Local Customs and More on a Travel Tips Blog

Experienced travellers claim that you should travel light on luggage and heavy on knowledge. Genuine globetrotters point out that everywhere you go, the hotels, restaurants, and shops will have everything you need. Moreover, if you keep your suitcase empty on your outbound trip, you have lots of room for all the great one-of-a-kind items you will pick-up on your travels. You cannot and should not, however, keep your mind more than half empty, leaving yourself vulnerable to hijackers, pirates, and international incidents. Reading a good travel tips blog, you can develop an experienced traveler’s wisdom and insight without ever leaving home.

Rules, regulations, and requirements

A travel tips blog will detail the rules, regulations, requirements, and laws governing travel to any destination on earth. Learn whether you need special documents or identification; should you carry your passport and birth certificate wherever you go? Learn whether you need proof of vaccination to enter the country; should you protect yourself against malaria, smallpox, and other contagious diseases relatively uncommon in Europe and North America? What will you do if you are injured during your travels abroad; will your insurance protect you, or should you purchase extra “trip insurance”? Can you drive a car through the country; what are the rules of the road? A travel tips blog breaks-down all the information into its main ideas and details, placing emphasis where it belongs and adding information only the locals would know.

Currency and exchange rates

Although the vendors and merchants will help you with all your transactions, you should know enough about the currency and values that you can tell the difference between a genuine bargain and an over-priced touristy curio. A travel tips blog will advise you to carry a pocket calculator or get an app for that, so that you can go comfortably from dollars to Euros to rupees or pesos. When you have mastered the math, move on to mastering the etiquette of tipping: to whom do you offer a gratuity, and how much is enough? Perhaps most importantly, a travel tips blog will advise you about shopping-what about tariffs, duties, customs fees, and other costs. That little trinket that seemed like the most awesome bargain in the universe may become your most expensive mistake if you do not prepare in advance.

Customs and courtesies

Learn a little bit about common courtesies in the countries on your itinerary. A travel tips blog will advise you about the consequences of asking for a fork in Japan or China, the complications of violating a local’s “personal space” in New York, and the ramifications of belching or becoming belligerent in an Australian pub. What about handshakes, bows, and hugs? Who does what, when and why? People in California and Colorado believe in hug-at-first-sight; other places not so much. Women may discreetly inquire about proper headwear: what does one wear as she visits the Vatican, takes tea with the Queen, or travels anywhere in Iran?

Ethiopia Adventure Travel Tips

In November 2010 my husband and I travelled around Ethiopia for three weeks by public bus with a private guide. Travel (especially bus travel) is a real adventure and not for the faint hearted as there is long travel days (even longer if the bus breaks down) on poorly maintained roads. But it is an excellent way to get up close and personal and experience the life and culture of the locals.

Addis Ababa
We arrived at the airport at 3.30am. We had not booked any accommodation due to our early arrival so we stayed at the airport till about 7am. A taxi agreed to take us into the city for USD$10. We went to the Ras Hotel where we had to wait till 9am to see if they had a room.
Travel Tip: We stayed at the Ras Hotel 3 times due to its central location. The price includes breakfast which is awful but lunch and dinner are good.

Bahir Dar
We stayed at the Ghion Hotel on Lake Tana and did a boat cruise to the islands to see the painted churches. The Blue Nile Falls area is pretty but not worth the long bumpy ride to get there. Since damming the river, the waterfalls are certainly nothing like the posters show.
Travel Tip: Check if a guide is included with your Lake Tana boat cruise. There was 9 of us on our boat. No guide accompanied us on the boat except for our private guide Samson. The first island we visited Samson acted as intrepreter otherwise we would have not understood what we were looking at. The second island we visited the church guide spoke English.

Gonder
The abandoned castles are very interesting and it is worth hiring the guides inside the gate.
Travel Tip: We stayed at the Belgez Pension which was cheap, clean and quiet but the rooms were very small and cramped. They do your washing for a very small fee – give to the cleaners in the morning.

Simien Mountains
We did a one day 4WD day trip with another traveller and our guide Samson.
Travel Tip: We would have liked to have stayed overnight even though we are not trekkers, as the scenery is stunning.

Lalibela
We spent 2 nights in Lalibela exploring the amazing rock churches.
Travel Tip: Keep your entrance ticket handy as they will be checked at each church entrance.

Arba Minch
Arba Minch is a overnight bus stop between Addis Ababa and Jinka.
Travel Tip: Spend an extra night on one of the stopovers and do the lake tour.

Jinka
We hired a 4WD locally to tour the main 3 tribes in the area (Mersi, Hamer and Karo tribes). We shared this cost with 3 other travellers who were on the bus and stayed at the same accommodation as us.
Travel Tip: Buy your bus ticket to Addis Ababa early (at least 1 day in advance) so you can obtain a better seat number otherwise you will find yourself stuck at the back of the bus on the 2 day journey. Buy good ear plugs so that you can block out the noise of the loud music videos playing.

