- Posted August 15, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
100 Ways to Travel Better: Your tips
Tips and hacks from traveling to 45+ countries
Here are 7 tips I learned from traveling and living in 45+ countries over the past few years:
1. Be a traveler, not a tourist. Instagramming selfie pics at the Effel Tower makes the world go around these days, but you will get so much more by immersing yourself into the local culture. Hop on a local bus/train and get lost in the city. Don't just cab from the airport to your secluded private resort on the beach. Find restaurants where the menus aren't even in English. Learn a few local phrases and people will be beam smiles your way. Unless you start swearing at them.
2. Be careful of getting ripped off: Dress modestly, and keep your eyes open from the moment you land in an unfamiliar airport. Certain smaller airports where cabs are controlled by mafia and not management may refuse to run the meter, if it hasn't been rigged. So don't get taken for a ride (pun intended). Here's a hack for the adventurous ones that I accidentally discovered in Morocco: head over to the Departure Hall where taxies are dropping off passengers. They will often be more than happy to take you back to the city for 25-50% less, instead of having to drive back to the city empty handed. Do this discreetly, so they don't get in trouble.
3. Hacking cheap airfares: start with hipmunk.com's open graph search to get the big picture, then drill down on scanner sites such as skyscanner.net or kayak.com. Got flexible dates? Add in a +/- 3 day filter, and try one way fares. One new flight research startup service I like is flightfox.com, where flight 'experts' can often help reduce rates through advanced search algorithms and hacking air miles.
4. For longer periods of travel, don't pre-book a hotel for 2 weeks. Just because the reviews sound good doesn't mean it actually is. If you plan to stay in a city for an extended time, get a temporary place for 1-2 nights first as a base to scout out your whereabouts before committing further. You may stumble into a much better arrangement. Safety is #1.
5. Ask and you shall receive. Don't be afraid to ask for discounts. For example, boutique hotels also sometimes offer discounts last minute in person, especially if you can pay cash. But you have to ask. Another example: a $20 tip at the front desk and good banter can often lead to room > suite upgrades at certain hotels, such as the fancy ones in Las Vegas. AirBNB is also a great resource for private homes and apartments if you prefer staying outside of hotels.
6. 'VIP' service in restuarants/clubs: often times, people wait until the end to tip. I prefer tipping upfront, and the service often reflects that. Got a restaurant 'fully booked'? Turn up in person and pre-tip the bouncer/receptionist prior to arrival. Red ropes part like the red sea, and tables occasionally appear. It's like magic, without the cards.
7. Backpack. Especially for extended travel. Minimalism is underrated. Lugging 2 suitcases up Mt Everest Basecamp at 17,000 ft is not the way to go, as witnessed. The terrain in some areas won't even be conducive for wheeled luggage. When a scorpion in the Sahara Desert starts chasing after you, you will be glad you didn't.
Vince Wong is a medical doctor who escaped 9-5 by building an online business while traveling and living in 45+ countries over the past 4 years. He now helps other budding entrepreneurs do the same. You can watch his travel video on his blog (www.vincewong.com).
|This iReport is part of an assignment that we created with Travel + Leisure: 100 Ways to Travel Better: Your tips|