Sunday, May 18, 2014

Keep your expenses low when travelling

Oftentimes when I talk about travelling and my travel experiences they tell me how much they absolutely looove travelling and admit how much they long for it. They seem to be craving to lie on the beach, to smell the salty air, to saddle up their backpack, to head to  the airport... 

At the same time, though.. they moan:
  • how expensive travelling is
  • and how they cannot, absolutely not afford to go on holidays "right now"

Oh! Seems to me that in their mindset, travelling equals "using money"

Hm. Not in my mindset: Travelling can be for free! 

Yes.. If you are willing to sacrifice certain things. You won't be able to stay in a 4 star hotel. Unless you know the owner of the business of course.. but sometimes you newer know what you will get. In a good way.. and the amount of love and hospitality you get while travelling like me is sometimes unbelievable. Let me explain.... 

1) Hitchhike
Hitchhiking is free. But the seasoned hitchhiker does not hitch because of the money. Lets say not always. 
The reason why I cannot stop hitchhiking is that I like the way it opens up my mind. I am active and I am talking to people I would never ever meet. That gives me so much opportunity to switch perspective and to get in new information. Its like Forest Gups saying "its like a box of chocolates, you never know what you´ll get.. but sure it will be chocolates" Moreover I like the challenge and the feeling of freedom. 

If you don't want to hitchhike: there are other ways
  • Check for special prices with the train companies, monthly passes 
  • Ask car rental companies if you could drive their cars from one point to another. They sometimes need people to do that. The journey for you will be free. 
  • Walk: you will be surprised how many things you start to see you never paid attention to before
  • Nowadays there are many cheap bus companies in most countries
  • Ship-Hike: travel by boat by volunteering or asking to get a lift at the harbours. 

2) Staying with locals
It very much prefer staying with locals than in hostels. Why? Hostels are loud, dirty, oftentimes full, stuffed, and because I need to share my room, I can't sleep. There is ALWAYS somebody snoring. 
That doesn't happen with locals. Usually I can sleep in the living room or sometimes even in my own room.. Some even - freaked out when I saw it - gave us a whole apartment to stay in.. just for us! 

When you stay with locals also you benefit food wise. They will mostly want you to taste their cuisine, the local food or will share some of their food with you. At the minimum you can cook your own meal when staying with locals. That way, you won't spend more money than at home for your living. 

Moreover: locals know their city. They can tell you how to save.. what is a tourist trap or how to get to a place by normal local transport and not by touristic mode.. 

3) Find ways of entertaining yourself without money
While travelling, you will meet other people who live their example to you. They will bring the ideas to you wether you like it or not. For example: I met a street artist in Copenhagen. He made a fortune in just one fire show on the street. He only needed  to work 1 hour a day to be able to have enough cash in hand to use public transport, to eat out and even go out in evenings. 

If you plan on travelling for a long period of time, it´s best to start performing on the street too! What can you offer? 

4) Barter or simply ask people for a favour
Bring something along that represents a value: a book, a skirt, an object that you could exchange for something else. Then what you do is this: you will simply exchange this object for something else you need. 

Anther method is as simple as that: just ask!  when you need something: ask. You will be surprized how many people are willing to help you if you ask them. 

5) Be creative and open minded
This will bring you further than you thought it can! Just go outside and look for yourself! 

If you follow all the above tips, you will end up using far less money while travelling than when you are at home paying your apt, your car, your insurances, going out for ridiculously expensive drinks, entertainment you don't even enjoy. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Why you need to know exactly WHERE you are going

Organisation, organisation, organisation...

I cannot stress that enough. Preparation is the most important when you hitchhike. You have to get ready BEFOREHAND and get information about where you are going and how! 
This is how I usually do it: 

  • Study maps well beforehand. Find out where you will need to stand for getting a lift and how you can get there. For example what city bus number is taking you near the highway. Nowadays with google maps and streetview it´s really really easy! The Hitchwiki will help you most!

