Thirty days, nine time zones, eight cities, six languages (at least), five currencies, four countries, three different alphabets, and me doing a thirteen thousand two hundred and sixty two miles (ish) round trip.
There should be some stuff appearing on the site, but we’ll have to see how it goes. In the meantime I thought I’d share some links that I’ve been using to help.
First up, “The Man in Seat Sixty-One… ” the site mostly responsible for this whole trip. Basically it covers how to travel to anywhere without flying and how to get around by train and ship once you get there. It has a dedicated Trans-Siberian page with pictures of the trains, tips, timetables etc. It’s a fantastic site, more so because it’s not profit driven but done by someone who just has a love of the subject. A good read even if you’re not planning a train journey anywhere and required reading if you are.
I’d like to recommend a travel site with good country or city guides but most of them aren’t great, you can always try Rough Guide or Lonely Planet but they want you to buy the books so the free stuff is patchy at best. Sites like tripadvisor that have user content are only has good as the contributions and I find most of them badly laid out and too full of ads. Late in the planning of the trip I found Wikitravel, pushed down the Google results by all the sites wanting to sell you stuff. It’s exactly what you think it is, a travel guide in wiki format — again only as good as it’s contributors but nicely laid out, ad-free, and it has lots of decent content all licensed under creative commons. It also took me ages to find a site with decent health information for travellers until I found MDtravelhealth.com which is, simply put, excellent.
Shopping wise I picked up a lot of the stuff I’m taking second hand from friends (thanks all) and a fair bit of stuff off ebay or Amazon* (mostly the Marketplace). The rest is from good old fashioned bricks and mortar shops. Bookwise I’ve really liked the Lonely Planet phrasebooks, the Berlitz city guides but my main reference on the trip will be the Lonely Planet Trans-Siberian Railway* book. For travel money I’ll be trying Travelex, I normally go with the Post Office but Travelex seem to have much better rates and I can pick the money up at Stansted Airport meaning I don’t need to lug around a ton of cash while I’m in London.
I think a quick link to all the travel companies and on-line booking services I’ve used is in order, so here goes: EasyJet (flights out), Eurolines (bus to St. Peterburgh), HotelClub* (Guangzhou hotel), Expedia*(Hong Kong hotel), British Airways (flights back) and, of course, Vodkatrain for everything else.
I’ve also found Wikipedia useful for providing me with interesting facts to tell people when they ask where I’m going, and here’s the City Distance Tool I used to get my miles travelled figure at the start of this post. I’ve been using GMail and Writely to ensure that all my travel documentation is only as far away as the nearest ‘net connection.
Finally to keep you occupied until more content appears either read Simon of Space or play with a White Jigsaw.
Have fun everyone.
[Full Disclosure] The links with a ‘*’ are affiliate links and earn me (or Seat61.com in the case of the Trans-Siberian book) money if you buy after clicking through.