Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What are your travel tips?

I found this list of basic travel tips recently (yes, I know recently I've been re-posting a lot of other people's pages, but there's just so much good stuff out there to share!).  I thought I'd add a couple of my own tips:

-Tell your bank you are leaving the country.  Travellers' cheques are pretty outdated nowadays, and bureaux de change will generally screw you.  Just use your ATM card to get one large pile of cash when you arrive.  Make sure you have a PIN that is no longer than 6 digits!  And in Europe, where chip-and-pin cards are used, be warned that some small businesses cannot swipe American cards (a rare but annoying problem).

-Don't plan too far in advance.  It never works.  But not too last-minute, either -- I find when I'm on the road for a while, booking things three of four days before I do them is a good balance of not paying too much and not being trapped into plans I end up breaking.

-You never need as many shoes as you think you do.

-Ditto jewelry, makeup -- all those little things that are part of your daily routine at home somehow matter less when you're abroad.

-DON'T DRESS LIKE YOU'RE IN THE JUNGLE.  Unless, of course, you are in the jungle.  I am a city girl, and I have never understood why tourists dress in khaki and sensible shoes and big hats and photographers' vests, with huge bottles of water... I mean, it's Boston.  Or London.  Or New York, Paris, Tokyo, Edinburgh, Prague, blah blah blah. You can buy water when you need it.  Just dress like you would at home!

-If you're somewhere where you look enough like the locals, try being quiet for a while.  Americans naturally talk loudly, and have NO IDEA most of the time!  Also, it gives you a chance to absorb the culture and see what being treated like a local teaches you.

-You don't need high-tech clothes.

Any tips I am missing?  I guess mine are generally more cultural than practical...

2 comments :

  1. Good tips, but I have a different opinion on a few of them.

    The myth that you can blend into a country like a local is hilarious to me. Locals will always be able to tell you're a tourist.

    As for khaki cargo pants, many people are traveling to more than just big cities on a trip. Cargo pants are comfortable in both cities and jungles, but jeans don't work well in jungles.

    Buying specific clothes for each destination is just as silly (if not more so) as a photographer's vest. Both are a waste of money & natural resources!

    I'll take comfort & convenience over fashion any day! Local people laughing at me is the least of my worries... I actually enjoy it a bit.

    Plus on the opposite side of the coin, I find it funny watching tourists trying too hard to fit in. But to each his (or her) own! ;-)

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  2. That's fair -- I guess without realizing it I was tailoring to urban, western travelers.

    But I will say that when I have been living abroad (and able to blend in enough), it's been amazing how much more I pick up when I am quiet. As soon as you're in a group, with friends, suddenly the volume goes up, the awareness goes down, and you sort of self-segregate without meaning to!

    If you ARE int he wilderness, however -- by all means, high-tech clothes. They saved me on a couple of hikes!

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