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Annoying Hostel Room Characters

Posted on 29 December 2009 by Sasha

Staying in a hostel is a great way to save money while travelling and meet new people.  But there is always someone who will make sharing a room a difficult task and make you want to fork out the extra dosh for a private room.  Below are some of the annoying characters that I have come across in my travels.

 

  

You Space is My Space

This is the person who has no regard for space.  They usually have their pack lying on the floor open with their belongings overflowing onto the floor.  They then proceed to dump their stuff on your bed and everyone else’s bed!!!

The Early Riser

This is the person that gets up really early whether it be to pack their bags or head off early for a day of sightseeing.  They may have an alarm but the most annoying thing is them coming in and out of the room to get their stuff to take to the bathroom because they feel if they get ready in the bathroom they are being much more considerate.

 The All Nighter

This is the person that stumbles in the middle of the night/early morning after a big night out.  Sometimes they will happily pass out on their bed or if they are really annoying they will turn the light on and refuse to turn it off, after all it’s their right to turn it on at 3am.  They may even turn the light on then leave to have a shower or go for a wander and don’t turn it off forcing you to get out of bed and turn off the light!!!

The Long Stay

This is the person that has been staying at the hostel for awhile. They are usually on a working holiday.  The room is usually personalised with their belonging scattered everywhere.  They may have little regard for personal hygiene giving the room a musty stench of sheets that haven’t been changed for months!!!

The Snoozer

This is the person that sets their alarm for some god-awful early hour and doesn’t turn it off instead putting it on snooze going off every 10 minutes for the next hour.

The Colossal Snorer

This is the person whose snores are beyond a rhythmic annoyance.  If you are in a room with this person and you close your eyes you may imagine you are in the Serengeti with buffalos and lions roaring.  You may be awoken by loud gasps and choking sounds.

The Chatter Box

This is the person who will not stop talking whether it be with their friends or anyone else that walks in the room no matter what time of night.  They may be annoying enough to try and strike up a conversation with you while trying to sleep.

The Diseased

This is the person who has come down with some ravenous disease (or cold).  They are constantly coughing, hacking up balls of mucus and blowing their nose.  They will usually have a bag of dirty tissues next to their bed.

The Horn Dog

This is the person who seems to find someone who is willing to get off with them behind a sheet in a dorm room.  The giveaway is the squeaking bunk bed, grunts, yeah baby noises and the sheet or towel used as a not hugely successful privacy screen.

My Horror Story…

If you’re really unlucky you will have a combination of characters!!! The most annoying people I ever had to share a room with was a group of girls who would came in at 3am,turn on the light, refuse to turn it off then proceed to talk loudly for an hour.  To top it off their alarm was set for 6am and did they get up then, of course not they put it on snooze for the next 40 mins!!!  I then woke up to find one of them ironing her clothes on my bed while I was asleep in it!!!

Tips for Keeping the Peace

If you want to avoid being the one who annoys everyone else in the room then follow these simple tips.

  • Be considerate it’s pretty obvious, think about all the other people who are also paying for the room.
  • If you want to go at it like rabbits get a room, a private room!!!  No one wants to hear the noises.  If you are too poor for a private room find a broom closet.
  • Forget about snooze, if you set your alarm for 6am GET UP AT 6AM don’t set your alarm that early if you don’t intend to get up!!!
  • If you are going to stumble in the middle of the night do not turn the light on!!!  Have a torch handy on your bed and make sure your bed is clear of any noisy items that may drop all over the floor causing a racket.
  • Stick to your space do not take up every chair, spare bed and empty corner of the room.
  • There are some things people can’t help like snoring or being sick so keep earplugs handy and have an eye mask ready if you want to sleep in after a big night.

 

Disclaimer: I am by no means the dream hostel room companion.  I’m known to be an early riser although I do not use an alarm, I’ve also been the diseased one hacking up mucus and I have been known to stumble in the wee hours of the morning forgetting that I have crap all over my bed and making a lot of noise as it rattles to the floor. 

What characters have you come across on your travels?  I’d love to hear your comments!!!

