A Travellerspoint blog

August 2011

Me?? Travel??

Or, scared shitless in Seattle...

Wyoming's lonely roads Photo by Utrecht

Wyoming's lonely roads Photo by Utrecht


Welcome to the Travel Unravelled Q&A Series. To find the rules of the game, please check the link to your left or the revised General Talk thread.

There comes a time in most people's lives when they decide they want to explore something more than their own back yards or the apartment building's hallways. They visit the neighbor's back yard and think, "Hey, this is new and pretty cool. Where else can I go?" Many have watched National Geographic programs, seen vacation advertisements, peered into the travel agency's windows at the posters - all dreaming about an adventure. For some, this is where the dream ends. For others, these things open up a whole new 'back yard' just begging for a visitor to enjoy its offerings. But... (There's always a 'but'.)

At some point, anyone willing to discover a new playground also encounters a brick wall or two. These walls have things like 'the jitters', 'anxiety' and 'fear' scrawled across them. How intimidating is that?! Just when you think you're ready that blob of gray matter in your skull whispers (or sometimes screams), "I don't know... It's pretty scary out there... There could be monsters hiding under those hostel's beds... Maybe you should stay home." You may also feel as though you're all alone when dealing with these issues. Sound familiar? It does to me as I've been there before. Some things still give me the jitters (such as very steep mountains with very narrow roads and no guard rails within miles around - simple thing I know, but still scares me).

HK - Scared Budda Photo by robandem

HK - Scared Budda Photo by robandem


Anyway, the following question asked members for their advice for anyone who is anxious or jittery about traveling. I'm sure their replies won't be too surprising.

QUESTION

How do you deal with the 'first time jitters' of traveling? The General Talk forum sees a number of these questions. (We've just received a thank you for the help our members have given to another member who was reticent about travel a few years ago.) So, go for it - what are your thoughts on how to handle travel for the first time or even dealing with uncharted territory?

mcphersonsammy

First time jitters... wow. First off, I go crazy researching about the place, where to go, what to eat, how to get to the places to visit. Even to the last minute, I research and verify everything especially if it's my first time to visit the place. Then I go crazy (really, I go crazy) preparing everything. I make a checklist of all the things I need. I check it everyday... what I already packed and what I still need to pack/buy. Lastly, I check my budget. I keep on doing that little accounting thing I do. I don't want to run short on cash while traveling so I make sure I really have MORE THAN ENOUGH money.

Scott Tyler (madpoet)

Get on the plane, make sure your tray is in the upright position, and enjoy your trip!

Take it slow. Don't feel that, just because you are in China, for example, you have to eat Chinese food everyday. It's OK to go to McDonald's once in awhile. It's OK to stay home one day of the week and just read or watch TV at your hotel/hostel. Stay in touch with folks back home. And if you are travelling alone, try to befriend other travellers and/or locals that you can travel with and hang out with. That will make your trip more memorable and less lonely.
On the other hand, first-time travel is like swimming: sometimes you just have to jump in. After you've done some basic planning, just go. Get on the plane, make sure your tray is in the upright position, and enjoy your trip!

Caroline (Supafemale)

Realise that the scariest thing is making the decision to go...after that - it's not so scary! :)

Niels1303

Somehow I only imagined the worse things that could happen to me.

I remember the first time I travelled alone, I was also pretty scared. Somehow I only imagined the worse things that could happen to me. But luckily since more than 90% of the fears we have in life never come true and I experienced so many beautiful moments and met so many wonderful people while travelling alone, may fears quickly faded away. :) It is a process that take some time but the more you´ll travel, the more confident you´ll be and the more you´ll get addicted to it. ;)
Have a wonderful trip and don´t worry too much!

ipapa

Scary... Travelling alone is awesome. I think it would be like an adventure. Someday I might even try it.

Tina Wayland (tway)

For my first solo trip, I picked a country where I knew the language and where the culture was--although different--at least familiar to me. I also planned the basics well: flight and hotel were booked far ahead. Then I got a good guide, read it, followed it a little, and then just went with my gut.
I left really excited more than nervous. I think the nerves came beforehand. The only thing you really have to do is do it! The difference between people who travel and people who don't is that the former just get up and go.

Holly Clark (soupatrvlr)

...I made a concerted effort to get comfortable doing things by myself.

When I decided to travel around the world by myself, I started by researching everywhere I wanted to go. On top of that, I started doing things alone at home...going out to dinner, out to the movies, striking up conversations with strangers, saying hello with a smile to everyone I met...and in the city, they think you want something from them for just saying hi! But I made a concerted effort to get comfortable doing things by myself. Yeah, I was slightly terrified when I first left, but got over that rather quickly. I also made sure that no matter where I was going, I had a guide book with me to fall back on. Sometimes I used it, sometimes I didn't. When you're alone, you meet the most people, meet the most locals, and the flexibility lets you do whatever YOU want!

