With Backpack

One World in One Lifetime

Posts Tagged ‘travel advice’

Long-Term-Travel Travel Advice

Posted by Heliocentrism on June 15, 2018

When I started this trip, I made all sorts of packing mistakes. I brought way too many things. I had the wrong type of things. And, with some of the things I really needed, I either didn’t have or I didn’t have enough of.

1. A Backpack: Not too big, but not too small, but definitely not too big

No, do not get a carry-on spinner for a long around-the-world trip. Those things are just not easy to pull when you’re not dragging it on a nicely polished floor. It’s perfect if you will go from airport to taxi to hotel. If you have no intention of ever walking down the side of a road with your luggage, then by all means, get a spinner. But, if like Mark and me, you might have to walk from a bus stop or train station to your hotel, or if you plan on getting on a boat, then spinners are too impractical. Get a backpack.

How big of a backpack should I get?

Answer 2 questions. Do you plan on flying a lot? How much can you carry? If you plan on flying, which is really the cheapest mode of long distance transportation, you should get the biggest pack that still counts as free carry-on luggage. These are generally 30 liter packs or less. Then when you pack, make sure to keep the weight under 10kg but, if you can, get it under 7kg.

Many airlines will say the limit is 7kg, but most of the time they don’t check as long as your pack doesn’t look too big and you seem to be holding it without struggling. It’s cheaper for them when you carry our own stuff instead of checking it. So, unless the flight is super full, no one will bother you if you kinda look like you could be sorta within the weight limit-ish.

Keep in mind that some budget airlines also let you carry a purse or laptop bag in addition to the carry-on. But, some do not. Some airlines will require you to place all your bags into your carry-on. These airlines will, however, allow you to carry your coat or sweater in your hand. So make sure that everything you own can fit into that one pack once you’ve removed your coat.

If you’re not flying or you plan to always check your bag, then you can carry a pack as heavy as you like. Generally, your pack should never be too heavy for you to carry for at least 20 minutes. Don’t expect that any of your travel mates will help you with your pack or that anyone will carry any of your stuff for too long without starting to hate you. If you’ve packed it, you should carry it. If you cannot carry it, you should dump it.

What should I look for in a pack?

I’ve answered the question before. But, I’ll go over the basics again briefly. I recommend getting a pack with these features:

  • A back vent
  • A front loading option
  • Hip straps with pockets
  • Side pockets
  • Some mesh pocket on the outside of the pack for wet things.
  • A rain cover big enough to fit the pack when it’s fully stuffed. (You’d be surprised how many packs do not have this.)
  • A color you like.
    • You will be traveling for a long time. If you think your pack is ugly, you will be tempted to buy a new one.
      • If you want to buy a new one, go to Vietnam. This is where most name brand backpacks are made and they tend to be cheaper there.

2. Don’t pack too much clothes

If you’re going around the world and will be encountering all sorts of weather, here are the basics:

Warm Stuff:

  • 1 rain jacket
  • 1 pair of Rain pants
  • 1 pair of Water proof shoes
  • 1 compressible down jacket
  • 1 light fleece jacket
  • 1 Merino wool cardigan
  • Jeans x (up to you)
  • Quick dry running tights x (at least 2)
  • Merino wool sock x (at least 2)
  • 1 warm hat
  • 1 pair of Gloves (water proof wool if you can find it)
  • 1 scarf (I use a Buff as a scarf)

Cool Stuff:

  • 1 pair of Flip Flops (not the cheap $1 flip-flops… a good pair)
  • Quick dry shorts x (up to you)
  • Quick dry capris x (up to you) (Wear this when entering churches and temples.*)
  • Quick dry t-shirt x (up to you) (At least one non-sleeveless shirt for entering churches and temples.*)
  • Quick dry underwear x (up to you)
  • Light quick dry socks x (at least 2)
  • 1 swim suit
  • 1 sun hat

*  This applies to both men and women. Keep those knees and shoulders covered.

Try to buy clothes that are light and made of quick drying materials. Sports clothes are prime example of quick-dry clothes. Try to get sport clothes that don’t look so sporty.

One Thing about Flip-Flops

Normally, I buy the cheap flip-flops on sale at Old Navy or wherever. They cost about $1 or $2. They are fairly comfortable after a week or so of breaking them in. On the trip I wear my flip-flops to the beach or on warm rainy days, so my regular shoes stay dry. My Old Navy flip-flops were constantly failing me.

When my cheapo flip-flops get wet, I fall… a lot. They have absolutely no grip. It doesn’t help that everyone in South East Asia likes to tile the front of their shops in marble making the sidewalk a giant slip-N-Slide every time it rains. It’s hard to stay upright when the floor is wet and you are wearing cheap flip-flops.