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Packing in 4 Steps

Posted on 01 December 2009 by Sasha

Quick and efficient packing can be achieved in 4 Simple Steps: Plan, Assess, Package, Place.  These steps have been tried and tested multiple times and have proven to make packing and particularly repacking while travelling a breeze.  

 

Plan

The key to a successfully packed bag is planning and preparation this is all about creating a packing list and making sure you have all the items you need for your travels.  A packing list will help minimise the risk of forgetting items and will help in the process of repacking while travelling.    

The items on you list will vary from trip to trip and depend on destination.  When creating a list it’s always a good idea to break it up into groups for example tops, bottoms, toiletries, travel document etc.  To help you get started download and print the On UR Way Packing List. It includes essential items for every trip as well as room to customize the list for your own trip.  

When creating a list keep in mind…

Local culture and customs

This will affect what clothing to take eg. If travelling to a Muslim country you should take clothes that are modest and do not expose too much skin.  

Climate/Season/Weather

Will it be hot and humid or cool and wet. In hot humid climates take light cotton clothing that is breathable.  In cold wet climates takes clothing that can be layered.  

Activities/Attractions

You may need to take extra gear or extra clothing depending on what activities you plan to do and what attractions you plan to visit eg. Swimmers for the beach, dressy clothes for nightclubs or casinos, beanie, gloves and scarf for the snow.  

Tip: Travel with a copy of your list to use throughout the trip to make sure you have repacked everything!!!  

 

Assess

Assess what you really need and see what can be left behind.  

Lay out all your items on the list…
This gives you a good idea of the volume of everything you’re taking.  Consider this…  

  • As a general rule of thumb you should leave behind around 50% of the clothes you originally lay out.  Ask yourself do I really need that?  Will I wear that?  If you think your only going to wear it once or twice don’t bother taking it!!!
  • Are the items you’re taking versatile?  Take items of clothing that work well together and can be mixed and matched.  Avoid bulky items that you will only where once, instead favouring layering.
  • Minimise liquids but using multipurpose liquids like combined shampoo and conditioner, paper soaps that liquefy when you add water and powdered toothpaste.
  • Take twice as many tops as bottoms.  When travelling you tend to go through more tops than bottoms and they can get sticky, sweaty and smelly quickly especially in humid climates.
  • Take lots of underwear at least 5 days worth.
  • Take the same amount of clothes for a 6 week trip as you would a 3 week. You are better to take less and wash often. However if you are spending a long period of time and crossing seasons you will need to take into account changing temperatures.
  • Remember it’s highly likely that you will do some shopping on your trip and end up buying more clothes so you don’t need to take your whole wardrobe!!!
  • Take neutral coloured bottoms favouring colours on the top.  Avoid bold patterns that can’t be matched with other items.
  • Do not take clothes that need to be ironed, instead look for clothing with stretchy fabric or lightweight cotton.

Tip: Don’t over pack!!! If your bag is full before you leave you need to reassess how much you’re taking!!! If you think you might need it as opposed to will need it don’t take it!!!  

 

Package

Packaging is very important part of the packing process.  This step really helps utilise space, keeps your bag organised and will make unpacking and re-packing quick and efficient.  By packaging up your items you won’t loose your favourite pair of socks in the depths of you bag.  

Group
The first thing you need to do is group like items together. All your tops, bottoms, electrical, toiletries, underwear should all be separated.  

Roll/Fold
By far the most efficient way to pack your clothes is by rolling clothes as opposed to folding. This utilise space and keeps clothes nice and compact and you will also notice that it minimises creasing.  

Luggage Pockets
Utilise the pockets you have in your bag or case. Small external pockets are great for underwear and items that you need easy access too.  Many backpacks have internal waterproofed pockets or compartments for shoes and other wet items.  The large internal pockets you have in the lids of most cases are great for delicate fabrics and linen shirts that you want to keep flat and crease free.  

Packing Aids 

Packing aids are packing storage solutions that will help organise your bag and keep things neat and compact.  There are several different aids you can use.  