Find the perfect spots with hitchwiki google maps based map with comments from fellow hitchhikers
  • Lets say you need to get from A to F, then you need to study and write down all cities/towns inbetween including, their on and off points and all the big gas stations along the road.
(By on/off point i mean the place where its best to get another ride further continuing your destination F)

It really is hard work to plan hitchhiking.. Expecially if you need to change highways in countries with lots of diffeent highways (Germany for example). Also, if you need to be at a certain point at a certain time this can make you nervous. Its better to plan enough time then.

  • Don´t try to make too many kilometers in one day. Better split it into 2 days and use the rest of the day for resting and looking at the town/sights inbetween. 

Ok, folks thats all for today, I am off to hitchhiking!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Travel series: Norway. The most beautiful boat trip in the world

Welcome back my friends:  I recently made this trip by Hurtigruten in Norway. 

Hurtigruten used to be the post ship in Norway. It was not only the sole transport means in winter in old times, but now it is the fastest. Nowadays it is still very popular and many norwegians use the boat in winter. It is quite affordable in winter totally overpriced in summer though. It is really worth a thought my dear friennds. Sit on onboard and relax. Enjoy the view and the northern lights instead of bothering with iced roads and the cold, moose accidents and the lot!

Since I didn´t have much time, I only cose to ride from Trondheim to Tromsö. This took 2 days and nights. I saw the northern lights and relaxed during these 2 days. I would sit in the lobby and simply watch the amazing scene. This enchanted landscape is truly miracilous. One cannot get enough of it anyway..

Pic is from this website! They have more amazing pics there :)

I can strongly recommend the journey. It is however best to split it up in little bits, unless you want to eat restaurant food for the whole time. There is no means of finding food onboard other than what you get in the overpriced restaurant. It´s your choice!

Links for you my dears:
Hurtigruten booking page, its worth looking at because of the pictures!
More of my personal pictures

Thursday, September 6, 2012

How to be a good host for Couchsurfers

Ok my dear dears: Welcome back! I am very much longing to host again myself. Here are the things I would do for my guests to make them feel comfortable.

1) When you get a couchrequest, reply asap if you want to host. Tell them what to expect (if you will be busy with work or not) Its good to give your address. Some give it in the first answer already, some in the second. For the traveller its better to give the postal address early, so they can check on the ma. However I understand some people only share it when reconfirmation has arrived. Try to be clear in your message about where and when to meet and what to expect.

2) I would fetch them from a place in the city/nearby if living on the countrysite that is easy to find. Probably plain simply its the place where they arrive. I don´t want my guests to get lost on the way to my place. Sometimes it is not possible (for example when they hitchhike) then I would give them the closest/easiest busstop to find nearby and fetch them from there once they arrive.

3) When you have arrived, tell your guest immediately where his designated spot is. For example, inform where to keep the backpack and where he/she will be sleeping. 

4) Don´t be a prick! Offer your guest a drink (Tea, water whatever you find nice) They might be dehydrated from the journey. Offer some snack too maybe, they might be very hungry.

5) I usually show my guests around the house/apartment, show what rooms are what, the garden, etc.. so they know where what is. I found that along my travels my hosts often didn´t do that. It was pretty annoying because then I wouldn´t feel well going inside the other rooms. 

6) Inform your guest about food and about paying of food. It is probably best to do that beforehand in your email. When I travel, I never know where I am at and if I have to get my own food or not. Therefore its better to tell your guest. 

7) Inform your guest about your daily routine and plans for the day. Don´t just disappear, but tell them you need some time for yourself now and how long that will be. 

8) Include your guest into your day: 
I usually take my guests around if I have time. If I work, ok then I cannot do that but then I would still try to spend some time with them. When you go out on the week-end, include your guest and take him/her along. Let them participate in your life. 

9) Offer a towel for your guest. Too many hosts forget that detail. Don´t require your guest - who has been on the road for soooo long and been using the same towel for weeks without being able to wash it - to use his dirty towel. At least give her/him a fresh one.

Thats all folks, let me know if you do more than that for your guests.