In a lot of ways, travelling is like any skill or sport. The more you do it, the better you get at it. This basically means that you screw up a whole lot less and enjoy yourself a whole lot more. It’s more about learning through trial and error. But who doesn’t love short-cuts? Here are a few things every seasoned traveller knows to be true.
1. When you’re traveling by train, avoid the top berth like the plague.
Even in a Rajdhani, the top berth of an A.C 3 tier feels like being trapped in a rabbit hole.
2. If you’re traveling to a railway station in a small town, don’t sleep. Don’t even take a nap!
Those things are usually blink and miss. I remember how I was traveling to Barnala in Punjab. I asked the T.T when the train would reach my station. The best he could give was a broad “guestimate.” The train pulled into the station at 3:30 in the morning, stopped for a grand total of 2 minutes and left. Had I not been awake and prowling near the doors, I would have probably ended up somewhere else entirely.
3. Remember to keep something that could keep you busy while you wait.
Contrary to what you might think, traveling is basically short periods of excitement and adventure punctuated by regular sessions of “waiting.” To make that torture bearable, carry or buy a couple of your favourite books or magazines and always keep a portable charger on you.
4. When you’re in a hot place, instead of dressing down, dress up.
Cover your head. Cover your arms. And cover your eyes. Why? Here’s why. Caps or other head-gear will protect you from sun-stroke. Remaining fully clothed is a smart way to avoid sun-burn and nasty tans. And finally, a pair of shades will keep your eyes safe and make you look reasonably badass…
5. When you’re in a cold place, instead of wearing a Yak Skin over-coat, wear your clothes in layers.
They’ll keep you warmer and are easier to manage when you work up a sweat. This way, you’ll ensure that you never fall sick.
6. Keep your eyes and ears open.
Traveling is chaotic by nature. And if you’re travelling in India, ratchet up the chaos by at least 50%. Timings, routes and travel times will change on the fly, so keep your eyes and ears open for all announcements and information.
7. Google Maps are great. Locals are better.
When you’re trekking in the North-East, you’ll probably get better directions from a local than if you only rely on your mobile. He might even throw in a short-cut. Take it at your own risk though.
8. Never under-estimate the importance of soap strips.
These things are life savers. Trust me, you don’t want to take a dump immediately before lunch time and discover that the dhaba you stopped at doesn't have soap.
9. Always keep water on you.
This seems like a no-brainer but it’s surprising how many people forget this. While bottled water is readily available at most locations, you never know if what you’re drinking is actually Bisleri or tap water from some shady dude’s bathroom. To illustrate my point, here’s something I found on a bench at a Delhi Metro Station. You get the drift, right?
Owned by Author
10. Carry the right bag for the right trip.
Doing a lot of walking? Backpack. Flight to hotel and back? Stroller. Not hard at all.
11. The devil is in the details. And train timings.
It’s super important to know your A.M.’s from your P.M.’s. I had to learn this the hard way.
I had a train to catch from Ludhiana to New Delhi at midnight. The said train pulled into the station at a different platform. I found it weird but thought nothing of it. I went to my bogey and checked for my name on the list. It wasn’t there. Something definitely wasn’t right. The train started off and I found someone already sleeping on my berth. I looked at my ticket and realized that I had happily booked a ticket for the train that left at 00:05 on the 20 th . I had arrived a day late on the 21 st at 12:05 A.M. My train had left the day before.
12. A little compromise on “fancy” takes your money a long, long way.
Once, for half the price of 1 night’s stay at a “fancier” hotel, I stayed for two nights at a much more modest establishment. And I didn’t complain. I had clean beds, running hot and cold water and cable TV! As someone who gets ripped off by vegetable vendors on a regular basis, I considered that a huge victory. Keep just one thing in mind though. Never compromise on essential things like cleanliness and safety. Those are things worth spending on. And if you're particular about this, book a room beforehand from the OYO Rooms website.
13. Never keep all your eggs in one basket. By eggs, I mean money.
Split up your money and keep some reserve cash stashed away in a safe place. You never know when you might get pinched, cash, ID, cards and all…
14. Try to pick up on the local language.
People love it when you try to speak in their native tongue. Even if your efforts are pathetic at best, they’ll crack a smile and treat you better.
15. If you’re going to go catch a flight, keep an hour on hand.
So obvious. Yet so tragic. Most flights are expensive. And non-refundable if missed. Arrive a good hour before boarding time and live a happier life.
16. Never go for the first option.
Be it taxis or shopping or choosing a hotel, look around. Compare and then select. If you have the time.
17. Lastly, always remember to keep some ID on your person. You never know when you might need it.
It’s important to keep some identification handy and keeping it safe. And when you’re travelling abroad, guard your passport with your life!
There are a hundred other things one should keep in mind, but these are the ones that I felt were really important. Feel free to add more in the comments below. Stay safe and keep travelling. Here’s to wanderlust!
And while we’re at it, here’s another pro-tip. If you’re looking for affordable yet comfy stay options, look no farther than the OYO Rooms App. Get it on Android and iOS . You can get clean, well appointed rooms for as low as Rs. 499 per night, equipped with WiFi and a complimentary breakfast to boot. What's to think?
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