How not to be a good traveler

Even a traveler who is constantly on the road makes mistakes sometimes. Mistakes are avoidable if you know exactly what not to do. Note that #2 is definitely unforgiving, so don’t ever try to.

We can never be perfect, but we definitely can try not to pick wrong choices.

1. Underestimating what you are getting into and what you actually are prepared for

In my case, I had underestimated Yosemite National Park, when I thought I can just go there without planning on which part of the park I should go, to see places I wanted to see. I had no idea that all those things are so far away from where we started. It was already 2pm on that day and we made our move from a place that was 4 hours away from all the attractions in Yosemite which is in the valley. On the map, those places look so near, I even underestimated that. Improper planning leads to unnecessary drive and exhaustion. I totaled an excruciating 8 hours of tiresome drive, for 3 minutes of just this photo, and putting my partner’s life at risk.

As a result, I only got to see this spot for 3 minutes because the sun was going down. Was it worthy? We still had 3 hours on the road to our final destination that day, including driving in the dark on dangerous, winding road. I got nothing but this photo and yes I was so mad at myself. I definitely learnt my lessons.

As a result, I only got to see this spot for 3 minutes because the sun was going down. Was it worthy? We still had 3 hours on the road to our final destination that day, including driving in the dark on dangerous, winding road. I got nothing but this photo and yes I was so mad at myself. I admit, I definitely learnt my lessons.

Other things you might be doing while traveling, like going to the zoo, museum, souvenirs shopping or going for a stroll on a beach don’t necessarily require concrete planning. Never ever venture out there not having any idea of what you are getting into. It might costs you your life.

2. Offending everyone by not respecting rules, customs and traditions

In the light of recent earthquake in Sabah, my home state that kills at least 16 climbers, just weeks after a group of tourist climbers posing naked on top of the mountain, also 2 tourists who got arrested and later deported for showing their rears at Angkor Wat, Cambodia, everyone of us here wants or at least thought of being THAT cool traveler, doing things differently than the others, competing to become trendsetters thus becoming popular without realizing that you are dragging unassuming people along with you. There’s nothing wrong in being different but what you do is a reflection of who you are. It is true that earthquakes in Sabah or Nepal weren’t caused by those irresponsible acts. No matter what the reasons are, locals in Sabah are angry because these supposed more-civilized nations & experienced travelers should’ve forehandedly studied cultures of the places they’re going to and that most definitely include thoroughly understanding traditions, respecting the differences in rules and not hesitating to follow the customs. Not a second you are allowed to think that the rules of one foreign place aren’t applied to you just because you’re just visiting. Just visiting is also not an excuse to misbehave. You may get naked in your own backyard because that’s your space, then what makes you think that you should get naked in other’s backyard? Oh, it’s just a mountain and that’s just another temple, no big deal, right? If you think it is okay to just get naked, showing parts of your body that you aren’t supposed to and offending millions of people, you are definitely on your way to become a NOT good traveler. You should see that coming, people do really get what they deserve, especially if they’ve done something offensive and punishable by law.

NAKED TOURISM IS NOT FOR ALL PLACES IN THE WORLD. -Photo courtesy of The Star

NAKED TOURISM IS NOT FOR ALL PLACES IN THE WORLD. What seems cool to you might be offensive to others.
-Photo courtesy of The Star

3. Relying too much on online resources

Not all itineraries made by others will suit you and your travel needs. That is why it is important to construct your own. One’s experience at one place might be different than another. This would actually leads to disappointment, when you didn’t get what you expected to get at first place. Before spending my summer 2 years ago in Venice, Italy, I’ve read lots of wonderful things about Venice and so I just went there, winging it, thinking I too will be having great times like others but in the end, I was disappointed. I didn’t get the experience that I wanted in Venice, because I was relying too much on whatever information I read online without further research. Laziness cannot be forgiven. If you put extra efforts into it, you’ll get more of good things, not only for you but also beneficial to others.

