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News, Interviews and recommendations from High Spirit Bags.

 

Filtering by Tag: city

20 Tips for First Time Travellers

Josh okungbaiye

Travelling, although exciting, may come across stressful for those first timers. Here are a few tips to make your travels less stressful.

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1.    Respect the locals

 

When travelling to different countries, you may experience a cultural shock due to the major shift in cultural tendencies. This includes food, music, customs, religions and of course, language. My advice is, always be open to learning the countries ways of living, especially as you are the visitor.

 

2.  Try the local cuisine

 

As humans, we often result to sticking to what is within our comfort zone; especially when it comes to food. Although this may be suitable when in your home country, when travelling, I encourage you to try as many local dishes as possible. After all, you are travelling to experience a change in culture.

 

3.  Be flexible

 

When travelling you will more often than not face unplanned events such as transport delays, lack of money, or getting lost. These circumstances are perfectly normal and if anything would be extremely rare not to experience. Remember to remain clam and flexible. You 100% are not the only one that has faced this situation before!

 

4.  Don't be afraid to mingle with other travellers

 

Although your mother always told you not to speak to strangers, there are a few occasions where talking to strangers may in fact benefit you. One of these instances is when travelling; especially if you are travelling solo as knowing that people are in the same boat as you makes the whole journey a little less lonely and a little more enjoyable.

 

5. Attempt to bargain

 

It is no surprise that travelling can be costly. One tip I find especially useful when trying to save money, is to attempt to bargain. When renting a car, purchasing from street markets or even staying at a hostel, many times they bump up the price just incase you are willing to pay for it. If you think you can get it for cheaper, by all means, attempt to bargain a lower price.

 

6. Don’t rely on technology

 

Although we live in a digital world whereby our lives revolves around technology; if ever your phone, laptop or GPS were to fail you, you would be lost on what to do next. In order to avoid further confusion if this were to happen, my advise is to learn and remember addresses such as your accommodation as well as closest public transport. Furthermore, carrying a physical map is always a good idea in order to save your phone battery in case of emergencies.

 

7. Keep your valuables on you 24/7

 

It may seem like a burden to carry things you wont be using everyday such as a copy of your passport, but rather than leaving it at your accommodation, keep it close to you along with your other valuables such as your phone, wallet, keys and any other necessities you may need. This also serves as a form of ID if ever it is requested.

 

8. Travel for longer in fewer places

 

One mistake many first time travellers make attempting to fit as any destinations as possible in a limited amount of time. Although this may seem like a good idea when first planning the trip, when it comes to actually travelling you will find it’s more convenient to stay for a longer period of time in fewer places in order to fully feel as though you are explored that destination.

 

9. Have travel insurance

 

Although travel insurance isn’t always opted by many travellers due to wanting to remain within their budget; it is always better to be safe than sorry, especially when in a foreign country.

 

10. Be prepared for reverse culture shock

 

Finally, the same way you can experience a culture shock when first arriving at a new country, you may also experience a reverse culture shock once your travels are over and you return home. This is due to the extreme shift in activities, climate etc. Do not fret, there is always time to do some travelling.

 

11. Always carry local cash

 

When travelling to foreign countries, especially quaint towns within those countries, it is very rare for every place to take credit cards. Therefore, it is important to carry cash on you in order to avoid hassle; especially at important places like trains or buses.

 

12. Carry double ID

 

Many times some places do not take your foreign form of ID as valuable proof when purchasing alcohol or getting into +18 events. Therefore, it is always best to carry 2 forms of ID in order to avoid disappointment.

 

13. Purchase tickets for places you know you want to visit prior to arrival

 

By purchasing your tickets in advance, you’ll be able to skip long queues, especially for really touristic attractions; as well as find more deals, saving you some money.

 

14. Take guidebooks

 

Guidebooks usually include maps, key phrases as well as give you enough detail on certain sites which you otherwise wouldn’t have known. Guidebooks will overall give you a little more knowledge on your travel destination to make sure you get the full experience.

 

15. Research events going on while you’re there

 

Having knowledge on any events occurring at your destination will ensure that you don't miss out on fun events such as festivals, ceremonies and natural events. by attending these events, you will feel like a local in their home town as you fully experience their culture.

 

16. Bring a charger adapter

 

As countries have different plug sizes and voltage, in order to use your electronic devices you will need to ensure you bring a suitable adaptor to charge them.

 

17. Activate Free Roaming

 

Back in the day, phone companies would charge for roaming usage. Nowadays, roaming is completely free for the majority of phone companies. Make sure to activate it before travelling to get use out of your data, even while you’re away.

 

18. Bring snacks

 

When travelling long distance, make sure to bring small snacks with you in order to avoid paying for overpriced snacks on your chosen form of transport and stations.

 

19. Check-in with your doctor

 

Before leaving, make sure that you have all of the proper vaccinations in order to avoid any unwanted illnesses. Also ensure that you have renewed all essential prescriptions as you may not be able to find them if you run out.

 

20. Go with the flow

 

Although planning ahead seems like the appropriate option, allow yourself to get lost in the side streets on the way to your chosen attractions as you might encounter something completely unknown and unexpected that might surprisingly become the most interesting part of your trip.

 

Nicole Fernandez Medina

 

 

 

 

 

How to Avoid Pickpockets in Spain

Josh okungbaiye

Although Madrid and Barcelona are both wonderful, touristic cities to visit, they are both listed within the 10 worst cities for pickpocketing. Here are a few tips to follow in order to avoid pickpockets ruining your holiday full of fun and sun in Spain.

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1) One popular scam in Spain is pickpockets masquerading as undercover policemen. They are known to approach you on the street and ask for your wallet. One thing you must keep in mind is policemen are unlikely to approach you unless your behaviour seems suspicious; and even so they certainly are wouldn’t ask to go through your wallet without showing you a police badge of his own.


