A day in the life – words from a newbie-turned regular
Here at the GTG we recognise the value of a variety of perspectives. This week we hear from 22-year old KC Owens, a GTG enthusiast who has developed some handy tips of his own through his travel experience. From Syracuse, New York, KC is currently studying an MBA and speaks German Please make him welcome.
Taking the First Steps Into a World of Travel
As much as I’ve always loved the idea of travel, for years I found it too daunting to ever really consider. It made me very nervous and I was apprehensive about flying around the world without real plans. However, everything started to change when I got to college and gained some self-confidence. I met new people, learned a new language and was exposed to new ideas and I found myself wanting to go out into the world and explore them.
Now, I don’t have a large bank account so paying for flights around the world can often be tricky. I decided to do some research and so I hopped on the Internet and started looking for ways to pay for my trip. According to Credit Card Insider http://www.creditcardinsider.com/credit-cards/travel-airline/before-you-apply/ I was able to get a student credit card that was specific for those wanting to travel. It offered great rewards for people buying plane tickets-like me! Although I was already working hard to pay for college, the credit card opened up a whole new world of possibilities by allowing me to buy tickets without having the money up front.
Outside of plane tickets, I realized that I really didn’t have to spend much on my adventures, and the credit card has allowed me to take advantage of that. When I’m traveling, I can swipe my card at most restaurants and businesses without having to worry about having a stash of cash in my bank account. Since I always have a part-time job when I’m at school, making small payments throughout the year is easy. The greatest benefit of traveling on credit was the exchange rates. Bouncing around to different countries can be tough if their currencies change each time you jump the border. Exchanging cash can be expensive (and carrying large amounts is dangerous, too) so my card works great for country hopping because it exchanges things for me automatically.
Of course, paying for the trip is only half the battle. The next question I faced was what to do when I actually got there. I’m not talking about what sights I was going to see, I’m talking about basic things- like how do I carry around a suitcase full of clothes and toiletries? Given just a little bit of thought, it became obvious that I would need to leave most things at home and carry a couple shirts, some underwear, socks and an extra pair of shorts. That was really it. I had toiletries and my cell phone, a chamois to dry off with and stuff like that but I was pretty much roughing it with nothing else. Namely, there is a reason that people “backpack” through Europe. Unless you are staying at a five star hotel and have a private chauffer, the idea of carrying around four suitcases and the kitchen sink will have you regretting your life choices pretty quickly. To that end if you are tempted by the idea of creature comforts it may be of use to have a think about the kind of trip you have planned.
On the other hand, a lightweight, quality backpack (I got mine on Amazon for less than $30), can be a lifesaver http://www.amazon.com/TETON-Sports-Explorer-Internal-Backpack/dp/B00167TGII/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370270336&sr=8-1&keywords=backpacking . Big enough to carry my stuff, the backpack allows me the freedom to go practically anywhere. More importantly, since I’m already a little wary of people taking my stuff, the idea of trying to keep an eye on multiple bags seems more than a little overwhelming. Remember, people in other countries are typically just as nice as they are here, but bad apples are everywhere.
If you are visiting more than one city, the odds are good that you are going to be spending a lot of time on public transportation. The odds are also good that you may be sleeping around strangers (especially if you go the hostel route). Why not protect yourself by keeping your possessions close by at all times?
On that note, the most important thing to carry with you abroad is an item that you should always have on you- your ID wallet. Identity theft is a very serious problem, especially for Americans, and you don’t want to end up stranded without proof that you exist, I highly recommend always carrying a zipped pouch with your passport, credit card, and cashhttp://www.amazon.com/Eagle-Creek-Travel-Undercover-Money/dp/B0054IH5PQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370272018&sr=8-1&keywords=eagle+creek+money+belt . Don’t leave it in your backpack, don’t leave it in your room, and if you somehow lose it, make sure that you contact your local embassy immediately.
Thanks to KC for your fresh perspective, your handy hints, and also for your interest in both travel and the GTG. I’m sure we all look forward to hearing the latest as you travel more.
Well your GTG should confess to an inherent fear of the good old plastic gold, and acknowledge the economic challenges facing the third world and lesser-‘developed’ countries which are often the motivation for theft from (particularly well-off) travelers. Also featured in early GTG entries such as Departure checklists one and two are a range of hints providing useful accompaniment to those provided here by KC. As always, happy globetrotting and until next week.