HELLO FROM CROATIA! Sorry i haven’t posted any pics and such, but my mom is still here which means I'm still on daughter duty! Since it's been exactly 3 months since I've left New York and because WiFi hasn't been so great in the places I've been staying, I thought it would be good to do a text only post and impart my travel wisdom on the masses. Most important lesson: DON'T BUY DRUGS.
just mooch off other people....
HAHAHAHAHA im JUST KIDDING (it's a Love Actually reference for those who are shaking their head at the screen.)
but seriously.. since a couple people have asked, below are some things that I’ve discovered since i started traveling about 3 months ago. I think the best (serious) piece of advice i can give to people is to just trust your gut. Don't be overly cautious because the spontaneous, unexpected moments are usually the most memorable ones, but if something doesn't feel right, don't be afraid to walkaway or make a fuss.
Feel free to email, leave a comment, Facebook message, GChat or whatsapp me if you have any more questions. It’s reallly amazing how accessible people are nowadays, which is probably i don't miss home tooo much (though Instagram pics of 4th of July weekend celebrations are making me a teeensy bit jealous!)
I promise I’ll post about Croatia soon!!
DON’T EVER change large sums of money at the airport/train station, etc. it’s the WORST RATE EVER. I'll just change $20 if I really need cash to get in a cab or local transport to the place I'm staying. Instead, If you can, in the order below:
- use your credit card (get a card without any foreign transaction fees. I have a chase sapphire preferred which gives me double points for travel and restaurants!)
- withdraw from an ATM. I have a Citibank account and they have branches in over 40 countries so I’ll typically google whether there are any citi or affiliate ATMs in a city…but even with the fees, it’s a better exchange. You should also try and see if your bank back home has any affiliates (I know BoFA has a partnership with Barclays and there are a ton of Barclays!)
- exchange money at an actual bank. You’ll get a better rate than when you exchange at a transportation hub
- Don’t negotiate on the cost of food. everything else is fair game though:
- When bargaining, negotiate quantity instead of individual prices. i.e. instead of one item for $1, ask for 10 items for $10.
- And if you’re buying souvenirs, I would comment on the shitty quality of a product since most of the crap is made in China anyway and they’ll hopefully start lowering the cost
I have the Explorer Plus Policy Coverage from STA Travel Insurance which is good for a year and covers medical AND travel. It cost about $100. Plus they give you a ISYC which gets you some discounts to places and it normally cost about $30 to get.
Even if you don’t have an international plan ($$$) you should connect to WiFi (WEEE-FEE in spanish speaking countries, VEE-LAN in Eastern Europe) and make sure to have these handy:
- Spotify Premium or some offline music streaming service (like Apple Music): Totally worth the investment if you download offline playlist which help during long train/bus trips. My favorite playlist include Top 100 90s Billboard & DOPE by Filtr
- Maps.Me: Download the country map before you arrive and you’ll (hopefully) never get too lost. It’s saved my ass a million times. Unfortunately there are no walking routes, only driving, but unless you’re completely blacked out, you should be able to follow the arrows back home
- XE currency: For quick currency conversions
- Whastapp: A free/easy way to communicate with people, especially other travelers and locals
- Pocket/Kindle: It’ll give you something to read when you’re traveling
- NYTimes/WNYC: Don’t be a dumbass. seriously. when you’re traveling, you will run into very smart, thoughtful people who will ask you questions about american foreign policy and other things going on in thew world/our country.. the worst thing to be is completely ignorant. You can download podcasts on the WNYC app.
- Foursquare: Good recommendations for food, drinks, cafe, etc.
- Google translate: not exactly the most accurate, but very useful. Download a language package to use offline. Verrryyyyyy handy at restaurants when you want to make sure you don’t order something grossss… or if you want to hit on guys.
- Tinder: Don’t laugh, but you can get great local advice. Also a place to stay for the night IF YOU’RE LUCKY *winkwink*
NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT:
- Duct tape
- Safety pins
- Waterproof bag
- Extra ziplock bags
- Peptol Bismol (or the equivalent)
- Toilet paper
- Bottle opener/Wine opener **this only applies if you are a wino
- Tiger Balm
- Lighter (even if you don't smoke, most travelers do and it's a way to make friends!)
- Couchsurfing is great, though i will say, my male friends have had a harder time finding accommodations. and as a female, you want to make sure the people (mainly men) you stay with are not sketchy. While I originally planned on only couch surfing with girls, I’ve actually only stayed with guys, but they’ve been lovely. just read the reviews!
- Airbnb: this is the best when you’re traveling with a large group. i think hostels are a great place to meet people if you’re traveling alone.. however it’s nice to have your own space, your own kitchen, and a local friend (if the host is a nice person!)
- For flights, Skyscanner and Google flights are my two go tos.. i’ll put on flight alerts as well to see how much costs fluctuate. I also recommend going to an airport’s website to see if there are any regional airlines that may not be listed on the flight price aggregators… this was the case in colombia since vivacolombia was NOT on any of the sky scanner or google flight results and Vivacolombia was significantly cheaper.
- I also don't really book flights in advance unless i'm going a long distance or if there's something I want to attend that has an actual date, like a festival.
- Instead of buses and trains, you can try and use BlablaCar in Europe. It’s a ride sharing site, similar to Craigslist where people post up where they're driving to and how much a seat in their car costs. be forewarned, they may not be able to speak english and you will have to work around timing that is more convenient for them, but it’s A LOT cheaper than buses/trains if you’re going a long distance.
DISCOVERING A CITY