  • Packing cubes: These are great because you can put pants in one, tops in another, dirty washing in another and then you can stack them nice and neatly.
  • Zip lock bags: You can use the large ones for clothes and the small ones for toiletries or electrical.
  • Pencil cases: Great for copies of travel documents.
  • Toiletry Bag: A toiletry bag that can be hung up and has lots of pockets is extremely handy.

 

Place

The final step in packing is where all your planning and preparation gets put to the test.  The essential point with placing all your items in you bag/case is order of placement.  The correct order is essential for balance and particularly weight distribution.  This is extremely important if you are travelling with a backpack, the last thing you want is a sore back!!!  

 
1. Heavy Items
These go in first and to the bottom of the case, shoes go in first then pants, jackets and your heaviest items.  

2. Light Items
Items such as t-shirts go on top or above the heavy items.  

3. Fillers
Small items or things like toiletries or electrical go in the gaps that you might have in-between cubes or down the side of the case. It’s really important that you keep toiletries separate to electrical’s. If you can put them down towards the bottom of you case and the electrical’s towards the top. If your toiletries leak they will go south and the last thing you want is your shampoo to ruin your phone charger.  

4. Easy Access All the things you will need frequently like underwear or flip flops should either go in external pockets or on the top of you other items.  

 

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Discount Cards

Posted on 01 December 2009 by Sasha

A traveller’s discount card is a great investment costing very little and giving you serious savings all over the world!!!  Card’s can give you discounts on things such as attractions, insurance, accommodation, flights, transport, travel gear and more.

 

ISIC/IYTC Card
Discount Cards - On UR Way Travel
ISIC/IYTC is the most internationally recognised student/youth (under 26) discount card. There are over 40 000 discounts available to cardholders including discounts on flights and travel insurance.

 

YHA Membership Card

YHA membership offers discounts on rates at over 4000 hostels worldwide as well as over 8000 discounts on goods and services all over the world. You also get great deals on travel products through YHA travel.

YHA also have joint ISIC and IYTC cards which gives you the combined benefits of both discount cards.

Discount Cards - On UR Way Travel
EURO <26

The EURO<26 youth card offers thousands of discounts all over Europe. For residents outside Europe you can purchase your EURO<26 card online. 

EURO<26 Discounts

EURO<26 Purchase Online

VIP Backpackers

The VIP Backpackers card gives you discounts at over 1200 VIP Hostels all around the world a well as discounts on international phone calls, transport, restaurants, attractions, activities, photo processing, store purchases, bike hire and so much more. For added value the membership card also doubles as a rechargeable phone Discount Cards - On UR Way Travelcard as well as giving you access to voice messages, text messages and a free email account.

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Travel Money

Posted on 01 December 2009 by Sasha

It’s important when you’re travelling to have as many options to access money as possible and to carry money in different forms.

Cash

Cash is great for daily expenses as it is the most widely accepted form of payment.

Foreign Exchange

Exchange your cash at foreign exchange bureau’s located at airports, selected hotels, some post offices and at major tourist areas. It’s always a good idea to exchange a small amount of cash before you go for expenses when you first arrive in a country such as taxi’s, drinks etc.

Be aware that not all areas will have foreign exchange and that opening hours are subject to weekends and public holidays. Always find out about the accessibility to foreign exchange at your destination.

Travelex Exchange

American Express Exchange

Travellers Cheques

Travellers Cheques like any other cheque has a value for money that can be exchanged for cash. Be aware that traveller’s cheques are not always easy to cash outside banks and foreign exchange especially in remote destinations. Always do research to find out where you will be able to cash them in at the destination you’re travelling to.

Prepaid Currency Cards/Debit Cards

Prepaid Currency Cards are a convenient and quick way to access money while overseas. They come in the form of a visa card that can be used to withdraw money at ATMs world wide. The great thing about these cards is that they allow you to upload the money in the currency you will be using with a locked in exchange rate that will not be affected by the ever changing rates.

Travellers debit cards work in the same way as a prepaid currency card but with the added benefits of a debit card which allows you to purchase good and services at visa merchants all over the world.

