Relax While Traveling

Ever experienced a ‘travel hungover’? The feeling of deadbeat and exhaustion after a long vacation? My European tour last year almost felt like one. Imagine this, I was planning for a vacation to unwind from work, but came back highly strung. But even so, I enjoyed every minute of it, each and every single crazy one. No regrets.

Maybe I should have follow the tips below.

1) Switch off the technology

We are now basically so wired up that it is kind of hard to unhook ourselves from the Internet. You name it, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter…etc. Not to mention the games or apps that we play with every working day. To avoid all these, turn off instant notification, stay away from the data roaming and just enjoy the vacation.

2) Look away from the viewfinder

I’m probably half guilty of this (only half mind you!). To a photography nut, this is called ‘chimping’, an act of checking the viewfinder after each shot. I think it is instinct to capture every single thing on camera, now that it’s digital and we don’t even need film. SD cards are a dime a dozen and we can just shoot away. What to do? Sometimes, we need to experience the place rather than catching it in a photo.

3) Overplanning

Hands up if you’re guilty of this. I am the typical Type A, obsessive/compulsive, must-do-everything kind of person when it comes to planning. Don’t blame me, blame the place. It is probably a thousand kilometres to Europe from where I’m staying. The Euro is four times as expensive as my local currency, it’s not like I will be there every year, hence the overplanning.

For those of you who aren’t, I salute you. For those that chose the travel agent’s all-in package, you’re smart. Why do the job when you can let others do it for you? Vacation is all about letting it all go and relaxing.

4) Go somewhere you know

A typical cure for the item above is to take a vacation at a place that you’re familiar with. In that case, you don’t have to visit every single sights or try out every single thing there. Public transport? Piece of cake. Getting lost? No such worry. That is what I always do when I needed a quick getaway. My destination? Kuala Lumpur. Not necessarily the best place to unwind, considering I have a lot of sunny beaches to choose from, which are nearer. But there, everything is within a 5-minute drive from the apartment. Good food, air conditioning and great companionship. What else?

5) Staycation

The catchphrase for most people who are too caught up to plan, no budget to travel and no time to take a leave. A long weekend is probably what you need. Just sleep in and unwind at home. It helps a bit if you have a beachfront house, but that’s just asking too much. Read the book that you have put off for so long. Go cash in on the spa and massage treatment. Or just stroll along the neighbourhood. Priceless.

Share your relaxing methods!

Vacation Expenses

Having booked the tickets to a new destination for the upcoming holidays, it is time to get down to the nitty-gritty of planning or estimating the budget. What are the things that we will be looking at?

1) Food

Is breakfast included with your hotel bookings? What are your usual dietary habits? Heavy lunch or heavy dinner? Are you planning to coincide the trip with a special occasion? Some restaurants have online menus with prices. Research before going!

2) Transport

For the modern cities around the world, there is most probably a mobility card of some sort that covers public transport across a few days for a fixed fee. Try to find out their costs and what it covers before leaving. In certain cases, you could try asking the tourist information counter at the international airports. As for the rest, prepare some small change in the local currency in advance. You don’t want to show off your $50 bill for a $2 ticket.

3) Phone

I usually skip this part due to the higher cost of international roaming. You are on a holiday, any phone calls could be put off. But in the circumstances that you couldn’t do so, get the local SIM card for cheaper calls. Certain mobile companies sell international prepaid cards which you can buy before heading off to your destination.

4) Internet

We can’t live without it. Same for the phone calls, get the local SIM card with 3G enabled for uninterrupted surfing at the local rate. For work, try to ask your hotel for any free wi-fi access. Certain couchsurfers would offer theirs for free. In a worse case scenario, pay the hotel for the broadband charges.

5) Entry Fees/Tours

Planning to visit some museums? Going for a short day tour? You can plan these in advance. List down your preference and do a survey online regarding a one-card-pays-all to save money. For instance, the Paris Museum Pass covers most of the famous museums in Paris, and you could even visit them as frequent as you want within the timeframe stated!

6) Credit Card/ATMs

If you’re trying to withdraw cash overseas via the ATMs, please do a double-check with your bank. Do not be surprised if you don’t and found yourself paying for this particular service each time you withdraw money from the ATMs at foreign destinations. I prefer to bring along enough cash and to use the credit cards as last minute backups, in case of emergencies.

7) Exchange Rates

My preference in this issue would be to ask the money exchanger what was the lowest ever exchange rate between the foreign currency and the local over the last few years. My timeframe would be around a year before departure. Giving you plenty of time to exchange when the rates are low. For my Europe trip in 2012, I exchanged for Euros when the rates were RM3.90 for every Euro. Now, it’s RM4.40 per Euro. It is a significant chunk of difference if you are planning on carrying some big bucks. This works vice-versa.

8) Shopping/Souvenirs

Last but not least, the must-do of all vacations — shopping. This could be either for the relatives and friends back home or it could be for yourself. Set a limit if you’re on a tight budget but if you have loads to spare, do nothing.