Every once-in-awhile, we feel it’s important to re-present some of the lessons we’ve learned during the course of our adventures, and to share them with those who take the time to read our blog. These are things that have worked for us and hope they have the same results for you.
- Because of the way we choose to travel (e.g. with a minimal amount of clothing), we try to follow the sun and avoid colder climates.
- As a result of this minimalist attitude, the apartments we choose MUST have a clothes washer (and dryer if possible). We literally are washing and wearing.
- The apartments also have to have WiFi so we can keep in touch with our family.
- Perhaps the most important task for us is to set a budget and stick to it. To accomplish this, we keep journals of all of our expenditures and match them up with our income (i.e. pensions).
- Since apartments tend to become unavailable quickly, especially during prime visiting months, we try to plan at least two months ahead in order to improve our chances of finding what we want.
- During our research, we’ve found it quite helpful to look for and read reviews (both good and bad) from previous tenants.
- We’ve learned to be skeptical of landlords who tell us that the apartment we are exploring has been rented but they have another one available that has not been advertised. This most likely is a scam.
- One of the more practical lessons we’ve learned is that most modern cities have grown up around old historical sites. For that reason, we look for apartments close to the city center because of the tourist attractions are within easy walking distances.
- With that in mind, we spend the first day or two in a new location getting familiar with the neighborhood around the apartment and then go find the Visitors Center to gather information on what else we want to see.
- We generally use websites such as Vacation Rentals By Owners (VRBO), HomeAway, AirBnb, etc. because they tend to withhold payment to the landlord until we actually get to the apartment and find that it truly does exist, and is as described in the rental advertisement. If there is a problem with the apartment, these organizations will intervene for you to resolve the issue.
- We also use a secure payment mechanism such as PayPal for the same reason as stated above.
- For us, traveling light has really worked well. Minimize what you take. You’ll be surprised at how little you actually need.
- We each have three shirts, two pants, and enough underwear and socks to last a week. That’s why it is important for us to have a clothes washer in our apartments so we can wash and wear.
- Because of this, we each only have a small carry-on suitcase, plus a backpack each (for medications and incidentals). For the most part, this allows us to avoid checked baggage and speeds us through airport terminals. There will always be times when you are forced to check baggage because of flying in smaller regional airplanes.
- All of our clothes are coordinated so that each can be used with everything else.
- When packing, we roll our clothes. This takes up less space and helps to prevent wrinkles.
- Things that will be needed right away are packed on top for easy access. Everything else goes below these items.
- While we do not have any winter clothing with us, if we do encounter colder weather, we layer our wearables (e.g. for me, I’ll start with a shirt, over which I put on a woolen sweater, my vest, and then my spring jacket. For Lori, her shirt is covered by a light, fancy jacket that coordinates with her clothes; followed by a hoodie, and then her spring jacket). This traps air between the layers and keeps you warmer. We did break down and purchase winter hats and gloves/mittens, but these take up little space.
- In these troubling times, staying safe is of prime importance. On the other hand, letting “fools” dictate whether or not you travel means they win.
- By dressing conservatively, we tend to blend in and don’t make ourselves targets. This means no (or at least minimal) jewelry.
- While walking the streets exploring the sights, I put all our valuable items in zippered pockets of my vest and then safety-pin them shut. Pickpockets don’t want to go through all of that to get at our items. They want easy targets.
- Being aware of our surroundings is the best protection (we encountered a number of times when we felt we were being targeted, but because we were alert, we foiled whatever was being planned.
- Hang on to your camera or phone. Do not put it down on a table (or in your back pocket) EVER (unless you want it stolen).
- Consider carrying a throw-away wallet with a few dollars in it, an old, useless credit card , and a dysfunctional phone to hand over to any mugger that may attack you.
- If you must carry a backpack while sightseeing, don’t keep any valuables in it. Thieves will slice it open and run off with the contents.
- If something does not seem right to you, get to a well populated area and look for authority figures. Just being near them will scare most predators away.
- For the most part, we try to avoid being out late at night. There will be times when nighttime activities may be worth experiencing. Just use common sense.
- We learned that when approached by gypsies/Roma, speaking loudly will scare them off. They don’t want attention.
- Our passports and extra money are always carried in money belts under our clothes and next to our skin. Never leave them in the apartment.
- Extra copies of the passport picture page , plus our ID’s are also kept in a secure place in case the real ones are lost or stolen.
- Credit cards and ID chips in the newer passports can be electronically scanned without your knowing it. We now keep them in RFID wallets to stop this from happening. In a pinch, an Altoids tin easily accommodates credit cards, and a Doritos bag, turned inside out, will protect passports (the inside of the bag is aluminum foil).
- There are slice-proof shoulder bags on the market that some believe in. Just remember, a scarecrow tells the birds where the food is. Likewise, these bags tell thieves where you valuables may be. While they may prevent cutting the bag open, we’ve heard of folks that were surrounded by thieves and had those bags taken right off their shoulders. We feel the best place for your valuables is under your clothes.
- Finally, when we felt an area might be a little dicey for Americans, we told folks we were from Canada (Lori’s father actually was from there, so it was not too much of a stretch of the truth). Sometimes the questions became quite specific; “What part of Canada?” “What language do you speak? English or French?” (Anger against the French for a cartoon that was felt derogatory, was quite evident).Most folks can’t identify a Canadian accent from an American one.
Well, there you go. We hope you found this both informative and helpful. It’s now time to move on to the next part of our adventures.