Monthly Archives: September 2008

Travel tips of the week: Week 4

Here we are back to what hopefully will be my regular weekly travel tips. I am always looking forward to suggestions, so feel free to fire off an email (please no spam) to me at joc.travelalongtheway @ ymail.com

 

  1. Iron your clothes when you pack them. Not only will they be wrinkle free when you get to your destination they’ll also pack smaller.
  2. Use the “cookie pocket” of your bra to store cash. Access it while in the bathroom or another discreet place.
  3. When traveling to foreign country learn: Yes, No, Hello, Goodbye, thank you, right, left, straight. Who, what, where, when, how, a numbers 1-10 in the native language. A little bit goes along way.
  4. Bring a disposable water proof camera. Perfect for when you don’t want to risk ruining your good camera or when you want a stranger to take a picture for you. Disposable cost next to nothing if is damage or lost.
  5. Walking on cobble stone in stiletto heels is a skill we should be able to put on our resume/CV. It’s not for the faint hearted or those without medical insurance.
  6. Take the train or the bus and don’t travel in the tourist car in order to get more authentic experiences.
  7. Aside from Bhutan most places can be done cheaper and more effectively on your own. Stray away from the group tours.
  8. Pack a memory card reader, download your pictures and send them home/burn a CD instead of bring your laptop.
  9. On second thought memory cards are relatively cheap brings lots and worry about it when you get home.
  10. Something or someone can only ruin your vacation if you let them. Laugh it off and go back to enjoying your trip.
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What to do with extra vacation time

I have been extremely fortunate that I work for a company who is extremely supportive of my wanderlust and has granted me what ever time off I need when ever I want it. This company, a restaurant, is very old and need of major repair. Practically falling apart at the seams basically. Because of this, we’ll be closing sometime in January for about a month to complete our renovations. I wish I had known this sooner; I would have started saving earlier, but C’est La Vive.

Obviously I cannot save enough to go away for the whole month, besides they are hopping that I would work at least some of the time at our sister restaurant(s). So I figured it out, I can save a maximum of $2400 between now and then at 300$ every pay.  One of my coworkers is interested in traveling with me, however due to personal issue going on in her life she may not be able to come with me.

Currently the destinations I have been mauling over are:

Margarita Island, Venezuela. Leaving January 16th, 2009 all inclusive including airfare 7 nights for $940. Offered by http://www.tripcentral.ca.  

The Pros of the location:

·        Great Price for all inclusive including airfare

·        Will be able to tick South America off the list.

·        Good exchange rate.

The Cons of the location:

·        Have relatives who have visited the island before who are adamant that the Margarita Island is no safe. Bad experience with bug infestations of the room, armed guards at the resort who were intimidating and always trying to bum cigarettes of them. A Canadian couple was apparently mugged and injured to the point they needed to be airlifted to a hospital.

 

Vadereo, Cuba.  Leaving January 16th, 2009, all inclusive including airfare for 7 nights for > $700. Offered again by http://www.tripcentral.ca .

 

The pros of this location:

·        Fantastic price

·        Will be my default destination if I am unable to afford and save up for a different trip.

·        Decent exchange rate

 

The Cons of the location:

·        Will not be able to tick a new continent of the list.

·        Located east of Havana. On the beach but not much else to do if I have to travel alone.

·        Public transportation maybe hard to use if I want to explore the rest of the country by myself.

 

Venice, Italy. Leaving end of January airfare and hotel only from $1400. Offered by http://www.expedia.ca using make your own vacation package feature.

When I decided to use some of the time off work due to the renovations as travel time, I had originally planned that I would head south to somewhere warm. However I am in need of some mammoth cheering up after hearing my ex-love of my life has had a child and is getting married, thus Venice, as my “happy place” became an option.

The Pros of this location:

·        Okay price for airfare and hotel that is located in Venice near the train station.

·        Is my “happy place”, I am guarantee to enjoy my trip whether I am alone or traveling with someone.

·        Great photo opportunities.

 

The Cons of the location:

·        Poor CAN/EUR conversion. 1$ = 1.50€

·        Costs more then the other trips and do not even include food.

·        Long travel time.

·        Will not be able to tick off a new continent.

 

 

Now the down side to all of the trips. If I take a trip in January I will not be able to do Uganda for sure. I will still be able to go to Africa, just not as long.  

I still have time to decide… Any suggestions?