Quan Zhang (Q')

It might be a good trip, it might be a bad trip. You'll never know until it happens. Rather than worrying about it, I'd rather concentrate on getting there.....

George Nolly (gnolly)

For your first solo trip, be sure to go somewhere you know the language.

For your first solo trip, be sure to go somewhere you know the language. Check the State Department website (http://www.state.gov/) if you're going to a foreign country, and have phone numbers you can call if you have any problems. My advice: go someplace safe (hint: it ain't Mexico!) for your first few trips, until you feel comfortable globetrotting.
Enjoy the adventure!

Mr Custard

Don't worry just go with the flow everything will be fine.

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WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR ARTICLE SUBMISSIONS!! If you have an idea for a TU entry, please send an e-mail to unravelled [at] travellerspoint [dot] com. Include your subject, a short description of the material you would like to cover and a request to be added as an author. If possible, send a short sample of your entry. If things don't pick up soon, our Editors are all going to go traveling themselves and I'll never find them again. Please keep them busy so I know where they are... Just a thought...
PS: The TP Foundation earns $5.00 from every published submission.

Posted by Isadora 07:25 Comments (1)

Beware of Darkness - Cell Phones

Take care, beware and don't take it were they should not go.

Public phone? Photo by beerman

Public phone? Photo by beerman


Welcome to the Travel Unravelled Q&A Series. To find the rules of the game, please check the link to your left (or above depending on how this aligns in the end) or the revised General Talk thread.

This particular TU question addresses the use of cell phones while traveling. On your mark. Get set. Let's go!

QUESTION

Cell phones, SIM cards, calling plans, minute cards, roaming charges and all of the things that accompany "phoning home" (or anywhere else) can be confusing to many travelers. What is the best way for someone to stay connected without getting a $3000 cell phone bill? (Oops, there went the funds for that trip to the next destination.)

Katherine Drop (Wonkerer)

My opinion, don't use your phone. Take it along for emergencies if you like, but that’s it. There are tons of options for communicating via computer and you can likely find a solution that suits you. Skype and Gmail Chat offer good options for allowing you to call directly to phones or computers. If you want to make a real phone call, purchase a phone "card" locally. They may have high surcharges (aka you use 20 "minutes" of those you have to start a call) but you know up front what you are paying. Traveling with a phone card is not a bad idea, but you will generally get the best rates if you buy it where you are using it.

If you are traveling somewhere for an extended period it may be worth buying a cheap phone there. Just do your research. Be sure to take into account things like charges for incoming and outgoing calls, long distance, and roaming, as these can vary greatly from country to country.
Also, get creative. Due to the charge setup in Ireland, my friends and I would “missed call” each other when we were ready to meet back up, costing us nothing.

Peter Daams (Peter)

Things are changing so fast at the moment, that how I imagine my next trip to be is totally different to my last one. I would fully intend to rely on my iPhone a lot.

I'd be using Skype as much as possible to avoid any phone costs and I'd be looking at getting a local SIM card. Always been a fan of that anyway. I'd also consider buying a global type sim card before I go though to have all that worked out in advance. Depends on where I'm headed I guess. I've had quite a few trips where I've spent too much time looking around for SIM cards when really I should have just been enjoying the sights Ok, it's actually a pretty funny memory trying to negotiate SIM card in Russia, but other than that, it's usually just a drag.

Tina Wayland (tway)

Don't lend your phone to your husband. That'll save you tons!

Don't lend your phone to your husband. That'll save you tons!

I'm semi-old-fashioned and send a text home every few days. Then I get a few texts back and the whole thing costs me a few dollars. When we went to South Africa, I'd turn my phone on every few days, check for new texts, send a few off home, and shut the phone off again. It took just a few minutes and meant I didn't have to keep charging the phone as we went along.

Kris Kalav (beerman)

I don't have a cell phone, iPad, iPhone, smartphone... Just an antique Dell laptop and 2 tin cans with string tied between them.

Boy, this is a toughie... I tend to not stay connected while away. I don't have a cell phone, iPad, iPhone, smartphone... Just an antique Dell laptop and 2 tin cans with string tied between them. Makes it kind of difficult if I'm overseas - different countries tend to have different tin can frequencies.

Ultimately, I'll use email, though that's pretty slow for getting responses. Skype could work better. Public telephones work for me, though they can be a bit expensive. If I were to move into the 20th century and buy a mobile, I would buy a SIM card for wherever I was. Hard to fit a SIM into the string between the tin cans though.....