4. Being a complainer that you are

Bad habits are hard to break. Sometimes when you travel, you have to leave them at home, whether you like it or not. Home means all the comforts you can get. Outside home, you forgot that foreign places aren’t designed for you. Then you started complaining about non-existing restaurants that serve rice and why that city must have at least one restaurant that serves your favorite food otherwise you won’t survive. You complain about the sidewalks that aren’t comfortable enough to walk on but locals seem to be walking fine on those. These, and tonnes of other complaints that you sometimes listed for your own amusement, later passing it to friends, simply making your own conclusions of how bad that particular country is and why your friends too, shouldn’t go there. Next time you travel, try not to complain. The purpose of traveling to foreign places is to experience different kind of living situations of others. If you just want the comfort, stay at home. Don’t even bother discovering new places.

So what do you think you did wrong during your last travel?

What do I use to take my travel photos?

Answer:

My iPhone 5s and GoPro Hero 4 Black.

It will be a waste if you have a nice phone in your hands but you use them only to take selfies. Selfie-wise, I am not a fan, only sometimes when I have an awesome view behind me that I want to include in my selfie, which in that case, I usually use my GoPro.

I love traveling light, that includes not having to carry heavy SLR. Couple of years ago I have got my hands on it, but I never grow fond of it. Over the years with smartphones, I can now call myself an iPhone expert photographer.

Have you looked at what is in your hands right now? That expensive phone can finally do you good, you know.

Is this really from iPhone? Yes it is.

Is this really from iPhone? Yes it is.


Monument Valley

Monument Valley; The Mitten Buttes, with my iPhone.


Lipe.

Sunset in Koh Lipe, also with my iPhone.

Do good, and share it with friends and I am not talking about selfies.

You have got the money, haven’t you?

You had been working your ass very hard, you work multiple jobs to make your dream trips come true. You booked the flight ticket probably a year before the trip and you have got everything planned. Now you got shitload of money and you think you can be on spending spree abroad and that you’ll be fine because everything else in Indonesia or Romania is cheap, that’s fine if you have a job waiting for you when you get back to home country or you plan to work wherever you are traveling to. I’m talking about how to save money while traveling. In my earlier post I’ve stated that I struggled — even having shitload of money can cause you troubles. Shopping is compulsive. Partying every night is equally compulsive. You don’t want to end up begging for money abroad or worse, ending up sleeping on the street. I’ve seen those, so many times, in every country that I’ve traveled to. Maybe this will help you.

1. Make a budget, write down your spending money and how much you’ve spent in a day

You may have started with loads on the first few days of the trip. Without writing it down, on 5th day you are wondering where have all your money gone. You overspent and freak out. This is why this is so important, especially if you are traveling for the first time. I overspent when I was in Paris with my boyfriend. We could’ve been seeing so many places but I was procrastinating while in Paris and because I was lazy. The thought of having so much money and you’ll be fine is not a good idea. Divide your money into days you planned to spend abroad and into categories; food+tips, transportation, souvenirs, accommodation, monuments/museum entrance passes and unexpected expenses (like getting fined or tickets). This will make you feel so much better, and by doing this, I did have the chances to be on spending spree and we ended up going to 3 other countries+skiing trip while it wasn’t planned in the beginning because I thought we are going to be short of money.

2. Be selective when it come to food and drinks

Unless you are in Asia, alcohol will cost you more than water. Unfortunately, I don’t drink but I’m very concern about alcohol consumers. Beer is addictive, you want to go drinking every day and night and at the end of the day you realized that you have spent way too much on alcohol that you have to also do rationing on food, meaning, eating ramen or unhealthy fast food throughout your trip. I’m not saying you cannot do that, but alcohol is always the biggest part of the spending. Being in foreign countries makes you want to try so new food too. It is okay to have 2 days or 2 night in a week dining in fancy restaurant on your trip, but rest of the days in the week you could save more money by embarking on gastronomical adventure by eating street food or you can simply cook in your apartment/hostel.

