Monday, 3 March 2014

Travel Tips Top 10

A backpack and a few dollars in the pocket is all you've got? In shoestring budget travel, every penny counts! So here are some budget travel tips for you folks and mind you, some of these can be very frugal.

1. Always keep a digital or photo copy of all your Credit/Debit Cards and ID cards.
I believe one should do this even when home and not just while on travel. I had to go through this unfortunate experience of losing my bag with my wallet, my credit cards, my debit cards, my IDs, drivers licence, my phone and a lot of other precious things in that bag which had higher sentimental attachments than their monetary value. Step one is to block your credit cards obviously. But how can you do that from all the way across the world? Always keep your bank's help desk number/email id handy or Mummy, Pappa are always to the rescue! You can only block your cards on providing details like your mother's maiden name and ID numbers. That's how I managed to get outta this situation. Also luckily western union money transfer only charges 1.80$ for any transfer above 80$. But you cannot send money from India to other countries but can only receive it. So my grandparents from the states ended up salvaging my __. Bless them.

2. Never exchange your currency at the airport.
The airport exchange rates are the worse. They have a 21% commission on top of the transaction charges and you are bound to lose out on close to half of the original amount you could have got otherwise. Either carry the currency of the country you are travelling to before hand or exchange just enough to pay for a taxi ride till the Hotel/Hostel and then exchange the rest of your dollars out in the city at a trusted place.  

3. You will ALWAYS need LESSER clothes than you pack.
This tip is especially for all you girls out there. Step one: Pack your bag. Step two: Now take half the clothes you have in there and put them back in your cupboard, nice and gentle, neatly folded, so that you can wear them when you come back from your trip. 

4. Universal Adapter! Always travel with one.
I did the mistake of sending mine in under carriage after check in and turns out that this particular Airport did not have Universal Plug points, before the security check in area so I couldn't use my laptop for almost 2 hours before boarding. Whats the use of free Airport Wifi huh? 

5. EGGS? Hmmmm... YUM!(makes a face)
Now we all know eggs and bananas are the cheapest and the easiest to make travel foods if you have access to a hostel kitchen, but eventually you are bound to get bored of it. There was a running joke with one of my travel buddies where he went like "Whats for breakfast?" And I'd go like "Eggs!" and he is like"EGGS? Hmmmm... YUM!(makes a face)" with the most sarcastic tone ever. This was us after eating eggs for breakfast continuously for about two weeks. Now I am sure there needs to be a little more nutritive diversity in your food than just high cholesterol food. So Cereal with Yogurt is a great substitute for a eggs(for a little while) and a cereal bar instead of a chocolate bar for healthy snacking. What we usually forget is our Vitamin C while travelling since fruits can get expensive. This one time, the hostel travel group of girls took a trip to the local market and got super ripe fruits for a steal! We much enjoyed the fruit punch that afternoon. Something you can try. 

6. Even if you are travelling alone, buy things for two or find yourself a travel buddy!
Travelling alone can get real expensive. It is almost twice as expensive as travelling in pairs. Common sense will tell you to buy a 250 ml pet bottle for 40 cents than a 1$/1 liter bottle, since you are buying it just for yourself. But think again and look beyond the cents Vs dollar and let you brain make the less impulsive and more logical choice.

7. If you have a smart phone, make use of all its smartness!
Most smart phones have a tracking system in case it is lost. Active it right now if your haven't done it already before you continue reading!!!!

8. Never keep all your money at the same place.
Always split it between all your bags so in case you lose one bag, you always have some reserve in the other. Also keep a note of how much is kept where. It always helps to be organised.

9. Choose Supermarkets over Mini-Marcados.
There are always these mini markets right around the street corner which sell just about everything you get at a regular super market at a slight price difference of 10-15 cents more. Though it might not seem like much, the cumulative sum when you buy a lot of things makes a huge difference compared to when you buy the same things at the super market a few blocks away. Walk it out!

10. Tours and guides.
Though tours are the easiest way to see sights there is always a cheaper way of doing the same thing (except for Macha Picchu which can't be one without one). If you think the "free" lunch included is a compensation then that's one really expensive lunch you are paying for! There are no free lunches. Most tours make a 15% profit off of whatever you are paying, after paying off all the stake holders; so always work down how much you could have done the same trip for on your own. It sure is convenient to be picked up at the pick up point and driven to where ever, but for a more authentic experience ask the locals! They know best.

Some people learn from other people's mistakes and some insist on making their own mistakes. I hope you could learn from mine!