One day I just got tired of slipping every rainy day and on every walk back from the beach. I found a shoe store in Bali where everything was on sale and bought a decent pair of Crocs flip-flops. These things are very comfortable and very grippy. I haven’t slipped during a rainy day since.

You don’t have to buy flip-flops, mind you. What I really wanted were a pair of minimalist sandals. I found a really cute pair by Xero Shoes. But I was in Bali at the time and they have no shops in Bali…

How many of these should I bring?

For many of these items, you really only need one. A rain jacket. A pair of water proof shoes. The rest depends on how often you want to do laundry verses how heavy you are willing to let your pack get. For clothes close to the body, like the running tights that you wear under your jeans in winter, I guess a minimum of 2.

I’ve seen minimalist videos of guys who only carry the clothes on their back, a towel that doubles as a blanket, and something silly, like a ukulele or harmonica, because “all you really need to wear in life is a smile”.

Personally, the things I only have 2 of are my wool socks, my running tights, and my light summer socks. These things are easy to wash while I take a shower and let dry over night and the next day. I wear one while the other is drying.

I don’t want to have to do a lot of laundry everyday, so I have 4 shirts, 2 shorts (that I wear a couple times before washing), and 1 pair of capris. I’m a little more embarrassed about washing and hanging up my underwear just any old place, so I have a week’s worth of those. I should be able to find time and a private  place to wash undies in a span of a week.

3. Do your own laundry

I do a lot of washing by hand when I don’t have access to a free washing machine. Coin laundries tend to get expensive when you are washing every other day. They are made for doing 6 kg of clothes at a time and that is way more than Mark and I have.

Some places, like south-east Asia, it’s very cheap to have someone else do your laundry for you. When it’s done well and in a timely manner that’s great. But, I have gotten back my clothes a few times smelling musty. Once I got my clothes back 2 days late. I have friends whose favorite shirt or shorts never came back. I prefer just to wash my clothes myself.

You could buy a Scrubba, but that’s kinda expensive. Instead Mark and I just use an ordinary 5L dry bag. Just make sure to get a dry bag for kayaking and not ones for hiking. The ones for hiking don’t stay waterproof for long. They sacrifice durability for lightness. If you are washing clothes, you will need the bag to be hefty. And of course, when you are not washing clothes you will use it to keep your stuff nice and dry.

Make sure to have a pinless travel clothesline. You can easily find one that is not too expensive. Of course by the time I realized that I needed one, I was already on my trip in some little town somewhere in Vietnam and couldn’t find one to buy. So I had to make my own with rubber bands, a carabiner, and some wrist bands Mark and I were forced to wear as guests of a hotel somewhere. It’s so easy to make.

Keep in mind that rubber band clothes lines work best out of direct sunlight. The sun, causes the rubber to denature and break. The rubber band clothes line will last for a year out of the sun and for about a week in the sun.

Having your own “washer” and “dryer” on a trip gives you the freedom to pack less clothes. You can wash clothes whenever you have water. (I wash my clothes in laundry detergent, body wash, soap, shampoo, hand soap, dish soap… Basically, whatever I have.) Then you can hang your clothes up where every you have space. Just make sure to towel them off so they do not drip if you are hanging your wet clothes indoors.

4. Travel Towel

This is one area where I wish I could give better advice. But, I can’t. I hate travel towels. They are expensive and most of them feel weird on the skin. They seem to wipe the water off your body rather than dry you. I’ve gone through many of them both the more expensive ones and the cheaper ones and they are all equally bad. Except for the last one I bought in Singapore.

This one by N-rit actually feel smooth on my skin and acts more like a towel. I would not go so far as to say I prefer it to a nice fluffy cotton towel, but I do like it. It dries quickly and folds up very well. It even comes with a tiny bag it folds into and then it fits right into the waist strap pocket of my backpack.

When you are looking for a travel towel, ask if you can test it out first. Dry your hands in it, if they will let you, and see how it feels. I would recommend getting the XL or XXL towel. The XL will be about the size of a normal sized towel and the XXL will be about twice as big as the XL. When you are traveling for a long time, you will start to hate your tiny towel if that is what you’ve packed. If you get the XXL towel you can use it as a blanket when you’re cold. You could also hang it on your bunk in your hostel for some privacy.

Unfortunately, the XXL sized towels are like unicorns. I see them advertised as a size option, but I’ve never seen one for sale. I did manage to find two on this trip. They weren’t for sale though. They were gifts that came with something else. I don’t even remember what the something else was. I really just wanted the XXL quick dry towel.

5. Shower Stuff

There are some things I look for in a travel liquid container. I find that the Johnson’s baby shampoo travel bottles works best for me.

They stand on their heads just as easily as they stand on their bottoms. So many travel bottles cannot stand on their heads. This is very annoying when you’re trying to get the last bit of lotion out. If you can just make the bottle stand on its head, then the next time you go for lotion, it will come out without difficulty.

