Saturday, September 25, 2010

the not-so-OC's guide to travelling - part 2

if you read yesterday's post, then you'll know why certain people agree with the observation that i'm bossy -- i like things planned, organized, and not-so-free flowing. now don't mistake that for being overly rigid. as a matter of fact, i don't mind change of plans at all. what matters to me, though, is that there's a plan to begin with. change that as you will over the course of an entire trip, i'm okay with that, but i'd rather much leave manila with a thick sheaf of papers outlining a plan of action for the entire vacation than not knowing what to do when i get there.

thanks to the internet, it's now not only easy to book a flight, it's also quite easy to figure out what to do when you get to a place. as a matter of fact, hong kong and malaysia have amazing sites (here and here) run by their tourism authorities which proved to be helpful. from the websites, i got connected to a bazillion other links which allowed me to not only figure out where i wanted to go but, more importantly, how to get there.

♥ email! - months before i went to hong kong with my family and to KL with my friends, i was already scouring the internet for information and emailing the links to my travel mates. whether or not they wanted to be involved with the planning stages, at least they knew what was going on and could put in their two cents' worth should they wish to do so.

♥ don't just email, email a plan. not everyone will be exciting over seeing a bunch of links, so it will help a lot of if you draft a plan and tell them that you want to go to certain places. prior to my hong kong trip with my mom and brother, i had figured out what we were going to do on each of the four days that we were going to be there, subject to their approval. now, since they were family, i was easily able to indicate that failure to reply within an appropriate time will be deemed as a waiver on their part to comment, but this might not necessarily be a good idea if you're traveling with friends.

♥ be flexible! while i had a plan of attack for hong kong, i didn't mind it when we didn't push through with some of the things i wanted to do during the sheer exhaustion (goodbye, victoria harbor) or lack of time (goodbye, ocean park). i just filed them away for future trips to these places -- after all, given their proximity to manila and the cheap flights now available, i'm sure that i'll get to do these things next time i visit.

♥ figure out your non-negotiables. on our last day in KL, we had counted on getting morning tickets to the skybridge at petronas towers, only to get a 2:45 p.m. slot. some of the people ahead of us left after the schedule they wanted was filled up, but our group decided to get whatever slot would be available and give up instead a planned trip to batu caves. we figured that kuala lumpur = petronas towers, and told ourselves that since we had waken up early just to get in line, then this was something we had to do. batu caves can wait for a succeeding trip (see tip above).

♥ public transportation & walking = a tour on its own. while i was basically stuck in city tours and what nots on my first few trips abroad with family, my trips these year all involved taking public transport. again, information is readily available online. and, if you have more questions, don't hesitate to ask hotel staff who are, more often than not, locals who take public transportation themselves. in hongkong, we availed of the tourist day pass which ended up being really cheap since we were staying at HK disneyland. in vietnam, we walked around and discovered hidden treasures within the city which were not on any of the tour guides and maps that we got. and in kuala lumpur, we were virtually able to take all available forms of transportation except, surprisingly, a cab.

♥ have a mini-planning session. see the picture above? that was taken by one of my travel companions to KL. while i had already sent a number of emails, and we had all exchanged a number of emails between the four of us, it still helped that we sat down, discussed everything (including the maximum budget), and agreed on a number of things. that meant less time wasted abroad discussing where to go and what to do.

♥ figure out how everything costs and plan accordingly. before going to hong kong, i already informed my mom how much the admission fees were, as well as how much we should set aside for food and travel. that allowed us to determine exactly how much money to bring with some left over for something really important -- shopping! when we went to KL, we agreed to pool a fixed amount and have a designated "treasurer" pay for everything (bus, train, transfers, meals, etc) so that we weren't all digging into our pockets for change, or worrying whether or not we'll have enough money left for the rest of the trip after making a purchase.

tomorrow: part 3 - packing light? not me.

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