Not only are both styles of card convenient and easy to use but you also generally get the added security bonus of a second backup card if you card is misplaced or stolen.

For many cards, if you have money left at the end of your travels, the refund will be paid back at the same exchange rate.

Travelex Cash Passport

Travelex Cash Passports come in either ATM only prepaid travel cards or debit cards. The prepaid travel card is available in Australian, Euros, British Pounds, United States, New Zealand, Singapore or Hong Kong Dollars. Debit cards are available in all the above currencies except Singapore and Hong Kong Dollars.

If your destinations currency is not offered with the cash passport you can get a cash passport in AUS Dollars and it will convert any transactions at the visa exchange rate for that day. This is a great option especially for eftpos as there is no fee for eftpos transactions.

ANZ Travel Card

The ANZ Travel card is a prepaid travel debit card that comes in Euros, British Pounds, United States and New Zealand dollar. The great thing about this card is that there is no transaction fee when you use the card to make purchases.

Credit Card

It’s always good to carry a credit card for any unexpended large expenses.

Tip: To avoid the ATM transaction fees imposed on many cards, get your cash out at places like McDonalds or Supermarkets that offer the cash out option when you make a purchase.

Security Tips

  • Do not carry all forms of money in one place keep them separated. If you carry all your money in one place and it gets misplaced or stolen then you can be in quite a lot of trouble.
  • Always keep a bit of extra cash and a backup card in secret spot in another bag or in your luggage for any emergency.
  • Do not carry large sums of money around.
  • When carrying money use a money belt and only have small amounts of cash in your bag.
  • Always take note of the individual serial number on traveller’s cheques. This will speed up the process of getting them replaced if misplaced or stolen.
  • Keep a photocopy of all your cards along with the contact details of the bank/card company.
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Budgeting

Posted on 01 December 2009 by Sasha

Travelling is quite an expensive endeavour even before you leave. Consider the cost of flights, insurance and essential travel gear such as luggage etc. Whilst travelling your costs will include accommodation, transport, food, attractions and entertainment.

It’s important to start saving for your trip as early as possible. Remember once you add exchange rates into the equation your dollar may not stretch nearly as far as it does at home.

BUDGET BUDGET BUDGET!!!

While saving for your trip you should assess your spending habits and see where you can adjust your budget to make room for more saving. You will be surprised to find how much money you can save from cutting out a few luxuries such as buying lunch out a few times a week or renting a DVD rather than going to the movies. You could also look for more work if you want to save up a lot of money in a short space of time. If you have more time to save, open a high interest savings account offered by most banks. These savings accounts are great because you accumulate money in interest. The more money you have in your account the more interest you will accumulate which is basically money for free!!!

While travelling set a budget and stick to it. Make sure the budget you set is realistic and has some leeway for emergency’s and for other activities you didn’t originally consider. The best way to create a realistic budget is to create a daily budget that factor in day to day expenses. It’s important to budget slightly more then you think you are likely to spend to cover those hidden costs that may arise.

Use the Travelex Budget Calculator to assist you with working out your travel budget. It includes common expenses for major destinations around the world.

Travel Loan

If you have saved & saved budgeted & budgeted and you still haven’t quite reached your goal of saving enough for your trip then an option to look into is getting a travel loan.   Keep in mind that you will still have to pay for it eventually so only get a loan to fund what you need, don’t go overboard or you will overspend on things that aren’t essential for your travels.  For more info about travel loans speak to an expert at Loans Online.

Working Abroad

If you’re planning on working abroad you still need to save up before you go. You need to pay for your flights, insurance and your work visa. If you have a job lined up before you go make sure you have enough money saved to get through at least the first month. If your planning on looking for a job once your abroad make sure you have enough money for at least a couple of months until you find a job.

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Travel Health

Posted on 01 December 2009 by Sasha

Approximately 1 in 2 travellers will report some kind of illness whilst their travelling. This is not surprising since your body is exposed to more stress while travelling due to the change of environment and conditions. In addition travellers often develop unhealthy habits while travelling such as skipping meals, lack of sleep and excess consumption of alcohol. You are also exposed to many more people than normal who could carry any number of bugs.

