Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Lazy traveller guide to travel

I always thought us to be lazy traveller, till the time i came across this article in T&L where the author classified himself as 'Sight skipper' . I mean we never made it to top of Eiffel tower cause there was four hour long queue for that and instead we had  wine by Seine river, have not been able to make it MET museum so far because there is always some lively makeshift market in the area on the weekends, or instead ended up watching a musical in theatre district.
Glad to finally found a decent term for ourselves  and to know we are not the only  'weird ones'  thought i will share our experiences in travelling around the world and what we have learnt so far.

Stay : This was always a point of contention between my husband and myself, he would always opt for fancy place and i was keen to try apartment exchange , B&B kind of place. But after all these years of travelling , i finally get and agree to his point. Its a vacation after all and if you still spending time in taking out trash or doing the bed what is the point of holiday , might as well stay at home. I now appreciate if some one else makes bed for me and better still leaves those tiny chocolates on my pillow after a day of heavy duty roaming around.
Also in my experience if you really clever in using your hotel points & shopping for hotel deals inclusive of breakfast etc  the difference between the prices wont be that significant but the level of comfort would surely be.

If you really plan well, you can enroll yourselves in one of the hotel membership group and stay in those places for your business travel. If you reach a certain membership level you get free room upgrades, free breakfast or club lounge access all these small free services that makes the travel more enjoyable and save precious dollars.

Local Travel : This is a trick we learnt early on in the game. Most of the big cities in the world, will have an all inclusive, day , two day or week transport pass system which would typically cover all rides in local train/ bus /metro etc for the designated period. This is the ultimate money saver, while those fancy tourist buses (hop on - hop off types) are an option, these work equally well and at a fraction of price. Be sure to check the validity - in some cases a day pass means 24 hours from the time you purchase / punch in other cases it's valid for the date you bought and likely to expire by 12 o clock midnight.

Also we do this really silly thing , sometime we just get into a bus (any random bus) and we go till the last bus stop and wait for it to turn around and drop us back to the place we boarded. This way we usually get to see the areas which are typically off the 'tourist route' and discover some local hidden gems. Although we once had a nasty experience in Chicago where we ended up in a not so nice part of town at around 7 pm and had to practically run from there. Nonetheless, do give it a try (during day time & if you are not travelling alone) its a fun way of discovering new place.

Eat : Go by your nose & eyes, follow the locals. See where ever a long rush of local people that is definitely a place to visit, if you smell something good try it. Yes do visit the place recommended on lonely planet , tripadvisor etc but in my experience sometime these places get over hyped and in the end you end up having a average meal at probably exorbitant prices.  i have had some great food bought from local bakery shop , farmer's market, amazing but inexpensive wines from local vineyard which you'll probably never find in a fancy restaurants because they ain't that famous. In fact while we were in Paris, we almost exclusively ate from our local bakery shops , packed nice picnics with wine bottle (as low as 5 euros), breads and couple of  fruits (from the breakfast spread of the hotel) and had the most amazing in middle of parks.
And yes we did have a couple of 'haldiram' bhujia & namekeen packets carried from home, whenever there was a Indian taste craving  :)

Sight seeing : OK so even if you are a lazy traveller / sight skipper there are things to see and admire and that is primary the reason why you are holidaying in that particular place. Some things that has worked for us in past. Check the timings -not just opening timings, every one wakes up early and tries to be the first at these places, how about closing timings. For example in Louvre when we got there in morning there was an hour long queue just to get inside, we thankfully decided to skip it and instead came back in afternoon couple of hours before closing time , no queue :) and even inside most of the people had started to leave so we got most of the sections almost to ourselves  :) :). Weather forecast - Save museum tours or any controlled weather experiences for days likely to rain / windy etc and all the outdoorsy experience for days expected to be pleasant & nice and if weather changes , change your plans accordingly.

Packing : This is important, pack well but don't carry your world with you . Beside your prescription medicines,  almost everything is available  all across the world these days and outside of India you would hardly find any body who would carry your luggage for you, so save yourself some back pain and travel light. In terms of clothes think Jersey dresses, cotton t- shirts, layering clothes etc. Restyle  / Re purpose your clothes, you are on holiday no body cares if you wear your jeans twice, And if you need to attend a fancy event last minute & need something glamorous, well shop locally , i would say any day a better souvenir, every time you will wear your dress it would have pleasant memory of the wonderful vacation you had :).

However, comfortable shoes are must and not those sports shoes variety, before leaving for holidays , spend some time and shop around for good looking comfortable shoes and break in those shoes by wearing them for few days (here are some other innovative methods ) before you travel in them.

Shop : Beside fridge magnets & shot glasses (i have a collection going on for these), mostly I end up shopping for local food. My pantry still is stocked with some wonderful olives that husband got from Oman & olive oils i got from Italy. Even our friends and family appreciate these food gifts better than those silly souvenir t shirts & mugs. Most importantly when i cook with these ingredients,  in a way i extend my holiday experience to my day to day life as well. Always a great bonus !

P.S. This article is now part of CNN approved I report  :)

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