This article was published in +977 (a Nepalese Lifestyle Magazine in Australia) in June-July 2012 issue.
I believe everyone in this world likes to travel. I know there are a few people who are scared of flying, like Whoopi Goldberg, but those people still love travelling. They just don’t want to fly so they may drive everywhere. If you ask me, I love travelling; actually I should say I have a passion for travelling. I have a long list of places I want to see before I die and the list keeps growing thanks to travel channels and the internet. My mum told me once that I have itchy feet and I totally agree with her. I will travel at any and every opportunity I can get and I am proud to say that I am living my dream.
If you are like me, you may also empathize with this, the most difficult part of having itchy feet is that every time you travel, it costs lots of time and money. Time, I can manage as I am lucky to have a job which has flexible time off options but money has always been a problem and I am sure it will be so in the future as well unless I win a multimillion dollar lotto. Come on, one can dream and who knows, it may come true.
So today I am going to share a few of my travel tips to allow your itchy feet to wander around the world a bit more.
Budget! Budget! Budget! If you want to go somewhere, start planning for it and start saving ahead of time. It might take months or years but if you plan ahead, one day you will get there. They say – Wish, Plan, and Proceed – and I believe that is what we need to do.
For all of us who call Nepal home, we make sure to visit our family and friends at least once every few years. We may go for few weeks or few months but we always make sure we go as often as possible. Normally we don’t consider that as a holiday but if you think about it you can plan and make it a holiday. Why? Because you are already spending so much time and money on travelling anyway that if you plan a bit , you can squeeze holiday in.
As there is no direct flight to Nepal (I wish there would be one soon, as I hate those long transits as much as you do), we are forced to change planes in either in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, China, India or Hong Kong. So if you are going to Nepal why don’t you use this opportunity to take a few days holiday in one of these countries where you have to transit anyway?
Singapore doesn’t require visas for Nepali nationals while other countries have easy visa process. They are quick and cheap. Just think about it when you travel to Nepal the next time. And if you have an Australian passport you probably won’t need a visa, making it easier to visit those countries. Just make sure you check about the visa requirements.
I am sure you will love each of these stopovers. Beaches in Thailand or Shopping in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC – the famous twin towers) in Malaysia or the Culture in India, you will definitely have some unique experience every time.
If you want to go one step further, take a hop from these stopover countries with Air Asia (or any other low cost carriers) and you can get to Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan, Maldives or Laos quite easily. The flights are not so expensive either. Just remember, if you are planning to do this, Air Asia has its counters outside the international terminal in most of the countries. It means that may need to pass immigration to reach these terminals and so you may require visa in your stopover country as well even though you do not leave the airport, so don’t forget to check that with your travel agent and also cross check with Air Asia.
One who plans well always saves money while travelling, so do your research. Don’t be bored about spending a few hours on the internet because this might save you heaps of dollars while on your holiday. My best friend has been Trip Advisor (www.tripadvisor.com.au) for a long time. There fellow travellers share their good and bad experience which has definitely helped me to make a better decision than I might have otherwise. Always look at more than one person’s opinion to make sure that you get a well-rounded picture of whatever you are researching.
If it is possible book your holiday at least 6 months or more in advance, especially air tickets. Most airlines have a number of different ticket types even in economy unless you are used to travelling business or first class. The cheaper seats are sold out first and they are limited. It might make hundreds of dollars of difference in your budget if you act early. This saving may allow you to extend your trip or put money towards other activities.
Sign up to get a newsletter/email from airlines and travel companies. I know it can be really annoying when you get heaps of emails when you are not planning for a holiday but if you are smart, you may get a great deal. Just make a folder in your inbox for all travel emails. Setup a rule in your email options to send this email directly to the travel folder so if you are not planning holidays, you don’t need to look at them but if you are then there may be some offers which you can use for your next trip.
Become a frequent flyer member with the airline you fly frequently. I am a member of Star Alliance as I fly Singapore and Thai a lot. The last time I went to Nepal, I had enough points to spend my 13 hours transit in their lounge with my husband. It was great with free internet, food, shower and a bed as well. Also you may be lucky and get priority for some service or even upgraded seats.
When you are on holiday keep a budget and try to stick to it but don’t count every penny. It may cost you $100 to go to the top of Burj Kalifa (the top of the tallest building in the world) but as you are in Dubai, you might as well do it (by the way if you buy it online beforehand it only costs around $25 so you save $75!). You will never be able to do these once in a lifetime things unless you go back to the same place again. Believe me; you will regret that in the future.
Travel domestically if you can’t go international. Australia has so many beautiful places that you can drive to. Just hop into the car and drive away. Also while in Nepal, just pick a place and have a family holiday. Your family will love it and you will get to spend more time with them as well and your pocket will love it too.
I think every traveller will tell you and I agree with it as well – There is no bad experience when you travel. Just keep an open mind and enjoy what that place/country has to offer. Don’t look for what you have every day. You are travelling because you want to experience something different. Enjoy new places, new people and new culture. Open your eyes and your heart to the world. You will be surprised what you discover around the next corner.