No travel guide, how do I do?

When I was traveling over very short time, I took with me a paper guide that I swallowed from beginning to end before my trip and I was reading constantly during it. Today I have time, essential element admittedly, to be able to travel without a guide such as Lonely Planet.

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One might think then that I surely going to websites aside to see! I can not find the right tips to eat or drink! Or I lose time searching for a bus! Besides I have no knowledge about the history or local culture !! WRONG, I get it all faster and more reliable source and friendlier than pages of paper or hide behind a screen!

So how do I do?

Why travel without a paper guide?

Just because we don’t need it! Who better than the people who live in the country you visit to show you what you need to know or see during your trip? Since I have time, so I use it to be able to get all the information I need and do without a guide, for the REAL tips and experiences.

For example, and often, hotels recommended in the guides are more expensive because of their reputation and lose quality. You will find yourself among tourists and it’s not what we can call the local experience. Moreover, these hotels are often all in the same places and create only to western districts (eg Khao San Road in Bangkok), with begging and tourist traps of all kinds. Better a good local hotel, not far away, with excellent price / quality ratio in a neighborhood where you will share a meal with locals.

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In Yogjarkarta (Indonesia), I paid a room with bathroom / hot water / breakfast buffet included and swimming pool only 5 euros, cheaper than a 12 beds dorm and on the same street! All with a lobby and therefore easy to meet other travelers!

Tourist offices, first step

I arrive by train, by plane, by bus or by hitchhiking, train stations, airports or downtown, are almost all equipped tourist office. often ignored, but they are excellent sources of information.

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First, they can provide you a free map of the city and/or country. If the map is not free, don’t take it, you’ll have time to find one in your hostel or a travel agency.

I have never paid a map and I gotsome in all the places visited!

Also, you have to deal with people who speak English and who are neutral. They have no interest in you to advise a particular place because their father / brother / cousin runs a business. These people are dedicated to tourism and will give you all the advice according to your budget or your preferences.

So remember to ask what things are in their view, the price of inputs, places to eat, location of markets, the operation of local transport (and avoid the exorbitant cost of taxis!) … You can also anticipate your next trip, consider where the stations are located. Sometimes some cities have several depending on the destination! You can also ask them that one tells you where the guesthouses to suit your budget is, or where to find, etc … Individuals tourist offices know the city inside out and give you all tips ! As to your trip, you’ll soon become a champion of the question!

Money and its value

This is one of the first adaptation points in a new country! If I arrive by plane, I just exchange the equivalent of 10 to 20 euros in order to take a transport to the city center. Exchange rates are indeed less interesting in airports! I then change the currency of the country before and I find a ATM where I take the maximum possible.

This is how I ended up with 6 million (of Rupees course!) … In Indonesia, this is fun to be millionaire, haha!

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A supermarket

I also often begin my visit to the city by locating in a supermarket or what is close. The costs are fixed and made to the premises. This thus gives you a good overview of prices. Generally, I hold the price of a bottle of water, fruit and specialties. So you will not pay a bottle at double the price or with full knowledge of the facts !

A new language

In about a week, I force myself to be able to count and say all the polite sentences in the language of the country. This gives bargaining power (the real rate is obtained, not least because we have understood the client before!), And people are much more friendly with you as you make the effort you adapt! This opens doors and then it’s fun to jabber of words in ten languages!

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To do it, nothing better than to ask people on site, the restaurant market, hotel, everywhere. You will have the pronunciation, even if you don’t know the write. The most important thing is to talk! According ease I have to integrate the language, I can continue learning from others formulas.

It took about three weeks to learn basic Spanish without classes. I am bad in conjugation but I can speak for all subjects and understand what is said.

In Indonesia, it is also easier to learn vocabulary because they have the same alphabet as we do. That crazy laugh with “reckless drivers” tuk-tuk to ask them to slow down or be careful in Indonesian. Besides the knowledge of all words related to food through reading twice daily restaurant menus!

In Asia, it is harder! Writing is different, they have several tones for a word and pronunciation is complicated. However, after more than seven months there, I recognize phrases, and even realize links between asian countries. I found the words and sentences I used in India and I could repeat in Laos and Vietnam. The numbers in Thailand are the same in Laos! Etc …

And there is for sure body and facial language. A beautiful smile, the universal language, and some gestures sometimes enough. Watch your signs in some countries that may mean something else!

History and culture

I must admit that I usually learn the country’s history by searching the web and via the various monuments I visit. This is not a temple or a ruin over again, it’s a bit of history of the country which adds a piece to the puzzle!

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Learning about the local culture, it is still a time of history but also of interest. Change your plans for the day because someone approaches you to talk (students in parks, the monks in temples …). You have the opportunity to exchange 3 words to be polite or do like me, you set for 1 or 2 hours of fun conversation. And then the questions burst out, in one way or another!

In Java, people take you on their scooter to show you their village. Myanmar and Laos, the monks approach you to practice their English. Same for students in Thailand and Vietnam. In Argentina, it is old people on the benches of the city. In Peru, these are your fellow diners on the market …

When I see things I don’t know, I stop and ask. I love to stop in front of people who eat intriguing things in the street. Seeing my surprised face, they make me almost all the time taste! This sometimes gives rise to invitations and sometimes just to experience more!

Culture and traditions not only reads in books but is learned by going out to meet people. In a hyper-connected world where ultimately no one is talking, go ahead and go about the people! What encounters, adventures and great stories you will live!

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