Tips

-You can compare your country with the one you are travelling to, but do not blame any country for being different. Don’t forget that the reason why you travel is also because of that difference.

 

-It’s up to you to have a what to do list in detailed when you are going for travel, but if you are kind of a person who do not want to skip important attractions, a brief list is necessary.

-Whatever you do, your plan may not accomplished due to various reasons. You may face with heavy rain which prevents you to walk or a place which you want to go may be closed on that day. Do not make your holiday become a disaster by only focusing on the bad things.

 

-Map is still and probaby will be the best tool for your holiday. Have it!

 

-There are possible questions which are waiting to be answered by you to have your travel plan. These are where go, when to go, how to go, where to stay and what to do. Of course, number of questions can be increased.

 

-Your best friend may not be the best travel friend for you. So, choose your best travel partners for you. There will be cases when you want to travel but there will no available person who can join you. Decision is personal, but as a person who was once saying

 

-There are really good mobile applications that can help your travel become easy. This can be for finding best restaurants in town, finding the easiest way to return your hotel or using offline maps which will still guide you when there is no internet. Spend some time for finding out those applications.

 

-Few things you should check are power sockets, phone carrier availability in that country. I highly recommend you to carry a traveler kit for power sockets which allow you to charge your devices in every country. You can also bring your own power outlet multiplier, because in some rooms you will only one power socket which may not enough if you carry six devices like me. If your carrier is not available in the country you are travelling to, you have two options. You can either buy a prepaid card with a carrier in that country. In countries such as Thailand this will be the cheapest way or you can use an operator in that country via your carrier which may increase costs. So, you better check charging rules of your carrier in that specific country.

 

-Currency of the country will be probably different than yours. You will either need cash or use your credit card. For cash, it is mostly logical to convert your own currency to well known currencies such as EUR and USD and then convert to that specific curreny when you arrive there. For example, if you are travelling from Turkey to Norway, you will not find good rates or possibly no option to convert TRY to NOK. So, go with EUR there and convert your EUR to NOK. If you will use your credit card, be sure that you have the best option for exchange rates applied.

 

-Language will be also most probably different. You get used to it, but when alphabet is also different things get more complicated. If you stay there longer, you start to learn it. If you love larning like me, you can complete the first course in that language which will also help you in your travel. I did this for Greek and Russian. Being able to read makes you feel comfortable. Languages such as Japan which may frighten you to learn are also not that hard. There is a certain logic behind the alphabet. With little search on web, you may learn how to read.

 

-This question may sound weird, but sometimes you may not know where to go. Or maybe you have a list of places to go and you don’t know where to start. If you are not an adventurous person, you may start from the easy one. Easy means different things for different people.

 

-Your travel may have different purposes. It can be for a quick escape or it can be for a long beach holiday. Not all places fit into all categories. Cities in Balkan countries are very ideal places to have quick escapes for a weekend, but Paris will not be logical to go for a weekend for your first time. It always starts deciding on “how long to stay” for deciding where to go.

 

-Visa can become an important constraint which increases your costs and decreases your flexibility. You may find a cheap flight to UK, but if UK requires a visa from you, that can triple your costs. Moreover, you may have to buy your flight tickets and hotel reservation at least 1.5 month in advance.

 

-Some cities offer you to have short day trips. So, you should consider those areas when deciding for how long to stay. For example, you may decide to go Munich after finding out 3 days will be the perfect duration which may fit your quick escape criteria.

 

-Travelling is one of most flexible activities you can do. You can fly to Milan and return from Rome or you can fly to Vienna and return from Vienna but you may define a circle where you start your journey from Vienna and then visit Prague, Bratislava and Budapest. So, do not put constraints. It is in your hand to extend your journey.

-You can go to a place anytime you want. There is nothing prevents you to not go. However, there may be things you should consider to have a better experience.

 

-Some countries have best season to go. For examples, if you go Maldives or Thailand in June, you may face with no sunny day at all. You may still have fun, but if you are going there for a beach holiday, it may end with disappointment. You can check weather statistics for the past data. Average rainy days & average temperature are the two indexes I always check before I decide to go.

 

-Important events and organizations attract many tourists from all around the world. You can be one of them. If you are a football fan, you may arrange your holiday accordingly. However, if that event or organization requires buying tickets it will be better to check flight prices first, buy event tickets second and make reservation for hotel and flight. These tickets are sold out very quickly, so it will be better for you to buy tickets before you buy other things.

 

-There are also regular events which take place frequently. For example, a flower carpet is prepared in Brussels every two years. There are popular Christmas markets in most Christian countries in December. Every month in Koh Samui there is a Full Moon Party. Going there during that time may bring you a better experience.

