Tag: traveling

Travel Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

It is not unusual to make a few careless mistakes whether you embark on your first trip abroad or you travel several times a year. However, these mistakes can be really costly and will most likely turn your travels a little less pleasant and enjoyable.

Here are some of the tips that you should take heed to prevent yourself from falling into the usual tourist pitfalls, making your travels hassle-free as possible.

1) Overpacking
It is tempting to pack a lot of outfits for every eventuality, but in the end, hauling your luggage around becomes too difficult. Traveling with a heavy backpack, for instance, can be extremely painful, and you’re going to regret having stuffed a dozen outfits, a laptop, a charger, a blow dryer and extra two pairs of footwear into your already half-full luggage. An overpacked bag can also become a waste of time, as it takes you longer to pack and unpack. Climbing up and down the stairs with a full load feels quite like a Calvary.

Plus, overpacking also means paying extra fees for exceeding the luggage weight limit. So resist the urge to overpack as possible.

Instead, pack like a minimalist – this is one of the best things to ensure convenience when you’re on the road. Take half of the outfits that you have initially planned – chances are, you won’t be wearing all of them. Carry only the most essential items and take away the others that you can do without. Look out for lodgings that offer a laundry service, or nearby laundromats. If you’re a backpacker and you find that the laundromat is too expensive, you can always do a quick laundry at the bathroom sink.

2) Bringing traveler’s checks
Before the use of ATM and credit cards gained wider acceptance, traveler’s checks used to be the norm. These checks, issued by banks at a fixed value, are usually converted into cash no matter where you are in the world. While traveler’s checks are still around (believe it or not), their usefulness has been in steady decline in favor of ATM cards and credit cards, which are definitely easier and more convenient to use.

Besides, only a few banks are now willing to accept traveler’s checks and offer them protection in case they are lost or stolen.

3) Skipping travel insurance
While travel insurance means additional expense, you should be reminded that being out on the road can be unpredictable. You never know what will happen along the way. You may get injured, or one of your important belongings may get lost or stolen… or worse! Getting travel insurance provides you protection and security especially when you travel abroad. In fact, it is one of the most essential things that every traveler should have. So be smart – and buy travel insurance.

4) Not taking some local currency at the airport
You should grab some local currency as soon as you arrive at the airport. You may have ATM cards or credit cards to use whenever possible, but it is also good to keep some local money on hand. It is useful for situations where credit cards are not accepted – such as cab rides and local markets. Keep a little extra cash in case of emergencies.

5) Failing to check visa requirements
There’s nothing more frustrating than being refused at a local checkpoint that may forbid you from traveling. It can also be costlier than you think. To prevent that from happening, check the various information on the Internet regarding visa requirements for different countries. Obtaining a visa can be complicated and time-consuming, so you have to be patient with the process. But if you want to get it ASAP, you may have to enlist the help of a visa expeditor for a fee.

Money-Saving Travel Tips

Being on a budget does not mean that the “fun factor” of your trips will be compromised. Actually, traveling on a budget is not a new thing anymore, as there are many clever ways to save money while you’re on a holiday. While looking for ways to stretch your budget when you’re out on the road is undoubtedly challenging, it also allows you to tap your enterprising and creative potential (it’s rather fun, even).

Here are some money-saving travel tips that actually work:

1) Choose to stay in hostels
It cannot be denied that hostels are every backpacker’s choice because they are pocket-friendly. While there are different types of hostels – there are party hostels, boutique hostels, rural hostess, etc. – they all offer the same basic amenities like bedding, bathroom and restroom, and sometimes a kitchenette. You can pay as little as over $2 for a single night of stay there.

2) Travel in off-peak seasons
If you have the chance to avoid peak season travel, it’s better to take advantage of it! It’s not just summer and spring that you should avoid; there are also Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving. Hotels and other lodgings slash their rates by almost half and flights are also cheaper in low-peak seasons. Another bonus: enjoy less crowds and more chances of sight-seeing in relative peace.

3) Be flexible with your flights
The pricing of flights may fluctuate significantly depending on the month, weeks, days and even hours. So do your own research, keep yourself up-to-date on the airline rates and grab the cheapest flights you can find.

