Well, as most of you may or may not know, travelling is my favorite hobby. And through all my trips abroad and locally, I've picked up a few travel tips that I thought may be helpful to share with everyone on the Met. So if you've got a trip planned, I hope these help you out!
1. Money. When it comes to money, my atm card has worked in most places I've visited, i.e. Europe, Mexico and Asia. Obviously credit cards will work also. Both of these will usually get you a better exchange rate than cash. Never change in cash at an exchange place, always go to a bank. Depending on where you go, cash is always the preferred method of payment. Especially for services. During my recent trip to Italy I found out that they have a ridiculous personal income tax rate so whenever someone gets cash they usually don't report it. You can often bargain down prices just by saying you can pay cash.
2. Credit Cards. Definitely call your credit cards and bank to note in their system where you will be travelling and from what dates you will be travelling. Otherwise they will usually put a stop on your card because of fraud. There's no pain like trying to call a credit card company from outside the US.
3. Electricity. You can check out voltages and plug types for different countries at this site
. Depending on where you go, there's a good chance the voltage and plugs are different. For example, most of Europe is on 220 volts. We are on 110 volts. This means there is twice as much voltage coming out of the outlet in Europe than in the US, which means you will fry you're your electronics if you aren't careful. Also the plugs are different. Most modern electrical appliances (computers, cell phone chargers, ipod chargers) can use both voltages. But you need to check the appliance first, there will usually be a "power brick" on the appliance or plug. This is a label that will show something like "input 100V – 220V". Just check your cell phone charger for an example. If it says this, all you need is a plug adaptor as the appliance is built to take both voltages. If it says only 110V, then you need a stepdown transformer to convert the 220 v to 110v and a plug adaptor. Without it you will definitely fry your appliance. You can buy travel kits with plug adaptors and transformers at best buy for $30. Definitely should get one of these.
4. Passports. I'm sure you may know this already, but make copies of your passport and store them separately from your passport. If you get it stolen this will really expedite you getting a new passport. This happened to my brother in law when he was in Thailand after he got his passport stolen, it definitely helped him get back in time to make our wedding.
5. Lodging. I've found that the best way to find dependable recommendations for lodging is to use but tripadvisor
. It's my bible for finding lodging in different cities and in different countries. They rank their lodging so it's relatively easy to find a good place quickly. I usually try to find a hotel that ranks in the top 10% of the hotels ranked for that particular city. Everytime I've booked a hotel, it's exactly what has been represented on the website. Lots of photos and tons of user reviews.
6. Phone. Alice's iphone worked throughout Italy and Greece. It was really really convenient. Check if your phone works in other parts of the world by calling your carrier and activating a plan if you need to. Otherwise you can always get a phone that's pre paid at your destination. Either way it's worth it to have a number people can call and also for you to call around while you are there.
7. Hostels. If you're staying at hostels, bring a travel cable lock to lock your luggage to some furniture as well as flip flops for the showers. You never know how clean or safe its going to be, better safe than sorry!
8. Communication. If you're going with a group of friends, bring walkie talkies (2 way radios). They are soooo valuable if you need to split up. I have walkie talkies that are rated to go 21 miles, (of course they don't, more like 1 mile) but they work great for all situations.
9. Laundry. If you go for more than one week, you'll inevitably be doing laundry on your trip. They sell "sink" packets of detergent at Rite aid or other pharmacies in their travel section. Basically they're packets of concentrated liquid detergent that you can wash one sink full of clothes, perfect for doing small loads by hand. Really handy, saves time and money, hee hee.
10. Personal Hygene. Bring baby wipes or wet wipes. Sounds funny, but sometimes you won't be able to take a shower because you'll be travelling so you can use these. They totally come in handy. Like taking a little mini shower on the go.
11. Laptop. If you are going to be in hotels, most of the hotels have wireless or wired internet. If you need to stay in touch, it's not a bad idea to bring one and it beats having to search out for internet cafes. If you are staying in hostels, probably wouldn't recommend bringing one as you can't safely secure it.
12. Weird stuff. Bring fabrique softener sheets. I know it sounds weird, but you can pack them next to your dirty clothes and they'll end up smelling new again. I know, kinda gross but it really works.
I hope these are helpful, I know everyone has their own travel tips, care to share? By the way, I thought I'd post a couple of my pics from my travels...enjoy!
Bora Bora, French Polynesia