 

-There may be some cases related with security problems. Especially in Middle East countries, the environment is turbulent. So, it may be not a good idea to go there at that moment due to political reasons. Dynamic relationships between two countries is also become a problem. If you check whether there are any that kind of problems, you may face with less problems.

 

Location area

 

-In some places, there are many options to have day trips. For example, in Prague you can go Karlovy Vary, Kutna Hora and even Dresden in Germany with just one train. So, you may consider staying at a hotel close to relevant train station. So, staying at city center may not be the best option in this case.

 

-If you are going to a place with a tour and you just chose it because its attractive low-price, you may question the exact location of hotels. Distance of hotel to city is an important criteria especially if there is no easy public transportation. In Venice, most tours arrange the hotels not in Venice, so it may become a painful journey after night or in Rome, you may have to use 40 minutes public transportation every day to reach city center.

 

-In most countries, there are locations which are more secure than other locations. During daytime this creates no problem especially for tourist locations, but if you are planning to hangout at night and return your room later than 1 AM, security can be an important factor to choose your location.

 

Location types

 

-If you like trying new things, it is good that there are many types of locations to stay. Some people can only stay in luxury hotels whereas some people stay only at hostels to keep price minimum. So decide staying where makes you happy.

 

-If you like staying in silent hotels, keep in mind that hotels with dormitory rooms are mostly not silent and makes you feel uncomfortable.

 

-Apart concept should not be only a choice for longer holidays. There are many options available even if you are staying just for 1 night.

 

-Some people prefer to buy many things when they visit a country. If you are staying in dormitory rooms, you may not find a secure place to store your personal belongings or the area that hotel reception will give you may not be sufficient enough to store.

 

Booking

 

-If you are using websites such as booking.com to find a hotel for you, create an account and if you keep travelling you will become a “genius” member which will offer you discounts.

 

-Most people choose hotels only by checking points received by customers. That should not be your only criteria. Number of people who made reviews are highly critical which inrease the reliability of the data. Every year in every city new hotels are opening, so 9.2 points from 10 reviewers will show no clear informaion.

 

-In some countries, I prefer to have my breakfast at the hotel whereas I prefer to go different cafe and restaurants in other countries. There is only one reason for that: Discovering new places for tasting each time.

 

-Are you one of the people who try to find a beter place until you go your destination? If yes, you are one of the people who needs flexibility in hotel reservation which means you narrow your list. Again, this is a personal decision which each option is logical, but you just have to act accordingly.

 

-Hotel searching sites are very helpful sites, however they are not always the best option for finding a hotel. If you like the hotel and you see there is no room, you may get in contact with the hotel directly. You can do this even to ask for a better price than you find.

 

-Do not forget to check other important criteria that may affect your decision. Some rooms are cheaper just because it has a shared bathroom with other rooms, so if it is a problem for you, skip those hotels. If wi-fi availability and its quality is an important factor for you, check those and read some reviews about it. I have seen cases that you have to give 10 EUR per day for wi-fi in your room even staying at a top class 5-star hotel.

 

-The answer may seem so obvious, however there are certain cases you have to consider. If you will fly Italy from UK, the answer is very clear. However, this is not valid for some cases especially if you are travelling in the country you have more options.

 

-If you fly, sites such as Skyscanner will help you to find out best prices and options for your destination. If you don’t know where to go, you can empty destination country. In case you just want to go somewhere but when it has the cheapest prices, you can choose the cheapest month. However currently there is currently missing two functionalities on these kind of sites. First, you can not give time. This means if you are looking for a weekend escape, site will recommend Saturday night flying, Sunday morning returning which makes no sense for you.  Secondly, the chepest price may not be the chepest one due to two main reasons. If you are travelling with luggage, it will show you the cheapest option for that flight which may not involve luggage. Also, price shown here are mostly from agencies which means if you go to airlines’ website you may not see the same price and if you face with a problem of your flight, you need to solve it with the agency instead of airlines.

 

-You do not always have to fly. If you are in Europe, trains may become better option. It is not because it is faster but more convenient. You don’t have to go airport 1-2 hours earlier, you don’t have to leave your luggage, and you don’t have to think about possible delays. Of course, delays do exist for train travel too. Everything far from all other things, when you are travelling with train you see other places.

 

-Always google “how to go from X to Y” by replacing X and Y with your relevant destinations to find out all alternative ways for travelling. Do not think train tickets are cheaper than flight tickets. So, if price is the only criteria for buying a ticket, your choice will be simple.

 

-Every city offers various type of transportation. I mostly prefer metro, however in some places that will not be the best way. If you focus only one type of transportation, that can bring additional effort for you. People who prefer train to Eze from Nice are not aware of Eze stop is not the best stop to go Eze.