4) Seek out for experiences over material things
Instead of collecting pricey souvenirs on your way back home, why don’t you focus instead on collecting worthwhile experiences and creating beautiful memories while you’re out on the road? They are better gifts than material things and are way more memorable and special as time goes by. You can make your own souvenirs anyway by taking pictures of your travel highlights from your own phone or camera — and that’s free of charge!

5) Book in advance
Another foolproof way of saving money on your travels is to book in advance, but many travelers and tourists are still oblivious about its advantages. Always be reminded that the closer you get to your travel date, the higher the rates will be – last-minute prices often tend to rise. Advance booking isn’t only restricted to air and hotel fares, but can also be extended to other things such as domestic rail tickets.

6) Find establishments that offer free Wi-Fi
To save data on your mobile, look for places that offer free Wi-Fi. Good examples include libraries, cafes, shopping malls, restaurants, museums and other public places. Many forms of public transport like trains and buses also offer free Wi-Fi.

7) Eat like a local
Not only exploring local cuisine is fun and adds to your traveling experiences, it also saves you money. Plus, it helps you to eat better. Dining at local restaurants, hole-in-the-walls and outdoor vendors not only allows you to eat cheaply, but it also gets you exposed to diverse tastes and the freshest ingredients.

8) Walk!
Of course, you can only do that once you have flown to your destination. Walking the best way to get around and explore a new town or city. Not to mention it also saves you a lot of money.

But if you are too tired to walk or your desired tourist spot seems quite far from where you’re staying, you can always take public transport, which comes typically cheap.

Anticipate a lot of walking, so expect your feet to feel sore a bit. It’s always great to have a handy foot massager like this foot massage ball which is handy, practical and most importantly, effective in giving relief your feet. It doesn’t take a lot of storage in your handbag and is affordable, too.

Essential Items to Pack for a Long Flight

Packing may not be the most fun thing to do before embarking on a long journey. One of the least enjoyable parts of traveling is flying for several hours, and you know that all too well.

But it’s definitely worse if you do not have all the things that you need especially if you’re out for a hours-long flight. Aside from the feeling of impatience, being seated inside the airplane for too long will definitely be a pain in the butt.

To make those extended flight hours at least bearable, bring the essential things that will make you relaxed, ease off those airborne jitters and control possible in-flight irascibility.

1) Clothing
You don’t have to pack a lot clothes, but there are some pieces of clothing that you will definitely need for the long, long flight.

Slip-on shoes and sandals – most airport security checkouts may require you to remove your shoes. Wearing slip-on shoes and sandals will get you through security a lot quicker. They are also easier to remove when you’re inside the plane.

Wool socks – airplanes are heavily air-conditioned. So it’s best to wear comfy wool socks to keep your feet warm.

Light jacket – for keeping your upper body warm inside the chilly airplane.

Hoodie – for keeping your upper body and head warm inside the chilly airplane. Plus, you can also use the hood to cover your head if you don’t want to be disturbed while taking that much-needed long nap.

2) Eye mask and ear plugs
Sleeping on planes is not exactly easy. Plus, there’s some feeling of awkwardness when you try to sleep in your own way, in the midst of many other passengers. Not to mention there’s the noise from people chattering and kids yelling and throwing tantrums.

You want to shut yourself off from those in-flight inconveniences for a while? An eye mask and a pair of ear plugs will definitely help you as you’re trying to get a decent sleep.


A good sleep can help in reducing the effects of jet lag. Check out the article How to Minimize the Effects of Jet Lag for more tips on how to combat it.


3) Alcohol, hand sanitizer and/or anti-bacterial wipes
It’s better to be safe than sorry, right? Airplanes are high-traffic areas and the likelihood of contamination is pretty great. Minimize the risk of picking up and spreading harmful bacteria and germs by applying alcohol or hand sanitizer, or getting your hands clean with anti-bacterial wipes.


