Traveling overseas can be one of the best ways to learn about different cultures and to expand your perspective. Being in an unfamiliar environment is also a great way to get to know yourself better. At the very least, the people that you meet and the sights that you see will leave you with indelible memories that you will treasure for years.
However, many Singaporeans are hesitant about taking that overseas trip. What holds them back? The expense is definitely a consideration. To a lesser extent, many individuals are reluctant to travel as they are unsure about how they will cope in a strange country where they do not know anyone.
Backpacking provides an option for those who want to travel on a relatively low budget. You will have to fly economy class and give up most of the luxuries associated with foreign travel, but you will get to see and experience many new countries and people. For those who are planning to go on an extended backpacking adventure, here are some tips that you could find useful in your travels.
Look for Air Tickets Online on "Private Browsing" or "Incognito Mode"
Travel costs can form a big part of your total expenditure. Many airlines and travel sites follow the practice of recording your visits by installing cookies on your browser. Why should this matter? Typically, if you search for the same flight more than 2-3 times, they will charge you more as they know that you searched for the same flight earlier. Fortunately, there is a simple way that you can avoid this extra cost. All you have to do is to set your web browser to “private browsing” or “incognito mode” when searching for the best fares. This way, the online travel booking sites won't know that you've looked up the same fare multiple times, and you will be able to get a fair price for your trip.
Spend Time on the "Boring" Parts of Your Travel Plan
You could spend many hours preparing for your trip trying to figure out which are the places that you can visit, how many days you want to spend at each location and ways to get around within the cities that you will be in. While planning your detailed itinerary can be exciting, you should not forget to think about the more "boring" matters that could be really important.
For instance, deciding to buy travel insurance could be one of the wisest steps that you could take. It costs very little and you probably will not have to use it. But in the event of a medical emergency or if you happen to lose your luggage, it could save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
Similarly, you should take out a little time before you fly out of Singapore to select the most suitable credit card for your holiday. Making the right choice could earn you a significant sum in miles and discounts.
Understand Local Practices
Europe is one of the most attractive destinations for backpackers. Its cities are steeped in history and most countries are located conveniently close to one another. But, it is useful to understand some of the local practices that are followed in each country. This could save you some money while also helping you experience in some local flavors.
For example, if you are at a café or at a bar in Italy, you could be required to pay several Euros for the privilege of sitting down at a table. Stand at the bar and have your wine or beer. In fact, some cafes even have different rates based on the location of the tables. If you sit indoors, you pay less while sitting outside is more expensive.
Is there a way to avoid this extra cost? There is little that you can do except being willing to eat or drink while standing up. However, it is a good idea to check the rates before you order. The usual practice is that there will be a list of prices above the counter, which tells you the extra amount that you will have to pay for sitting down at a table.
Scan Your Passport and Email It to Yourself
Losing your passport when you are overseas can be an unsettling experience. However, it is a relatively minor problem if you follow a few basic rules.
Firstly, you should have a copy of your passport. While having a photocopy will usually solve the immediate problem, it is wise to have a backup scanned copy in your email account.
If you happen to lose your passport, you must report it to the local police station and get a copy of their report or at least an acknowledgement slip. With this, you can get the nearest Singapore overseas mission to issue an alternative document of identity that you can use during your trip.
Download Google Maps For the Area That You Are Traveling In
Google maps can be a great help in getting around in a new city. But what if the internet is slow or you cannot afford expensive mobile data? There's a great solution to this: Google allows you to download an area’s details to use offline at a later time. This offline version of Google Maps allows you to get turn-by-turn directions to the place that you want to get to. You can also search for locations as well as use the navigation facilities on the app.
Buy These Before You Get to the Airport
Buying foreign currency at the airport is possibly the worst financial decision that you can make because they charge you an exorbitant handling fee and other charges. Your total cost may be about 10% more than the rate that you would pay at a bank or by using an ATM. Therefore, it's generally a good idea to get some cash at a cash exchange shop near your home before going on your trip. Not only that, it is useful to familiarise yourself with the manner in which foreign transaction fees work before you decide on how you will pay when you are traveling overseas.
Another type of purchase you should avoid at the airport is souvenirs. You can probably get the same item at a local shop for a fraction of the cost.
Those long international flights can help you add up the air miles at a rapid clip, especially if you use some of the best airline miles credit cards to book your travel accommodations as well as pay for things abroad. If you've already racked up a lot of miles, you should consider using them soon to reduce the cost of your next trip; not using your miles when you can is often a losing proposition since their value depreciates over time because of inflation.
Lastly, before you leave for your trip, remember that backpacking in a foreign country can be risky. You should remember to take some basic precautions. Make sure someone at home has your itinerary and, if it is possible, travel with a friend or in a group.
This article was first published at ValuePenguin.