They are clear and easy to see through. Sometimes, you don’t get good lighting in the shower. The worst thing is to get into the shower, get the water temperature just right, get your hair all wet, then find out you don’t have enough shampoo. The reason is that your opaque shampoo bottle, in the low light, gave you a false impression of how much shampoo you had left.

They are easy to refill. I’ve had travel containers that can only stand on their heads. This means when it’s time to refill it, I have to get someone else to hold the thing while I use two hands to squeeze a bigger bottle of shampoo over the stupid container. JBS bottles stand on either their heads or bottoms. So, they are easy to refill.

The only flaw with the JBS bottles is that they only come with yellow caps. I wish I could get some with other colored caps so it would be easier to distinguish shampoo, conditioner, and lotion. As it is, I have to remember what color everything is and how they smell.

6. Bags and Containers

It’s so much easier to find things when they are placed in bags in your pack. I have a bag for electronics, a bag for toiletries, a few bags for clothes, and bags for other stuff. I keep ibuprofen in a Kinder Surprise container and have several Ziploc type bags handy. I also have a water-tight container with band-aides, pain meds, and a phone charger for emergencies that I keep at the top of my pack or in my purse.

I also carry an extra cloth grocery bag with me in case I need a bag for whatever reason. In Japan and Europe I use it when I go shopping. In Japan it saves me from buying a $0.05 bag. But, in Europe, where most stores don’t use cheap plastic bags anymore, it saves me from having to buy a €2 cloth bag.

Packing by putting items in bags makes it easier to go through security check at airports. Instead of taking out 50 things, you take out 5 bags. Repacking is easier too. It also helps when determining whether you’ve forgotten anything. After a while you just know the shape your bags should have. If a bag should be more full, you’ve forgotten something.

7. A Charger and a Sim Card

Many travelers will try to find a restaurant with wifi and an outlet during meals to charge their phones and use the internet. But this takes up a lot of time looking for restaurants and costs a lot of money. The restaurants with outlets and wifi are indoor sit-down restaurants. The price of food at these places will be double, triple, or 4 times more than that of say, a food truck, grocery store, or a sandwich stand.

Just like having your own dry bag and clothes line lets you do laundry almost anywhere, having your own charger and sim card lets you go almost anywhere without having to worry about wifi and charging your phone. The cost of the charger, which can charge 2 completely dead phones before needing to be charged itself, was €15. The cost of a meal in a restaurant for Mark and me was about €25-35. The cost of a meal at a food stand or sandwich place was about €10. So one could pay for a charger in just one meal.

As for the sim card, it depends on the plan. I got one pay-as-you-go card with just data. It cost €20 for the card and €9 a month for 20G. Mark got one with data and phone minutes, and it cost €20 for the card and €15 a month for calls and 5G of data. Then he just tethered off of my phone when he came close to running out of data. I never came close to running out of data and I would watch Youtube on long bus rides.

The amount of money we saved by not having to go to more expensive places to eat so that we could charge our phones or use wifi, more than paid the cost for the sim cards and charger.

8. Clothes Pins

My clothes lines are pinless. So I’m not using clothes pins for clothes. I had 8, but one disappeared, so now I have 7. I use them for many purposes. When I’m in a hostel, I hang things up around my bunk. I take the clothes pins to the shower with me when there aren’t enough hooks. I pin things to the outside of my backpack when I need to. I use one as a toothbrush holder sometimes. They’re handy to have.

9. Smartphone & Headphones

I actually didn’t own a smartphone before this trip. I bought one in Hong Kong when I realized how much easier it made travel. First of all, it’s your information center. On your smartphone you can use google.maps, google.translate*, guide books, currency conversion rates**, and Wikipedia. It’s also your entertainment center with games, books, pod casts, and movies. You can also send quick emails to keep in contact with people back home, so they know you’re still alive.

*  I’ve never used google.translate on the trip other than to talk to other travelers who speak no English. 99% of the people you come across in the tourism industry will speak some English. You might not be able to have very long conversations with them, but they will speak well enough to sell you bus tickets, drinks, food, or do whatever their job is.

** I still recommend writing a little conversion rate chart. Something like: 1USD = 4 IMD; 5USD = 20IMD; 10 USD = 40 IMD… This helps you get used to assessing whether something is expensive or not without having to whip out your phone.

You might not need a computer. I do, because I write. I also prefer games on my computer to games on my phone. So, if you bring a computer with you, make is a very small one.

The Green Monobud of Vatican City

Headphones are very important. One, it keeps everyone on the bus from having to suffer through your horrible music or pod casts. Two, you can use your own headphones when using audio guides at museums or on tours. I much prefer my own earbuds to the 80’s type headphones or the monobuds that come with most audio guides.

