You don't have to leave home to contact other travelers, who are probably the best sources for information. Instead, you can get information from travelers of various countries in a newsletter published by the Globetrotters Club.
The club of 1,500 independent travelers has been operating for about 30 years. Most members, from teens to the 80s, are from Canada, United States, Australia and Europe.
Volunteers from the group publish a newsletter, The Globe, six times a year on a variety of subjects. Much of the advice is helpful to those traveling on student-style budgets.
I learned about the club and newsletter through a reader who wanted to pass along some advice about travel in Fiji.
He said that in July another club member discovered: "Since the new government took over, Sundays are a problem. Most businesses were being closed, including restaurants, food shops and money changers. It can be a little awkward to arrive on a Sunday, especially as a budget traveler, as the only food available is at the first-class hotels that know the situation and charge accordingly. The thing to do in Fiji on a Sunday is to stay put."
That type of information is passed by club members in a newsletter section called "Mutual Aid."
The announcements are short and seek or offer advice and other information about various destinations. Addresses are published so members can be contacted directly. "Mutual Aid" also is used by those seeking travel companions.
Although members are not charged for announcements, "Mutual Aid" cannot be used for monetary gain (swapping of accommodations and services).
The newsletter also contains regular articles contributed by members. The most recent newsletter, a 16-page issue, includes stories of independent travel in Hawaii, Chile and Argentina, Bolivia's Golden Valley, Easter Island and across the Sahara by hoof.
In addition to articles, the Globe includes other information. For example:
--How to arrange a conservation holiday by working as a volunteer with the National Trust in Great Britain.
--Budget hotels in Egypt, and news of a volunteer tourist-friends association that helps with orientation and sometimes with invitations to Egyptian homes.
--A report of the new Jacques Brel youth accommodation service in Brussels. It's a year-round facility of 131 beds at Rue de La Sablonnier 30, a 10-minute walk from the Brussels north railway station. Rates are from 5.35 (about $9.50 U.S.) in a six-bed room to 8.70 in a single room, breakfast included.
The Globetrotters Club also produces a handbook, 80 pages of advice and articles not in the newsletter, on such subjects as bargain air fares, hitchhiking, women traveling alone, photography and various off-the-beaten-track destinations.
The club is a volunteer organization and does not have a North American office. However, members can arrange informal meetings in Pomona, Toronto and New York City. Monthly meetings are held in London, England.
For membership, write to the Globetrotters Club, BBCM/Roving, London WC1N 3XX, England. Cost for overseas members is $14 U.S. a year.