These past few years, I have traveled to several regions and countries that are quite far away from home. As I traveled, certain aspects about how different a place may be from what I’m familiar with is become more apparent. Things that I take for granted too.
Depending on what country it is, cost of living may be lower than where I’m from. Although, if I’m unfamiliar with the currency of the country, that can be a hard thing to tell, especially if the rates are not dividable by 10 without a remainder. Well, 2 and 5 too, but that requires more thinking. However, some products, especially ones produced from my country, or an another country, may be more expensive than back home if you calculated the exchange rate of the price you see there. Although, for some places, spending $100 (around there, and something like that in other currencies, and stated price might be before/after tax, and if the store participates) would allow you to refund the tax.
While planing for traveling, try to avoid those “travel packages”: you might be paying for things like hotel accommodation that may cost more, and/or things that you might not need. On top of that, you might be rushed from place to place like a heard with perhaps an inflexible schedule. You may look at a brochure at a travel agency and find it expensive, but keep in mind of what it’s made up of and you might be able to plan for a trip that would cost less. Mine makes up of the following order:
- Deciding roughly where and when to go – So you know where you are going, and see if you have free time / take time off work around that time.
- Booking the flight – some flights do not fly daily, or the cost of the plane ticket might be cheaper on certain days. It might also be cheaper to land in one airport, and depart from an another, than to backtrack to the airport you arrive in. Some airlines might have hidden discounts for certain routes and flights.
- Booking accommodation – Feel free to use sites that searches room rates, types, location and availability for you, but you may want to check with the website of the hotel in question directly if they offer cheaper rates. Also note that you might pay less if you pay the fees in cash of the currency of the country it’s in, but check with the hotel if cash payment is even accepted. The nights you might spend with overnight travel, or being at the airport because of a late arrival or early departure, should also be considered into the dates you would be staying at the hotel.
- (optional) Do not tell others that you are even going for a trip – Especially if you want to go alone: you wouldn’t want people you may not go along well to come along or being asked to buy something that would be troublesome for you to get or bring around.
- Bring as little clothes as possible – Hotels might provide a service that washes your clothes, or at least have a laundromat near the hotel. Clothes may seem light, but several clothes packed in a bag can add kilograms to its weight. Weight is something you want to reduce/avoid when taking a plane, or at least bring around.
- Electrical Plugs – Don’t forget to check the voltage, frequency, and the type of socket of the country you are visiting: it may be completely different from your home country. However, IT devices like mobile phone chargers and laptops usually are already designed to handle all the differences, except the plug itself. Things like bulbs and those with a motor…. maybe not.
Also, the things you bring along, including the bag that you bring your stuff in, should also be considered. That bag with wheels and a retractable handle attached weighs more and has fewer storage area than bags of the same design without them.
Among the places I’ve been to, the most eye opener was traveling through the towns and villages of Malaysia as practically almost every aspect of what I’m familiar with is very different: food, layout of places, *cough* waste management *cough*, transport infrastructure, the way people dressed, and so on. They are all very different from what I’m (very) used to back home. Food from back home itself is also hard to find.
Of course, not everywhere is safe. Try to dress and behave in a way that do not attract attention, though this particular step can be ambiguous: people of a country may not even bat an eyelid, but the same thing in an another can attract attention. Hard to tell, but how developed a country is, and/or how conservative/religious the people are, is usually related. Traveling in groups (females especially) can be better when the safety from being attacked is questionable.