3. Carry your own prescribed medication 

It is very wise to carry your own medical supplies, also your own first aid kit. Food poisoning and flu can be easily treated with Imodium and Teraflu. This will cost you less than having to consult doctor, paying for the service and extra unnecessary medications and of course paying for a taxi to get you the hospital because you are cannot take the train or walk when you’re sick. This happened to me when I was in Trieste, Italy. My sinusitis was very severe and I should’ve brought my own medication from Malaysia, which I know was a lot cheaper and though the hospital service is free in Italy, we ended up paying loads for my sinusitis medication over the counter at the pharmacy in Trieste.

4. Take overnight sleeper train or bus

This will save you lots of money while you are actually traveling from one place to another, or from one country to another! Transportation nowadays are so much better. JF and I took the sleeper train from Budapest, Hungary to skiing town, Brasov, Romania. It was €320 for 2 return sleeper double couchette, across the countries for 14 hours. We saved a lot on hotel stay already, and also compensating on flying cost. But don’t fully take my words because it is different from country to country. In 2011, I suffered from high fever and severe back pain after an overnight bus trip from Phuket, Thailand to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia but the overnight bus that I took from Melaka, Malaysia to the border of Malaysia and Thailand was really comfortable and cheap. The biggest part of spending while traveling is always the transportation part. If you can combine it with accommodation, you’ll be surprised of how much you actually can save.

5. Find alternative ways to avoid disappointment

I was so upset when I cannot get on the gondola ride in Venice, Italy. JF made it up to me by saying I can get to see snow and experience winter and so we did.  However, not all of this you can experience cheaply but certainly there are so many alternatives you can choose to avoid disappointment. My skiing trip in Romania was way cheaper than that 1/2 hour gondola ride. That was so much better and I never thought sacrificing some unnecessary expenses would feel that good and now I didn’t feel bad or missing out anymore for not having that kind of experience in Venice. Doesn’t mean that if you are on budget trip, you cannot travel well and do expensive thing, this is why step #1 is the most important.

ImageMy fancy escargot experience in Paris: Try new food, but don’t splurge on them everyday!

Ditch your guide book, make and be your own guide

Before I started traveling, I always imagined myself walking around a city, searching for a place to stay, with a guide book in my hand. But in reality, after my first trip to Thailand in 2011, I found out that guide is such a hassle. I thought I’d look cool, I looked stupid instead. Hidden agendas of a guide book : to make you feel like you are not doing enough as suggested, or to make you feel that you are restricted to only those suggestions. A guide book is heavy, hard to read and actually very confusing, because if you ever held a guide book and actually read it (from first page to last page,you’ll fall asleep at page 5), you’ll know. The writings are too small (I am already with 4 eyes, be 6 if I have to de dependent on guide book). When you travel, you’ll have your personal preferences of what you really will like. Write them down, take some pictures and write some notes about them. A guide book is based on, at least, the writer’s preferences. There are so many people in this world and simply there are too many suggestions to be followed. So, why do you travel anyways? It is for you to discover one place and all the things about that place by any kind of method you can think of, like asking locals for their suggestions instead. That is more fun, and that is the time when you can actually learn some foreign language. I always think that the writer of a guide book may have not done some of the things he or she had written. Many asked : But how do we know about things we must see, do and eat? Make your own research, like highlighting the major attraction, make a big circle and start from there.

The fact that I too, hate being told what to do makes me feel like I shouldn’t follow a guide book. It’s like that. Quoting my another favorite travel writer, Robert : “By balancing a travel schedule that incorporates sightseeing, cultural experiences and relaxation, you’ll return from your trip enriched, educated and rejuvenated. You’ll be ready to face whatever challenges come your way – but you’ll also be eager to travel again!” 

Image

I found my own “Maldives”, Karimunjawa, Central Java, Indonesia in May 2012