Wednesday, September 24, 2014

For the UNprepared Backpacker,

I’ll tell you something you probably know but almost missed to remember on and/or before your planned trip.

These are the things I learned from travelling overseas:

1. Get a good value for your pocket money. You don’t need to know the fundamentals of the foreign currency you want to exchange your money into but the tip is to have a benchmark among the rates of money exchange stalls and banks in your area before going straight to the airport. Because it's a big NO to have your money changed in airports since they make business out of tourists who probably don’t know THIS!

First thing’s first, know the present exchange rate of your money to USD via google or an app on your phone then do the same with USD to the ccy of the country you’ll be visiting, let’s say KRW. Once you have it keep your notes on your phone and make the ideal rates. See below.

As of 09/12/14:
43.95 PHP = 1USD = 1038.25KRW
So if you’re exchanging your base ccy (PHP) to USD, you’re Buying USD so you should get the LOWEST price possible. And if you’re selling your USD back to peso, you should get the HIGHEST price  possible.

Tip: In Korea, you're entitled a tax refund for every minimum single receipts of 50,000 krw!!! You can have your receipts scanned along with your foreign passport in their auto banks and airports so you can save the guilt of shopping since you'll get your 3,500 won back! Isn't it amazing?!?!! 

2. Print out discount coupons. Yes, you read it right! In some countries like Korea and Singapore they give discounts to foreign tourists about 10% to 50% discounts on entrance fees to tourist destinations down to cosmetic products! So print them and make multiple copies and give it out to your unprepared trip buddies.

3. DISABLE. Soon as you were advised by the Flight Attendant to turn off phones and gadgets, do so to keep you from possible charges. Turn off the data roaming of your phone when web browsing and using email, MMS, and other data services. Better yet put your phone in Airplane Mode when you're not wifi connected so it is just as good as a camera, ipod and a calculator in one. 

4. Round Off. When going for a shop best way is to have your mental math do the work for you than relying through your phone’s calculator or bugging your travel buddy for the conversion.

So you’re buying a Missha BB cream which cost 16,800KRW…

To arrive with the value in peso you have two options:

Option1: Ignore the insignificant zeros then round off to whole number then multiply with the rate of your usd in PHP thus we get the cost:
17Krw*44Php = 748Php (estimated cost)
16.8Krw * 43.95Php = 739.36PHP (actual cost)

Option2: Divide amount to the rate of KRW to PHP:
(1038.25krw/usd) / (43.95php/usd)= 23.62 or 24Php/Krw
So if you're way good in division do this:
16,800krw / 24php/krw = 700PHP 

Note: As an employee who works in a Bank doing Forex settlements, Option2 is indeed the right way to convert but since I'm promoting mental math and convenience here, I recommend the use of Option1. But you can always borrow the calculator on the desk of the cashier (if there's any) whenever you're buying in a foreign country.

5. Play your part. I always been the traveler who doesn't care if I get lost during a trip to a foreign city or country but since we have travel buddies who doesn't want or even can't imagine that happening so they make sure everything's well taken care of. There you'll find yourself leaning on to them for directions but since that could be too much to take that's when you make yourself useful, be the interactive buddy who ask around among locals when things get tough like you get lost finding the way to exit the subway station or probably you all are doubting the instructions you found in the internet. That's one smooth operation to make your presence felt during a trip. So gear up because you'll need more body language than your English.

6. Bargain. This should always be a practice when travelling in a foreign country because they will definitely make money out of you base from your foreign looks. So make yourself accustomed to their language as if you know or you just pronounced them correctly because you'll definitely get their reaction right away and give you a smile or a big laugh because of your awkward tricks to ask for a discount! 

I tell you this should be studied just like their formal greetings because remember it's the thought that counts. Your efforts will pay off once you memorize these phrases to live by during your stay: 

in Hangul/Korean: 

How much is it? – ol-ma-ye-yo?

Give me a discount – Kka-kka-ju-se-yo~

In Thai: 

Can you please give me discount? - Lot hai dai mai kha?

7. Bring an extension wire ALWAYS. Whenever we travel we always pay for the use of adapter since most of the times the socket and plugs are different from what we use. So be it three holes or four or round or square you have to prepare for the worst. Because you don't like your smart phone dying right?

8. No to excess bags. Weigh your baggage before checking in so you can manage where to stuff the excess. Better if you have your eco bags with you in case your back pack is already full.

9. On Time for Departure. This will be the saddest part of the itinerary, last day, bidding goodbye so don't make it tough anymore by rushing to the airport or worst be left by your promo fare plane ticket. Allot time when you travel back to the airport, when checking in your luggage, having your passport stamped by Immigration officer and photo ops inside the airport.


In love,
Miss Piggy ❤️

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