4) Bring your own snacks and drinking water
Most of the time, you want to eat according to your own wants and needs, and not according to the flight crew’s schedule. So instead of waiting for the flight attendants to bring a tray of food and drinks on the aisle, pack some snacks and a bottled water. It’s better to bulk yourself up on high-fiber snacks such as nuts, seeds, trail mix, health bars, whole-grain salads (because they never wilt unlike leafy salads), and some sweets like dark chocolates. These snacks will keep you full during a long flight.


5) Entertainment for long flights
To help stave off boredom during those long flights (or if you don’t like the in-flight entertainment), you deserve some distraction. If you are the old-school type of person, bring a book of crossword puzzles or Sudoku. Or bring some magazines with you, or have a Rubik’s cube to tinker with.

Having your phone or tablet switched to “airplane mode” for a while means you cannot browse, download files and watch Youtube videos online while you’re inside the plane. So before that long, grueling flight, make sure to download apps and mobile games that can work well offline or PDF’s of your favorite pieces of literature. Sync your playlists on Spotify to your phone too so that you can listen to music even when you’re offline.

The reality of having a “jet-set lifestyle” is far from being fun and glamorous. Long flights are stressful and may take a toll on you. Coming yourself prepared by packing those above-mentioned “must-have” items is only one of the ways to surviving a long and grueling flight.

Tips to Prepare for Long Travel

The secrets of a successful holiday are organization and preparation, right? An early and well-thought-out plan means a hassle-free travel. For a start, have a checklist of what to do and what to bring when you’re expected for a long, long haul.

Packing for must-have items and kits are easy enough. But if you want to look for more practical but otherwise awesome travel “buddies,” check out this link “Cool Travel Accessories” — the bag and the organizer featured there will help you to pack more efficiently.

Aside from packing your clothing and bringing your DSLR’s and GoPro’s, there are other important things that you should not forget to make your travel smooth, convenient and worry-free.

1) Organize your finances
While getting your finances in order is not a glamorous or fun thing to do, it is otherwise an essential part of your pre-travel prep! Make sure that you have settled whatever debts you have (if you can) and set up an automatic payment for bills. Opt for travel-friendly debit and credit cards as they will be of big help to you particularly when it comes to foreign exchange fees (it would also be a big help if you keep track of the fluctuating exchange rates).

Don’t forget your travel insurance – it will be a big life-saver to you as it covers anything from medical expenses to theft of your important belongings to trip cancellations. If you have a travel insurance policy, it is better to review it first before hitting the road or flying out of the country. It is important to know what your travel insurance exactly covers so that you will decide which ones you really need.

2) Update your important documents
It is also important to get your necessary documents updated and ready, including your passport, visa, life/travel/health insurance, vaccination certificates (check out the list of countries that require them) and student ID’s (if you’re still studying, of course).

If you are of a certain age, make sure that you have updated your wills and beneficiary designations. You should also consider turning over your important financial and legal matters to someone you trust, especially if you’re going to a long and epic holiday.

3) Get your phone ready for international travel
When you’re planning to be out of the country for long and want to take your phone with you, then you should consider setting it up for international roaming. Carriers such as Sprint and T-Mobile offer free international roaming but there are data limits unless you pay more. A&T and and Verizon, on the other hand, offer international “day passes,” which allow you to enjoy unlimited talk times, text messaging and data for a low daily fee.

In many other countries (especially in Southeast Asia), phone services are incredibly cheap. You may want to take advantage of their affordable rates by purchasing a local SIM card as you arrive (the SIM cards themselves are very much cheap, too). For only $10 to $20, you can enjoy a hefty amount of texts, calls and mobile data.

You are most likely to bring your phone when you’re abroad, but only for taking pictures and for Wi-Fi. But if you still want to call your family and friends back home, don’t worry! There are many hotels and other lodgings that loan smartphones – complete with calls, text messaging and mobile data services included. Look for hotels that offer this type of service.

4) Get yourself healthy
You’re going for the long haul, that’s why you should not forget about your health. Being sick is no fun especially on a holiday. Visit your doctor and your dentist before embarking on the long journey. When traveling to a foreign country, it’s important to do your own research about the risks, such as contagious diseases, sanitary conditions or poisonous animals (if you’re going to do a nature trip).

