Thursday, July 16, 2020

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How to Pack Wisely: Tips for Frequent Travelers

Aside from booking airfare tickets, packing up is one of the most challenging tasks that savvy travelers have to endure. Well, this applies to almost everyone, except for those who squeeze a year’s worth of stuff in their bags for a weeklong holiday vacation. On the other hand, some travelers pack too lightly, so much so that they forget to bring the most essential things like medicines and even passport! Listed here are some suggestions on how to pack wisely.

  • Pack only the clothes that you will really use. Stuffing all your wardrobe in your bag is never a wise way to pack even if you are traveling for more than a month. For longer travels, you can just bring just a reasonable number of items to wear and wash them right after using.
  • Roll your clothes. Instead of folding your outfits individually, you can maximize the space of your travel bag by rolling them. This packing technique works best with skirts, pants, and shirts. Another recommended method is folding clothes together to prevent wrinkles or creases in the folds.
  • Keep a digital copy of your important documents. Misfortunes such as lost passport and stolen credit cards can happen even to the most careful travelers. You will never know when they will strike, so it always pays to be prepared. Scan your passport, tickets, and other travel documents and send the digital copies to your email. You must also keep a copy of the emergency hotlines of your credit card or ATM card, which will come in handy in case it gets lost or stolen.
  • If you’re using a backpack, put all the stuff you use most often on top. That way, you won’t have to rummage through all the contents of your bag just to get a single item. You can make your bag feel lighter by putting the heavier items on top and the lighter ones at the bottom, as this makes the pack rest on your lower back.
  • Use airtight plastic bags. Doings so helps eliminate the mess that comes from the toiletries and dirty clothes. Plastic bags are handy because they can keep the contents of your bag organized and neat. Sort the items according to type (e.g. toiletries, underwear, shorts, etc.) and put them into different plastic bags. This makes accessing a particular item a lot easier.
  • Put all your valuables in a carry-on bag. It helps to bring a bag that you can take with you all the time so that you can easily access important items like medicines, cash, and mobile phone. Your carry-on bag should be small enough to keep under the seat and large enough to accommodate larger items like laptop and gadgets.
  • Bring only a few toiletries. Don’t stack up on toiletries in your baggage as if tomorrow’s the end of the world. Also, store items such as shampoo and toothpaste in small containers. You will be surprised at the amount of space you are going to save.

All these travel tips on how to pack wisely boil down to one important point: do not overpack your baggage for the sake your safety and convenience.

How to Find a Travel Companion that’s Compatible with You

Hate going solo on your next travel? Why not consider sharing a trip with a travel companion? While some things are better done alone, traveling is definitely not one of them. Having a companion during your travel gives you the peace of mind that in case something bad happens, somebody will surely help you.

And of course, all pleasant and happy experience in a trip becomes all the more special if you share it with someone, that is, if you’re traveling with a good travel buddy.

On the other hand, traveling with a rather unpleasant companion will definitely spoil the fun and may even test your patience. This is why choosing a good companion is very important in a truly unforgettable travel. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when selecting who will accompany your to your next trip.

1. Choose someone you know very well.

Make sure that you are quite familiar with any quirk that your companion may have. Why? If you don’t, you might end up sharing the hotel room with someone whose neurotic behavior will drive you nuts. You don’t want to deal with someone who spends three hours just for bathing and grooming or someone who is too repacking his or her things. Most especially, you don’t want who would rather argue with you all day about everything than enjoy the attraction you’re visiting.

2. Choose a companion who shares your interests.

It would be very difficult to travel with a person whose interests greatly differ from yours. You would be better off traveling on your own if that is the case. How can you enjoy hopping from one bar to another when your travel buddy is more interested in attending theater performances or concerts? It doesn’t mean, though, that you should be together all day. But it would help a lot for both of you if you have several common interests. You can, for example go separate ways during daytime and then meet for some drinks in a bar at night.

3. Put your potential companion to a road test.

This tip may prove to be useful if you are on the lookout for a long-term travel buddy. You can invite a friend or colleague over your home to a dinner or plan a weekend picnic in a great place within your area. Observe how comfortable you are with each other, particularly when you share a room or even bed. Also, take note of any habits that you could tolerate. If you can live with your companion’s smoking habit, then that should not be a problem when you go on a holiday trip together.

Traveling with a companion is a very good idea, especially if you are the type who easily feels lonely being alone and having no one to talk to throughout your trip. Finding the best travel companion is not difficult at all since you can choose anyone from your relatives, friends, and colleagues. If you think no one fits your criteria, then traveling solo might be better for you.

Essentials in Travel

Your passport is only one of the few essential things you must remember to bring along with you when you travel. Yes, there’s sunscreen, guidebooks, your camera, and mobile phone. Also there are other important travel documents that you must have handy if you plan on crossing several borders on your trip. You don’t want to be the only one of your friends to have to trudge back home from the airport, not having been admitted entry to another country because you were missing some identification.