10. Extra Stuff

I also carry with me:

  • A pen
  • A marker
  • A flash light
  • Cute Tape
  • Big Post-it notes
  • A lock

It’s obvious why I bring the pen. The big Post-it notes are for note writing and sticking it to things if needed. The marker is for writing my names on things like food stuffs when I stay in hostels. And my flash light has come in handy on many occasions. I just have to make sure I know which pocket of my purse it’s in.

Cute tape is for those temporary repairs that become permanent. If you have cute tape and your careful with your repair, you can almost get away with a “That’s how I want it to look.” I learned this when I had taped up a broken mechanical pencil I was using at work. It was supposed to be for a day, but I kept forgetting to buy a new pencil for work. Some of my students saw my pencil in class one day and oohed and awed over it. “Kawaii desu ne,” they squealed. They had no idea that I was just too forgetful to bring a new pencil to work.

Sometimes you will need a lock. In many hostels you will be given a locker, but you have to use your own lock. I prefer a combination lock out of fear that I will lose the key.

 

Posted in United States, The | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Travel Tips Germany

Posted by Heliocentrism on June 10, 2018

2017

The home of a fireman

You have to bring:

  • Just your prescription medication and a doctor’s note.
  • Everything else can be bought here.

Things you can buy here or bring with you:

  1. Luggage:
    • You can use a suitcase or a backpack.
  2. Clothes:
    • You can buy anything here.
  3. Towel:
    • Bring your towel if you are staying in a hostel.
  4. Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash:
    • All hotels provided guests with shampoo and body wash.
    • You are almost never given conditioner.
    • You should bring your own toiletries if you are staying at a hostel.
      • You can buy shampoo, conditioner, and body wash at any convenience store or grocery store.
      • Check stores like Aldi, Lidl, or Edeka.
  5. Deodorant/ Antiperspirant:
    • You can find this here.
  6. Sunscreen:
    • No problem; you can find it here.
  7. Over the counter medicine:
    • There are lots of pharmacies where you can buy cold medicine and pain killers like aspirin.
    • It’s best if you know the generic or chemical name of the drugs you need.
      • Instead of asking for Bufferine, ask for ibuprofen.
    • I would still bring some medications for basic illnesses like diarrhea, fever, and constipation.
      • Don’t run out of these.
      • It’s always tough to look for medication when you’re already sick.
      • It’s easy to find what you want if you have a label of the drug you are looking for.
  8. Other things you should bring:
    • Hat
    • Sunglasses
    • Smartphone
    • hiking shoes
      • There are lots of hiking trails to explore.

General Tips:

Watch out:

  • Stay out of the bike lane!
    • It’s so easy to let your mind wander (and your feet too) and without realizing it, you’re in the bike lane.
  • Beware of trains that split.
    • Make sure you are not only on the right train, but in the right car on the right train.
    • Look for the monitor on the train and check to see that the terminal station for your train line is correct.

Food:

  • Try the foods in and around beer gardens and beer halls, especially if you are in Bavaria.
  • You’re never too far from an inexpensive bratwurst.
  • Just remember that sometimes “wiener” means “hot dog” but other times “Wiener” means from Vienna.
    • As in Wiener schnitzel, Viennese style schnitzel.

Transportation:

  • Sometimes the trains are late.
  • Sometimes you can be stuck on a train for hours!
    • Bring a good e-book, audio book, or movie.
    • Once Mark and I were stuck on a train for 2 hours. It was just parked on the tracks. Everyone took out their snacks and beer and kept themselves entertained.
  • Don’t forget to validate your ticket (where applicable).
    • Like in Berlin
  • Sometimes it’s easier to rent a car.

Bathrooms:

  • Germany has one of the most expensive public toilets in Europe.
    • Italy ~ 0.20 to 0.50€
    • UK ~ 0.25 to 0.35£
    • Germany ~ 1 to 1.50€
  • Always carry about 1.50€  in change with you at all times.
  • Use the bathroom before you leave:
    • your hotel.
    • the museum.
    • the restaurant.
    • a long distance train.
      • Yes, the trains have bathrooms. Not the subway trains but, the ones that go out to the suburbs.
  • At the mall the bathroom will cost about 0.50€.
    • If you get a voucher from the bathroom, you can take it to the food court and get 0.50€ off the price of your meal.

Closed Today:

  • A lot of shops and museums are closed on Mondays.
    • Check their websites for opening hours.
  • Many grocery stores close early on Sundays.

Scams:

  • Watch out for pick-pockets in Berlin.
  • If someone approaches you asking if you speak English and they aren’t wearing a uniform, be cautious.
    • Generally, other tourists, cops, or staff members will approach you by saying “hello” first.
    • Shady people, usually skip “hello” and start with, “Do you speak English?”
    • Just walk away.

It’s “that pig”!