Transport
We used a variety of transport that included: public bus, minivan, 4WD and boat.
Travel Tip: If you find that quite a few of you are heading in the same direction, it will be more economical and comfortable to rent a minivan and driver like we did from Bahar Dar to Gondar (7 people).

Tour Guide
We used the services of a private guide. This was the first time we have hired a guide for the entire trip through a new country. The guide proved invaluable in keeping the touts away (worth the money alone), dealing with local tour operators and obtaining hotels.
Travel Tip: Use a private guide’s extensive knowledge and experience to enjoy Ethiopia through the eyes of a local.

Travel Tips And Advice – Travelling With A Disability

A disability should not stop you from travelling, but a chance to try different travel options. The three key challenges to travel with a disability are – transport, toilets and accommodation. We will provide you with Trusty Travel Tips and advice that will assist you on your next travel adventure.

Don’t get hung up on how accessible a place is, focus on all the activities you can do!

Planning Your Adventure

When you are travelling with a disability or travelling with someone with a disability, the most important thing for a smooth vacation is correct planning. Don’t go overboard and plan your holiday down to the last minute, but all your accommodation and transport should be booked before you leave home.

You should research the accessibility of your transport and accommodation options, and also for the activities you are planning. Ask questions about access to buildings, the number of steps, how wide are the doorways and lifts and is there easy access from the car park. And for your accommodation, off course ask whether there are disabled toilets and showers, and if there is enough space in your room for a wheelchair.

When contacting places, you need to be specific about your own limitations, so that different options can be put in place to cater for you. The best place to get information is from other travellers who have done it before. Otherwise you should try local tourist information centres.

Make sure you pack all essential and necessary medications, and bring with you any necessary prescriptions. Also make sure you pack extras of any medical or personal equipment that you might require.

Choosing The Right Transport

One of the biggest difficulties when travelling with a limitation is choosing the right transport and especially getting on and off public transport. Once you have planned your itinerary, you need to research your options between locations or cities. The best way to find accessible transport is to talk to “customer relations” or the person in charge of ‘specific needs customers’. They will be able to provide exact information on the transport options.

Catching a plane can be a daunting experience! When you book your ticket, let the airline know your limitations and specific consideration should be provided. Be sure to check with your airline to make sure it has accessible toilets before booking a long haul flight.

Many people with a disability will forget figuring out the best transport all together, and will take a cruise holiday – either a river cruise or a large cruise liner. This way all of your luggage will stay in the one place, you don’t need to find an accessible restaurant or toilet, and many of the activities are brought to you.

Other good options are:

Hiring a camper van that is wheelchair accessible
Take a train holiday in Western Europe – most trains are ideal with easy access and accessible toilets.

Finding An Accessible Toilet

Research is essential to finding accessible toilets. Many toilets say that they are accessible, when they are clearly are not. Don’t find out the hard way! Asking at the tourist information centres for up to date information.

Places to look for an accessible toilet is at museums or art galleries, fast food restaurants or at modern train stations. Some travellers will plan what activities they do or attractions they see each day by where they can find an accessible toilet.

What is The Best Accommodation

It will be hard to find the perfect accommodation when you’re travelling, except if you are willing to pay for it. Research is essential before you go to find a place that is accessible.

A good hotel will have accessible car parks that have easy access to the hotel. They will normally have a lift and even a porter service. Most will have a restaurant or food service on-site for easy access. Make sure you tell your accommodation when you are booking about your limitations, what equipment you might have and what assistance you may require.

A good idea is to stay in accommodation in a central location. It will be easier to visit local attractions and these attractions will be close-by. You might even be able to do day trips away from the city. This way you avoid the need to move all your luggage again.

Other Great Tips And Advice

If you are in a wheelchair and have someone to push you, take a manual chair. It will take up less space then an electric chair and it doesn’t require recharging.
Allow your family or carers to have a holiday too. Let them do activities that they choose. This way they will want to travel with you again and it might give everyone some needed time apart.
Have your wheelchair cleaned and serviced before you leave. Make sure you have checked the batteries and all moving parts are in working order. Also research who you could contact if you have a major breakdown on the road.
If you have an electric wheelchair, take spare travel adapters so that you don’t get caught out.

The most important tips and advice is for you and your family / carer to enjoy your holiday. Enjoy each day and its new adventures, new sights, new culture and the new things to be learnt.

A team of four dedicated and experienced travellers have come together to form Trusty Travel Tips. We provide great travel tips and advice on planning your adventure, what to pack, how to pack and what to expect when travelling on the road.

You may be interested in our tips and advice on travel security accessories that will keep your belongings safe or the best travel accessories to pack.

