Tips, Tricks, Common Sense, and Bedbugs

timesquareSafety First – Bag It!

In every sense of the word. Who knows who or what you’ll meet at the clubs or for the purposes of this tip, which people are looking to steal your shit. Keep all items in your big travel backpack at all times whenever possible and don’t let that bag out of your site, even on the eight hour train rides. It’s an unfortunate component to travelling, but the fact of the matter is that you will at one point, at least once, be targeted. It’s the way in which you arm yourself against such predators that will save, say … a laptop and a camera …

Every travel guide will tell you to buy a “money belt.” It is nerdy and hot and sweaty, but it saved our credit cards and passports. We kept everything of value in here at all times, including our rail passes. We slept with it under our pillows in any shared room, because the truth is that you never really know and some things you just can’t afford to lose. It is worn under your clothes and is an invaluable piece of packing for any traveler. Be sure to bring a thin-latched combo or key lock to use in the hostel lockers. You can look these up and buy them online for a more accurate fit. For the most part, there is an unspoken rule regarding hostel loot and you may even notice your fellow roommates leaving their own MacBooks open on their beds, but if you prefer the extra safety, and trust me, you won’t trust everyone, a lock is an important tool in keeping your stuff safely out of greedy hands and street vendor cachés. It may sound harsh, but assume everyone wants something from you and it’s usually more than a nice, American smile.

Many people will offer directions expecting some sort of monetary compensation in return or offer your female travel-mate a nice rose for free only to cost five euro for the man. It is a fine line between being cautious and being rude, but learn to walk the tightrope and keep yourself travel smart. A must read for a traveler of any age, check out traveler-posted entries on real life scams encountered along their own journeys. It may sound like too much reading or something only old people would care about, but we saw so many of these scams along our own travels that we were inevitably grateful (particularly the gypsy/ring scam and the “free” rose scam).

Cheap Sleeps

I often am asked “where did you stay while you were there?” I didn’t realize after having returned home how weird it must be for my friends and family to think I spent my nights at the hands of scary, non-English speaking serial killers who have watched Saw too many times (i.e. Hostel). The places we stayed were, for the most part, very nice, well located, cheap hostels.

We booked everything here, saving us tons of time and effort. From there, you can view pictures, traveler reviews and comments, etc. The hostels are rated by previous guests based on cleanliness, proximity to main attractions, staff friendliness, general atmosphere, etc. It was a valuable tool we used countless times and the directions and reviews were accurate and exceedingly helpful. As an extra safety measure, choose to veto any place with even one review sighting bedbugs. Bedbugs are a nasty, hard to get rid of parasite that will infect their host and subsequently any clothing or further beds you encounter while being an active host, effectively ruining your holiday and any chance you may have with beautiful Swedish women.

to be continued…
Allison Giaquinto

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