Germany

How to get there:

Phone:

  • 112 – emergency, ambulance, and fire
  • 110 – police

Downloads:

Website:

Data:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • Be careful when riding the train outside the city.
    • Sometimes the train splits, meaning you are on the right train, but the wrong car.
    • At some point in time the train will split up and each car will go to a different destination.
  • Don’t walk in the bike lane.
    • There is usually a bike lane and it will be where you end up walking if you’re not constantly vigilant.

Posted in Germany | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Travel Tips Italy

Posted by Heliocentrism on May 20, 2018

2017

You have to bring:

  • Just your prescription medication and a doctor’s note.
  • Everything else can be bought here.

Things you can buy here or bring with you:

  1. Luggage:
    • You can use a suitcase or a backpack. A Backpack gives you a little more mobility, but it’s not a must-have here.
    • But, dragging your suit case on the cobbled stones will get irritating.
  2. Clothes:
    • You can buy anything here.
      • If you like leather, this is the country for you to shop.
  3. Towel:
    • Bring your towel if you are staying in a hostel.
  4. Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash:
    • All hotels provided guests with shampoo and body wash.
    • You are never given conditioner.
    • You should bring your own toiletries if you are staying at a hostel.
      • You can buy shampoo, conditioner, and body wash at any convenience store or grocery store.
      • Grocery stores: Carrefour  is nice, Conad is okay
        • Smaller grocery stores in Italy tend to be oddly shaped. (I just find that weird.)
  5. Deodorant/ Antiperspirant:
    • You can find this here.
  6. Sunscreen:
    • No problem; you can find it here.
  7. Over the counter medicine:
    • There are lots of pharmacies where you can buy cold medicine and pain killers like aspirin.
    • It’s best if you know the generic or chemical name of the drugs you need.
      • Instead of asking for Bufferine, ask for ibuprofen.
    • I would still bring some medications for basic illnesses like diarrhea, fever, and constipation.
      • Don’t run out of these.
      • It’s always tough to look for medication when you’re already sick.
      • It’s easy to find what you want if you have a label of the drug you are looking for.
  8. Other things you should bring:
    • Hat
    • Sunglasses
    • Flip-flips
    • Smartphone
    • comfortable shoes. (There are lots of cobbled stone roads and sidewalks.)

General Tips:

Clothes:

  • Wear the right clothes to enter churches.
    • No shorts or sleeveless shirts.
    • It’s best to have the right clothes with you all the time. You never know when you might want to check out some church on your walk back to the hotel.
    • When you enter a church, take off you hat and shades.

Food:

  • Never pick a non-fast food restaurant at random.
    • Look online first.
    • Check the reviews.
    • Look for a menu with prices online.
  • Watch out for seating fees and service charges.
    • Seating fees  = €3~6 per person
    • Service charges = 10 ~ 20% of the bill
      • If your total is €20 with 10% service charge and €5 seating fee for 2 people. Your bill is now €32. You just paid €12 for simply showing up.
    • Not all nice restaurants charge these, but the ones that do will say that they do on the menu.
    • ALWAYS look at the menu before you enter the restaurant.
      • Either look at the menu online or at the front door of the restaurant.
  • Cook for yourself as much as you can.
    • Eat out only a few times.
    • If you cannot cook for yourself, then look for cheap restaurants or simple sandwich shops.
  • How to find a cheap restaurant:
    • Never go into a restaurant close to where many tourists are.
    • Walk a few blocks away from any tourist attractions.
    • Go down an alley.
    • Kebab shops are usually pretty cheap and they serve good pizza.
  • When eating in a restaurant, or even a kebab shop, never order drinks.
    • Buy your drinks at a grocery store and drink after you leave the restaurant.
      • Iced tea at a grocery store = €0.45~0.65
      • Iced tea at a kebab shop = €2~2.50
      • Iced tea at a restaurant = €3.50~4.50
    • Don’t even ask for water unless you know for sure it’s complimentary.
      • Sparkling water is usually just as expensive as a regular drink.

Transportation:

  • ALWAYS keep your ticket.
    • DO NOT throw away the ticket until after you have gotten to your destination (for the bus) or left the station (for the train).
  • Never not pay for the bus or train.
    • They might not check every time. But, they do random checks and fine people without tickets.
    • If you have a ticket that needs validation, make sure to get it validated.
    • Even if the bus is crowded. Ask someone for help getting your ticket stamped from the machines placed at the front, middle, and back of the bus. People help each other all the time on the crowded bus by stamping other people’s cards in the machines.

Tickets:

  • To make sure you get to see the thing you came all the way to Italy to see, you should buy your ticket ahead of time.
    • But there is a bit of a gamble. Unlike the UK or France where it’s either cheaper or the same price to buy tickets online ahead of time, in Italy it will always cost about €4 more.
    • If the line isn’t too long, I say save your money and wait the 30 minutes.
    • When it comes to Vatican City, ALWAYS buy your ticket ahead of time.
  • Do not lose your ticket or throw it away until you have left the building. You might be stopped and asked to show your ticket.
  • You will spend a lot of time in Italy in line, even when you buy your tickets ahead of time.
    • Bring e-books, audio books, paper books, movies, games, water, and a snack.