Stay disconnected, that's my advice.

Nikki Leigh (Rraven)

I made the mistake a few years ago of taking my phone with me while I was away without adjusting the package I was on, this did indeed mean a large bill and a cut off service in the end.

If you do insist on taking your phone, many people can't part with it, then its always best to check what other network packages are available. For example, some networks have roaming internet for 2 euro a day which is a large discount, also your phone can be handy for free wi fi locations to log in and check your email.

In general, since my original error and expense, I now keep a cheap phone ( think bucket and out of date) for travelling, its sim free so I can buy sim cards in new locations. Many have deals where, if the sim is for example 10 or 20 euro, then you get half that back in call credit when you register the number. This is normally my solution if I really do need a phone and the other person has no skype or regular internet connections.
Otherwise, I keep in touch via blogs and other social media.

Zindy Noertamtomo (zags)

I always take my cell phone with me. Can't leave home without it.

Depends on the situation - e.g. if I will be staying for a pretty long time (say, more than a week) or if I'll be using it a lot, then I'll find a local SIM card. Most cell phones in my country are sold separate from the SIM card so I can change the card freely.

Today mobile Internet is getting cheaper so I might find a local SIM card with good Internet package/plan which I'll use to get in touch with home via instant messaging such as YM/GTalk and Facebook Otherwise I'll use an Internet cafe. Or, I might find cell phone rental. Will compare between buying a local SIM card. But if my trip will just be a few days, I'll just send text messages home using SMS. A few days won't hurt...(so far that I experienced).

Katie (Katie2209)

I'm planning on going travelling January, 2012. I was advised to take a crappy old phone, that I wouldn't mind losing/damaging, with me for emergencies and an ipod touch (its virtually the same as an iphone without the phone part). You can download a skype app. for free calls which seemed like a good idea to me!

Kate Kendall (katekendall)

Staying connected is extremely important to me while I'm on the road – especially since I'm often working and travelling. I take my unlocked iPhone 4 with me everywhere and get a pay-as-you-go micro-sim from of the more competitive carriers in whichever country I'm in. I tend to rely a lot on Google Maps so getting a data-focused package works best. I then use Viber, WhatsApp and Skype to make calls or text messages. Although, due to varying time zones, I tend to communicate mostly through social media platforms rather than making voice calls. I use Twitter for short form messages (like SMS), Instagram for photo sharing and Facebook for finding old friends. I used to do international roaming with my home carrier but after having a horrifying bill from a few weeks in Fiji and New Zealand, am scarred for life. Do not turn your data roaming on, ever!

But having said all this, as we live such digitally-connected existences - one of the reasons we should travel is to disconnect. To feel alone and free.

But having said all this, as we live such digitally-connected existences - one of the reasons we should travel is to disconnect. To feel alone and free. I've had a rewarding few experiences of late where the WiFi's been down and I've had no bars of reception on my phone. A rare peace.

Gretchen Wilson-Kalav (Isadora)

After reading all of these submissions, the consensus is - take a phone along, deal with local SIM cards and generally turn it off to enjoy your travels.

Beerman lied about the cell phone. We have one. I use minute cards and it's for emergencies only. I do not take it out of country. It sits in a drawer, turned off, and waits for me to find it again once a week. I'm the dinosaur as I've done 99% of my traveling without modern technology by my side. I remember having to use public phones - try to find one of those these days... (Ooohhh, we found one in New York! See above photo.)

We took a trip recently. I was getting random voice mails dated from 2009 and not even meant for me. (I've had the phone number since 2006.) Between my best friend playing with the phone and Beerman using it to make calls, somehow the ring tone and vibrate functions were put on mute. I had 20 people all committed to a dinner one night (Beerman's birthday bash) and was surprised no one had sent a text or left a voice mail or called to verify the details. Lo and behold - they had. I just didn't get them until 2 weeks ago. (Did I mention dinosaur?!) Needless to say, all but 1 person showed up regardless of the situation. All in all, the phone is not your true connection.

Yes, take it along. But, sometimes 'being off the grid' isn't a bad thing. Use it wisely, not just for everything. Instead, enjoy your adventure. That's what travel is all about - seriously.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR ARTICLE SUBMISSIONS!! If you have an idea for a TU entry, please send an e-mail to unravelled [at] travellerspoint [dot] com. Include your subject, a short description of the material you would like to cover and a request to be added as an author. If possible, send a short sample of your entry. If things don't pick up soon, our Editors are all going to go traveling themselves and I'll never find them again. Please keep them busy so I know where they are... Just a thought...
PS: The TP Foundation earns $5.00 from every published submission.

Posted by Isadora 10:17 Comments (1)

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