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Travel Tips

Raja Ampat

Only plan these few things for your dream trip

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Raja Ampat

When I travel, I prefer to not plan the entire trip in advance, but to be open to whatever comes across along the way. Usually I have an idea about the “best” spots and “must sees” and have an idea of where I might go. I feel traveling this way gives me the freedom to chose “moment by moment” what to do next and allows to go with the flow of meeting people and discovering places once I am there. Also it is a great contrast to a scheduled life back home.

In my experience of extensive traveling it has always been worthy to not book any tour in advance. There were very few instances, when a booking would have been smart, but I could still find a way how things worked, organizing it once I was there. So simply get a local sim card to be able to organize some things at a low costs with some phone calls or even internet access.

However, there are some things I do recommend to plan in advance, which have helped me to have a great and smooth experience.


Great hotel for the first night with airport pickup: I always spoil myself for the first one or two nights with a great hotel to recover from the long distant flight and time shift as well as the busy time I usually had before leaving work for vacation. Since most of the times I do not know the place I am going to, I always ask for an airport pickup, as I will arrive with all my valuables without knowing anything about distances, prices and good or bad taxis.


When no exit seats are available, book a seat in the back and enter the plane last person: This is for sure nothing everyone can do and not everyone will feel comfortable with. However, I love it ever since I started doing it. Very often all exit seats are already booked when I check in online. So many times, even after double checking at the counter, where I was again told no free seats, I found out that many times there were seats available in the airplane and very often I see a free row. So finally I came up with the habit of booking a seat in the back of the plane, so in order to get to it, I pass all rows. Entering the plane as last person, I can be sure, that these seats are really free. This way I about 50% of the times I found a full free row or even exit seat and enjoyed the flight with a huge smile on my face.


Double check hotel rates when booking via hotel booking sites: Booking sites like agoda.com or booking.com usually offer hotels at discounted rates. But, there are hotels, who do not like, that they have to give commission to these sites for bringing traffic. Therefore sometimes booking at the hotel directly is in fact cheaper!


Take photos of your bank cards and most important documents: Losing credit cards, passports or other documents is always a challenge and it takes time during your vacation to get them back. So, if you have a picture at hand it is much easier most times. So simply take a picture of front and backside of your bank cards, driver license, vaccination certificate and passport and send it to yourself via email. Also I would highly recommend to have several bank cards and store them at different places. So if one gets stolen or you lose it, you can have this card blocked and still get money from the other ones.


Research reliable and cheap transportation: In some countries there are great local websites to book local airlines at cheap prices. Make sure you research them upfront as the internet connection might be bad at the first destination of your stay and you will not want to waste time researching then. Some websites for example do not accept foreign credit cards. Also in terms of bus transportation, it helps to find out upfront, which companies are reliable and offer busses in good shape.


Bring your entire backpack to the laundry before flying back home: This is one of my favorites. I simply love getting back home with clean clothes. So I started bringing everything to the laundry before I leave, including my backpack, sleeping back etc. Basically everything which can be washed. Usually I “test” the place with just some items before to be sure, they are good. Especially in Asia it is really cheap and such a treat to simply have to unpack but not wash back home.

 

Jungle Fish Resort Bali

Spoil yourself: Most beautiful resorts at huge discounts

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Jungle Fish Resort Bali

There are unbelievably beautiful places across the world, built with love, design expertise and dedication to its surrounding nature. Most of them are just not in my travel budget. But a great lunch or dinner is affordable and usually an unforgettable experience.

At the beginning I felt wired entering the places – but that is for no reason as I discovered. There are places, which are exclusive to the people staying, but most places are not. The staff is usually excited to welcome other guests, who are treating the place with respect and at best – start a nice conversation. Many times, the places were rather empty and quiet and the people working there, loved to engage in a conversation and learn about whatever I had to tell. Also, it gave me an opportunity to speak to locals and engage with them.

I love spoiling myself at these places with an incredible breakfast like I had at the Jungle Fish Bali Resort outside Ubud with the most amazing granola and fresh juices or an unforgettable exclusive dinner I had at Makanda Resort in Manual Antonio in Costa Rica, where I was even invited to hang out during the next day.