Money:

  • Get cash from ATMs.
  • Don’t tip.

Scams:

  • I’ve seen the:
    • Survey Scam
    • Free Bracelet Scam
    • If someone approaches you on the street asking, “Where are you from?” It’s a scam!
      • Honestly, it may feel like you are being very rude, but the best way to deal with most scam artists is to just ignore them. Pretend you don’t hear them or you don’t speak whatever language they are talking to you in.
    • Here are some other scams


Italy

How to get there:

You can enter this country by land, water, or air.

Phone:

  • 113 – police
  • 115 – fire
  • 118 – first aid

Website:

Data:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • Many of the streets and walkways are paved in cobblestones making it harder to walk on with the wrong type of shoes.
  • Apparently, you can drink from any of the water fountains you see.
  • Watch out for pick-pockets.
  • Get your tickets ahead of time when going to see popular things.
  • You never know when you might what to check out a basilica. So, make sure to dress properly, or you won’t be let in.
    • Not shorts. Make sure that at least your knees are covered.
    • No sleeveless shirts.

Posted in Italy | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Travel Tips for Greece

Posted by Heliocentrism on April 10, 2018

2017

You have to bring:

  • Just your prescription medication and a doctor’s note.
  • Everything else can be bought here.

Things you can buy here or bring with you:

  1. Luggage:
    • You can use a suitcase or a backpack. A Backpack gives you a little more mobility, but it’s not a must-have here.
  2. Clothes:
    • You can buy anything here.
  3. Towel:
    • Bring your towel if you are staying in a hostel.
  4. Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash:
    • All hotels provided guests with shampoo and body wash.
    • You are sometimes given conditioner.
    • You should bring your own toiletries if you are staying at a hostel.
      • You can buy shampoo, conditioner, and body wash at any convenience store or grocery store.
  5. Deodorant/ Antiperspirant:
    • You can find this here.
  6. Sunscreen:
    • No problem; you can find it here.
  7. Over the counter medicine:
    • There are lots of pharmacies where you can buy cold medicine and pain killers like aspirin.
    • It’s best if you know the generic or chemical name of the drugs you need.
      • Instead of asking for Bufferine, ask for ibuprofen.
    • I would still bring some medications for basic illnesses like diarrhea, fever, and constipation.
      • Don’t run out of these.
      • It’s always tough to look for medication when you’re already sick.
      • It’s easy to find what you want if you have a label of the drug you are looking for.
  8. Other things you should bring:
    • Hat
    • Sunglasses
    • Flip-flips
    • Smartphone
    • Comfortable shoes preferably hiking shoes
      • Sometimes the streets are literally stones stuck together. It can be hard to walk on with the wrong type of shoes.

the road in Rhodes

General Tips:

Toilet:

  • Don’t flush the toilet paper.
    • You’re suppose to throw it in the bin.
    • A free toilet can be hard to come by. Use the WC at museums and restaurants before you leave.
      • Assuming you are a customer.
    • You will find many paid toilets, but those tend to be not so clean.

Food:

  • Grocery Stores:
    • Sklavenitis (ΣΚΛΑΒΕΝΙΤΗΣ) is cheap, but AB is so much nicer.
    • There is also Carrefour.
  • Try gyros
  • Try bakklava
  • Try all the pastries, sweet and savory…
  • Try the cheeses


Combo Tickets:

  • Combo tickets in Greece (at least Athens and Rhodes) are a good idea.
  • They save you money even if you don’t see all the things.
  • They save you time by letting you bypass all but one ticket buying line.
    • Make sure to buy your combo ticket at one of the less popular attractions that will have a shorter line.
    • Then you can walk past the long lines at the more popular attractions by just waving your ticket at the officials.

Money:

  • Get cash from ATMs.
  • Remember “Euro”.

Scams:

  • I’ve seen the:
    • Survey Scam
    • Free Bracelet Scam
    • Cheap food item scam:
      • You go to a restaurant offering cheap gyros (these are really never too expensive).
      • Once inside, there is either no menu or they try to make you order without looking at the menu.
      • You order whatever you like, thinking since the gyros are cheap, the prices of other stuff can’t be that bad.
      • Everything else on the menu is OVERPRICED, but you don’t realize it until you get the bill.
    • Here are some other scams

Greece

How to get there:

You can enter this country air, land, or sea.