 

-Remember that there are also night trains or night couches which will decrease the number of nights you stay at the hotel. So, try to evaluate other advantages when using night train when considering cost element.

 

-Going a city in Sweden from another city in Sweden may not be best case. Bext example for that is Malmö. Even Swedish people fly to Copenhagen and then take train or bus there to Malmö. Map will be again your most valuable tool to decide that.

 

-Travelling in the city is also another question. Most cities offer different types of cards. Not in all cases, these cards are cost-effective. If single trip costs 2 EUR and you will only travel 5 times in your holiday, you may consider 5 trips card if exists rather than buying 3 days tickets. One day card is not same with 24 hours card. So, if you arrive on afternoon and you buy a day card, you may notice your card will not work on the next day.

 

-In some countries, you will notice you buy your ticket and there is noone controlling it. This is only because of the culture of that country. If you are travelling with no ticket, this means you are stealing. Yes, noone may not control your ticket but you may face with huge problems if you end it up with a ticket inspection by chance.

 

-Best applications are developed for transportation relevant cases. So, learn the company of that municipal of that city or country and download relevant applications for your own comfort. In Scandinavian countries, you can fill your ticket directly mobile and use it. In Paris, you will find out an application which offers you the least walked alternative, fastest alternative and the alternative having less transfers.

 

-Someone can ask what kind of a recommendation may exist for airport. You just fly there and then leave it immediately after taking your luggage. However do not forget that will be starting point for your holiday. One mistake or problem there can ruin your whole holiday.

 

-Many European countries become having only self check-in counters which means using self-checkin kiosks are not optional but mandatory. So, get yourself ready for the changing trends.

 

-Did you know that buying tickets does not guarentee your seat on your flight? If your answer is no, do not panic when you go to counter and staff tells you that there is no empty seats although you have a ticket. Airlines sell tickets more than the available seats by checking the statistical data in order to increase their revenues. This means briefly they sell 102 tickets when there are 100 seats on that plane because in the previous flights in %99 cases 2 person are always not showing at all. So, airlines prefer to take that %1 risk in order to sell two tickets more. This was just an example, there are many factors in the algorithm for that decision. So, just be ready for that kind of a case and if your departure must be really on that day and time, have a logical reason, because if you have a really logical reason, airline company will have to insure that too. However, if you do not have any constraints, airline company may offer you one more night stay in that city free and additional flight tickets which may be better for you. Briefly, do not panic!

 

-If you leave only 30 minutes or 1 hour transfer time for your transfer flight, that can increase the pressure on you. Airports are good places to spend time, so leave more time than to risk it all. Yes, if you miss your flight, the airline company will try to arrange a seat on the first next flight, but why would you mess all with this?

 

-Visa! It may not be valid for all visas, but in your visa you may have three important information where most people think there are actually two. First one is duration of your visa and second one is how many entry times you have. There are rare cases people having visa 3 months but only single time and then trying to go with that visa for the second time. Of course, you may not go. Even you go, you will return from that country before passport contol. The third one is the duration of maximum days you can use with that visa. For example, you may have 1 year valid visa with maximum 30 days of duration. If you have already spent 25 days with that visa before and now trying to go a 10 days long holiday, this may not happen or may create a problem.

 

-I have witnessed my flight departure was not on the list available at the flight schedules. This is not a good thing especially if your flight is less than 2 hours. I recommend you to contact relevant airline company at that point.

 

-Day by day you will find out the flight code of your departure flight is only one value greater or less than the same flight with reverse direction. I mean, for example if flight from Munich to Berlin is ending with 750, your flight from Berlin to Munich with same airlines will be ending up with 751. This means, you have to wait until 750 arrives. You just check Flightradar application with that number and if that flight has delay, you do not have to come airport earlier.

 

-I am one of the lucky guys whose luggage always appeared in the belt and I hope I will never have to change this post. However, this is a situation that may happen. It is possible your luggage flies to Tokyo and you fly to New York. When this kind of cases happen, you need to use that sticker attached to your ticket in order to track your luggage. So, do not lose it.

 

-You may face with strange things that you never heard it from anyone. This happened to me about luggage case. I had a flight from Istanbul to Ibiza with a stop in Rome. After waiting for 20 minutes in the luggage area, I saw many people’s luggage were not there. If there was only one or two, I would panic. However, there were 10 people waiting for their luggage. After talking with airport staff, we learnt luggages of people who are coming with transfer were in another belt having no information. This is an unexpected situation, but strange things happen.

 

-Don’t be pessimistic, but your luggage may be lost. It will not be possible to put your all stuff in a hand luggage, but try to put your critical belongings such as medicine and few underwear in your hand luggage. I have seen many people put their money in checked-in luggage. I don’t think this is a good way to hide your money. When you check in a luggage, you legally accept that staff can check it. If you have locked your luggage and the staff wants to check it, depending on the personality of that staff, you may end up with a damaged luggage.

