Tips n’ Links

Youthful exuberance ain’t worth a hill of beans if you don’t put it to good use every now(!) and then…

If you find yourself asking;

How to get around?

  • Skyscanner
    • The website will take note when you search for a flight. If you search for the same flight plan a second time skyscanner will raise the price. Either clear out your search history before you search the second time or use different device
    • skyscanner is best when you have flexibility on the dates you intend to fly.  The website will show you a calendar’s month of fairs, allowing you to find the cheapest deal in a fraction of the time.
  •  East coast peeps: I have consistently found the cheapest flights from the US to Europe/Asia/Africa depart from JFK. We are talking hundreds of dollars cheaper. (I once found a one way ticket from JFK to Thailand for $350) If you are willing to get your Griswold on and road trip it to JFK, it’s worth a search
  • Air Asia
  •  Tuesday – Thursday are your cheaper days to fly
    • Booking your ticket 5 Tuesdays before is a flight attendant-patented tip
  • If you can’t find a decent flight path without crazy layovers or bloated prices, book two separate flights. I’m sure some people are blessing my heart and math skills but hear me out;
    • My Brother and I once booked a one way from Surabaya to Java then a way one from Java to Singapore that left approximately two hours after we arrived in Java. This was cheaper than booking a one way from Surabaya to Singapore, which included a layover in Java anyway. In the end we each saved over $60.
  • My fave airlines: These offer the best entertainment, comfortable seats, small amenities, and will keep you fed properly
    • Oman Air
    • Emirates
    • Turkish Airlines
  • FlixBus 
    • Comfortable, cheap, and (generally) bathroom & Wifi equipped
    • Cheaper the sooner in advance you book, but I’ve found this to be the most cost efficient way to get around Europe
  • Ride Share
    • There are websites such as BlaBlaCar which is a ride share website or as they describe themself, “the worlds leading carpool service.” I have never used this service, but I have met people who have.
  • If you are going to be traveling around the UK for an extended amount of time consider getting a railcard: Rail Card
  • Ask your hostel staff what is the most cost -effective way to get to your next destination, or to a point of interest in the city. These people will be your best info source.

Where to lay my head?

  • Hostelworld.com
    • Take the reviews with a grain of salt. You never know how lofty or bar-so-low-you-can-step-over-it standard’s other travelers have. I like to read 8-10 different reviews for each hostel to see if there is a trend.
    • My one no-go, absolutely-will-not-stay-in-a-place threshold is if I read one mention of bed bugs.
  • My Fav Stays:
    • Europe: Mad Hatters Hostel- Liverpool, Liverpool. Castle Rock, Edinburgh. Phoenix Hostel, London. The Clink 78, London. The Generator London/ Berlin (don’t think you can go wrong with any Generator location.) Sant Jordi (any location,) Barcelona. Sunflower Hostel, Berlin. Happy Go Lucky Hotel 7 Hostel, Berlin. White Tulip, Amsterdam
    • Asia: Dengba Hostel, Bankok, Thailand. Brick House Hostel, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Beachbums Berawa, Canggu, Indonesia. In Da Lodge, bud, Indonesia. Mad Monkey, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (I don’t think you can go wrong with any Mad Monkey location.) Downtown Siem Reap Hostel, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
    • Africa: Kif-kif Marrakech, Marrakech, Morocco. Funky Fez, Fez, Morocco.
    • Central America: Bella’s Backpackers, San Ignacio, Belize
  • Airbnb
  • Booking.com
  • Couch Surfing
  • *Level 5 endorse * Workaway
  • Helpx
  • WWOOF

What should I pack?

  • Zip lock bags
  • Packing Cubes (they are a God-send!)
  • Activity(s) of some sort: cards, hacky-sack, book, Frisbee, journal, tennis ball, etc.
  • Lighter (even if you don’t smoke, everyone always likes the guy who came in clutch with a light)
  • Head Torch
  • Locks of various sizes (for your bag zipper &/or hostel lockers)
  • Small first aid kit/ Advil or Tylenal/ thermometer
  • Small sewing kit
  • Extra; toothbrush/ cheap sunglasses/ headphones
  • Travel toothbrush holder
  • A travel-sized bottle of Gold Bond’s powder to refresh your souls if those shoes start smelling funk
  • At least one long sleeve shirt or sweatshirt (even in SE Asia buses can get cold)
  • Copy of passport/medical records
  • Small backpack to use as a day pack
  • Hat
  • Raincoat
  • Travel Adapter
  • Power Bank or solar charger (Not necessary but highly recommended outlets can be a highly sought after commodity in hostels and airports.)
  • Earplugs -if you are a light sleeper or inversely if you are a heavy snorer bring ear plugs for the other people in your hostel’s room

TBV Travel Tips, don’t try these at home kids!

