travels through nullsec. How to travel system to system, how best to avoid warp disruption bubbles and gate camps, and how to make bookmarks to ensure safer travel.
All of this assumes that you're new to nullsec. That you're in nullsec for the first or second time. That your heart starts racing the moment you jump into your first nullsec system. All this assumes that you're used to travelling highsec and lowsec. You're used to blasting your way from Point A to Point B in as quick and efficient a manner as possible.
Being in hostile territory (and as a new visitor it is all going to be hostile), the rules are different, you cannot travel nullsec the same way you travel in empire space. You stick to your empire habits, you will find yourself back in a medical bay faster than you can say "Ooh. These space bubbles look really cool."
The number one piece of important advice when travelling in nullsec is to avoid jumping gate to gate. There are a couple of instances where it's generally fine to jump gate to gate, but mostly you're never going to want to do it. The only instance when I'll jump gate to gate is when a) the system is empty, and b) the system(s) leading to the current system were empty. It's only then that I feel that the area of nullsec that I'm in is most likely free of danger. That is no guarantee that someone won't jump into system mid-warp and potentially add ship loss to your day.
The number two piece of advice is that you're going to want to avoid warping to zero (0) on a gate. Again, there are a couple of instances where it may be fine, as outlined in the paragraph above. And again, nothing is a guarantee. Over time you'll get a feel for the area of a region you're in, how active it may or may not be, and know when it's safe to break a rule or two.
The number three piece of important advice when travelling in nullsec is to keep the local channel open. Separate it from all your other chat tabs. Make local its own window. You're going to want to know who is in system and how many are in system, at all times. Shrink the chat area of the local window as small as possible. Unless you're a chatty Cathy, you're not going to care all that much about who may be saying what or even replying. All you care about is who is in system.
The number four important piece of advice (especially if you're scouting out systems for some future operation, or just exploring) is to use either a cloakable ship (a cov ops or a stealth bomber work well for this) or an exceptionally fast ship (an interceptor or a Dramiel.) Since you're likely travelling systems in which you do not yet have bookmarks, you want something fast or undetectable. Slow ships are easily caught ships, and slow ships function better in nullsec systems where you have a good set of bookmarks.
The number five important piece of advice is to learn about directional scanning (d-scan). There's too much about the topic to teach it here specifically, but if you have 45 spare minutes, Seamus Donohue has two excellent videos on the subject -- an introduction and some further advanced topics. Or read this excellent article by Grismar.
The number six important piece of advice. Use Dotlan. Select the region you are travelling. Then, from one of the drop-down boxes above the regional map, choose Ship/Pod Kills (24hr). This will show you systems in which there is generally a lot of player activity. Be extra careful and aware when approaching those systems.
Travelling System to System
The example image shows my ship's current position at Gate A. I wish to get to Gate B (the big black dot). The red line denotes the direct route between the two gates. Do not travel that route. If there are hostiles in system looking for prey, they are mostly likely going to set up warp disruption bubbles to trap anyone taking that path.
The better option is to find a path that is substantially offline from any gate to gate path. In the example, I would choose to first warp to one of the celestials in the northwest, and then warp to the gate at 100km. The green lines denote these travel vectors. There is no guarantee you won't get dragged into a bubble, but by making sure you approach the gate from a direction not coinciding with any gate to gate vectors, you decrease your chances of getting caught dramatically.
If this is your first visit to a particular system. Consider not passing straight through. Before leaving you might want some bookmarks. At the very least, you're going to want some gate observationals. These are bookmarks that are placed 175km - 250km off a gate. Basically at a distance where the chances of getting dragged into a warp disruption bubble are slim (if the gate is being camped) and a distance where you can continue to warp to the gate at zero if the coast is clear. This is also a distance where you will most likely still be on-grid with anyone camping the gate (though it is possible for clever people to play grid-fu, so that it looks like you're on grid with nothing, but in reality there are a number of baddies at the gate waiting for you.) I won't get into grid-fu (it is complex, detailed and involved), but you can read an excellent article on the subject by Goonswarm. (Always d-scan the gate you wish to travel to from your observational, to check if you are off-grid due to grid-fu. D-scan does not lie.)
How do I make my gate observationals quickly? Well, first, I find a path into the gate that doesn't coincide with any gate to gate vectors. (The greens lines on the example image above.) From the celestial I've chosen, I warp to the gate at 100km. I then make a temporary bookmark. I warp back to the celestial I just came from. I then warp back to my temporary bookmark at 100km. Voila! I am now approximately 200km from the gate. (For added bookmark security, once you make the warp placing you ~200km from the gate, slowboat in some direction about 50km-100km. Since other people might make bookmarks similarly, you don't want to be landing, or have someone landing, right on top of you. [edit: added due to a great comment below.]) This new bookmark becomes permanent and I name it appropriately.
If a system is empty, you may want to make additional observationals around a gate, perhaps 200km directly above or below. It's up to you. And over time you'll decide what sort of observationals and the number of them work best for you.
There are an assortment of other bookmarks you may want to make. Gate tacticals. Station undocks. Midsafes. Safespots. You're also going to want to create bookmark folders in the Places tab of the People & Places window. You're going to want a consistent naming scheme for your bookmarks. Bookmarking is a fairly involved topic, so I won't cover it here in any detail. Instead I'll link you to an excellent article by Azual Skoll, Director of Agony Unleashed.
Nullsec Training Corporations
If you want to make nullsec your home, but not quite sure how to go about it, you can consider a nullsec training corporation. There are two excellent corporations to consider and one to avoid.
Open University of Celestial Hardship [OUCH]
These guys are based in Curse, an NPC region of nullsec. I've only heard good things about them. These guys can train you in many aspects of nullsec survival. Survival is their main focus.
Agony Unleashed [AGONY]
These guys are mainly PvP oriented, but in that aspect of the game, they have a reputation of being the best. They have excellent PvP programs and operate solely out of nullsec. Survival in nullsec goes hand-in-hand with strong PvP skills. Agony is based in Syndicate.
EVE University [E-UNI]
This will seem biased, what with the beef I have with their CEO and a couple of their directors, but if you want to learn about nullsec, avoid EVE University. Some people will suggest EVE University as the be-all end-all for all aspects of the game. If you want to learn high security space, basic fundamentals, or industry (mining, planetary interaction, manufacturing, etc.) then by all means, EVE University can teach you those aspects of the game. They can teach you them well. They also teach their members a highly risk-averse aspect of the game, which is at odds with a nullsec education. Most of the members will warn you away from doing anything in lowsec, much less the scarier nullsec. EVE University has zero presence in nullsec, which hinders their ability to actually teach anything about that aspect of the game. Join EVE University if you're still struggling with industry or the fundamentals of the game, but if you want to learn nullsec, steer well clear of them. I learned dick all about nullsec from my time with them. I do praise them for all the fundamentals I did learn, for that they were invaluable.
I'm by no means any sort of expert on nullsec. Check out the comments. Folks may post with additional advice, or even correct me on the advice that I've given.