It is no problem getting a plethora of good advice for traveling to established places in the world like France or New Zealand. Getting good travel advice for places like Niger or the challenging country of Papua New Guinea with its 1,000 languages is another matter entirely. If one wants to know the restrictions in place for New Zealand, that information will be the first in a Google search. But for other countries, one just left scratching one's head. Sometimes one's government's travel advice just isn't good enough, isn't detailed enough, or just not written for adventurous travelers.


In some countries there are important things to know beforehand, sometimes they aren't official or nice to write about and so are not mentioned in Lonely Planet. Sometimes the situation in a given country is dynamic and changing. Official and established sources of information just don't reflect the current realities on the ground.

Examples Of Specific Things To Know

  • Turkmenistan Manat: Official Exchange Rate is 3.5 Manat For $1 USD (Also Shown on Google) - The Black Market Rate Is around 18 or 19 Manat To The Dollar
  • Chechnya, Russia: Official Travel Advice Is Do Not Travel And Leave Now. Speak To The Locals And They Say It Is Perfectly Safe (And They Are Very Confused about The Warning)
  • Niger: Traffic Can Not Travel At Night (Unless A Bus With A Soldier On Board)
  • Hailing Apps: Yandex Taxi In Russia, Uber In South Africa, Bolt In Vietnam, Ulendo Taxi In Zambia
  • Visas: Which Embassy Is More Likely To Grant A Visa
  • Uzbekistan: Almost No Operational ATMs, Take USD or Euros
  • Danger Level: Do Not Walk Along At Night In South African Cities, But In Lusaka, Zambia It Is Much Safer

But where does one find out information like this? Official advice may just be "do not go." That's not very helpful for those who are determined to go there!

Related: 10 Affordable (And Underrated) Countries That Every Backpacker Should Visit

One useful site is This is a wiki and so anyone can change it - so be aware of that. But still, its content is normally highly accurate and written by real backpackers and travelers visiting those places.

The layout of its pages is intuitive and very informative. Often travelers are writing the taxi prices or where to stay (and the normal price of the hotel). One can even get an idea of the taxi price from the airport before arriving. Don't be hoodwinked and pay $100.00 for a ride when the real price is $5.00! Don't make all the rookie mistakes while traveling!

  • Offers: More Current Information Than Lonely Planet
  • Written: A Wiki By Real Travelers - Not As Politically Correct or The Official Narrative that Has Little To Do With Reality
  • Advice: Can Be Very Specific


Couchsurfing is a network of travelers and hosts from all over the world. The idea is that there are local people who would like to host travelers in their homes for free. Often these are people who have traveled and want to give back, or they are people who would like to travel, but can't and so want to hear traveler's stories, or for many other reasons. Travelers send them messages explaining themselves, where and why they are traveling, and if they can be hosted.

  • Source: Locals Or Ex-Pats Living There
  • Culture: Couchsurfing Is Great For Cultural Exchange

One can also message hosts in any given country before coming to ask what one needs to know - and any tips. Many of the hosts are ex-pats so they will know and gladly give useful information.

Related: Happiness Is Packing For An Adventure Somewhere Far: Packing Tips For Solo Backpackers

Facebook Groups

Another very useful source of information is Facebook groups. Often there is a number of Facebook Groups of travelers traveling in particular places. E.g. if one wants information about somewhere in West Africa - there is the Facebook group "West African Travelers". Ask to join the group and then ask questions.

Many of the group participants will have very specific knowledge and experience. Sometimes certain border crossings in West Africa are best avoided, while others are fine. To know, just post!

  • Tip: Look For Facebook Travel Groups

Another Facebook example is Georgian Wanderers (The Republic of Georgia - not the state). This is full of lots of ex-pats. Perhaps one would like to know the best way to have a passport posted - which is the most reliable postal service in the country. Just ask.


Yet another source of good information is to ask the hotel or hostel directly for advice. Ask questions like "What is the best way to get from the airport to the hotel?" or "Can I get a SIM card at the airport", or "What are the current Covid restrictions or curfews in effect?"

Next: Backpacking Vs. Travel Hiking: How To Pack & Prepare For Each Type Of Hike