This section lists useful suggestions for a safer and more effective trip.
Stick to the original plan
Every traveller has its own method to organize and pack things. That cannot be taught or inherited. What happens too often during a trip is to need something but not able to find it. That's because we tend to mix our original packing order, mainly due to rush or handy temporary solution. These solutions are bad. Try to figure out the best place for each of the items in the bag and stick to that. It may be annoying sometimes, 'cause you will have to spend some time to repack, or reach a not handy pocket or even stop doing your current activity and look for the proper place. On the other way, you will never again stop in the middle of nothing looking for your lipbalm and ask yourself: where the hell did I put it? Tip: you can candidate a "special pocket" for temporary objects that in certain cases you don't really want to put on the correct place. When looking for something and not founding in its place, you may have a second chance in the special pocket. Just remember to empty it every now and then.
Packs of packs (of packs...)
This is quite obvious,though not everybody always do that. Try and organize your stuff into similar bunches. All electronic devices, all t-shirts, etc etc. It is also reccomended to actually separate every package with a different bag. Plastic bags are useful when you need some water protection (towels, bath creams, liquids), while cotton bags are preferable when something may get dirty or filthy (shoes, dirt clothes etc). If needed, as in certain cases, also packs of packs are useful. For instance, since I don't get shaved very often, I always prepare a small shaving package (cream, shaver, extra shaver blades, aftershave) and store it in the bath case. With such approach at the same time you separate different packs and you will be able to instantly find the desired object, even after several days of travelling (when generally thigs are completely mixed up).
The power of pockets
Select and bring clothes and bags with many pockets. Then establish an order for each pocket and (first tip!) STICK to it. Not only for the single trip but, in principle, for every and next occasion of travelling. It will be a nightmare the first time, it will allow you to speed every search after just few days of acquaintance. I have got a pair of pants with 10 different pockets. I just love them when travelling. tip: most of the guidebooks fit on the side pocket of military-style pants. It is a very handy way of carrying them, having just a look when needed - and not being obliged neither to carry in your hands or to open you bag each time you want to read something.
If it's a matter of just a couple of days, you'll probably don't need it. However, when it comes to larger - and possibly more important - trips, you may want to have an extra option:
- Bring battery replacement for your camera: you don't want to get stuck with the potential picture of your life and run out of batteries
- Bring a couple toothbrushes: there are several cases when it's needed. A one day trip without your big-size bag, or simply, if you're changing your sleeping place more than once, it's really common to leave it in the bathroom. That's more: if you trek on some mud, you can sacrifice one of your toothbrush to clean the shoes - that's really effective!
- Leave a copy of your email and telephone contact inside each of your bag, and leave inside each of your important object (camera, laptop, etc). Probably if left unattended nobody will give you back but.. you'll never know. Besides, sometimes what really annoying upon a camera lost is the card with the picture. Maybe someone may find it - with your contact
- Take pictures of documents: Before leaving, make a picture of all your relevant document (passport, flight ticket etc). store those picture on your camera/mobile phone and also email them to you. During the trip, make pictures of all purchased ticket (if not used immediately): I heard so many stories of people not able to get the train/bus even if they had paied for the ticket...
There is no worse way in the world for ruining a place than accepting the first price that it is offered. With this approach prices will raise over and over again, people into tourism will get far too rich compared to other 'common' people. Expecially in a not so developed country, this turn into a generation of people only working - and try to suck everything out of it - with tourism. This is too bad for several reasons. This already happened in several countries, we (aka tourists) are ruining the world and destroying cultures. Please take this in mind next time that you think: "well, it's just 2 euros" - NO WAY, in some places 2 euros may be the income of a working day. Please do respect the culture of other countries by NOT giving money to beggars, and most of all NEVER give money to children. There are tremendous collateral effect on it. That said, when shopping, in most cases vendors are expecting you to bargain. Here follow the perfect guide for getting the REAL price of something. I eventually find bargaining enjoying whit this approach. Remember: the perfect deal is when you don't really want that object. Or just pretend for a few minutes you are NOT really interested on it.
- Is is a Mona Lisa or what? Just look around, in most cases (touristic places) all shops sell the same. You are the one with decisional power, they will fall down and down their prices. The more shops sell the same, the less can be the price. If you are alone in the desert and need a bottle of water from the only shop you got... well than there is no bargain point for that I'm sorry
- Make your price: when you want to buy something, just think about how much you would be willing to spend in advance.
- Check their price: before start bargaining, just stop by some shops and ask for the price for the object. Whatever they reply, just say thank you and run away. Do that at least 2-3 times.
- Ok let's start: never ask directly for the price. Just stop at the chop and stare at some object (possibly different from yours) and wait for someone to arrive. They don't have to know that you WANT that. Ok now ask for the price. Whatever they say start with a big laugh and say: "ah ah, really!?!?", and pretend to go away. They will stop you and tell you: "Ok good price for you", "how much you want to pay", etc etc etc. The bait just worked.
- It's a hard job: considering your price and previously checked price, it's now your turn to make an offer. There is no specific rule about it, just know that if you make an offer you cannot turn it down or reject it if they accept it. So start with a "this is worth 10 (just say a very low price, can be around 10% and 30% of their starting price, around 50% of YOUR price)" and watch the face of the vendor for a few seconds. If he start lower the price, we're done. If he gets angry, start to laugh, just throw you away or anything nasty, just add "but I am a tourist, and I can pay you 20, no more". If he does not accept just try next vendor, starting by 20 and so on, untill you get to bargain.
- "Ok my friend good price for you": that's the beginning of a long fight. You said 20, he downed from 100 to 90. Now what? Just keep your 20 for half a minute or so, nodding and keep laughing. The price will quickly go down to 80, 70, 50. He will repeat "ok my last price" - but it's never last price. Just don't change your offer untill he begin to seem upset.
- Second offer and go: when he lowered 2-3 times the initial price, you can go with a second offer. "Ok, I can only give you 30". The vendor now know you are interested in the object and can lower the price again, but just a little bit: "Ok my friend, 50 last price for you". Ok now a deep breath, stay silent for 3-4 seconds and say: "Ummmhhh... I don't think so" slowly pretend to get away from the shop, as you are not interested anymore. They will do anything now to sell it to you. They probably lower the price again, or not.
- Your Last offer: Ok now it's your turn to use the magic word: "Ok ok, I say 30, you say 50, let's go for 40". And get your wallet out. does not matter what he says, take 40 and give it to him. In most cases it'll work, otherwise just pretend to go away a few times again untill he agrees on your proposal. If it does not, then you can offer something more or accept his offer if it make sense to you.
Advanced bargaining techniques:
- Abandon the middle of a bargain and start bargaining to the next shop (make sure the other vendor was following the bargaining) - they hate it!
- Claims that in another shop the price was 40, so you will not pay more than that.
- This is really evil: prepare a certain amount of money (your price) in the wallet, and at a certain point pretend to check it in front of him: "Look, it's all I got, I'm sorry"
- If you want/need more that an objet, make sure you start bargaining just one of them. When bargaining seem to reach a dead end, just add it, one object at a time: "Ok I'll but two of them for 40" - "Oh no my friend, two of them is 70" (and you already reached 35 per object - "Ok I'll get three of them for 80" - "Impossible my friend! ok I give you three for 100". Deal: you paied 33 per object and he got his 100.