There’s also the first aid. Fun’s no fun if you have the sniffles plaguing you all throughout. There’s nothing like a fever that’s coming down on you like a ton of bricks to take the cool factor off of the trip. It pays to be healthy when you’re tromping along the fields and gawking around the sights of another country.

But these are the basics. While we don’t forget our MP3s, our guidebooks, our extra shirts or lucky hat, we forget the most basic of all: respect.

Sometimes we judge without thinking, comparing things with how they are back home. They’re supposed to be different. Learn to deal with the difference. Respect it. Observe the locals’ traditions, their ways. Watch without passing judgment. Don’t blunder about, thinking what you do at home is acceptable. See if it is. If it’s not, adjust.

Also, don’t forget to bring along a sense of humor. There are plenty of surprises that chance could spring on you when you’re on the road. Having the wit to laugh off even the most awful slip-ups or mishaps could keep your trip from turning into a disastrous jaunt, keeping it on a fun and thrilling keel.

So you have respect. And humor. If it’s not too much of a stretch for you, you could also try for a little kindness.

Most of the tourist-friendly places in the world aren’t first-world countries. They’re mostly the poor nations, where good-paying jobs are hard to come by and the majority of people survive on their wit and skills rather than their wealth or trust funds. Residents of these countries often work in the tourism industry to earn a few extra money everyday to help out in their families. They offer to drive you around, serve as your guide, provide you with transportation and basically try to make your stay a lovely and pleasant one.

When it’s time to go, don’t stiff them. Don’t pay them through the nose. They’ve worked hard to earn a living. While not all guides are hard-working or likable or charming, there are really the remarkable ones, the ones who stand out, who were kind to you, who did try to make your stay as fun as possible. Hand over an extra dollar or two if you think their service has been worth it. So long as they’ve earned it.

We’re not saying give them money because they don’t have a lot of it. We’re saying learn to appreciate the efforts that other people have put into making your stay a great one, in whatever country you are. People who made you respect them with their hard work and kindness.

It’s important to pay them back in kind, in travel and life.

Backpack Traveling

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They have been called several names, some complimentary, some humorous, and some downright derogatory tags.

Who are they?

 

The most fitting of all is probably extreme budget travelers.

The Desire To Travel On A Budget

Why travel at all if you only have such meager resources in places halfway around the world all on your own?

The extreme situation is actually exciting for them and is part of the bunch of reasons why they traveled at all.

They get the satisfaction knowing that they are seeing the world and they are spending only pennies to do it.

The most experienced backpackers (their other nickname) actually recommend this kind of travel.

They usually tell their messages to young people. (Of course, one can see several sixty-something guys in shorts and undershirts huffing around famous tourist places.)

What price are you willing to pay to get the best things in life?  

Time, Money, Barter, Sacrifice, Energy, Education

Aside from being the most economical way to travel (to make your budget and your travel days last longer), backpackers insist everything they do is part of a learning experience.

They stress blending in and learning the people’s culture as much as possible.

On their part, they learn to be flexible and be able to change plans as much as they like, moving slowly across each unbeaten track. (This could mean staying for a few weeks or months or years even, if they like the place so much.)

They learn and they enjoy taking things in stride because there are no responsibilities and no deadlines to make.

They also stress this is one way to grow and it is necessary to be open to all possibilities at all times.

Amenities

For the layman, there are some questions to be answered, though.

What does extreme budget travel means? How do they live? What things do they leave out?

All of them already learned how to forget private rooms or baths or kitchens.

For around five dollars, most of what you get is shared rooms, dormitory-style in any part of the world. (Some invest on ear plugs or some sleeping pills as a last resort to noisy snorers and talkers in their sleep.)

They also learn to forget favorite foods from home.

They must learn to eat cheap local foods rich in carbohydrates.

The downside is that one will likely be repeating those meals all throughout. Bananas (and other recognizable fruits) might be expensive but there could be other cheap discoveries around.

Don’t Overlook Your local adventures

Living on a budget and with the locals requires them to learn to integrate themselves with the culture.

This means that aside from enjoying the food, they must learn to dance the music and speak the language (or be intelligible at least).

Best of all, they must learn how to commune with nature in those local parts of the world since that is what they travel for in the first place. The fun part is that all of it is free.

 

Are You A Backpack Traveler?

There are several ways to travel – travel light, travel fast, travel in style, or doing your travel backpack style. In this list, backpack traveling gets the most flak from people who knew very little what it means, especially about the people who do travel backpack style. One thing is for certain – backpack travelers pay the cheapest.

From the experienced backpackers themselves, backpack traveling is one great way to travel around the world on the cheap. You learn to be frugal and be able to exercise your creativity when faced with challenging situations, mostly in regards to your way of traveling.

Of course, this extreme budget traveling (as they call it) is not everyone’s cup of tea. Through the years, backpackers had earned some bad press and people kept that in their minds.

There seems to be a collective indifference from the backpackers themselves regarding these allegations. After all, they had been picked up from some insignificant incidents, unfairly magnified to no end, and finally came out totally different from real events or situations.

A backpacker myth or two

Some misconceptions about backpackers are downright crass and insulting. Here are a couple of printable ones.

One pervading fiction about backpackers is that they have no idea of personal hygiene (modern day hippies and hobos), are mostly rude to other people, and have no sense of being fair. They want to get their way around the locals, because after all, they are tourists.

From the backpackers themselves who are inviting others to travel like them, the emphasis is more of “blending in, and living like the people… [and] to develop a better understanding of the culture.”

They also do take a bath, brush their teeth and change clothes regularly like regular guys.

Backpacks – to carry or not?

Critics usually over-emphasize the backpacker’s oversized backpacks on their backs. They say it contradicts the backpackers’ claims of “blending in” with the locals.

They say local people do not usually move around with huge backpacks on their backs. The locals use standard, regular luggage: suitcases, duffel bags, rolling bags and other variations, but not a backpack.

What supposedly happens is that while riding buses and trains, backpackers usually earn the ire of people because they obstruct or hurt them when backpackers move around toting these oversized backpacks.

Being mobile

Backpackers retaliate by saying the only thing correct in the critics’ allegation is the presence of the backpack. What is wrong is that they do not carry humongous versions of the bag.

What is true is that backpackers are on the move most of the time. When they do, they actually pack light and simply live on what they find around.

A few changes of clothes, some personal items (toothbrush, nail cutters), and some essentials are all they bring out when going on a trip around their new place.

They usually veer away from familiar, beaten tracks. They are more into nature tripping especially if the views (beaches, forests, caves, mountains and streams) look totally different from those at home.

Another big reason is, again, the fact that these places are usually free for everyone to enjoy. Are you a backpack traveler?

Adventure Travel for the Free-Spirited Individual

vacation

Adventure tourism is now one of the fastest growing trends in travel business. It started with Leo Le Bon who co-founded the world’s first adventure travel company—Mountain Tours with other eight travel mates. Le Bon and others made the first commercial journey to the Annapurna region of Nepal. Since then, the travel business grew rapidly resulting to a plethora of travel companies that offer adventure vacations.

Classifying an adventure travel however pose a little difficulty in defining what exactly it means. Adventure travel depends on the level of strenuousness of activities involved. Adventure may involve leisure biking and hiking for some travelers or it may entail base jumping into an underground cave in Mexico.

Nevertheless, a travel involves some fundamental aspects to be classified as adventure. Adventure travel typically includes going to far-flung areas, intermingling with various cultures, and doing a physical activity.

Two categories of adventure travel are hard and soft adventures. Hard adventures fall under extreme and mostly dangerous sporting activity. Examples of hard adventures are rock climbing, surfing, paragliding, and scuba diving in remote locations. Soft adventures, on the other hand, are leisure activities that are often educational. It does not involve strenuous activity unlike hard adventures. Bird watching, religious pilgrimages and architectural tours fall under soft adventures.

But you might wonder who usually embark on an adventure travel? Travel Industry Association of America’s (TIA) study indicated an estimated 20 percent of adult travelers are adventure tourists. It is also parallel to The Wall Street Journal reporting in 2003 that revenues from adventure tourism has skyrocketed topping the adventure market with $245 million dollars.

While many studies say college-educated males in their 20s typically embark on hard adventures, it is harder to categorize people who go for soft adventures. They say baby boomers and seniors significantly affect the rise of number of soft travelers. However, adventure-seeking women have also substantially caused the continuous growing of the industry. For example, divorcees ages 40 and 60 usually turn to adventure travel as a shift into new lives.

In addition, adventure travels are physically and psychologically beneficial both men and women. Physical challenges like mountain climbing require both physical fitness and focus. It develops muscles as well as serves as an excellent mental workout. Achieving difficult tasks also help build self-esteem especially for people in midlife crisis.

There are several options to what kind of adventure travel fits a specific type of person. But you should determine first how adventurous you would like to be. A travel agency may actually help steer you through the multitude choices that you will face.

Sports-themed vacations are well-liked for athletes. Examples of these are baseball fantasy camps and NASCAR driving schools. Safari is one example of soft adventures popular to many of varying ages. This may involve driving and walking through the African plains and come into close contact with lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo.

Longtime popular destinations are the Seven Wonders of World that include biking and hiking to these locales. Some of the world wonders include pyramids of Egypt, expedition to Antarctica, cultural tour in Japan and Ethiopia, the Great Wall of China, and Taj Mahal in India.

