Beginnings of a Digital Nomad: The Remote Year – Day 12
An Australian staying next door had never traveled. This inspired me to provide the most useful travel tips to save you money, stay prepared, and help make your journey go as smooth as possible!
Today I write to you upon fresh arrival at the Gili Trawangan Island in Indonesia. But first, let's rewind to three days ago...
Travel tip #1: When in Southeast Asia, download the Grab app for all your ridesharing purposes. Uber tends to crap out on this continent so Grab is more popular in almost every Southeast Asian country. Also, unlike Uber, Grab charges you a flat rate no matter how long your ride may be delayed due to traffic, weather conditions, etc. This is EXTREMELY useful considering the fact that many large Asian cities suffer from intense traffic jams at seemingly random times of the day. In addition to requesting a car, you can also request normal taxis and motorcycle taxis (at least in Thailand, where motorcycle taxis are extremely common). They allow the option to pay in cash as well.
Travel tip #2: A lot of countries you go to nowadays require proof of leaving the country. A good way to go about this in case you want to leave your trip open-ended is to create a free account on Travelocity.com and search for an "outbound" ticket while logged into your newly-created account. Travelocity then lists all your flight options, along with which exact flights allow FREE CANCELLATION WITHIN 24 HOURS! Book one of these flights to prove to the ticketing agent that you're leaving the intended country, then cancel the flight right after they've checked you in :) For example, going to Thailand always requires me to prove to the inbound airline that I'll be departing Thailand within 30 days of arrival. So I'll book a flight from, say, Bangkok to Phnom Penh leaving one week after my arrival, check in and provide the necessary ticketing proof, login to Travelocity once I'm checked in, click "Manage Reservations," then "Cancel Reservation," and BOOM! I have my ticket in hand with no charges on my card ;)
Travel tip #3: If you don't already have a credit card offering you good rewards, GET ONE ASAP! By putting all of your trip's spend on these cards, you'll be that much closer to your next trip via rewards miles, which you can redeem for free airline tickets, hotel bookings, etc. Additionally, cards try to stay competitive by offering no foreign transaction fees, which will save you hundreds—if not, thousands—in the long run. @calaber24p made a great post about credit card rewards programs that's definitely worth checking out here!
While you will get hassled by countless locals looking to peddle their services, it's still dotted by an overwhelming amount of Hindu temples and structures standing in good condition, all of which act as a reminder of the country's vibrant culture and rich history.
Travel tip #4: If you ever plan on visiting any Hindu or Buddhist temples, be sure to always have your shoulders and knees covered before entering (i.e., no skirts or tank tops). Although this may seem like uncomfortable attire for hot, tropical climates such as Indonesia or Thailand, there are looser/more breathable alternatives available such as sarongs. And if you REALLY don't have anything to cover your body parts, you have the option of renting proper attire at the entrances to any of these religious locations.
Travel tip #5: Don't rely on money exchange counters. ATMs will still give you, hands down, the best conversion rates possible for the time that you're traveling. Better yet, there are also plenty of banks out there that waive fees for out-of-network ATM cash withdrawals, such as Capital One, Charles Schwab, and most credit unions.
The high from the monkey sanctuary was later complemented with a stroll through the bustling Ubud town market, where goods of all kinds were being forced into your pockets in exchange for whatever amounts of fiat currency you held (if only they'd accept Steem Dollars ;)). From sarongs and elephant pants to religious relics, they have anything and everything you could think of.
The next day (today), we pack up our stuff and head for Gili Trawangan Island. In what we thought would be a smooth and seamless transition to a tropical getaway, was actually a one-way ticket to Shitshow-ville; population: us. The backpacker-filled two-hour (they said it would only be one hour) shuttle ride dropped us off in a crowded boat launch harbor crammed with confused tourists wandering around aimlessly in search of the right boat...all the while sticky from the intense Indonesian heat and humidity. Fortunately for me, I was able to get some work done on my phone for part of the journey...which leads me to my next travel tip ;)
Travel tip #6: For those American travelers looking to stay connected while abroad without having to pay ridiculous international roaming charges, contact your cell phone providers about the most cost-effective ways of using data abroad. For example, AT&T allows you to purchase "Passport Plans" for as little as $15 for free texting and 2 GB of data; more than enough for 30 days of messaging/calling on Whatsapp as well as using rideshare apps. Sprint and T-Mobile stepped up their game even further by giving their customers unlimited free international 3G data; all you have to do is call them to activate this feature!
It's now close to 1 am and I'm struggling to keep my eyes open as I write this, but I wanted to leave you off with yet one more travel tip!
Travel tip #7: When checking for flights (especially when you plan on flying in and out of the same airport), ALWAYS be sure to compare the prices of both roundtrips and two one-ways. I've had travel booking sites try to charge me MORE for a roundtrip ticket than purchasing two separate one-ways, which ended up being $200 cheaper altogether; all going to and from the same airports.
To view past posts on "Beginnings of a Digital Nomad: The Remote Year," click here: