Posts tagged travel tip
Posts tagged travel tip
I was talking with my dad on the phone tonight and we had a discussion about the cost of hotels, apartments and houses. One interesting finding for me was that I’ve always tried to do the “cost of housing” calculation by year - never looking at it from a monthly or daily perspective. This may make more sense for travelers, especially those working and traveling like me.
The rule generally goes “rent should be less than 1/3 of your gross (pre-tax) income”. This means if you make $30,000 per year, your rent should add up to no more than $10,000 per year = $834 per month = $28 per day.
Therefore, the cost of your hotel, motel or hostel should be that “per day” number - in this case, $28.
This is more of a moving tip, but since I sold all my stuff and left my house, it’s a travel tip too =)
Change your address on all your accounts, especially bank accounts. Address changes with the USPS only go for 1 year and then they stop forwarding.
DELETE your old address from everywhere you can think of, particularly places that save multiple addresses like Amazon.com and eBay/Paypal. I had an item that I thought of at the last minute shipped from Amazon to my Austin, TX address (where I left) instead of my Springfield, IL one. Luckily it was only a $10 item.
1. Join some groups, add people you already know.
2. Get verified. You will have more people accept you AND, just as important, you’ll show up in more search results and get more people who want to stay with you.
3. Host people! Meet travelers, learn the pain and pleasure of being a host.
4. Join local groups when you start traveling. There are tons of meetups all over the world where you can meet other travelers and locals who want to socialize with you.
Some of the best advice I got was from other travelers. Before you go though (these are awesome, btw):
And of course, don’t forget to google for travel tips.
I kept a ziploc baggie of about 10 of them because I used them every night and didn’t want to use the same ones over and over. Also, they’re small and easy to lose.
I wore them pretty much every night in the Philippines. They protected me from the aural hazards of: traffic, people outside, people inside, roommates in hostels, roosters crowing all night long, early rising/late sleeping family, karaoke, snoring.
I use these Hearos ones specifically. They’re quite comfy. You compress them (like I’ve done in the photo), stick them in your ear and they expand.
English is by far the “universal” language here. No matter where you come from, it’s the language that everyone tries to use if you don’t share a first language. I am lucky for it to be my first language.
Because it is almost everyone’s second language, it becomes a different from what I’m used to. It is a simplified version mixed with the native quirks of the speaker. As a result, I try to modify my American English so that it is more easily understood by all. Some examples of modifications I make depending on the skill level of the person I’m speaking to:
- Idioms, euphamisms and slang are useless. Even simple things like “Sure”, “Alright”, “Fine”.
- I remove all complex words from my vocabulary. Basically, don’t use words you learned after middle school.
- I remove contractions
- I remove verb tense
- I remove verb conjugation
- I try to speak in single, independent clauses.
- Little things you don’t even think about as part of the language start to disappear.. “Mhm”, “Uhuh”, “Nuhuh”.. because nobody understands them or they mean different things to others.
- You start to get rid of the simplest of things. “Hey” and “Hi” become “Hello” instead. “Yup” and “Yeah” become “Yes”.
- Swearing is not well understood by many as people of other cultures oftentimes don’t even swear in their own languages.
My speaking speed has also slowed down a lot. This is probably the best thing I have done to make myself more easily understood and it will probably help me in the US as well - I generally talk rather fast.
In the beginning, it was a conscious modification to my speech; now, it’s just how I sound naturally.
I’ve met a few younger people who have traveled a lot or who live here and found that their English is significantly different as well. They sound like the locals with a sort of broken English, but with American, British or Australian accents.
I don’t expect that this is anything permanent. It’s just interesting that I find myself speaking this way even when I’m talking to a native English speaker.
The rule seems to be: if it is a material good that you can find identical in the US, you’re better off buying it in the US - don’t know how well this applies to other countries.
Not everything is cheaper here. Basically, all non-commodity material goods that you would buy in the US are either the same price or more here. Books, branded clothes, electronics, etc. Buying them here is just like buying it in retail stores in the US.
Which is problematic for me because I’m pretty good about finding deals in the US. We’ve got things like Amazon.com. So for example, this backpack is $25 there.. here at the mall, it’s $42.
You can get Amazon.com stuff shipped to you in the Philippines, but based on everything I’ve read and experienced here, it’s not worth it even if you live here permanently and pretty much impossible if you’re just short-term traveling.
Luckily! I bought most of my stuff in this category while in the US. My one major miscalculation was in having a second bag - one to tote around during the day and as an overflow bag. Also useful for when you have your big bag on the roof of a bus or checked in on a plane - keep your valuables in your smaller bag with you.
Toilets are used differently here than in the States and even many other countries where sqatting is common.
Not all toilets lack a toilet seat, but many do, even in public areas like malls. If you want toilet paper in the mall, you pay for it from a vending machine.
Basically, you squat on the toilet bowl. You clean off by using a bucket (called “tabo” here) with a handle (in the photo, the green bucket inside the giant blue barrel). Pour the water on your butt and wipe with your other hand. Wash your hands after you’re done, of course. More detailed instructions here.
Many toilets don’t have a mechanical flusher on them, so you use the tabo or sometimes a larger bucket in order to flush them by pouring the water manually.
Squatting isn’t new to me.. I do this in the States. The no-toilet-paper thing is strange to me though and doesn’t yet feel comfortable, despite objectively seeming like a much cleaner method.
As far as software goes, this stuff is probably some of the coolest technology I use while traveling. This was especially important while I was traveling in the States back when free wifi wasn’t everywhere you went. While in the Philippines I’ve found that free wifi isn’t very common or reliable, even in wealthy, populated areas.