Phone:

  • 112 – Emergency
  • 166 – Ambulane
  • 199 – Fire
  • 100 – Police
  • 171 – Tourist Police

Website:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Don’t flush toilet paper.
    • Supposedly, it’s bad for the pipes.
    • You’re supposed to throw it in the trash can in the bathroom.
  • Although Greece is relatively inexpensive, you can go through all your money traveling to all the various islands.

Posted in Greece | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Travel Tips for The United Kingdom

Posted by Heliocentrism on January 15, 2018

2017

You have to bring:

  • Just your prescription medication and a doctor’s note.
  • Everything else can be bought here.

Things you can buy here or bring with you:

  1. Luggage:
    • You can use a suitcase or a backpack. A Backpack gives you a little more mobility, but it’s not a must-have here.
    • But, some hostels do not have elevators.
  2. Clothes:
    • You can buy anything here.
    • Try to shop at duty free stores and ask the clerk for the duty free paper work.
      • Fill out the forms.
      • Mail it at the airport you use to leave the European Union.
  3. Towel:
    • Bring your towel if you are staying in a hostel.
  4. Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash:
    • All hotels provided guests with shampoo and body wash.
    • You are never given conditioner.
    • You should bring your own toiletries if you are staying at a hostel.
      • You can buy shampoo, conditioner, and body wash at any convenience store or grocery store.
      • Personally, I prefer to shop at bigger grocery stores like Tesco Extra rather than a Tesco Express.
  5. Deodorant/ Antiperspirant:
    • You can find this here.
  6. Sunscreen:
    • No problem; you can find it here.
  7. Over the counter medicine:
    • There are lots of pharmacies where you can buy cold medicine and pain killers like aspirin.
    • It’s best if you know the generic or chemical name of the drugs you need.
      • Instead of asking for Bufferine, ask for ibuprofen.
    • I would still bring some medications for basic illnesses like diarrhea, fever, and constipation.
      • Don’t run out of these.
      • It’s always tough to look for medication when you’re already sick.
      • It’s easy to find what you want if you have a label of the drug you are looking for.
  8. Other things you should bring:
    • Hat
    • Sunglasses
    • Flip-flips
    • Smartphone
    • hiking shoes
    • Rain jacket
    • Rain pants
    • Rain boots
  9. If you need to buy outdoor equipment, I recommend:
    • Mountain Warehouse 
      • They are always having a sale
      • Their prices for non-sale items are still generally lower than at other outdoor stores.
    • Cotswold
      • They are a bit pricier, but you can get up to a 20% discount (at the shops in Wales and England) if you have a YHA membership.

Cliffs of Dover

General Tips:

Weather:

  • Always check the weather report before going out.
    • Just because it was warm yesterday, doesn’t mean it won’t be cold today.

Food:

  • Shop at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, or other grocery stores for ready to eat lunches.
    • Many of them have a £3 lunch deal where you choose a main, a drink, and a snack.
  • For cooking your own meals, shop at the bigger grocery stores rather than the Tesco Express or Sainsbury’s Local.
    • The bigger stores have more products and cheaper generic versions of products.
    • Morrisons is my favorite, but I also like Tesco Extra.
    • You can save a lot of money by cooking your own meals.
  • Try Scotch eggs!
    • They are actually from London, not Scotland.
  • Try Haggis when you’re in Scotland.
    • Get the type without the sheep stomach casing.
  • Try Cornish Pasties.

Transportation:

  • Get a railway card, if you’re going to ride the train a lot.
  • Get a bus pass if you are going to take many buses.
    • National Express Coach Card
    • You can get a 7-day pass to travel about in certain areas.
  • In smaller towns it’s best to rent a car.
    • It’s a lot cheaper to rent a standard car than it is to rent an automatic.
    • So, learn to drive stick before you go, to save about £50 a day.
    • If you want an automatic, make sure to reserve one ahead of time.
      • They don’t have too many of them.
  • Don’t use the black taxis in London.
    • They are more expensive.
    • If you don’t mind paying more for a cab once for a photo or something go for it.
      • They are really nice.

I’m a Scottish Heritage member!

Get Membership:

  • You should get membership at one of the following depending on where you will travel:
    • English Heritage – £54 / year for 1 person
    • National Trust England – £64.80 / year for 1 person
    • Scottish Heritage –  £49 / year for 1 person
      • All of these are a little cheaper when getting a group or family membership.
      • Many come with discounts for other things, like:
        • The Scottish Heritage gives you 20% off at all of their gift shops and cafes.
        • English Heritage gives you free parking at many of their sights.
      • As a bonus, it helps you when planning what to do and see in the country.
    • The memberships really do pay for themselves.
  • If you are going to stay in hostels, join Hosteling International, or any of its subsidiaries.
    • YHA – England & Wales
    • SYHA – Scotland
      • Membership at any of these will get you the discounted rate at any of the other hosteling organizations.
      • These hostels tend to be better than most other hostels.

Money:

  • Change money at the Post Office.
  • Or, get cash from ATMs.
    • Most ATMs have no ATM fees, but you might not get a good exchange rate…
  • Don’t tip.

Scams:

  • Not many scams to look out for, just use common sense.

The United Kingdom

How to get there:

You can enter this country by land via an underwater tunnel, air, or sea.

Check with your local UK embassy for visa information.

Phone:

  • Use 112 or 999 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance

Website:

Data:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • If you’re going to do a lot of travel by train or bus, looking for a Rail card or bus pass before you buy your first ticket.
    • Railway Cards
    • Oyster Card
    • Even getting a day pass on a bus could be cheaper than getting 3 single passes, or a return ticket and a single pass.
  • If you’re going to travel around the United Kingdom, you might want to get membership at one of the following:
    •  English Heritage – £54 / year for 1 person
    • National Trust England – £64.80 / year for 1 person
    • Scottish Heritage –  £49 / year for 1 person
      • All of these are a little cheaper when getting a group or family membership.
      • Many come with discounts for other things, like:
        • The Scottish Heritage gives you 20% off at all of their gift shops and cafes.
        • English Heritage gives you free parking at many of their sights.
      • As a bonus, it helps you when planning what to do and see in the country.
  • If you are going to stay in hostels, join Hosteling International, or any of its subsidiaries.
    • YHA – England & Wales
    • SYHA – Scotland
      • Membership at any of these will get you the discounted rate at any of the other hosteling organizations.
      • These hostels tend to be better than most other hostels.

Posted in United Kingdom, The | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Travel Tips for Malaysia

Posted by Heliocentrism on August 15, 2017

2017

You have to bring:

  • Prescription medication.

Everything else can be bought in Malaysia. (I know I say this a lot, but it’s true. All you really NEED to bring is your meds.)

Things you can buy here or bring with you:

  1. Luggage:
    • You can use a suitcase or a backpack. A Backpack gives you a little more mobility, but it’s not a must-have here.
  2. Clothes:
    • Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia in general have a lot of tourists. There are many, many shops here with western sizes.
    • There are many malls in KL with prices that rage from cheap to normally priced.
    • There are also many upscale malls too.
  3. Towel:
    • Bring your towel if you are staying in a hostel.
    • Some hotels allow their towels to be used at the beach.
  4. Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash:
    • All hotels provided guests with shampoo and body wash.
      • When I didn’t like the shampoo I was given, I bought my own.
    • You are never given conditioner.
    • You should bring your own toiletries if you are staying at a hostel.
      • You can buy shampoo, conditioner, and body wash at any convenience store.
      • You can find many popular brands like Dove, Pantene, Finesse, and Lux.
  5. Deodorant/ Antiperspirant:
    • You can find this here, but the brand selection is limited.
      • It’s mostly Dove, Nivea, and other brands I’ve never heard of.
  6. Sunscreen:
    • It’s mostly Banana Boat and Nivea.
    • Many (not he Banana Boat brand) come with “skin whitening” (whatever that means).
    • You can buy shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, and suncreen at a convenience store, but they will be cheaper at grocery stores. Grocery stores will have more variety, too.
  7. Over the counter medicine:
    • There are lots of pharmacies where you can buy cold medicine and pain killers like aspirin.
    • It’s best if you know the generic or chemical name of the drugs you need.
      • Instead of asking for Bufferine, ask for ibuprofen.
    • I would still bring some medications for basic illnesses like diarrhea, fever, and constipation.
      • Don’t run out of these.
      • It’s always tough to look for medication when you’re already sick.
      • It’s easy to find what you want if you have a label of the drug you are looking for.
  8. Rentals & Rides: (Mostly at Langkawi)
    • You can rent:
      • surf boards.
      • Boogie boards
      • Scooters
    • You can do:
      • Banana Boats
      • Parasailing
      • other various water activities
  9. Other things you should bring:
    • Hat
    • Sunglasses
    • Flip-flips
    • Smartphone
      • You will need this to use Uber.

General Tips:

Food:

  • Try not to over eat too much.
  • The food is very delicious and not expensive at all.
  • It’s easy to over do it.

Taxis:

Money:

  • Get cash from ATMs.
    • HSBC has no ATM fees.
  • Exchange money at banks.

Scams:

  • It’s mostly taxis you have to watch out for.

Swimming:

  • NEVER swim at any beach alone.

Malaysia

How to get there:

You can enter by plane, train, bus, boat, and even on foot (from Thailand only).

Most people can get there visas when they arrive for no charge or paperwork. The length of stay differs by the visitor’s nationality. Please check the IDM website.

Phone:

  • Emergency Numbers:
    • Police and Ambulance 999
    •  Fire 994

Website:

Downloads:

  • Travel Guides
  • Uber
    • If you don’t have an account already, get one before you go to Malaysia.

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

Posted in Malaysia | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: