Image courtesy of Bronwyn Leeks
Travel like an experienced tourist by following these travel hacks – little procedures that can lessen the workload and trouble that go into preparing and following through with a trip to Southeast Asia. We asked a few travel bloggers to share their most prized travel hacks, and now we’re passing them on to you!
Book flights at least 9 months in advance…
We find that booking flights about nine months out in sales gets us the best deals from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur and Beyond. Our itinerary over a 3 month period involved a mixture of adventures in cities, towns, jungle with a variety of accommodation types to really get as much from the experience as possible.
We looked at countries that had great train networks. We researched budget airlines to access lesser known areas; we stayed longer in places were we could find some great accommodation deals as most airbnbs give a discount if staying 7 nights. We stayed in hostels to meet other travellers.
We balanced apartment stays in the city to guesthouses with pools in the jungle so that the whole family was happy. We loved that our itinerary gave us a little taste of everything.
…Or keep things spontaneous!
Southeast Asia is the ideal place to travel slowly and for a long period of time. First of all it is very cheap, especially compared with Europe or America. It is safe, and most of all it was an opportunity to learn and be in contact with very different cultures than of what we are used to.
We didn’t plan extensively our trip, just choose the overall destinations, book the flight (the cheapest that we could find) and went in pursuit of adventure, choosing how much time we would spent in each city as we were going.
After 3 months travelling, we realized that it is very easy to travel in this part of the world and there is no need to meticulously plan the trip, especially if you have time to travel. Just go with the flow and be alert for some surprising destinations that are reserved in some of the most unexpected places.
My style is mostly book and go. With airline competition and the rise of low cost carriers and their ever famous fare sales, I just look for a great deal and go. Living in Asia, you can be spoiled for choice for destinations.
Instead of actively planning where to before anything is booked and just wasting your time planning for nothing, know that every country and destination has its own cultural and historical gems. Heck, even ‘boring’ places can become really interesting once you find what’s underneath the surface.
This style works if you’re a solo traveler or have friends who have the same travel style as yours. Otherwise, the sale will pass and you end up staying put trying to coordinate schedules with your buddies.
Image courtesy of Jorge Bastos
Factor in heat and humidity when you pack
South East Asia primarily being a tropical region, invites a lot of warmth, sunshine, humidity and rainfall almost all throughout the year, albeit in varying degrees in different parts of the region. While this kind of weather might be a welcome change for many travellers, it is important to make sure you pack the right kind of clothes and personal care products to keep discomfort at bay.
When packing for South East Asia, pack yourself a good number of clothes in natural, breathable fabrics to keep you cool in the hot and humid weather. Comfortable, cotton clothes are the perfect choice for travelling most parts of South East Asia, except if you are in the mountains. Think flowy dresses, cute tops and shorts.
But that’s not enough.
Buy yourself a good quality, sweat-proof sunscreen with high SPF and make it your best friend during the trip. Absolutely nothing beats a good ol’ sunscreen in protecting your skin in the tropical heat. The last thing you want to bring back from your holidays is a sunburnt skin!
Phuket, Thailand. Image used with permission of Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Start Your Trip on Google & Instagram
However, I also go to really popular places I have been before for shorter weekend getaways from Singapore and in those occasions I am almost obsessed with finding cool, hip, unusual and authentic things to do. Phuket is one of those destinations.
I have been there so many times that I covered all the top things to do in Phuket long ago. Now, I try to perfect the art of finding the newest or the lesser known places to see, the latest restaurants and the most unusual and authentic experiences. To do that, I use mainstream sources like Google and some of the largest websites but I also include blogs and local publications that I know will focus on the local’s choices.
Lastly, I also use Instagram to discover some locations where the views are good, although the moment it’s on Instagram it becomes mainstream.
Image courtesy of PujariniMitra
To go off the beaten path, better ask a local
There’s nothing better than a local’s suggestion. True, you could use guidebooks or the internet or TV shows to tell you where to go, but some of those places have been long trodden by tourists. Locals can give you more flavor than what you see on every other website or blog.
Use forums to look for locals who can help you around. Did that in Bohol [in the Philippines]; I met a Vietnamese girl while on a trip to Brunei and she ended up telling me about Mui Ne, where she lived, and became one of my destinations on a trip to Vietnam.
– Ruby Escalona
Traveling with kids? Slow down and comfy it up
We have travelled extensively in Southeast Asia as solo, couple and with our baby in tow and each experience has been so different. When we now talk to our friends and readers about our travel experience, we divide it as before-baby and after-baby. Our travel style during our before-baby days was mainly budget. However, after-baby our travels have become more researched and comfortable.
While we still travel in budget airlines, our hotel preferences have changed. We now prefer staying in homestays or in boutique hotels which are kid friendly and have all facilities available. We also look for accommodations which are nearby the sights so that we can minimize on our travel time. This sometimes means slowing and breaking down our journey.
We started traveling with our little one very early and can vouch that while it’s challenging, you can make it with some patience and a whole lot of preparation.