How much will my 2015 Winter Trip Cost?

One of the biggest reasons people don’t travel is that they think it’ll cost them an enormous amount financially. Now the act of ‘going somewhere’, I have categorized as two types, you’re either going on a ‘vacation’ or you’re ‘traveling’. The former term connotes it’s a time of indulging and pampering (spendthrift vacations) while the latter term suggests a more frugal approach to exploring a destination (of course, this is just my personal observations).

One of the first thing I did this year was finding myself an extremely cheap return flight to Oslo and that in itself is already paid off. What’s left is the 21 Days I get to stay in Europe, namely the 20 Nights I’d have to find somewhere to sleep. And the cost of hotel/hostel is going to be a big portion of cost (sometimes even more than the plane ticket itself). To lower that cost, I highly suggest looking into hostels, AirBnb, friends’ couch, or couchsurf.

How to balance the cost? As Northern Europe is notorious for being pricey? Here are some of my travel tips:

1) Estimate budget say you’re willing to spend $100 / day, for 20 days, then put aside $2000 and work from there. The $100 should include, food, transport, and housing. Of course, I do realize that this might be hard to come by in pricy places such as Scandinavia. Which brings us to: 2) Research ahead of time, or better yet don’t make the same mistake you did last time or last year. (Like last year, I didn’t even need the Welcome Copenhagen Card as all museums were closed around Christmas time so I did free tours outside. It was cozy and fun but a waste of $60 bucks on the card right there.) 3) Look out for deals or see if you could decrease your expenditure and save yourself some money. This is something I highly recommend for winter in Northern Europe, as most people are looking for some sun and fun. In fact when I told most my friends I’m heading to Norway in the middle of Winter, “Are you crazy???” yeah, but hey I see it as perfect museum going time. Plus I’m betting on a snowy (or perhaps rainy) winter wonderland. 4) make sure you have a balance of budget places and more pricy places, because at the end of the day, you still want to enjoy yourself thus don’t penny pinch too much, so one or two night of splurging somewhere nice (because why not) should definitely be a part of the plan. 5) Add it all up then book, make sure you’re happy with the budget and book away. The strategy here is to pay everything off so you don’t have to worry about it at a later date so you can enjoy yourself.

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packing: why it is beneficial to pack light

I like to think of myself as an experienced traveler, yet packing is one of those things I’m continuously learning about. In my latest city break to Seattle, I had yet again overpacked my overnight bag and my backpack ended up heavier than I would’ve liked (despite that I left my trusty laptop at home, among all other comforts).

From experience, travel packing is about functionality, vacation packing is another thing (with vacation packing having more leeway for more ‘stuff’ since you’re going on holiday to ‘indulge’ so pack all those things you actually won’t be needing). But really, when you’re traveling, the last thing you want is something weighing you down after you checked out of your hotel/hostel and you have to lug it around while you sightsee.

For this trip, I packed an extra shirt, sweater, pair of jeans which I did not use. I also did not use the eBook and travel journal I brought as nearly as much as I thought. Why did I think I would have time to change clothes and read lots while on the road? I have no idea.

From this experience, for an overnight trip, all I really needed was my phone, my charger, my camera, the clothes I started the journey in.

And what I should’ve added was a water bottle, a lock, a towel to the mix.

What are some of your packing tips? Feel free to let me know in the comment section! 🙂

how to save offline maps on Google Maps

In the previous post I touched upon saving yourself money and grief by pre-planning your telecommunication prior to traveling. And in that post I briefly went over how to save offline maps on Google Maps (which is really simple) in this post I created a mini tutorial that explains the process in details.

Step 1: Open up Google Map app on your phone when you still have wi-fi connection, and make sure you’re logged into your Google Account (which is essentially your Google Gmail Account). Now, tap on the triple striped button just in front of the Google search bar. You’ll get the side bar that looks like the left hand side image. Now, select ‘Your places’.

Step 2: Scroll down to the very bottom of ‘Your places’, depending on how much you use google Maps you might see a lot of saved places, scroll down to the very bottom until you see ‘my saved places’ and of course, offline areas (you can see my old maps from my last trip which I’ve downloaded and are now expired, Google keeps the offline maps active for 30 Days, after that you can redownload the area). If you’re new to this, you should see a command that says, ‘Download A New Offline Area’ tap on that and proceed, if not, you’ll need to click on ‘View All and Manage’, which will lead you to the command ‘Download A New Offline Area.’

Step 3: Select “Download New Offline Area”.

Step 4: Select the area you want saved, as you can see here I’ve pulled up the map of Seattle for my trip. You can zoom in or out of the map to get your desired selected area. Of course, if the area you’re saving is too large, you could always save it in multiple maps for later use. Once you’re done, hit ‘Save’

Step 5: And viola, your map is now saved and ready to be used offline. Though it is important to note that offline maps do have their draw backs, you can’t route around the map and any finer detail that’s not saved in a generic map, like bus stops and buildings might be lost – but hey, a map is better than no map and your GPS system will help you navigate smoothly in most cases.