By JOHNNA VILLAVIRAY GIOLAGON
Autumn in South Korea
The proliferation of budget airlines has made travel affordable even if one does not belong to the rich and famous.
Travel recharges one’s tired body and mind. You learn other people’s culture, you gain new friends. It widens one’s horizon.
But since traveling involves being in a new and in some cases, unfamiliar environment, problems sometimes happen that could ruin the whole trip.
Here are some tips to lessen the inconveniences in traveling:
1.Do your research.
Pick out a place you want to go and list specific sites you want to visit. Group sites according to location so you can cover more places in a day.
2.Buy travel insurance.
Certainly you are not expecting to need to use it, but it is always responsible to be prepared.
On a trip to Phnom Penh, I met an Australian man who had to fly down to be with his daughter. She had been butted in the ribs by a water buffalo while back-packing in a remote Cambodian village. She had to undergo surgery and some therapy before doctors cleared her to travel home.
3.Check the weather.
Bring clothes and shoes according to the weather condition in the place you are visiting.
Pack light and neutral colors that you can mix and match easily. Plan your wardrobe so you wouldn’t waste time deliberating in front of the mirror if this top matches with those pants or skirt.
In cold weather, learn the art of layering.
Bird’s Nest, Beijing
4.Buy entrance tickets online.
This will allow you to jump the normally long queues at the ticket booth.
There are attractions, like Universal Studios Singapore, that offers VIP passes so you can jump the queue altogether. It’s a bit pricey but, if you have zero tolerance for waiting at least 40 minutes to try the rides, the moolah you shell out would be worth it.
5.Fill out the immigration form on the plane.
Flight attendants distribute this before the plane lands. In some airports they give the forms away as you await check in. Don’t ignore. The minutes you save filling out the form early can mean 20 less people ahead of you in the immigration counter.
Don’t forget to bring a pen. There are airports, NAIA Terminal III, that do not provide writing pens.
6.Change a few dollars at the airport.
Money changers at the airport have a bad reputation of giving low rates.
Perhaps. But it still is a good idea to change a few dollars to pay for the ride from the airport to the hotel and for emergency purchases early the following day.
7.Ask for hotel pick up service from the airport.
Taking a taxi almost always proves to be a little cheaper than a hotel service, but a hotel service car would spare you the stress of communicating with a non-English speaking cabbie.
Actor Roden Araneta enjoying Balesin in Quezon Province
8.Purchase a multiple entry pass on the train or bus.
You might think that you wouldn’t be going to ride the bus too often, but at least you wouldn’t have to go through a long gesture-filled discussion telling the ticket officer which stop you’re getting off.
Take into account that how a word is written is not necessarily how it is pronounced by the locals. The officer selling tickets might not understand where you want to go because you’re not pronouncing the place correctly. With a multiple use pass, you can concentrate on getting familiar with the map and where you need to go.
9.Bring your own water bottle.
We take water for granted here, but it can be a costly necessity when you are busy going about the day, trying to absorb as much of the local scenery as you can.
You will need to hydrate if you want to maintain the frenetic pace of jumping from one site to the other. Even if a bottle of water costs just half a US dollar, the cost would mount if you have to buy one bottle after another. This is especially true if you are travelling with children. You don’t want them dehydrated.
Airport security won’t allow you to bring water into the terminal but they will allow you to carry an empty bottle. Airports have water fountains so you can just fill up there.
10.Carry around a card from the hotel.
Again, the locals might not pronounce the names of places the same as you would. There are also cases where the locals know your hotel by a different name.
Carry around a card from your hotel so at least you are sure to be brought to a place you know people can speak even just a smidgen of English.
Most of all, keep an open mind to a different culture and system. Enjoy.