It’s been a while since I posted a how-to post since I’ve been caught up in my writing.
Photo by rockin_the-free_world
Preparing for your trip can be a serious hazard to your stress level. Believe me, I’ve been there. But guess what? It doesn’t have to be.
I did the anal route when I planned for my previous vacation trips to Thailand and Indonesia. You know, the endless googling of hostels, clicking one random link to another taking me god knows where, the incessant perusing of Lonely Planet. It’s often the research that kills me. It’s so passive you could’ve used your five hours of surfing for packing, buying those tickets or even making a reservation to your hostel instead of warming up your ass.
For my trip to Vietnam and Cambodia next month, I decided to just chill. Forget about extensive surfing and cramming every last bit of detail into your notes. This is preparing your trip the lazy way.
Below are some of the steps I did in order to prepare for the trip.
- Let’s say you already picked a country and a date. Check if you need a visa to go to that particular country. You can go to projectvisa for that.
- Get a copy of the Lonely Planet edition or any travel guide of your destination.
- Book your tickets. Read your guide book for better cheap flights to your country or check out Expedia.com although its prices are sometimes not reliable and end up being way too expensive. Since I’m cheap, I usually take budget flights. Around East and Southeast Asia, Tiger Airways, Air Asia, Jet Air and Cebu Pacific (warning: Cebu Pacific is often delayed but awfully cheap) are some of the prime choices. Since they’re budget, there are no free meals or flight entertainment on board. Don’t take Cebu Pacific if you’ve got a connecting flight to your home country in Hong Kong or Singapore. I saw some Brits who missed their expensive connecting flights to London because the plane got delayed. Since it’s budget, the airline wasn’t willing to give them a refund or pay for their stay at the hotel.
- Check your country’s time zone, current exchange rates, plugs and voltage temperature/climate and current events (before I went to Bangkok, there was a bombing two days before I was due to leave. Yup, you guessed it. That still didn’t stop me from going. I draw the line on going to East Timor though). Below are the list of site you can go to check these out:
Time zone- http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/
Exchange rate- www.xe.com
Plugs and voltage- http://whatplug.info/
Temperature and climate- http://www.worldclimate.com/
Current events – www.cnn.com,
- Make a reservation to your hotel or guesthouse or hovel. Keep a copy of your plane tickets nearby when you do this. Check if you’ve got any friends staying in that area. I usually get stuck here googling for reviews. Always check out pictures of the place and its location. Is it convenient? Is the area it’s in noisy? Does the guesthouse have many floors that you have to take the stairs? In my trip to Indonesia, I got stuck in a shady dump with rude guests that garnered rave reviews on Travelfish (your guide to Southeast Asia) so don’t trust them reviews! This time for my Vet/Cam trip —and herein lies the essence of the lazy way— I forego all surfing and just go straight to the source: FRIENDS. I asked them for hostel recommendations. Friends can give you hands down honest to goodness reviews not to mention their experiences, maps, lend you their LP guides and scams they encountered. If you don’t have any friends who have been to an obscure country you’re going to (say Azarbaijan) visit or post questions to travel forums.
- Plan your itinerary (for a lazy way to plan one, click here). Again I buzzed over like a parasite to my friends and leeched them for information on their prepared itineraries or suggestions of top places to go to.
It’s also great to check out travel blogs because they usually write a blow by blow sometimes heart stopping achingly funny riveting storytelling about their travel experiences. You also get to know which places are not worth going and cross them out of your itinerary. No use wasting money. Here are some I usually check out:
Ally’s Trip– Europe and Asia. Hilarious stories!
Ivan About Town – Southeast Asia, backpacking in the Philippines, some parts of Europe and America. Straightforward writing but just don’t mind the annoying ubiquitous Hehe! that he injects in his entries.
- Pack. See My Quick Pack List.
- Plan your to-do list and reminder list for your country. List only the vital to-dos. E.g. in my Vet/Cam to-do: buy souvenirs for family, book a bus to cross to Phnom Penh Cambodia, visit travel agent, buy 3 day temple pass and so on.
You don’t need to follow to follow this list strictly by order. Play around with it but always do Step No. 1 first, of course. You don’t want to be sent back by immigration with tears in your eyes. This is happened to someone I know who went to India assuming she didn’t need a visa and was sent back home.
Remember, the magical thing about the trip is not that everything that goes according to plan but the surprises that sweep you away. That for me, is what makes a trip memorable.
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