Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tips for no one in particular

Just a few things I've learned along the way:

#1: Don’t be afraid of hostels.
From what I’ve heard, the hostel industry has come a long way. If you use your resources and do your research, you can find hostels that aren’t half bad, and who wouldn’t mind saving money on a hotel and going out for a night on the town instead?

#2: Be wary of budget airlines.
Є20 flights can be alluring, but make sure to read the fine print. Be aware of hidden fees, especially when it comes to baggage, and save yourself the stress of throwing out half of your luggage in an airport; find out where the destination airports are located; and be ready to be uncomfortable. If you take all of this into account, budget airlines can be a great money saver for the aware and prepared traveler.

#3: Use public transport.
Once you get the hang of it, metros and buses aren’t hard to figure out. And not only do you save bank on taxi fares, but your range of exploration expands immensely.

#4: Pack light.
Not only will this save you money on checking in bags, but it will make it a lot easier to use public transport and maneuver your way through crowded streets and will be much less of a hassle if you get lost, have to back track, or simply have to walk a long way.

#5: Always prepare for the weather.
After spending what I thought was going to be a warm, sunny, beach vacation in the cold and rain, I am a big advocate for bringing that rain jacket and sweatshirt, even if you don’t think you’ll need it.

#6: Ask questions.
It’s more likely that locals will know the best places to go than your tour book, or at least how to get to where you’re looking for. So ask.

#7: Pick and choose.
After too many, a museum is a museum is a museum, so go to the ones that will actually mean something to you and will add to your experience. Plus, museums are rarely the most memorable parts of traveling, so give yourself a break.

#8: Wander.
Don’t plan every minute. Leave some time to walk around, take some pictures, people watch, and discover cool things and places that you won’t find in a travel book.

#9: Use travel books.
When used in moderation, they can be great tools. Just make sure to find one that fits the type of trip you’re looking for and you’ll be set.

#10: Indulge.
If there’s anything you should be willing to spend some money on, it’s food, especially when going to countries famous for their cuisine. So stop counting calories, spend an extra few Euros, and make your taste buds happy.

#11: Record.
Whether it’s through a blog or a journal or a scrapbook, make some sort of record of what you did. It’s easy to forget the little things, which are often the best things, so take a minute and write it down, you’ll be thankful for it in the future.

#12: Grocery shop.
One of the best ways to get a quick introduction to a culture is by going into a grocery store. You get to see what people eat and how much they spend. Plus, it’s pretty easy to find some yummy treats for not too much.

#13: Laugh.
Traveling is full of mishaps and misadventures; laughing at them will make for a much more enjoyable experience.

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