Greetings from France! I’m stuck at the Marseille airport as my flight is delayed for two hours. You got it, there is a strike of air traffic controllers. At least, I’ve got two hours to be productive and to write something interesting. I’ve already given tips for traveling in the three previous posts. Here, I’d like to add some more useful stuff.
- Smell good without carrying perfumes. If you travel light, there is one major downside of carrying your own perfumes; they are typically in heavy bottles which add to the mass of your hand luggage. So, how to deal with that? At any airport you can find a duty-free store that carries perfumes. Go there, spray yourself, and ask for free samples. That way you can smell good for free. If you stay in the city, you can use the same tactic. Find some Sephora or any other store with perfumes. It’s guaranteed that you’ll find one in the shopping mall. Also, if you sweat a lot, get baking soda from any grocery store or pharmacy, and use it as an antiperspirant. Just apply the powder on your skin, for example, under armpits. Baking soda is very effective in fighting bacteria, cheap, non-toxic, light, doesn’t leave yellow stains, and can be carried in hand luggage.
- Smartphone. I’ve travelled with a laptop, tablet, and smartphone. From my experience, the only device that you’ll need while traveling is a good smartphone, such as Google Nexus 4 or Apple iPhone.
- Say toilet. At least in Europe, don’t use the words washroom, restroom, or bathroom. Many people don’t seem to get them. Toilet is universally understandable.
- CouchSurfing got worse. The whole CouchSurfing project has changed; at least in three aspects. First, CS became a for-profit project which, I believe, has had an impact on the website and the users. Second, the CS website has a new layout which is very counterintuitive. Third, the most important, CS is no longer a community of like-minded travelers. In the past, you could send few requests and get answers promptly. People wanted to travel and to host travelers. These days, many people join CS just for free accommodation. Whereas they like to CouchSurf (because it’s free), few of them host people at their place.
- Pick a cool hostel. I’ve been to dozens of different hostels. Choosing a great hostel is not an easy task. For me, a great hostel is one that: 1) attracts young cool people, 2) is about partying, 3) is clean, 4) is cheap, and 5) is safe. There are multiple websites to search for hostels, such as HostelWorld. When searching, I sort the results by price and rating. Further, the opinions will give you a clue about the points 1-4. Additionally, the hostel description will tell you if the hostel offers lockers (important for safety) and free WiFi. The latter is pretty standard, though, WiFi may not work in all the rooms. Finally, I don’t care if the hostel offers any breakfast. Typically, I come back too late to wake up for the breakfast. Also, in the past, hostels offered more varied breakfasts. Nowadays, they offer mostly milk, cornflakes, crappy wheat bread, and fake jam. Pure carbs. It’s neither healthy, nor filling, and not very tasty when eaten daily. I’m off that.
- Hotel is an option. I’m not a big fan of hotels. Typically, they are more expensive than hostels and you don’t get to meet many new people. Sometimes, however, there may be no hostels at your destination. What do you do then? Consider Airbnb or book a hotel room. Recently, I found great hotel deals on Cyprus through Booking.com (which was recommended to me by hotel stuff). They don’t charge booking fees.
- If got a student card, ALWAYS ask for student discounts. Sure, this tip doesn’t work too often, but when it does, you pay half of the price. For example, recently I scored a ticket from Paphos to Larnaca for 2e.