We travel to get an insight into the world out there, to experience the way the locals live and to immerse ourselves in their culture. So here are our 8 travel tips that you should know to make the best out of your travel experience!
Take the local bus/train and squeeze with the locals! Ride along with the poultry that they bring along, sit next to locals carrying fresh daily supplies of farm harvest. This is not only a great way to experience the locals’ way of living but also a great cost saving measure! Or hop on a motorbike or bicycle and enjoy the flexibility of exploring the routes less taken. Taxi is our least preferred choice. But if you do take a taxi, you should always let the guy enter the cab first followed by the girl. The guy should exit the cab only after the girl has safely stepped out of the cab. This is for safety reasons, in case the taxi driver tries to be funny and suddenly drives off with the girl alone in the cab.
Be mindful with your spending but not at the expense of enjoying yourself. That is our philosophy as being budget travellers. We usually save time and money spent on accommodation by traveling on an overnight bus/train. Couch surfing is also another great way to save money and at the same time to befriend the locals. We prioritise our spending on activities as compared to good food or luxurious accommodation. We would gladly choose to pay $500 for a sky diving experience over a 5 star hotel accommodation anytime. It’s all about prioritising your expenses.
Do what the locals do and you’ll find yourself starting conversation with the locals much more easily! When we were backpacking Myanmar, we each bought a Longyi (a piece of cloth worn round the waist like a sarong) and wore it like the locals and applied Thanaka on our face which is the local version of sunblock. We received plenty of attention and smiles from the locals and made friends with them easily. Eat at the street side food stalls alongside with the locals and avoid places filled with tourists (in other words, avoid places that Lonely Planet recommends you to go!).
Talk to the locals and other fellow travellers! Find out where they’ve been to and their favourite places. You might just discover very interesting hidden gems that your guide book has omitted. When we were in Myanmar, instead of heading to the highly raved about “Kalaw to Inle Lake trek”, we changed our plans and heeded the advice of another fellow traveller to try out the Hsipaw Trek instead. We had no regrets at all. Hsipaw was beyond beautiful! It was so untouched and we were like the only people out there!
Wander around, get lost and let your instincts take you to wherever your heart desires. Stop relying so heavily on your guide books and maps. It’s really all right to be lost, that’s all part of the adventure! Don’t be afraid to explore and walk the unbeaten paths. Often you’ll discover a myriad of interesting happenings! When we were in Inle, Myanmar, we decided to randomly explore and chanced upon a village and got invited in for tea and snacks! Our host even gave us a private boat ride around her village. So awesome!
Yes, you’ve heard us, scrape all plans! No plan is the best plan. Be spontaneous and go with the flow. We hardly ever book our accommodation or activities prior to any trip. Our itinerary is often based on the people we talk to and most of the time decided only one day in advance. All we’ve got is usually just the air tickets and that’s it.
Get out of the city and get cosy with nature. Singapore being one of the most populated countries in the world is packed with people everywhere. Travelling allows us to get away from the crowd and to slow down our pace of living. So usually we enjoy taking it to the rural areas where everything is beautiful and tranquil. We love doing homestays at the villages too. Or sometimes we would just camp at National Parks or go for a trek in the wilderness, just to get closer to nature.
Lastly, always respect the land, culture and people. Remember that you are in a foreign territory. Follow the laws of the country (even when sometimes it makes no sense to you). Be cautious, but not overly cautious. Don’t let the inner paranoid self in you take away the fun in travelling. Just be safe and trust your gut feelings. They’re almost always right.