2) Avoid ‘tourists’. If a random person comes up to you asking for directions, you are most likely going to try and help them out. As nice as this seems, you must be aware that the ‘tourist’ might have an accomplice using the distraction to pickpocket you.


3) Don’t get caught in a people sandwich. If you find yourself sandwiched between two people on the street, an escalator, or public transport, be aware that while the person in front may be blocking your way, the person behind you picks your pocket or backpack. In order to avoid theft, always wear your backpack in front of you and avoid keeping valuables in your pockets.


4) Don’t fall for the fake petition trick. Pickpockets will often approach people on the streets with a fake petition to sign. Whether you choose to sign it or not, they will ask you to donate to a ‘charity’ as a way of extorting money. Moreover, while the person holding the petition sign distracts you, pickpocket is focused on stealing your belongings. Therefore, it’s best to avoid strangers approaching you on the streets and asking for donations; don’t be fooled into thinking the money goes to a good cause.


5) Lastly, as fun as they may seem, avoid impromptu roadside games. While strolling down the street, you may come across a few people playing a card game on the footpath. No matter how enticing it is, refuse their invitation to join the game. One, they will cheat to make sure you will lose your money. Two, while you are busy playing the game, pickpockets may be enticed to steal your belongings.

10 Easy Tips and Tricks to Avoid Tourist Traps

Josh okungbaiye

When visiting a country you want to take in the culture, the food and the entertainment to create positive memories. Sometimes your positive experience can be tainted by tourist traps. Tourist traps are establishments or businesses solely for tourists where they overcharge you for things such as food, entertainment, souvenirs etc. They divert you away from cheaper, and more positive alternatives. Tourist traps are aware that you are a tourist and they are also aware that there is a high chance that you will not return. So they are simply after your money and care very little about giving you a positive customer experience. Tourist Traps are to be avoided, especially if you are travelling on a limited budget, but want to have the full experience of the country you are visiting. We know that some of you will be thinking of your travel plans for spring and summer so we wanted to help with your planning process. Tourist traps are everywhere, so to help you guys out we wrote 10 easy tips and tricks to avoid tourist traps. Here you go. Enjoy :-)

10 easy tips and tricks to avoid tourist traps

1.    Avoid High Season

If you want to visit a tourist destination, avoid high season. Usually this helps to avoid the dense crowds and also enables you to avoid long queues. 

2.    Use Public Transport

Figure out the metro or train systems. They are a lot cheaper for getting around. In highly populated tourist areas, taxis may overcharge for a short taxi ride, so if you want to avoid that, take a train, or bus to your destination. This will enable you to get a better insight into how the city works and will enhance your experience of the city. Also, if you are travelling with your high spirit bag, the antitheft zips against your back will take away an anxiety about keeping your stuff safe while you explore the city safely. As an added bonus, you will not need to worry about being caught off guard by pickpockets.

3.    Travel with Hand Luggage

Travel with hand luggage if you can. One thing to be aware of is that some taxis will charge extra for putting bigger luggage into the boot of their car. This is important to be aware of, especially if you will be getting a taxi ride from the airport to your hotel. When negotiating the taxi fare make sure there is an agreement on the fee before you get into the taxi. This takes away any possibility of unexpected fee charges. Also, before you arrive at your destination, find out the average price for a taxi ride from the airport to your hotel or the city centre. This is so you have that base figure in mind when negotiating the price with the taxi driver.

4. Avoid Restaurants near Tourist Attractions    

Avoid going to restaurants near tourist attractions, as these places will cost a lot of money. Also avoid the restaurants and bars that explicitly state that they cater to tourists. It is more than likely that they will overcharge and the service and quality will not be great. You can usually find quality restaurants on the side streets that are densely populated with tourists.

5.    Understand the Menu

Be aware of the menu costs. If you are not sure of how the costing works, it is best to avoid the restaurant all together. Some restaurants will overcharge on their service charge or charge by the weight of food or portion size rather than by a standard portion. Save yourself the extra stress.

6.   Plan, Plan, Plan

Plan before you leave for your destination. Get an understanding of how things are organised there. For example, are you required to tip? Are there any tollgates fees that you have to pay for in order to gain access to the city with your car? Etc. Remember that in some places you get free transport with your hotel, or a discount on travel tours. In addition, with your hotel you may also get a discount on restaurants, bars and entertainment. So take advantage of these when you can.

7. Book Tickets in Advance  

If there are any sites, museums or attractions you want to see that may require a ticket. It is best to book the tickets in advance, as it will be a lot cheaper and you will also avoid the long queues.

8.    Ask the Locals for Recommendations

Get recommendations from taxi drivers, security guards, doormen and the locals. The locals have a very good experience of their city so they will recommend their favourite places that will not be tourist traps. Just remember to be nice and friendly and they will steer you in the right direction.

9.    Ignore Hawkers and Touts. 

They will waste your time and lead you to places where it will cause you to waste your time, overspend and get a below standard experience. Always check beforehand to make sure you are getting the best deal.

10.   Understand the Local Currency

It is important to understand the local currency. Get familiar with the different coins, notes and their value. This is especially important if you are visiting a country where the conversion values are so vastly different. For example a meal in Bangkok, Thailand costs on average 800 Thai baht, but in dollars it is equivalent to about $25 dollars. The reason it is important to understand the currency is because sometimes some stores, restaurants, or bars will accidentally or even purposely give you the wrong change, which can you cause you to run out of your money faster than you expected. This very useful especially if you will be spending with cash during your trip. This seems so obvious, but it is often neglected and causes people to unknowingly lose money very quickly on their trip.