Make sure that all of your vaccines are up-to-date – knowing which types of vaccines will protect you from certain diseases like typhoid fever, cholera, and yellow fever. Especially if you’re going on a trip to Asia, South America or Africa, this should be a consideration not to be missed.

Long travels can be stressful, so boost your immune system by munching on healthy food and by taking supplements. It doesn’t hurt if you also bring your prescriptions with you.

5) Prepare yourselves mentally and emotionally
Aside from the material and financial part of the preparation, it’s also important to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally as you will be embarking on an extensive holiday abroad. Yes, there are tremendous support from your family and friends, but sometimes you cannot help having some doubt towards yourself on how are you going to handle the realities of traveling once they arise. Culture shock is only one of the things that you are likely to encounter once you arrive to your destination.

So you may want to ask yourself first: how will travel change your life? For better or for worse? Will you be returning to your home country or will you find yourself staying there for longer than you expect? That’s why it’s always better to anticipate such situations by being mentally and emotionally prepared.

Ticking off the List: 100 Countries to go!

According to reference.com we spend approximately one third of our lives working. I suppose I am lucky in the sense that most of this time is spent traveling. This has meant that I have been able to see many countries that I probably wouldn’t have seen had I not traveled there for work.

It has also created a challenge. A few years ago, I had visited about 5 countries around the globe. Today, that number is up to 96! This is if you consider Taiwan its own country. Having already visited both China and Taiwan, they are such different countries that in my head they are their own countries.

I look back at the places I have been and I am stunned, and there are only 100 to go before I’ve visited every country in the world. I am not sure if I will be able to visit every country in the world, but it is something I aim to do.

There are a few countries that I desperately want to visit and will not get the opportunity to travel to with work, as my company does not operate in them. One of these countries is India. I particularly want to go to Rajasthan and take in some history. Indian culture has always fascinated me. I have heard mixed reviews of Indian cities. Some people say they are filthy. Others say they are vibrant. I guess it comes down to your own perspective.

I also want to visit Nepal. I want to see Mt Everest up close, and although I don’t see myself climbing it I would love to at least take a helicopter ride and view it from above. This would be one of the experiences that nothing could surpass.

To see these places I will need to start planning my own trip. I am not sure when I will next have time off but you can bet that I’ll continue to tick as many countries off my list as I can.

From Winter to Summer

WARNING! This is another rant. After my last post I had comments from people telling me not to focus on the negative. I do appreciate these comments and I think they make a good point, but overall they are not realistic. It is necessary to consider things from all angles to make decisions on the course of action to take in life. At times this involves taking a look at the negative aspects (and there are negatives in everything) to decide what needs to change.

I get it. People want to believe if they traveled the way I do their lives would be perfect. This is simply not the case. However I am the first to admit that I’m lucky to travel and to have the job that I do, and can safely say that the good experience I have whilst traveling far outweigh the negative ones. But I am human and things do get to me. This time it is the shifting temperatures.

The more I travel the more I find that changing time zones is only one part of the stuffing around. When you travel from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere you also have to deal with the changing seasons. For this reason I leave home in shorts and a t shirt with a thick  jacket packed in my bag to protect me from the bitter cold when I arrive.

The really annoying thing is that I need to pack for both conditions. I have to consider how long I will be hot and how long I will be cold. Once I get back home I am thrown back into the warm weather and I hardly want to be wearing a jacket.

I also got sick recently and I absolutely attribute it to shifting from the cold weather to the hot weather. It was a different type of sickness that I had not experienced before and one that does not follow the traditional symptoms of a flu, although I did have some pretty bad body aches.

I love my job, but I hate the cold.

Next stop: Albany, New York.

Getting Lonely Whilst Traveling

This week was a busy one. I had to fly to Rio for two nights and then flew straight to the UK. I spent another two nights here before flying back to the US last night. This is one of the busier weeks I’ve had and I’m actually feeling pretty lethargic. The only people that can really empathize with me is the flight attendants. One that I spoke to said they had been awake for 3 days!

