and SKYSCANNER: these are your friends.
  • Be organised but also flexible and open to new suggestions and ideas once you arrive.

Travelling with other Pathfinders

  • I benefited from criss-crossing my journey with that of my fellow Pathfinders. It helps stave off the loneliness, and the chance to talk about your travels allows to appreciate how absurd or wonderful they have been. 
  • Discuss routes with the other Pathfinders early on. That way you can avoid too many people descending on one place at once, while also coordinating a few cross-overs for meeting up once you're there!

USA/Canada

  • Cities in the US can quickly become one monotonous blur. Try to visit some hosts out in the country to break up the urban sprawl.
  • On a similar note, flights are frequently not as cheap as they seem. If you’re taking cheap internal flights, check carefully for (a) extra charges and (b) how you get to the airport – in some cases the taxi might cost as much as the flight! Though since you’ll (obviously) need to fly at some point, use skyscanner.com to track the cheapest flights.
  • America is REALLY BIG and NEVER expect that transport will be OK, unless you’re in a ‘global city’.
  • 3 MOBILE DO ‘FEEL AT HOME’ FREE UNLTD DATA. Also, free calls and texts back to the UK. I spent around £40 for seven weeks.
  • US Airlines: you can get better seats if you check-in *exactly* 24 hours early – and this has become a commuter sport.
  • If there isn’t a host in a particular town you want to visit/you want a break from having hosts, hostels can be expensive. Down south prices of $25 a night are possible if you look. Airbnb or Couch surfing can be alternatives. I had great experiences with both, although for Couch surfing it is best to start planning in advance.

Asia

  • Taking flights between cities was only around £15 more expensive than a soft-sleeper train ticket, and took up to 18 hours less, so I always opted for that option, except taking buses between locations in Yunnan province, where the train network is not well established, and high-speed rail between Shanghai, Beijing, Pingyao and Xi’an.
  • Check out this website for the best Chinese rail timetables.
  • If you go towards the end of summer, start in the north and head south to avoid being in the hottest part of the country at the hottest part of the year.
  • Second-class seats on overnight trains might be cheap, but they're excruciating and not worth the saving.

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