If you opt to have an adventure travel however, be sure to be safe as much as possible. Take note that adventure travel has inherent danger involved.

Travel Q&A: The European Union

Question: “I live in America, and I’m going on holiday to Spain next summer. I’d also like to go to Italy, and I know I can drive there from Spain. My question is about my passport; will I need to show it when I cross the border from Spain to Italy and vice versa? I know they’re both in the European Union, so I’m not sure if normal border controls apply. If at all possible, I’d rather not carry my passport around with me.”

Answer:

While Spain and Italy are both in the European Union, you will still need your passport and the usual forms of ID – such as medical insurance documentation – to cross the border.

It’s an easy mistake to make. In the United Kingdom, for example, you do not need a passport to cross the border from England to Scotland or Wales to England – so there is a precedent for this thinking. However, the European Union is largely a political union – the countries within it remain separate, and regular border controls apply.

On another note, while it’s understandable that you don’t want to carry your passport with you, in some European countries you are required to do so by law. In Italy, for example, police have the right to stop and ask anyone, at any time, to produce documentation as to their identity. It is therefore worth investing in a money-belt or similar to keep your passport in, so if you do get stopped, you won’t have any problems.

Be Spontaneous With A Surprise Holiday

The concept of a ‘surprise’ holiday may be unpleasant to some; after all, isn’t half the fun of a vacation looking forward to going there? Maybe it is, but if you hanker for something a little spontaneous and fun, then a surprise holiday might just work for you.

The ‘surprise’ aspect of a surprise holiday does not come from a sudden decision to go on holiday, but rather where you go. You can still book the time off work, get a dog sitter in and get your documentation in order: just book a couple of weeks (or however long you have) off like you normally would, and then head to the airport on your first day off.

Here’s where the surprise element comes in; you go to the airport not knowing where you are going with a surprise holiday. Once you reach the airport, you ask at desks for ‘stand by’ seats and last minute deals. As airlines do not like to fly half-empty planes, they will often offer substantial discounts if you can fly that night on a flight that is not fully booked. It’s all about being cheeky and asking.

If all goes to plan, you will make a huge saving on the flight cost and will be presented with a destination. Once you arrive, it is up to you to find your hotel.

It’s a slightly crazy concept, but those who enjoy surprise holidaying swear that is the fun of it. Not knowing where you’re going, what you’re doing or even what type of clothes to pack makes the experience extremely exciting; so if you’ve got the courage, why not give a surprise holiday a go?

All You Need To Know About UK Travel

The United Kingdom – the union name for the countries of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – is one of the most popular tourists destinations in the world, especially the capital of England, London and the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh.

Traveling through the UK – as it is abbreviated to – is fairly simple given the size of the four countries. Three – England, Scotland and Wales – are connected by land. It is possible to travel from the Northernmost point of the UK – John O’Groats in Scotland – to the Southernmost point – Land’s End in England – in a day. Only Northern Ireland is not on the same island as the other three countries in the Union, but is reachable by a short ferry trip, most commonly from Scotland.

As the countries are small and interlinked, UK travel is a surprisingly easy aspect of a vacation there. It is possible to fly domestically, and rail and motorway networks serve the UK well. However, rail travel is very expensive, as was recently evidenced by the first issuing of a return rail ticket costing over £1,000 (around $1,400). There are discounts available, however, especially for foreign visitors on short-term stays.

Flying by air is much simpler, however, and usually cheaper, too. The UK has several major airports, both international and domestic, and flights between the countries are inexpensive and regular. You do not need to show a passport to travel across the country borders, though some form of ID is recommended for air travel.

What Is A Package Holiday?

It may seem like a strange question – “what is a package holiday?” – but it’s one that is searched for by search engine users with surprising regularity. The term ‘package holiday’ has become such common usage in modern society that few people ever explain what they mean when they use it, but for those who don’t know, here’s a quick guide.

The term ‘package holiday’ is used to describe the kind of holiday that takes care of everything itself. You book the entire holidays: flights (or whatever mode of transport you will be using to reach your destination) and hotel package holidays are the most common. These usually include transport to and from the airport; so essentially, it’s the simplest way to go on holiday, and is booked ‘all in one’ rather than paying for the flights, hotel and transfers separately.

Package holidays, however, can mean more than just flights and hotels. They can also include sightseeing or theater trips in the overall price, usually at a discounted rate. Sometimes package holidays can include transport to and from the airport in your home country, so everything really is taken care of.

The beauty of package holidays is the simplicity of them. You simply choose your destination, and the travel agent – be it online or in store – will put together the rest for you. You don’t need to worry about getting to the hotel from a foreign airport, and everything is included in one lump-sum price for ease of budgeting. It’s no wonder, given the convenient one-stop-shop method of holidaying they offer, that package holidays are so popular.