I spend a lot of time in planes. I also spend a lot of time in taxis, buses and trains. Although I am always busy working I do tend to reflect a lot on my life. This is part of why I have written this blog. I use it as a diary and to give myself some courage to share how I really feel with the world.

I was contacted recently by another person who travels frequently for work and they wanted to know how I deal with loneliness whilst I was traveling. To be honest, this is a sensitive issue for me and one that I have not discussed openly before. I am human and of course being without my family or friends for extended periods of time does leave me feeling lonely.

I decided the best way to tackle this question was to best honest. The truth is that the travel is really getting to me. I could be feeling like this based off this week, but I do feel like I need to say this to get it off my chest. I travel so much for work that most of the time I don’t even know what bed I am sleeping in.

When I am in a new city, I don’t know other people in the city. The same small talk with colleagues does get old and although you can always go out and meet people it is rare to click with someone on a deeper level. But it is also the simple things that are bugging me. I don’t know the best place to grab a coffee or to get some breakfast.

Just this week I have felt that this was isolating. I did not want to leave my hotel room because I did not want to miss the chance to sleep. Not only that but I did not want to stuff around with finding a place to buy a coffee when I could simple order one from the room service menu.

Okay, so it is not all bad. I have had some of the best experiences of my life traveling especially in places like Cancun, and the friends that I met there I have managed to stay in contact with. But to be honest, this is a rare occurrence and the times that I meet people that I click with are a rare breed.

Expressing how I feel has definitely helped. Even now as I type this, I feel relief from the feeling of isolation. Maybe it is also due to my age. I am getting older and many of my friends are getting married and having children of their own. They say they are envious of my life, and whilst I am not envious of theirs, I can that it is something missing in my life.

I’m not really sure what to do next. I love my job and love travel, and I don’t want this experience to make me despise either of them. Hopefully I feel better after a long sleep.

Meeting A Friend In Miami

Believe it or not, I had never been to Miami until last week. It is strange. I travel so much around the world yet I often neglect my own country. What I saw was truly wonderful and to say I had an amazing time there would be an understatement.

Luckily for me, this time I was not traveling there for work. I was meeting a friend who writes at BestGunSafeInfo named James. He was hoping to entice me into buying the best gun safe from his gun safe reviews – but I’m not interested. This is one of the many ways in which we differ, and actually it’s pretty incredible we’ve been friends for so long considering we essentially have nothing in common.

He’s a gun enthusiast with a job he goes to so that he can pay the bills. I’m someone who lives to go to work and paying the bills is a bonus.

Anyway, Miami was wonderful and it was great to see it with a friend. We mostly followed TripAdvisor’s 3 day guide with just a few variations. Little Havana was quite an eclectic area and I could definitely see myself spending more time there in the future. It reminded me a bit of New Orleans, does anyone else get that feeling?

We even made out way to Everglades National Park. I always try to take in some of the natural beauty of an area if I can, but it can be so hard when work is centered around the main business districts. But this was a chance I wasn’t going to miss and I’m glad I didn’t. The animals were incredible and I can not believe such a large area has remained untouched.

And of course, we went to the beach. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a beach so packed! Even the ones in Cancun were not this bad. But they were beautiful.

I will definitely be back to Miami – when I get a free moment. It is hard to do these types of trips when I travel so much and to treat it as leisure.

My First Time Flying on the A380 (in Business Class!!)

I think that another day another destination will become my catch phrase. It is cheesy but I like it and it definitely rings true with my life style.

Today was a different type of day. Yes, I had somewhere to be. I was flying to Stockholm to help with their software integration. But the destination was not the only reason I was excited. Today I flew on the giant of the sky – the A380! I had kept close watch on the Airbus A380 ever since it was first flown but for whatever reason I never had a chance to fly on it. It also didn’t help that my flights were always booked for me.

As this was a last minute trip I took it upon myself to book the flight, and lucky I did. I saw that the A380 was flying the route that I needed to go on – and I had also accumulated enough frequent flyer miles that I could upgrade my flight to business class! I knew this was going to be a great trip and upgrading the flight was something I probably wouldn’t have done before. I guess I am staying true to my revelations that I told you all about in my last update.