If you do not have to pay “entrance fee” to use the facilities and pool area, I would recommend to make sure, you use the opportunity to leave a great tip for the staff.

Enjoy spoiling yourself even more during your next trip on this lovely planet.

Foto: www.junglefishbali.com

Travel Tips

Ultimate extra items for backpacker’s packing list

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Packing List Items

Packing is the start of the vacation and I purely enjoy it. When focusing on what needs to get in the backpack or suitcase, it can actually be done within a couple of hours with joy. There are some things, which I figured are very useful during longer backpacking trips and make me feel spoiled when discovering new places on this lovely planet.


Two faced light sleeping bag: I love my Deuter sleeping bag! It is sized 205 x 75 x 48 cm, comes at 850 g weight and can be fully unzipped to be used as a blanket. The beauty of the “two faced” is not, that it is reversible, but that one side is made from a cozy fleece material, which feels lovely. Since it is so small, I always have it in my smaller bag pack when traveling and cover myself with it on busses and flights or even take it in a day pack, when trekking to villages for 2-3 night. When sleeping in lower budget places, I feel so much more comfortable with my own clean “blanket”, than using the ones I was offered at times. It can be washed easily in a washing machine or any laundry along the road.


Light and warm travel blanket: One of my favorite items is my travel blanket, which can be folded very compact in a small bag and helps on multiple purposes: blanket to keep warm on buses or airplanes; beach towel to sit on, sarong when entering holy places or blanket or pillow to feel more comfortable if you end up in a rather dirty place. It can also be washed easily and dries really quickly.


One elegant outfit: If you are an open minded traveler, you never know, what or who you might bump into. Whether you decide to go to the opera or you get invited to a birthday or a wedding it is much more respectful and fun to be dressed appropriate. So I always put a simple, light and beautiful silk dress in my backpack. For men it is a bit more difficult, but there also nice pieces, which come at a low weight.


Multiple country and device adapter: Only recently I found this great universal travel adapter, which reduces the amount of chargers I need significantly. It works for most countries and has next to a normal plug two USB ports. So valuable!!


Hard cases for electric items: For once, you do not want to show your great laptop, smartphone or tablet everywhere you go and secondly it helps a lot to protect it from scratches, heat and sweat. This hardcover I really love for my Mac Air as people usually do not even realize what it is.


Small cotton or plastic bags: The most annoying part to me when traveling for weeks or months, was chaos in my backpack as well as searching for things over and over. Also unpacking and packing frequently can be a hassle. So I figured it was very helpful to put my clothes in separate bags. So one for all tops, one for shorts and trousers, one for dresses, one for underwear, one for shoes etc. This way, I only had to pull out the bags once I arrived at a place and had an artificial drawer instead of a big mess. Also everything else I keep in little extra pouches not only medicine and toiletries, but also adapters, foto equipment and travel documents like passport and all sorts of certificates for vaccination, driving and diving, some portrait photos etc.

Free Walks 194

Free Walking Tours: Discovering cities around the world

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Free Walks 194

Whenever I visit a new city, I want to get an overview first and thus find the places I am really into. Two years ago I first tried a Free Walking Tour in Buenos Aires, which has since become my preferred way to discover new cities in a couple of hours.

It is a tip-based movement, which started in 2006 introducing people to new cities. The founder, Chris Sandeman, started this business in Berlin and has since expanded all over. In addition, many other companies have started to offer tip-based “Free Walking Tours”. The guides are often students or historians, with profound historic and local knowledge. The beauty about these tours is, that you are in mixed age and cultural group of people, who usually prefer to travel independently and thus have a quite some travel experience to share themselves.

Once I went on a business trip to Florence and found two different walking tours, which helped to gain a feeling for the city and its history effortless in a beautiful way.

As always, there are downsides to beautiful ideas, and Sandman has been accused of charging his guides for every guest and thus the guides push people for the tip. I have never had such an experience, but wanted to make sure, you have heard about it.

As summertime is up now and you might be traveling to a new place soon, I want to encourage you to give try a “Free Walking Tour”.

Happy discovering!