Sanborns' Travel Tips and Resources

Traveling to China, which is the United States sixth largest trading partner, is today, nearly as complicated as going to some parts of Europe. You do need a visa and you can get that kind of information from either the US State Department or China's Embassy web sites (see the China Links Page). It is definitely a long way to go as the trip took us from Indianapolis to Minneapolis, to Vancouver, to Beijing. Flying back there was no layovers so it made for one very long day. The usual tips when traveling apply, get a phrase book to learn the basics, don't even think about drinking the water unless it is bottled, and pace yourself moderately when starting because there was 11 hours difference in time.
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Fodor's China: Expert Advice and Smart Choices: Where to Stay, Eat, and Explore On and Off the Beaten Path (Fodor's Gold Guides Series)

Frommer's Beijing

There is a ton of material on China available both on the web and in book stores. As with the other trips, I have included a few books you might want to get to make your trip easier.
As I said, there are a ton of books available on China and here are a few more to make the traveling much easier. Two are travel books and the other is a tale of ancient China. Frommer's book covers the top 50 spots in China to visit. Rick Steves' book is included because he has a ton of great travel tips that are applicable to anywhere you are going.
Frommer's China: The 50 Most Memorable Trips

Rick Steves' Europe through the Back Door: The Travel Skills Handbook for Independent Travelers

Dream of Red Mansions

When traveling, there are a few things to think about. One is that you tend to take far more clothing and items than you really need to and it makes a world of difference if you have to carry your own luggage anywhere. As for clothing, be prepared to do a lot of hand washing in the sink of your hotel room because if you are on a tour, laundry facilities will be far and few between. Upscale hotels will have laundry service if you are staying more than one night but if you do have a lot of one night stands, then you are on your own.

Keep in Mind about your medicines, vitamins, pain pills, and the like. They are often very difficult to get overseas and quite often, the strain of travel can reduce your resistance to viruses and the like. Also take an anti-bacterial waterless hand cleaner.

If you like to keep in touch with the rest of the world while you travel, you do have several options today. Most large hotels that are Three star or better rated will often have a business office where you can connect to the internet. The rates are pretty reasonable and if you have signed up for one of the internet based email accounts like Hotmail, you can easily keep in touch. Another is that you will find foreign language (as in English) newspapers readily available at the same business offices. If you plan to call home, the best way is to get a phone card. These are unlike those you find in the states which are primarily good for long distance calling. These phone cards overseas, in China look for the "IC Telephone Card", have microprocessors imbedded into the card and contain a set amount of money for overseas calls. You will find them much cheaper for calling overseas than anything else and just like hotels in this country, they will charge far more to make a call than will the pay phone. Your calling cards that you may have gotten with Sprint, MCI, AT&T and the like again are only for long distance calls from within the USA. When using the "IC Telephone Card", what you look for is a "pay phone" that takes cards only and not money, and one that will say "IC Phone" on it. But don't worry, just stick the card in the phone and you will discover an English instruction pop up on the screen. If one doesn't, then probably the phone booth is not setup for the IC card.

Quick Packing Tips: You need great walking shoes, don't stint, don't go cheap, just do it. Plan on doing laundry so cut back on the clothes, wear layers for different climates. Bring books for reading and sharing, good fiction, biographies, stuff that is fun to read, you will need a break. A collapsible hiking staff can really come in handy if you have suspect knees, feet, etc.

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