We don’t travel with guide books. They add too much weight, taking up precious space and buying a new one for each country we visit would cost too much. Sometimes we read the ones left behind in guesthouses but mostly we look to the Internet for a few important answers. Before arriving in a new country, we always look up the following information:
1) the local currency and exchange rate 2) what the tipping etiquette is 3) any local customs or important cultural differences
And, super important: 4) can you drink tap water without getting sick?
This last question has become very important to us. Being in constant travel mode between very foreign places has caused us to miss certain things, and ice on a very hot day is one of them. Sometimes, if you can’t drink the local water, you can’t have ice, a smoothie or diluted juice. But other times, like in Malaysia, ice is made in factories and purchased by local establishments. Thank you, Malaysia! But we wish you the best if you attempt to drink ice water in India.
Obviously this is very important information to be prepared with. Here’s a breakdown of countries we spent significant time in during our trip and whether you can drink from the tap.* Some of them may surprise you:
It feels like ages ago that we sat in a beer hall in Zagreb with our Couchsurfing host, Tanja, talking about how much we love Croatia and could live there. We never wanted to leave. Africa and India seemed like years away, and now both are already behind us. It’s sad for us to think that in mere months our grand adventure will be spoken about in the past tense. Can’t we continue on for a little longer? We’re looking for a way.
In the meantime, we’re still excited to celebrate our nine-month travelversary since it means we’ve had so many great experiences since getting married just one year ago on 3/3/12! Yes, you read that right. We are celebrating not one but two anniversaries. This calls for a celebratory beer and an upgrade to a room with AC! Ah, the little things that make long-term travelers happy.
While we celebrate, enjoy our latest stats: Continue reading →
After two and a half months traversing India, we left with a good idea of what other travelers will want to have on hand. Some of these items might already be in your travel bag, but knowing why you need them might persuade you to buy a different brand, amount or, well, two-ply instead of one.
Your toilet paper alternative.
Toilet paper You might have heard of “Indian-style toilets,” also known as squat toilets. We don’t think they’re that bad, as they put your body in a more natural position than Western toilets. However, the advice to bring toilet paper doesn’t stem from attendants forgetting to replace empties. The truth is that Indians use the rinse method to clean their behind instead of toilet paper. In each stall, there’s either a hose or a spigot with a bucket. (This is also one reason why people say the stalls are gross — there is often a layer of brown water surrounding the squat toilet.) If you don’t want to “go local,” you’ll need to bring your own TP (and sometimes small coins for the WC fee). Baby wipes may come in handy as well.
Cash, especially small bills and coins. When traveling through India, you just have to accept that credit card readers are as rare as a decent coffee. Cash is king, but smaller bills rule the kingdom. Continue reading →
Last year we put a spotlight on six odd items we were packing for our round-the-world trip. Now that we’ve been on the road for eight months, we have a pretty solid idea of what is useful (i.e.: the things we kept) and what had to go (and did!). To keep to the theme of short and simple, we each highlight six items we can’t imagine having traveled without. One common theme you’ll notice – and that we stress the importance of – is that most of the items have multiple functions. And this is true for other things we packed as well (even the souvenir we bought in Malawi!).
1. Moroccan Scarf
Early in our trip, I got the idea that I wanted a scarf, but it was not until Morocco that I seriously started looking for one. Out of all the items picked up along the way, this has definitely been the best return for the money. Considering we have had many desert excursions, with a few sandstorms thrown in for good measure, this scarf has been a lifesaver. Currently, it aids in my ability to breathe in India.
Compact, but offering three U.S. outlets in addition to a USB outlet, this is a great charging unit. Most importantly, it is dual voltage compatible so all you need is a plug adaptor for use overseas. It is hands down one of the most important items in our bag. (As we suspected it would become!) Continue reading →
We’ve spent the last 70 days on the move. To continue traveling light and stretch our savings for as long as possible, we abide by a strict no souvenir rule. There are two exceptions: if we would feel strong regret by not making a purchase (no object has yet had this powerful effect on us) or if the item will be beneficial during our travels (this we’ve experienced). Tara’s beneficial purchases include a hand fan and a shirt. Mike’s are shower shoes (after leaving his in Istanbul) and soccer jerseys. Mutual purchases include: a food container (which we accidentally left on a bus in Croatia), two towels for our cruise in Turkey and various amenities that have needed refilling.
Point being: What we buy, we use. What we brought with us, we use.
During a recent travel day from Zagreb to Dubrovnik, I got to thinking about the weight of my luggage. By taking out a couple outfits to keep with my carry-on bag, my large backpack felt remarkably lighter. What did I pack that’s been weighing me down? Continue reading →