Probably the best kept secret of the web for travelers currently. If you have a smartphone, you must try this. Get google maps on your phone, go to settings, then Labs. Turn on “Pre-cache map area” and follow the instructions it gives (currently on my android, long press a spot on the map, select the location, hit “Pre-cache map area”). It will download all the map tiles for all the depths in a 10 mile radius. Here’s a post with more detailed instructions and photos.
This lets me walk around without a paper map. In the Philippines, cellphones are ubiquitous and smartphones are rather common. I find that I look like less of a tourist pulling out my phone than I do pulling out a paper map.
Currently on my android it won’t show my current location with just GPS - it wants a data connection. I generally know where I’m going before I go out though and so far I’ve never gotten lost. I usually just look for an intersection and then try to find it on the map.
I probably use this thing 10+ times per day.
Gmail has long been available offline, but the most recent version from the Chrome store is extra badass since it includes a nifty user interface.
On your phone, the setting is sort of hidden on Android:
From within the android gmail client:
scroll down and select labels
change the number of days from which you want messages kept on the phone
change individual labels (effectively folders) to none, this number of days, or all
Google calendar is also available offline: hit the cog wheel thingie in the top right of your google calendar page and the option is in the dropdown. Also you can get the app button and such here.
On your phone, the setting is easy to find on Android under Settings -> Calendar Sync.
This is a simple one. It seems obvious and dumb, but I’ve never read it anywhere else, so I thought I’d share.
While traveling, I carry my own towel. Hostels and other places I stay don’t always have them or they want to charge for them. When hopping from hostel to hostel, hotel to hotel, hotel to plane, you may not want to put a soaking wet towel in your bag. You can put it in a plastic bag for keeping your things dry temporarily, but this isn’t the greatest solution. Also, if you plan to shower multiple times in a day, try this to ensure you’ll always have a dry towel:
Wipe the water off your body with your hands. Start with your head. Press the water out of your hair by flattening it against your head. Brush off your shoulders like you’re brushing off dirt.
Keep going down your body and you’ll find that, especially if you’re not super hairy, you can remove most of the water without a towel.
Also, I use a quick dry towel from MSR. Packs small, dries super quick. I’ve got the XL size because I like to wrap my towel around me.
You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll find.
Before I left, I did a good amount of research. I knew some of the things I wanted to do: see Palawan, see the rice terraces in Northern Luzon, see my family. I wanted to plan some specific dates just to give myself deadlines so I’d stay on track and also to be able to get good deals on tickets and hostels/hotels and such, but I had a bunch of people tell me I shouldn’t. Luckily, even though I disagreed with them, I was lazy at the time and I just didn’t bother. I’m very glad now that I did it the way I did.
Still though, I thought I had a rough schedule in mind. Ideas of where I would be at certain points in my trip. I thought that right now I would be in the rice terraces - I’m not. Not even close.
Pretty much the minute I landed, everything changed. Met an awesome couchsurfing host, left my CS host early because my family had a birthday party that I found out about at the very last minute, learned that the roads up in Northern Luzon were pretty bad because of the rain and recent typhoon (the rice terraces in the north were going to be my first touristy destination) so now I’m planning to go to Palawan first, stayed in Makati City two days longer than I originally planned because I met some people, felt sick one day so I stayed in my hotel and did nothing, stayed in Taytay for 5 extra days because my cousin is leaving for Saudi Arabia for 2 years and I want to be here with her for her last week in the Philippines.
My situation is unique because I’m planning to be here in the Philippines for 4 months. I have a lot of room to be flexible. Adjust your flexibility accordingly.
Anyway, in summary, fuck deadlines. As they say, it’s about the journey, not the destination.
Cool people that you want to talk to don’t sit in “premium” seats like the exit row. The middle seat is the least desirable seat, but gives you access to two people instead of one.
I used to travel for business. I did over 150,000 miles by airplane in two years. One of the perks of flying so much is that you acquire “status” on airlines and often get access to “premium” seating. This doesn’t mean you get first class or business class seating, but usually means access to aisle, window and exit row seating. About 90% of the time I got the best seat on the plane that wasn’t first class (an aisle or window seat in the exit row).
Recently, I went from Austin, TX to Long Beach, CA on Southwest airlines. Southwest doesn’t have any assigned seating - it’s first-come-first-served. During the time that I was flying for business, I was rarely on a path that Southwest took (I flew mostly in the north and the east coast of the US), so I didn’t fly with them. This was a personal trip though and I ended up in a middle seat. I had the most interesting in-flight conversations of my life on that trip… talked to a girl who was in Austin because of some health problems her father had and she ended up giving me some interesting insight into relationships after we started talking about polyamory. The guy on my other side told me about how he was a high voltage electrician, had many children and was going to visit some of them. At some point he brought up “The first time I went to prison…” hahaha. Something about bringing guns back across the border from Mexico. Both had a good amount of alcohol to drink on the way there and we all had a great conversation together the whole way.
Other people who do the same boring shit you do sit in the same “premium” seats as you. You’ll talk to business travelers only and most of the time they don’t want to talk. I look back to that 10% of the time I flew in non-premium seating and realize that those were the times I had interesting conversations. You won’t sit next to any cute, young girls sitting in premium seats either.
The only exception to this rule I can think of is a guy I met in the exit row who had flown over two million miles by air and had Lifetime AAdvantage Platinum status (American Airlines). I always think about him when I think of the movie Up in the Air.
The extension on this rule is simple: it applies to everything, everywhere. If you stay in hostels instead of hotels, you’ll meet other socially active young people instead of 30-something, closed-off, family-minded, suburban-dwelling business people. If you work in a tech startup instead of a government office, same deal. Sometimes you must avoid comfort even when it is handed to you.