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Top 10 travel tips of the week. Week 3

Well this week travel tips are going to be a little different. To make up for last week, there will be 16 tips instead of the then normal 10. Enjoy, and again feel free to leave a comment or email me at joc.travelalongtheway@ymail.com.

 

  1. Heard to local clothing customs. Not only will you fit in better and be lesser pray for tourist related crime, but usually local customs are better suited for that area climate.
  2. When bring home fragile souvenir items use the socks you packed to wrap around and stuffed inside so they’ll be less likely to break and you will take up less space in your bags.
  3. Use sites like tripadvisor.com with care and take the advice and reviews with a grain of salt.  Reviews can be left from rueful first time travelers who don’t know better, people happy with their stay, competitors trying to curve things in their favor etc.
  4. On long or short trips pack some fabric softeners in your bag. They’ll keep it smelling good.
  5. Not even criminals are desperate enough to go rooting through your pads and tampons. Hide your money in one of the wrappers or in between them. Also a great way to sneak your camera into concerts.
  6. Be careful about what you say to people when your traveling. It’s great to chat with and make new friends, but some things need to be private. Details of your itinerary, budget, room number. If it may put you at risk if your new friend is not so friendly, don’t tell them.
  7. Relax not everyone your meet while traveling is out to rob your blind or ruin your vacations.
  8. Indigenous products makes great souvenirs.
  9. Have a small suitcase packed and ready to go for those spur of the moment trips.
  10. Pack a small light weight candle and holder for those smelly hostel rooms or when you need some help relaxing.
  11. Fanny packs scream tourist and please rob me!
  12. Use your credit cards to book your airfare,hotel, rental and buy major purchases. If something goes wrong it’ll be easier to recover your money and fix a problem if you paid with cash or debit.
  13. Brings lots of batteries (even better rechargeable batteries) and memory cards. They can be extreamly expensive on the road especially if you have to buy them by a tourist site.
  14. Keep pictures of your friends and family back home. They’ll be great reminders when you are home sick. And great ice breakers with people you meet during your travel.
  15. Some times it just pays to throw an atlas at the wall and what ever country is mapped out the page.
  16. Purell hand sanitiser. There are some very gross subway stations out there.
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No Travel tips this week

Due to some internet issue there will be no travel tips this week. Sorry

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Top 10 Songs for the road.

Another top 10 song list. I love music almost as much as I love traveling. Any suggestions for songs for the road?

1. Tiny Dancer – Elton John http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Qn3tel9FWU

2. Born to Be Wild- Steppenwolf http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xm5DPlNCmtk

3. Highway to hell- AC/DC http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erJc4dzZ3IA

4. Free Bird- Lynyrd Skynyrd http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1mCQKuvzCM

5. Bat out of Hell – Meatloaf http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAqbMoeUrYU

6. Little Red Corvette by Prince (No Video. Apparently Prince requested everything related to him be muted)

7. Hotel California – The Eagles http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EhpyRjNNqs

8. Santeria- Sublime http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7yR8kWhBMk

9. Take the Long Road and Walk it – The Music http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ospxlZZM2Hw

10. Song 2 – Blur http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0Xl0ZEKJzo

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Backpack in Africa or Volunteer Work in Uganda.

Lately I have been thinking about my trip to Uganda. Now while without a doubt I will be setting foot on Africa soil next summer.  I have been wondering if spending a month volunteering in Uganda is the way to go. I do have a list of things I want to do before I “kick the bucket”. To live in another country, to volunteer more, to visit africa, are three things on my bucket list.

Those three things would be sucessfully completed if I went on my Ugandan trip. However I also think this may be my last trip for a while or ever. I do plan on going back to school so that means money would be tight. I would love to buy my own house, once again money will be tight. Plus as I get older I fear time and abilty might inhibbit my opertunaties to travel. So obviously I want to travel and see as much as possible in on shot. So backpacking around africa would be the better bet then. Perhaps?

I guess I have a lot thinking to do, and number crunching to see what is also better value.

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Top 10 Travel Tips of the Week. Week 2

According to last weeks stats my first weekly top 10 travel tips was rather popular. I am glad to see it. Feel free to pass the URL for this blog along and leave a comment. What do you think should be a top 10 travel tip, do you agree or disagree with my list? Let me know.