I have to say the experience was fantastic and one that I will absolutely be doing again. What made it so great for me was the extra perks. I was picked up by my own personal driver and whizzed through check in. I sat in the lounge and enjoyed a glass of wine and 15 minute shoulder massage to prepare myself for the long flight ahead.

On board I was given PJ’s which I quickly changed into. I wrote an entry into my diary, watched a movie and actually fell asleep! I had a capsule to myself and I think the privacy is what made sleep possible.

I was hungry when I woke up but lucky for the airline I flew with offers dining on demand. The food was fantastic and the staff were equally wonderful. I have to say I was a bit depressed when I realized we were descending and the flight was almost over!

I also have to say that I think coach has been ruined for me. I had such a wonderful flight that I can’t see myself flying in coach again (although I have to on the way back home!).

Cancun, Mexico: Food Poisoning and Love

For most people Cancun is a place to take a vacation and relax. In previous years this would have been true for me too. But for now it means it is time to work again. It was another day and another destination and I was excited to reach this place. I understand that many people would think I am incredibly lucky to travel to these places to work, and I am. But in reality, when you spend all day inside an office you hardly see much.

Having said that I did get out quite a bit whilst I was here. I do wonder if working from these beautiful destinations actually prevents me from enjoying them. I fear that forever I will associate this beauty with the work to be done. This is why it is so important for me to detach myself whenever I reach a destination. I need to focus on the job at hand rather than the destination itself so that this does not happen.

I certainly wont be associating Cancun with work however. I must say it was beautiful and I really did enjoy my time working from there. The weather was perfect and I had a couple of experiences there that I do not think would have happened had I not visited.

Unfortunately my main memory is not a pretty one. It is a memory from the first night I went out. After work a colleague invited me to join her at the bar just down the road from the hotel we were staying. It was not somewhere I would usually associate food poisoning with. We had a fantastic range of food and I can not fault it at all. It was simply delicious.

We headed back to the hotel and I was feeling fine. A little woozy but I attributed that to the second glass of wine I had. I showered and went to sleep, only to be awoken at 2am with a stabbing pain in my stomach. This was actually one of the most painful food poisoning experiences I have had, but I knew straight away what it was from the cold sweats.

I made the mistake of googling my symptoms. If I can offer you all a word of advice it would be to never google symptoms. What I found on Food-borne Illnesses scared me and made the pain somehow worse. Because it was so painful I decided to go to a 24 hour clinic that was conveniently located just down the road. It was not an emergency room but they do see emergency cases and luckily enough I was able to get straight in. They gave me some pills to sort out my stomach and I felt better almost immediately after taking them.

It also helped that I was speaking to a lady in the waiting room. She had experienced a similar thing and almost immediately we bonded. I am usually too shy to talk to strangers (something my work colleagues can not believe), especially in this type of setting but we seemed to really hit it off. She was staying down the road from me and we even exchanged email addresses and had a coffee once I felt better.

I was in Cancun for an entire week so I was lucky enough to see many of the main attractions. I was desperate to tick a few off my list and I took my inspiration from what I read on Lonely Planet. I took a heritage tour which was definitely the highlight for me. I learned so much about the rich history of this place and got a sense of what it was like in the past. Plus it is always interesting to hear about the evolution of our culture and how it has changed over the years. I am thankful that I was born in this generation but part of me still longs to have been born in the past. Maybe I have a past life.

Work itself is getting better and better. I can safely say that I have the best job in the world. Half the time it really does feel like I am on vacation and I need to pinch myself to stay focused on the task at hand. I am sure if I was married and had a family I may feel differently, but I am lucky to have this job whilst I am young and I am going to enjoy it while it lasts.

I can say without a doubt that I had a wonderful time here. I will certainly be coming back for a vacation of my own one day.

Not sure where I am off to next. I am pretty certain I will have a week at home before flying out again. There is talk that there may be a change of management soon so anything can happen. I’m choosing to focus on the present and am going to continue enjoying myself whilst I still can.