 

-I don’t know what kind of a luggage you are travelling with, but most probably your luggage is not the only one of its kind in the world. Same or similar luggage may be also checked in that flight. I have witnessed many cases people take wrong luggage. So, always put a mark, sticker or use something to make it unique for you.

 

-Although it is getting known by everyone, tax-free is a good option if it is available for you. If you are flying from a Schengen zone area to a country in non-Schengen zone (it does not have to be your home country), you can have a refund of some portion of tax in your purchased items. Every country and even every different airport in that country may have different rules. By time, rules can also change too.

 

-This starts at the purchasing. So, do not be the ones going to airport and saying you want the tax refund. You have to show a specific paper which you take it from the store. So, when purchasing the item ask whether they have a tax refund policy. Not all stores will make you happy, but most well-known stores have that. There is also a minimum purchased amount constraint such as 175 EUR in France.

 

-The most known company for tax refund is Global Blue. You can directly calculate how much you will get at the airport on the website. You will also learn tax refund points at the airport.

 

-Some stores will tell you that you can take the refund only if you send the stamped document back to them with a mail. Yes, not with an e-mail! So, you may prefer stores using the standard way.

 

-The old-school way of taking your refund is first going to customs. You may have to show your purchased items to the responsible. If the product is used (if it is not in its original box, it is considered to be as used) or damaged, customs may not approve that item. So, if you buy an iPad, do not get excited and unbox it. Wait for few more days. Do not directly show your purchased items to customs. Show them if they are asking.

 

-Customs may ask your flight ticket. If you show your electronic ticket, you may be asked to show boarding pass. This is done in order to prevent unproper usage of tax refund. So, if you are the ones taking your boarding pass at the counter instead of online check-in, going airport earlier to complete your tax refund process will not be a solution for you, because you will have to wait till counters are open for check-in.

 

-Second step is going to tax refund points. There are two types of tax refund points. One before the passport control and one after the passport control. If you have the stamped customs document, you do not need to show your items. You will be asked to choose the currency and payment method for your tax refund. If you choose by cash, you may have only one or few options in currency and more commission.

 

-Although above three step process may seen easy, there are differences. In Paris, there is a new method where you don’t need to take a customs stamp, but you have to approve it in a kiosk. In Vienna & Munich, you have to act differently depending on whether your purchased items will be in your checked-in luggage or not. This means first you have to take your boarding pass from the counter by saying that you will receive your tax-refund if your purchased items will be in your checked-in luggage. You will take your boarding pass but not give your luggage at that counter. You will go to a specific counter where customs will be exactly sure you are giving your luggage.

 

-Whatever you do, always take a number for tracking whether your process is completed or not. If you prefer cash, it will not be necessary; but for credit card be sure that you have that tracking number. In case, you don’t see your tax refund at your credit card activities, that number is the only criteria which you can get in contact with the relevant company.

 

-If you are travelling to a country where its currency is different than yours, you may need to stop at an exchange office. I say “you may”, because in some countries you can continue your life with no cash. Norway is one of the good examples for that. However, not in all cases you are lucky.

 

-You may need to take small amount of money just to travel from airport to city center. I do not recommend airport exchange offices, because they are mostly applying low currency rates and high commission amounts.

 

-You can also use your ATM card from relevant machines. Commision and currency will depend on your bank. You can check your bank’s website.

 

-In city center, you will see lots of exchange offices which you may not decide to choose among all these options. And trust me, you should not choose the one so quickly. Little search on web about the best exchange office in that city will mostly solve your problem, but in case you don’t have that information there are certain things you can try. Search “EUR to NOK” in google and learn the current rate. Try to choose an exchange office which you feel you do not pay through the nose.

 

-Do not ask the commission or currency applied, ask exactly what amount of money you will receive. You will know what I mean after sharing my worst experience so far in my travels. When I was in Prague for the first time and EUR/CZK was around 27, we asked the commission and currency to the exchange office. The answers were satisfying so we decided to approve. However once we received the money, we say currency as 19 on the slip which means 30 percent commission. When I told them they have told me there is no commission, they told I asked in general. The reason why they told there is no commission is because if you convert more than 1000 EUR, they apply no commission. Below 1000 EUR there is 30 percent commission. I do not want to blame any country, but when I told this situation to police, the policeman gave me a preprepared document in English telling the exchange office rules in Czech Republic. So, this is something organized and probably the worst kind of situation you may face about exchange offices. Be ready and act accordingly if you don’t want to face with this kind of a situation.