  1. Backpacks are measured in liters. They range from 25 to 90+L.
    1.  I carry a 45L ‘bute named Bernice and she’s the perfect size for me. My bag is smaller than what most dabbler’s tote, but I enjoy having a carry-on sized bag for when I fly. Most likely, any bag over 50L will have to be checked.
    2. A smaller bag keeps the unnecessary weight down, it’s human nature to fill the space one gives them self, and in the backpacking game less is more.
  2. Packing: preparing for a multi-month adventure will be daunting, but have no fear! It is a lot like that whole rinse and repeat situation. Step 1: Pack everything you think you will need. 2: Unpack and remove some clothing. 3: Repack. 4: Unpack and remove more clothing, a pair of shoes, and random items. 5: Repack and done… Trust me you won’t need as much as you think.
  3. I found bringing a clothesline and a pacsafe wire bag protector (I found these on other suggested pack lists) to be unnecessary space-eaters.
  4. Go ahead and memorize your passport number. You will often need to recall this number for custom cards, transportation bookings, rentals, etc.
  5. Hostel’s will ask to see your passport when you check in, so have it at the ready.
  6. Ladies; some cathedrals/temples won’t let you in if you are wearing shorts. Pack a modest skirt to wear or throw in your day pack to slip on before getting your Jesus on.
  7. Towel, to pack or not to pack? It is entirely possible to get along without a towel. Most hostels will either rent them for a small fee or provide one. I like to use a tapestry because they are lighter weight, take up less room, dry quicker, and triple as a skirt/cover up/blanket. If you do want to go the towel route, then I’d recommend getting a quick dry travel towel.
  8. When flying internationally wear a jacket with a hood. Why? So you can shove the tick tack-sized pillow the airline gives you in your hood, presto! No more wrestling with a plush little devil to stay under your noggin. Sure you might goofy but in my experience the “cool” are uncomfortable while the dweebs are serene.
  9. Sometimes it is cheaper to book a hostel directly through their website, or get extra perks like free breakfast. I like to use Hostelworld.com to read the reviews, then book direct.
  10. Keep the first day light. When entangling with massive time zone changes consider staying in your first destination a day longer than planned, jet lag is no joke.
  11. I prefer to book a hostel for only 1 or 2 nights at first even if I am going to be in the same city for a while. When there is boat-load of hostel options, it’s nice to test the waters before charging full steam ahead. If you are not feeling a place’s vibe, then check out and find a different docking station that better suits your mellow.
  12. Make sure you have at least 10€ on hand when checking into hostels in Europe and the UK. If you want the keys to the castle, then they will ask for more than a pretty penny as a security deposit.
  13. When studying abroad or backpacking the timeline between strangers and friends is much shorter. In regards to studying abroad, when you only have three months to make friends/ see as much of a new continent as possible, use my line. After clicking with someone I’d say, “Hey let’s become friends on facebook. Let me know if you ever want to get a cup of coffee or visit a foreign country together.”
  14. Do some preliminary googling of a country’s; religion, appropriate tipping amount, cultural basics, and how to say some simple phrases such as, “hello,” “please,” and “thank you.”
  15. Check the current exchange rate before switching out your cash to ensure you’re not getting short changed.
  16. Do a google search to see if any museums or other attractions have free days or days with reduced entry fee’s.
  17. If you still have a student ID card bring it with you. Many attractions and tours will offer a student discount.
  18. To avoid crowds, visit museums and other popular attractions at prime lunch time.
  19. Free walking are amazing. I highly encourage seeking out a free tour on your first or second day in town to get a lay of the land and get some fun-dational history.  Free as these tours truly are, be sure to have some small bills or coins on you for a tip.
  20. Hi, free walking tours again.. Also a great way to meet people and make friends. I ended up splitting (probably one too many) buckets of beer and shooting pool until who knows when with a boisterous, bevy of Australians I met on my Barcelona tour.
  21. As someone who is directionally-disenfranchised, Google Maps are my best friend (sorry Brooke) when traveling abroad. They allow you to down load the map of an area to offline mode and save places of interested on your custom map. You can then access this map without the need of internet.
  22. Starbucks and McDonald’s always have free wifi. If you are ever in need of the all-knowing cloud in the multi-verse, pop into one of these establishments, (or get close enough to the building outside) do your interneting, then continue on following your bliss. As I like to say, some women stand on corners to pick up men. I stand on corners to pick up wifi.
  23. Screen shots save (cat-like) lives. Instead of being plagued with anxiety of connecting to wifi, take screen shots of any important information such as booking confimrations and the address of where you are going.
  24. When you make your budget don’t forget to factor in, “unexpected travel costs” because unfathomable suddenly becomes fathomable on the winding road. (See I’ve Got to Get that Monkey Off My Back if you don’t believe me.)