It’s been 6 months that I’m continuously on the road and travel from country to country, from city to city, and from adventure to adventure, I made the best experiences in all my life and had/have the time of my life. Other then that I learned a lot about traveling – I mean I traveled before, but this is on another level, and I learned so much in these 6 months. I learned how to save money, protect the environment a little more, how to get the best from A to B and a lot of other travel tips. The 7 most essential travel tips I’ll present to you in this blog entry, and I hope I can help you to get a better travel experience on your next trip.
1. Never book long in advance – especially not in Asia
I think the biggest mistake I did in all these months of traveling was to book everything in advance for China. Well, China is a little different as they want to know your journey before you enter to get the visa. So, I felt like I had no other choice than to book and plan everything in detail. As I know, now it was a mistake, and I could have just booked a hotel in Beijing and Shanghai and chancel it again and do it more spontaneously. My journey was still very nice in China, and I saw amazing places but sometimes I wanted to change my plans, and it wasn’t possible as everything was paid already. I met twice a group I wanted to travel with, but I ended up going by myself to the next city as they had other plans – without a fixed plan I could have joined them easily. Arriving in Vietnam, I changed my travel style drastically and started booking everything only one day in advance or even don’t book it at all.
This has so many advantages. First, you are spontaneously and can change your plans any moments. So many times, you meet people, and they tell you stories about places you never heard of before – you just want to see that place as well and so you can if you haven’t a fixed plan. Other then that you’ll meet people along the way and you maybe want to travel a while with these people – that’s only possible if one of you hasn’t a fixed plan. Furthermore, you’ll like some places more then you thought, or you’ll hate some areas only a few hours after you arrive. Without anything planed in the future you can either stay longer or shorten your trip – nobody wants to stay in a place you don’t like.
And as everyone travels in that style, especially in SEA the tour operators, hostels, bus companies and everyone involved in the tourist industry is prepared for you to come last minute – and in 98 % of the cases, you still get what you wanted.
2. Try everything
Especially food! There are so many things out there you never saw or heard of, and they are mostly super good. I tried Octopus, scorpions, and other insects and it was even good. Apart from these more exotic meals try the local meals. Some of Vietnam and Thailand’s traditional meals are now my favorite meal – even over Pasta and Pizza.
Apart from the food you should also try new activities – take that surfing lesson, do the skydive and get a diving license. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, some people make such a crazy budget journey that they skip all these activities as they are too expensive. But that’s just wrong as it is these things you’ll remember forever. So, go out and spend the extra money to get the experience of a lifetime.
3. Buy your reusable water bottle
Buying your own reusable bottle of water has so many different positive effects. It saves you a lot of money, protects the environment, and you get more drinks on the plane. Didn’t you know that? You can ask the stewardess to fill the cola or the beer in your own bottle instead of a plastic cup – she likely gives you a lot more then what fits in these tiny single-use cups. In addition to that, you won’t have to buy new bottles of water, and in most countries, you can refill them for free. Find out more about that in this article.
4. Eat street food
I think I’m the biggest fan of street food and that has its profound reasons. It’s cheaper, better and faster. Who needs a proper chair to eat? The little plastic chairs in Vietnam are part of the travel experience, and that comes from a 1,90-meter man – you can imagine how I sit in a 30 cm high and 50 cm width chair. These street food vendors often have only one meal which they sell all their life – it just has to be good. They are specialist in this one meal they are selling, and they sell it for such a low price as they don’t have to pay rent or a lot of other costs except the food to prepare the meal. And please don’t be afraid of hygiene standards – I ate street food for almost 5 months as often I could and got my first food poisoning in a 4-star hotel in Bali. Street food is just a huge part of the Asian experience, and you shouldn’t miss out on that.
5. Look for a good night sleep instead of the cheapest Hostel
If you can sleep everywhere and have no problem with uncomfortable beds and noise you can jump to the next point – I have a terrible sleep, and this point is so important for me. I’m surely not the only one who’s in a bad mood, feels bad or has no motivation with a big lack of sleep? And that’s why it’s important to get a good night sleep especially while traveling. You want to be active in the day and have as much fun as possible, and that’s best done with a night of good night sleep. So, stop looking for the cheapest Hostel, look for the Hostel where you can sleep well. Look at the photos how the beds are, are there curtains? 4 people in your room are better than 32 (Yes, some Hostels have 32 beds in one room) and in party hostels, you can expect someone to have sex every night in your room so also not the best option for a good night sleep. Especially in Asia, the good hostels are often only a few cents or one euro more expensive than the bad ones – so read comments and spend that extra euro to be fit the other day and get the most out of your day.
6. In SEA everything works out – no matter how chaotic it seems
Don’t panic if the bus is running 30 mins late, stay calm when everyone is yelling around you and if the driver wears flipflops and is one the phone while transporting 50 people – that’s normal. In the end, everything will work out – maybe a little (or a lot) late but it will work out – trust me. Asia is chaotic but that’s what makes it so unique, that’s the adventure and part of the experience. You can not believe how happy I am to go back into that chaos. During your, Asia travels you’ll learn to be patient, and you’ll learn to accept that not everything goes according to plan. And I think these are precious characteristics and I’m sure you’ll be glad to have them in a lot of other life situations. So stay calm and remember my words – Everything will work out no matter how chaotic it seems!
7. Buy a local Sim card
Always buy a local sim card. Only in countries, I stay less than a week I don’t buy one, like in Hongkong or Macau. In every other country, I got a Sim card for sometimes less than 10 dollars. Mostly the Sim cards are for 30 days, and they have more than enough data on it (20 – 60 GB). Funny is that the connection in these countries is a lot better than in Germany or Australia. On the most remote places in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand I had a good connection – where I don’t have a connection between Düsseldorf and Cologne.
The access to the internet on your phone helps you to save money, stay safe and find the way back. Instead of dealing with taxi drivers who want to rip you off you can order yourself a Grab taxi online and directly pay online. If you rent your own motorbike, you always know where to go with google maps and if there is something you want to know then Wikipedia has the answer in a few seconds. It’s so much easier to met people as you can communicate where you are and where to meet. In addition to that, you can plan your next steps or look up what’s going on in the next city already on the bus/train or whatever you take.
- Total countries I visited until now: 34
- Planes: 8
- Busses: 36
- Trains: 18
- Boats: 20
- Km driving: 7000
- Km running: 1950