The most savvy travellers I know log onto Thorn Tree as they vagabond. Thorn Tree Travel Forum is where you get the latest, greatest, most dependable travel advice for exotic destinations. Originally set up by Lonely Planet as an online way for readers to update their guidebooks, this bulletin board now bypasses and surpasses the guidebooks altogether. Reliable travel info has been completely revolutionized by the ubiquity of internet cafes around the globe.
Let's say you want to know whether the border between China and Kazakhstan is open this October, or whether its safe to visit Katmandu, Nepal, or where the newest climbing spots in the Peru Andes are. You log on to the appropriate Thorn Tree "branch" where a traveler who is in Katmandu, or who has just arrived in Almaty yesterday after a harrowing 11 hour border crossing from China can tell you all the specific details of what is true and what is not. Someone else might post that the popular beach shack on Lombok island, Indonesia you were headed for is now closed. And, to complete the circuit, you may be on the road yourself, at a dusty internet cafe in Morocco, when you read this. It's true real-time advice, from real folks who've done it. Thorn Tree is a remarkably efficient way to score hard-to-get facts from and to the field. And for armchair planners at home, the sheer details available at a distance is heavenly.
I've found that the third world locations, rather than Europe and the US, are best served by the forums; but these after all are the very places instant ground-truthing is so badly needed. Thorn Tree is also a great place to connect up with others bent on long-term Around the World tours, and up-to-the-latest tips on long haul travel.