China Travel Tips

Survival China Travel Tips and Tricks

These China Travel Tips, Survival Techniques, will help you get around and make your trip to China easier, so you will be able to experience the real China with a little less stress.

China is an odd beast that needs to be respected; the major cities, Beijing, Shanghai, and Xian, all have their own personalities.

Some complex situations that you think would be an organizational disaster turn out to be great and you wonder afterward what all the fuss and worry was about. Then the simplest of tasks can turn out to be a major calamity.

This is when you have what we call here a “China day”.

These days come and go and are part of the experience of everyday travel in China. One needs to have an open mind when travelling China. It is a place with thousands of years of history and culture that is trying overnight to adapt to Western ways of living.

You need to have a very open mind when you Travel in China.
I have listed below a few China Travel Tips that will make life that wee bit more bearable on your Travel China experience.

China Travel Tips – Be Toilet Wise

o Never expect a clean toilet 100% of the time.

o Be prepared; Carry some tissue.

o You may have to use a squat toilet, again if you know this before hand it is not a shock. If you don’t know how to use a squat toilet, try the following experiment at home.

While holding onto something for support with both hands, lower your body down into a low squat position, so that the cheeks of your bottom is almost touching your heels or the back of your calf. Now, let go with your hands. See if you stay in this position for at least 1 minute. If you fall backwards or you cannot get up, then a squat toilet could be a problem for you! Practice, you will be happy you did.

o If you see a clean toilet, Go… it may not come again for a while.

o There are many public toilets around the cities, usually the ones you pay for are OK, (RMB .5), the others best to stay away from if you can. You will soon notice them as you walk around the cities.

o Be warned that public areas like bus and train stations are usually what I class as “tough toilets”, however if gotta go you gotta go.

o Outside of the major cities, the toilet systems are old or have very narrow plumbing /pipes and get blocked easily. In these cases a small basket is usually beside the toilet, this is for your used toilet paper.

One of the best China Travel toilet Tips I can give you, is use hotel lobby toilets; these are everywhere and are always clean. Still they may not always have toilet paper. It depends on the class of hotel that you are using.

I do not wish to scare you. However, of all the China Travel Tips in all the other web sites I have read, this is a topic not often mentioned, but it is very important to us all.

So outside of the major cities conditions can be tough. But most of the time everything will be fine, especially if you book a tour; everything will have been checked out before hand. However even the best laid plans can go wrong, so be prepared, the toilets in the smaller cities, towns and villages can be scary.

China Travel Tips – The Food

o The food is great and the variety is overwhelming. Most of the time you get to choose what you eat, or you can recognize what you’re eating, however sometimes you do not get a choice. Carry a chocolate bar or something; this will keep you going until some food that you can recognize turns up. Drink bottled or boiled water, as the tap water is NOT safe to drink, this is for the whole of China. Even boiled water, while sterilised can contain a lot of minerals and iron deposits that you probably do not want in your system. The safest bet is to drink bottle water. Tap water in most big cities is OK for brushing teeth.

o Eating habits – Most Chinese people have a great habit of being very noisy when they eat and lunch and dinner times can be a wonderfully noisy celebration, food tends to go in all directions, its just part of being in China.

o People also smoke at the table while everyone is eating, so some restaurants get very loud and smoky.

o If you get stuck what to order as most of the menu’s are in Chinese just look at the table next to you and point to the dish you fancy and ask how much it is, this system works really well and know seems to mind.

o I have a basic menu that will help you order safe food, (no Cats or Dog) this will enable you to visit a larger selection of restaurants, not just the tourist ones with high prices. You can carry it with you and use it in the local restaurants where most will be able to serve what is on it. This way you will know what you are eating.

These local places are very cheap and the food it great. Contact me if you would like me to send it to you.

China Travel Tips – Taxis

o China Travel Tips- Taxis – Taxis are an experience that can have you griping the seat and gasping for breath; however you soon get used to it, after the first few rides, you’re an old hand.

o The taxis in Shanghai are, overall, quite good. Try to get the Blue, Blue’ish Turquoise, Gold and White taxis, these are the best… these are the four major taxi companies and are generally recognised by their single colour paintwork. The others are OK, just older and a rougher ride (the others also may have faulty metres). No drivers will speak English.

o Carry your hotel or accommodation business card with you, written in Chinese, this helps if you get lost walking around town.

o In all the taxis around the country you will see the drivers name and taxi registration number in plain sight. If you have any problem, or if you think you have been over charged etc, just take this number down, make a big fuss about it, and the driver then should wake up and fix whatever problem you have. Even better is to take the receipt. This has all the trip details on it and you can ring the taxi company if you want to take things further or if you’ve left something in the taxi.

o The government takes rip-off drivers in all cities, Beijing and Xian especially, very seriously and if you complain they will lose their license. This is their livelihood. So far I have had not one driver in 3 years that has not backed down and we have then agreed a price for the trip or solved our problem.

o In Shanghai, it is common practice for taxi fare increases after 11pm. However, one can usually bargain for a 20% discount, which will get the fare back to the pre-11pm rate.
Be strong with the taxi drivers, never-the-less, keep your cool, smile and negotiate.

