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10 Tips on Streetwalking in Foreign Countries

April 16th, 2008 by Jordan

Austria Picture Street Walking

Backpacking in a foreign country generally requires you to do a lot of walking.  These tips will help you get the most of your time on foot.

  1. Do not put money or valuables in back pockets.  Front pockets are a little safer, but still not encouraged.  Most likely, you are going to be pegged as a tourist, so just try not to act like one by having your rectangular shaped wallet hang halfway out of your back pocket like at home.  It will get picked.
  2. Walk up hill to start when you start exploring.  If you are just out to see the city, and have no particular place to go, walk up hill in the mornings.  This does two things.  First, it allows you to have downhill walks when you’re tired at the end of the day.  The second advantage is that it gives you another sense of direction.  You know you were at an intersection, but you forgot which way you turned?  If you always choose uphill, you can find your way back by simply going downhill.
  3. When you see a street vendor, purchase their food.  This is an unwritten rule while I travel.  I want to experience the food the locals eat, and anytime I see a street cart selling food, I purchase something.  It’s always cheap and most of the time it’s better than overpriced tourist lunch specials.
  4. Avoid wearing sandals or flip-flops in busy and dangerous areas, you may need to make a quick getaway or run to avoid getting hit by a bus.  I learned this the hard way in Amsterdam.  Walking around in sandals and not paying attention to the fact I was standing over train tracks, I had to quickly get out of the way, but my sandal came off easily and I had to hop away in one sandal and one bare foot.
  5. Try not to use a map, and if you must, make sure it’s small.  Nothing pegs you like a tourist more than unfolding the giant map.  Don’t be afraid to get lost, ditch the map and ask a local if you need directions.
  6. Unless you are a serious photographer, take a camera small enough to carry in a front pocket or small travel bag.  You will get fewer people staring at your all the time.
  7. Find a bench in a crowded park and observe.  The theory behind travel is to see and experience the culture.  Don’t get so caught up with an itinerary that you forget to observe.
  8. Talk to as many locals as you can.  They always have the best advice on food, hotspots and shortcuts.  You will always learn something you didn’t know.
  9. When you find a city loaded with street traffic, and you need to cross the street, most likely there isn’t going to be any form of an organized crosswalk.  So in order to dodge the Vespas and dented cars, walk with confidence, most importantly do not hesitate as drivers will not purposely run you over.  Generally, I just aim for the back bumper of a car, if I can do that, then it gives the car behind him the most time to react to my crossing and not run me over.
  10. Relax and enjoy the experience.  So many “tourists” get caught up trying to do too much and see too many sites.  Find a good bar and have a relaxing drink for two or three hours. Backpackers know this.
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Cheap Backpacker Travel Tip - Ramen and Tuna

March 26th, 2008 by Jordan

tuna canramen tuna

So many backpackers I know who care about their budget are always coming up with good eats, maybe more importantly, good eats cheaply. While most of the time it will depend on where you are travelling, and the resources available, Ramen and Tuna is a cheap and filling meal. Me and a buddy were eating this just about every other day in the Dominican Republic. We got lucky by staying in a hostel that had a microwave. After that, it’s pretty simple nuke the ramen noodles first in a bowl, then lay out on a plate and throw on your canned tuna. Heat it up quickly in the microwave and then mix. You will be full before you finish, and best of all, it’s usually no more than a $1.00 - $1.25 per meal. It’s really all about using the resources around you, find out what your hostel has, and from there, go track down ingredients. If a hostel has no refrigerator, no microwave and even more importantly, no utensils…you’re eating out. I found a very well done ramen blog created by Matt Fischer, that has numerous ramen recipes for anyone interested.

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Cheap Backpacker Travel Tip - Rum and Coke

January 1st, 2008 by Jordan

rum and coke cheap backpacker travel tip

Rum and Coke my friend….Rum and Coke. Otherwise known as a cuba libre (more lime juice is usually involved though). Travel to any bar and order one it will cost you at least twice as much as what you can make one yourself.

Gathering the ingredients is easy. There is hardly a country on this planet that doesn’t have readily available Coca-Cola, and rum is generally not too far behind. The hardest part is usually finding a glass in the hostel. To save yourself money, buy a small bottle of rum from a grocery store or corner market when you first arrive. Packing rum on a plane is not a good idea and it will usually be confiscated. A small bottle won’t cost you all that much if you buy local product. From there, any time you want a good drink, just go find a cold coke. If your hostel has a refrigerator that makes it even cheaper, as usually you will end up paying a little more for a cold can or bottle than buying off a shelf of room temp. I usually put about a small shot in a glass and just fill the rest with coke. If you desperately desire lime, pick one up from a local vendor as it won’t be all that much. Some of my favorite nights are just hostel bumming with fellow travelers sharing cheap drinks.

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