You are particularly at risk if you are travelling to tropical climates and countries with substandard health care and hygiene standards. Remember water is not always drinkable and may carry nasty water borne bugs.

While it’s important to take as many preventative measures as possible to avoid getting sick whilst travelling, it is also important to be prepared for the possibility of getting sick.

Health Advisories

Research your destination at Well to Go, the website for the Travel Health Advisory Group. This website provides up to date information on the possible health hazards around the world.

Travel Doctor

Visit your local Travel Doctor and seek advice about the countries you are visiting and the possible health risks. There may be preventative measures you have to take to decrease the chance of getting sick such as vaccinations.

It’s important to see the Travel Doctor at least 6-8 weeks before departure. Don’t leave this to the last minute as some vaccinations take weeks to take effect.

Travelling with Medicine

It is highly likely that at some point during your travels you will need to use medication of some sort. It is particularly important to take with you medications that you use regularly or are likely to use while travelling such as painkillers, allergy relief, cold/flu tablets as well as a round of antibiotics. It can be very difficult to find some medications overseas. If you get sick, you may not be in an area close to a doctor or pharmacy.

It is important to note that many medications you buy overseas will not necessarily be the same strength as medications in Australia, even if they have the same name. Dosage amounts and instructions may not be in English so you need to be very careful with dosages.

In some countries it may be illegal to take in certain types of medication. For example in Greece medication containing codeine is illegal.  Make sure to check with the embassy or consulate of that country for any regulations.

To avoid confusion and possible confiscation at customs always carry medications in their original packaging and always carry a copy of your prescriptions.

Tip: Always take a round of antibiotics since you never know when the inevitable cold is going to turn into an infection. In most countries antibiotics are available by prescription only so you will need to see a doctor to get them. While travelling finding a doctor can be a difficult task.

Note: Always check with government advisories for the latest info on travelling with medicine.

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Travel Documents

Posted on 01 December 2009 by Sasha

Travel documents are vital to your travels and include passport, visa’s, insurance policy, plane tickets, itinerary, hotel/ tour vouchers etc.  These documents are extremely important, for example if you try to enter some countries without a visa you will be refused entry, if you forget your plane ticket or itinerary how will you know when to check in and what flight to catch? 

It’s a good idea to make a few copies of your travel documents, leave one with a trusted friend of family member, travel with a spare copy hidden somewhere in your luggage and even have an electronic copy on a USB.  To help keep track of your travel documents download the Travel Document Checklist.

Passport

A passport is an official government document that is your form of identification and proof of citizenship. Your passport is vital for any overseas travel and is used to identify yourself upon departing or entering a country. You will need a passport to apply for visa’s, cash traveller’s cheques as well as purchasing airline tickets. It is a requirement for some countries to have at least 6 months validity on your passport beyond your stay. Check with the embassy or consulate for each country’s passport validity requirements.

Visas

A visa is your official temporary permission to enter another country. There are many different types of visa’s including tourist visas, work visas, single-entry and multiple entry visas. Whether or not you need a visa and what visa you require depends on the country your travelling to, the purpose of your trip and how long you intent to stay in that country. For some countries you will need to apply for you visa prior to arrival while other countries will issue your visa upon arrival at immigration at the destination.

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Tips for Aussie Travellers

Posted on 30 November 2009 by Sasha

Travel Advisories

Smart Traveller is the Australian Government Website for Australians Travelling overseas. It is important for anyone planning to travel overseas to check this website as it contains important up to date information on security, health and other issues that may affect Australian Travellers overseas.  They also have a registration section where you can register your travel details with the Department of Foreign Affairs so that they can find you in the event of an emergency such as a natural disaster, civil disturbance or family emergency.

Visa’s

Visalink  is the website travel agents use to get the most up to date information on visa and passport requirements for Australian’s travelling overseas.  More information on visa requirements can be found on the DFAT website including reciprocal working holiday visa schemes.

 Passports

A passport is required for all Australian’s travelling overseas and yes you do need a passport to go to New Zealand!  Most adult passports are valid for 10 years, application can be submitted at most Australia Post shop fronts or through the Australian Government Passport Website.