China Travel Tips – Shopping

o China Travel Tips – Shopping – China is a shopper’s paradise, Markets, Bargains; Top labels… anything and everything if you have the time. With clothes, the larger (Western) sizes can be quite hard to find, however in the major cities where you get a lot of tourist traffic, you can find them.

o Electrical gear, DVD’s, Cameras, stuff like this is not worth buying in China, Hong Kong is still the best place for this.

o Store hours in the major cities are from 10am to 10pm, 7 days a week.

o Visa card is still the best card to carry, with ATM’s in good supply all with PLUS access etc.
There is usually a surcharge for use of VISA, MasterCard or other forms of credit card.

o Wait on purchasing if you can, look around to get a feel for the prices. The Chinese are VERY experienced at selling and know that we halve the opening price when bargaining.
In the markets go for 25% of what they first ask; go so low that they let you walk away. This will give you an idea of the bottom price. The resulting end-price will probably be around 40% to 50% of where they started.

Whatever the market people say, they are used to pushing and haggling for best prices. Do not worry about being too hard, they are used to it and will not sell you an item unless they make a profit. Don’t be concerned with the apparently hurt body language when you go low – it is all part of the game. As soon as they have wrapped up your first purchase, they will try to sell you something more. Remember to keep smiling and having fun while bargaining.

China Travel Tips – Medical Treatment and Records

o Most hotels will have a doctor that you can see. In the major hotels English will be spoken.

o Always take a small first aid kit, cold remedy, headache tablets at the very least. WATSONS is a very large chain chemist. Most of the remedies, tablets etc, that you may require should be in these shops. These shops are all over China.

o There is a great network of pharmacy type shops; these are indicated by a Green Cross. There will always be a 24 hr Green Cross pharmacy in the city you are in. It is handy to carry a Phase book, as no one will speak English, however you will end up with something that will help.

o INPORTANT POINT – for most of the mass produced packet type medicines, the packaging will be written in Chinese on one side, English on the other. However in the shops you only see the Chinese side. Have a good look, turn the packs over, it gives you a lot more confidence knowing you can read the package.

o If you have a specific medical issue, take records, most of the Doctors will have OK written / reading English, even though their oral English will be poor.

Top 5 Travel Tips For Canada

Canada is a great vacation destination and has many things to offer to its visitors like the majestic mountains, beautiful winding roads, lush green forests, wildlife and the multicultural cities. I traveled to Canada last year in December using my air Canada miles, my trip was simply awesome. Here I want to share with you my five best travel tips for Canada.

First Tip – Purchase A Good Travel Guide:

When you are traveling to some foreign country, it’s always a god idea to carry a travel guide. Canada is also a no exception, if you don’t want to buy a travel guide there are always many good travel tips and guides present online which you can print.

You can find some good travel guides for Canada on top web pages like Fodor’s, Lonely Planet or Rough guides. A good thing about travel guides is that it provides you with an insight about the destination, like where to go, what to eat and drink, things to do and see, where to shop etc. Investing in a travel guide is not bad and it only helps you in knowing the place better.

Second Tip – Always Consider The Climate:

Before you pack your bags for Canada, don’t forget to consider the season you are traveling in. If you are heading for the Maritime Provinces then you must know that they tend to be more humid than the other provinces in the west. In Nova Scotia, Halifax, you can expect to experience weather that is temperate in summers and freezing in winters.

If you are staying in the mountainous areas of Canada, then you can expect to see a lot of diversion in the climate. Keep yourself layered up if you are staying in this region. On the other hand, areas like Victoria and Vancouver are more temperate and don’t usually see too much freezing temperature.

Third Tip – Plan To Cross The Border:

Traveling to Canada is not that easy anymore like it once used to be. The new restrictions have made it difficult to cross the borders, the documents needed for traveling to Canada are always changing from time to time. So it’s best that you check the documents and verify that you don’t need anything extra before you head for Canada.

Fourth Tip – Know The Currency:

Another important tip for traveling to Canada is that you should know the importance of comprehending the currency before you leave. Canada uses Canadian dollars, though you can also use US dollars. It is always wise to carry a traveler’s check in Canadian currency since they can be accepted anywhere.

Fifth Tip – Tips On Tipping:

Also remember when you are giving tip in Canada you need to know how the Canadians take gratitude. Tips are not included in the restaurant bills and a standard tip for good service is $12 to $15.