Friday, February 19, 2016

Travel Tips

While not an expert, friends have asked me for travel tips since I wander off on my own so frequently {in their eyes}.

  • Do your research
    • I can't stress this enough. Although hostels are not common in the US and we have those scary images from the movie with the same namesake, there are some great, relatively inexpensive places to stay.
    • Browse airline prices: it's going to be more expensive leaving on a Friday and returning on a Sunday than leaving on a Thursday and returning on a Monday. These are often the days I chose while studying abroad as well.
    • Plan routes to & from airports and map out some of the routes to places you definitely want to see. Exploration is the best way to sightsee, but using Google Maps can show you places you may have never known were around the target places.
    • Along with planning routes: look into transportation around the city. Is it walkable? Are there buses? Tube? Have a flexible game plan in mind for getting around.
  • Price check
    • What is the current currency exchange rate?
    • Are credit cards widely accepted?
    • Have you notified your banks?
    • It's best not to exchange money at the airport as you'll likely only get roughly 50% of the value after fees.
  • Documents
    • Passport? -> slip a copy in your bags, have a picture of it on your phone, and keep a copy with a trusted family member/friend back home
    • All vouchers for excursions
    • Credit/debit cards
  • Backup Plans & Contacts
    • Let your mum {or responsible, trusted friend/family member} know where you're staying
    • Have a list of all hostels/hotels/flats where you're staying, the booked excursions
    • Hidden credit card {just in case} tucked away
    • Make a point to contact your home person periodically to check in
  • Packing
    • More often than not, you'll pack too much
    • Lay out your outfits and wear your jeans multiple days if you take jeans
    • Wear heaviest clothing at the airport as you can always take it off after security
    • Weight: know your limits and weigh before you leave; also, make sure you can lug that bag around if necessary!
  • Useful apps
    • TripAdvisor - take reviews with a grain of salt, but starting point...and remember to review your own thoughts!
    • Google Offline Maps - quite useful. Pinpoints your location without data.  Let's be real, international plans are expensive.
    • Expedia - great for booking excursions & keeping yourself on track of dates & times.
      • Downside: requires internet for viewing all details
    • Genuis Scan - turn a copy of your vouchers into PDFs, or retain a copy of your passport/hotel info
    • Duolingo - language learning app I've been advocating for years. If you're traveling to a non-English speaking region, it doesn't hurt to prep by learning a few basic phrases.
    • Untappd - keep track of your beer tasting.
    • Facebook Messenger - most Facebook users have this, but comes quite in handy when meeting fellow travelers & keeping in touch with folks back home.
  • Constant vigilance
    • Keep your wits about you
    • Basic safety - that's why it's good to touch base back home periodically
    • Have cash, emergency credit/debit card, & passport hidden and on your person at all times.
    • Act like you know where you're going & typically no one will bother you - attitude and confidence go a long way
  • Travel attire
    • Dress comfortably, but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice style, and vice-versa
    • I like jeggings because of pockets, which are handy {naturally}
    • Layers so you can take off one if you're too warm, or be warm on the plane - sometimes those things are frigid!
    • Minimal jewelry, unless it's easy to remove - pending on type of transportation. For planes, I'd keep it to one statement piece, minimal rings and metals since you'll just have to remove and put back on, which impedes upon swift security checkpoints. When you're limited on vacay time, time is precious!
  • Don't be afraid to go alone
    • So you're friends are busy but you really want to go somewhere, your heart aching with longing & it.
    • What's stopping you?
    • Plan it. Execute plans.
    • Most of my adventures have been choice.
    • Take a ton of pictures & keep a journal so you can share the experience with others, but don't let it stop you.
    • Excellent article worth a read {no, it's not from Hello Giggles}
  • Have the time of your life!!
I'm off daydreaming about my next adventure.....

No comments:

Post a Comment