Australian Embassies

At some point during your travels it may be necessary to get in contact with the Australian Embassy whether it’s in the event of an emergency or to get a lost passport replaced.  It is important to have a record of where the closest Australian Embassy is in proximity to the destinations you will be visiting.  It’s a good idea to have the contact detail of embassies programmed into your phone or written down somewhere among your emergency travel documents.

Quarantine

Australia has strict rules governing what items can be brought back into the country. Travel Bug is the Australian government website for quarantine. This website contains important information on shopping overseas, what you can bring back into Australia and duty free limits.

Driving Overseas

If you planning on hiring a car or doing any driving overseas then it’s a good idea to get an IDP (international drivers permit).

IDPs are accepted worldwide (in over 150 countries) as a recognisable form of identification and are officially sanctioned by the United Nations.  It is a translation of your driver’s licence and must be carried with your domestic driver’s licence at all times.

For more information on IDP:

Australian Automobile Association

Check if you destination requires an IDP:

International Driving Requirements

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Before You Go

Posted on 30 November 2009 by Sasha

There is a lot of planning needed before you go on your grand overseas adventure. Being prepared will take out much of the stress involved in travelling and ensures that your trip runs as smooth as possible and that you get the most out of the experience.

You should begin planning your trip months in advance.  There are so many things to consider including getting the best and cheapest flights which often means booking early, organising visa’s which may take weeks to get approved and getting vaccinations many of which take weeks or months to take effect.  Planning can seem overwhelming and the last thing you want to do is forget anything.  To help in your planning you can download the Travellers Checklist which has a 12month guide for planning a big trip.
Cheap Flights

Research your Destinations

It’s extremely important when planning your overseas trip to research your destination thoroughly. Collect information from as many resources as possible. Read up on your destination, ask advice from an expert and seek advice from other travellers.

There are many things you need to consider like when to go, where to stay, how you will get around and what things there are to see and do. Don’t forget to take into consideration cultural differences and the health and safety aspects of the destination.

There are many great resources for destination information, including brochures and magazines, numerous travel websites, government websites and reviews/blogs.

You can not underestimate the value of a good travel guide be it for reading up before you go or as your guide while your on the road. There are a huge range of travel guides available from destination specific guides to guides following particular interests such as surfing or photography.

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Insurance

Posted on 28 November 2009 by Sasha

If you can’t afford travel insurance you can’t afford to travel.”

Travel insurance is vital for any overseas trip whether it be one week or one year. Never underestimate the importance of travel insurance. Accidents happen, belongings get stolen, luggage gets lost, and tours get cancelled. Travel insurance can’t stop the mishaps but it can stop the financial pain.

Why do I need insurance?

Travel insurance in it’s simplest form is financial protection for you and your belongings while travelling. It provides a backup if something should go wrong. Travel Insurance will pay for those unexpected costs that may arise during travel such as emergency hospital/medical expenses, trip cancellation, lost baggage and loss of belongings as a result of theft.

In Australia we take for granted the relatively affordable cost of medical care. In many other countries medical care is substantially more expensive so if you’re injured or fall ill and you don’t have travel insurance you will incur the bill!!!

An example from the Smart Traveller website…

  • Daily hospitalisation costs in Southeast Asia: $800
  • Emergency Surgery in the US: 290 000.
  • Medical evacuations from the US: $75,000 to $95,000 and sometimes up to $300,000.

It’s a good idea to carefully research different insurance policies, compare inclusions and prices to see what is going to most suit your needs. Cheapest is not always best so make sure to read all the fine print and check what the policy would cover. Insurance can be difficult to understand so ask a consultant or your travel agent about the details of the different policies.

Things to note

Most policies will not automatically cover activities such as skiing, snowboarding and scooter riding so if you’re planning on doing any of these activities make sure you get a policy that covers these activities.

*Note: This is just a broad guide to travel insurance. Each policy is different and coverage varies from policy to policy. What might be covered under one policy may not be covered under another. Always check the fine print.

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