For Tips on Traveling Safely, Click Here.
Living in a Country for awhile and feeling a bit homesick? Click Here for tips on countering culture shock.
Coming BACK to your home country and feeling uncomfortable in your own culture? Click Here for tips on countering REVERSE culture shock.
Going to Uruguay? Click Here.
Going to Argentina? Click Here.
Going to Iguazu Falls (either the Brazilian side of the Argentinian side)? Click Here.
Considering using Rosetta Stone as language learning software? Click here for my recommendations.
Skype is a program that allows you to call any phone (cell phone or land line) from a computer. As long as you have a mic (whether in-built) and sound, it works. It is a much cheaper way to call home/friends abroad than anything else I have encountered. You can even get a monthly deal with Skype (I pay $6 a month to call any land line or cell phone in the US- unlimited). It’s a pretty sweet deal for a traveler, especially if you have a computer. Plenty of internet cafes in tourist spots have headphones with mics and Skype on the computer.
Couch Surfing is the new hitch hiking, but not as dangerous. Basically if you’re out of money/want to hang out with some cool locals- Couch Surf is perfect for you. If you go to any country you can search for couches to sleep on, and it even has options if you only want to meet up for coffee. This is definitely an awesome tool, but be careful when you’re using it. Make sure the person you’re messaging is spoken for.
This is a great tool if you’re traveling on a budget. Has cheap hostels all over the WORLD!
Well anyone who’s a traveler knows of Lonely Planet. Some people prefer Rough Guide, but I’m a Lonely Planet girl. This isn’t ESSENTIAL when you’re traveling, but it’s a nice thing to have. Lonely Planet has guide books to basically every country- it gives you an orientation on the country, sites to see, places to sleep, good restaurants… everything you need to travel! Of course you can find a lot of this online, but it’s much easier having it in one compact book- especially if you’re planning on traveling to several places at once in a single country.
This is not a full-proof website (you may find cheaper flights elsewhere and they don’t list smaller airlines), but in my opinion, it is the best way to find cheap airline tickets out there.
Traveling Tip Number 1: Bargaining in 5 Steps
There are many more reputable web sites that you can find on how to bargain down prices in foreign countries (like this one), so I won’t go into too many details- but here are the basics. I am going to use asking the price for a cab as an example.
1) Always ask for the price first!! Don’t just get into the cab (unless it is on meter)- you could drive all the way there and then the guy can demand any price he wants, no matter how ridiculous. Make sure to establish what the going rate is before you even put the bag in the car!
2) This is personal preference, but I usually never go with the first guy I ask for the price. If I don’t know how much a cab ride will be, I’ll ask one cab driver. For example, let’s say he says ‘5,000 dram’ (or whatever currency you’re using). I would say “Hmm. That seems a bit expensive,” and see if he’ll make you a ‘special discount.’ If he doesn’t, say “Okay, I’ll think about it,” and walk away. You have about a 90% chance there that the cab driver will drop the price by at least 1,000. You could stop, turn around, and say ‘I’ll pay 1,500’ (something purposefully low that he won’t agree to). He will either shake his head, or drop the price even further. Regardless whatever happens (let’s say he drops it 1,000 more), at least you have established the HIGHEST possible price from this man. Now you can go onto other cab drivers knowing that the cab will cost at most 3,000 dram (or, you could always go with him if you’re satisfied).
3) When you get to the other cab drivers and ask them how much the cab is and they say ‘5,000 dram’ give them a look that clearly says they are ludicrous and there is no way you would pay that money. Say ‘No.’ and shake your head emphatically. If needed, walk away. The point here is to act as if you come to this country all of the time and you know how much it really costs. You’ll see how far the price will drop again.
4) Then pull out your hard-line bargaining. “I will pay 2,000.” You say. No negotiation.You and the man will barter for a bit, and if he refuses you can always walk away and find another cab driver. The key element is walking away. They will realize they’re losing a customer and the price should eventually drop to what you’re willing to pay. It also helps if there are about five cab drivers vying for your attention- there’s a much higher chance that one of them will accept 2,000 for the cab ride.
5) Don’t be a stickler. Even if you don’t know how much a cab costs, try to be reasonable. Usually when a cab driver gives a price, they know that you are a tourist and they’re trying to rip you off- they usually will say more than half of what the cab ride is worth, in a lot of cases even three-quarters. But even if you end up paying a bit more than the locals (for example, 2000 instead of 1500), try to remember that these guys have hard lives and you’re helping the economy by giving an extra 500 dram, which in reality is less than two dollars.
Bargaining is a challenge, but it’s common in many countries, so have fun and enjoy it rather than letting it get you down!
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