 

  1. Always pack a few days worth of clothes and necessities in your carry on in case your luggage goes missing. Even better  go carry on only.
  2. Roller luggage is only good at the airport. Cobble stone, dirty roads or uneven roads plus tiny plast wheels equals one big pain in the butt! Learn this one the hard way.
  3. When researching your destination search with blog at the end i.e. Uganda blog. It’ll bring up some rather interesting personal accounts of the destinations.
  4. On bus tours arm yourself with hand sanitizers and a good guide book. Don’t feel like you have to stay with the sheep heard when you’re on a tour.
  5. If you have a sensitive stomach but want to drink local water while you are there. Consider taking a bottle of water you’re use to drink and mix the two, slowly adding more local water and less water from home. This will help get your stomach use to the water and keeping upsetting it to a minamale.
  6. Make sure the water is safe to drink first!
  7. When packing only bring things you don’t mind throwing away if it came down to that or another souvenir, or even if your bag becomes too heavy and you want to lighten it up along the way.
  8. I always pack one roll of toilet paper no matter where I am going. I could be staying at the Ritz and there will still be a roll of toilet paper in my bag. Beyond the obvious, like duct tape there are several other uses for it. For example packing fragile items.
  9. Pack a small disposable camera to use when you want strangers to take a picture for you.
  10. Forget trying to not look like a tourist. People will know you’re a tourist the moment you open your mouth. However try not to look like a dumb tourist. Money belts worn as a money belt. Purse straps around your body. Dont flash large amount of money in public and so forth.
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Uganda Resource Links

Just a quick post with some links of sites I will be referring too while planning my trip.

http://www.peacecorpswiki.org/Uganda – Wow this is a gold mine! While a lot of sites about Uganda seem to focus on either tourism or past political history. This site designed for people in the Peace Corps but in a wikipedia format has plenty of information that is useful as a volunteer.

http://www.mcgill.ca/africa/go/ – Now I am not going to Africa with Mcgill University, however their site for their students has allot of relevant information that will be useful for me.

http://traveluganda.co.ug/ – A site gear towards tourist who are planning a safari type trip but still has some useful basic info on Uganda.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations – Normally when I use a guide book I perter to use Frommer’s. Just because I use their style. However since Frommer’s doesn’t have a book on Uganda or really any books on African countries a side from Egypt, South Africa and as a of this year (or early next) Kenya, I am using Lonely Planet guide book. Instead of buying the whole book I used there mix and match chapter service and bought only the relevant chapters.

http://www.voyage.gc.ca – Essential Information for Canadian aboard. Country information, resources for Canadian overseas, link to registered with Canadian Embassies and other useful information.

http://www.visituganda.com/ – Tourism site for Uganda. I do not think it’s the official site, not 100% sure. Seems to be geared towards upper class tourist.

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ug.html – US government site on countries. This is the site I use to use in school when doing research.

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Top 10 Travel Tips of the Week.

I like top 10 list and I like to travel so it only makes sense to start a weekly top 10 travel tips blog.

  1. Take pictures at the Pyramid entrance at the Louver but enter through the back entrance to avoid long lines.
  2. Exchange only enough money to get you to your hotel from the airport and your first meal. ATMS at your destination offer better exchange rates. Beware of your bank’s fees for international withdrawls.
  3. Exit Seats and bulkhead rows have the most leg room. All so towards the back of the plane where the rows start to have less seats in them. Use sites like http://www.seatguru.com to see where the best seats are on your flight. It’s well worth paying extra to pick your seat on long flights – even short flights.
  4. Using your cell phone over sea is expensive. You are charged Airtime roaming PLUS long distance if not calling a number in the city that you are currently in PLUS you use your regular minutes. Buy calling cards for better long distance rate while avoiding the extra fees and keep your cell phone for emergency only.
  5. For long stays in one place consider mailing your luggage there to avoid hassle of checking it in and dragging your luggage around the airport.
  6. Ipods/ Media players and PDA’s are life savers for light packing. Not only do they store all your music, but they can store your pictures, address and travel information all in one device.
  7. Travel in the off season for the best deals, travel at the end of busy season to get the pros of both seasons.
  8. Don’t fall for beggars throwing a baby at you. Chances are it is just a doll. Beware of group of children and your things.
  9. When traveling especially popular tourist destinations, place wallet in your front pockets. Your purse strap across your chest and underneath your jacket or hoodie. If you are using a backpack or something similar wear it on your chest or use a luggage lock to prevent pick pocketing. Always keep an eye on your things while sitting at restaurants, parks, and public washrooms.
  10. Pay with cash or credit card, as debit purchases rarely work.
  11.  

    Do you agree or disagree? What are your top 10 travel tips?

       

     

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