If you’ve read my book, you are probably not expecting this section to be terribly extensive. Practical stuff is not my thing. There are plenty of guidebooks that will tell you where to stay, what you should do and not do, and what to bring. I’m not fond of telling people what to do. Part of the fun of traveling is finding out for yourself.
I will suggest that wherever you go you should take as little as possible. Locals brush their teeth, shampoo their hair, get headaches,and, in most places, wear clothes. If there are American or European products that you can’t do without, bring them with you. You can find most things in most places, but the imported stuff is astronomically high.
If you are going to a tropical country, bring itch cream and sun block. If you’re brave enough, buy clothes when you arrive.
If budget is important, don’t bother making reservations before you go. Just get there and see what’s around. There are always places that don’t make it into the guidebooks and often they are wonderful. And when you do it that way you get a chance to choose both places and people.
Drink bottled or boiled water. And do eat cooked foods in the market; it’s part of the fun, unless you have a very sensitive stomach. Most restaurants that serve tourists boil their water and even the ice cubes are made from boiled water. But most countries also have names for intestinal problems (Montezuma’s revenge, Bali belly, etc.). I’m lucky enough to have a steel stomach; but I would never advise anyone else to be as cavalier about things as I am.
If you want to take off for a long time and your money is limited, go to developing countries and watch how the locals live. In many places the income is less than $50 a month. You can do very well with very little, if you’re willing to be flexible.
A personal note: At this point in the political disaster that is Indonesia, I would not go to any island other than Bali. And I would go to Bali tomorrow if I could, no matter what the U.S. government recommended.
Over the years that I lived in Bali, lots of friends and friends of friends asked me what to do in Bali. So many that I made a list of things and people that I love. I am enclosing that list. It’s very ideosyncratic, so keep in mind where it’s coming from.