Here are some of the travel-related articles I wrote for other websites:
5 Holiday Tips a la Flashpackers
(LiveOlive.com- Mar 7, 2014)
Six years ago you could go on a 3-day camping trip armed with a tent and a few cans of tuna fish, trekking through an unknown terittory with a backpack and a pair of hiking sandals, or exploring the island of Java by buses and economy trains.
Today, you can’t go anywhere without your iPad or your portable hair dryer. Congratulations! You have probably become a flashpacker; a tourist who enjoys spontaneous trips –like a backpacker– but wants modern comforts, i.e. internet connection and hot showers. A flashpacker wouldn’t mind paying more to get a private room in a hostel or try the new Jamie Oliver’s restaurant. A flashpacker will not go home broke.
If you want to optimize your vacation time and save your spendings for the things that you like, check out these useful tips:
1. Take the shortcuts
You are probably one of many people who are thinking of doing a road trip along the province or across the country. Although it sounds like fun, a road trip would absorb a lot of your time on the road and suck your energy –even before you arrive at your destination. To avoid this, take a shortcut by traveling by air. That way, you can visit more places in one location.
Tip: Estimate your route, then buy low-cost airline tickets online. You can do online check-in for all the tickets 24 hours before your first departure and print the tickets to avoid hassle of queuing at the airport.
2. Invest in tech essentials
Unlike carefree backpackers, flashpackers can’t rely solely on internet cafés and a feature phone while traveling because they have to stay in touch with their family, business partners or even do some work in between their vacations. In that case, it would be a good idea to bring 1-2 gadgets and some useful equipments, i.e. a travel adaptor and a dual port universal charger.
Tip: If you don’t have a travel adaptor yet, buy it while you are flying! Airlines usually sell a compact travel adaptor cheaper than those you find at the airports or hotels. Also, if you don’t have a tablet and decide to leave your laptop at home, bring a portable hard drive to save your favorite movie –it can be a good antidote for homesickness– or those traveling pictures that were transferred from your digital camera.
3 Things to Know Before Buying Travel Insurance
(LiveOlive.com- Jan 29, 2014)
After spending more than 15 hours in two transit countries, three airports and planes, all I wanted was to meet my family in the designated city. My trip was going well, until the pilot announced that the weather was too foggy and he had to land the plane in another city which located 110 kilometers away or about an hour drive from the previous destination.
Even a well-prepared itinerary could turn into a “nightmare”. Many people have the habit of making a checklist to make sure they remember to bring important things before going on a trip and include “flight tickets”, “passport” and “digital camera” on their list, but forget the one item that would protect them during the trip; travel insurance.
If ugly things happen, the first thing that we can be thankful about is the fact that we already have this item in our hands. So, how to choose the right insurance product?
1. Compare Names, Not Prices
Knowing that there are many –local and international- insurance companies that offer travel insurance, it is best to make a decision based on your travel destination. For example, you can choose a local insurance company if you are going to Lombok, but choose a global insurance company that has a good reputation in Europe if you are planning to go to France. Thus, you can be sure that the company has network affiliates that could help in case of emergency.
Ways to Save on Telecommunications While Abroad
(LiveOlive.com – Dec 28, 2012)
Cindy had set up a limited amount for her BlackBerry service before she left to Europe. She told her GSM provider that she will spend up to Rp 2 million for her one-week trip. Everything was smooth and she was doing the usual things she does every day; checking emails, tweeting, getting updates from social media, and chatting on several mobile messaging apps. Before the week ended, the provider sent a reminder that she was about to exceed her limit. Cindy was afraid that she might be hit with massive bill on her return, so she decided to turn off her mobile network and survived on Wi-Fi to stay connected during the remaining of the trip.
1. Use a Prepaid SIM Card
Check with your mobile operator if your card will work in your travel destination and then review the rates. When a wireless carrier other than your local one provides signal, it’s called roaming. Generally, users will be charged for incoming calls and text messages. It is easier to carry a prepaid SIM card because you can limit your expense and refill it according to your needs –you can easily top-up your prepaid card through online banking or site.
2. Bring Two Mobile Phones
Like many Indonesians, you probably have two or three phones that you carry every day. Check the cellular frequencies in your travel destination and keep your local SIM card in one phone. Depending on your device and length of trip, you can use the second mobile phone with a foreign number. For example: If you are traveling to London for two weeks and you have an Android and BlackBerry smartphone, you can buy a foreign SIM card for the Android phone, turn off the mobile network on BlackBerry and use Wi-Fi connections –which you can get for free or by buying subscription at public places– to keep its services. However, if your trip is only three days, it will be cheaper to get BlackBerry roaming service which charges for as low as Rp 25,000 (postpaid) and Rp 40,000 (prepaid) per day.
3. How to Keep Data Roaming Off
The real problem behind overseas bill shock is the cost of data usage –bandwidth and connection fees to connect you to a website, deliver emails or upload a photo to Facebook or Twitter. Since it is hard to measure usage as you browse around, your phone can be using a lot of data without you knowing it.
The simplest way to keep your mind at ease is to turn data roaming, cellular data and 3G off… read more
Top 5 Tips to Prepare for Your Holiday
(LiveOlive.com – Nov 2, 2012)
Year-end holiday is near and you are probably thinking of putting your dusty traveling bag into use. Whether you are planning to unwind at one of those exotic beaches in Bali or fly thousands of miles to celebrate the holiday in Winter Wonderland, it’s good to know some tips that would insure your well-being and financial security.
1. Plan Ahead to Get Better Deals
Traveling requires a little bit of planning that can ensure your comfort plus a little savings. Booking flights a few months earlier could mean additional money for you, which you can use to extend your vacation. Subscribe to your favorite airlines through email or social media, so that you’ll get the latest information on special promos. Many airlines offer cheaper price through online booking, while many hotels offer good package through travel agents and daily-deals site.
Tip: Some countries like Japan and members of Schengen in Europe require you to book a flight and accommodation before applying for visa. Make bookings via travel agents and travel sites that allow you to change or cancel your trip with minimum penalty fees.
2. Balancing Your Card and Cash
The most common question you’ve heard when a young traveler got back from a trip is, “How much did you spend for the entire trip?”
Although this is a valid question, the answer could vary depending on the person’s traveling style; do you prefer to travel with a tour or solo, stay in a hotel or hostel, commute with rental car, cab or subway? From there you can count how much you’re willing to spend per day. If you’ve done budgeting well enough, there’s no need to sacrifice your comfort.
When it comes to paying, credit card is a good payment option while you’re abroad. Swiping your credit card is effective for big purchases like hotel bills, gadgets and restaurant tabs. Use cash for small purchases and discounted items, and never keep all of your money in one wallet — leave some in the hotel’s safe deposit box, in your backpack, or even in your shoes.
Tip: Don’t use your credit card to take money out of an ATM — ever. It would be a “cash advance” rather than a “withdrawal” and subject to an additional cash-advance fee. If you have more than one card, use the one with the lowest possible international fees. Tell your bank that you’ll be using your card abroad, so that the bank won’t block foreign transactions. If you have to draw cash, use your ATM card — preferably from a bank that has global network.