I traveled out of the city for a conference sometime ago for approximately 5 days. Everything I had to bring (including business attire) fitted in a small luggage and a small backpack. My friend brought two big luggages, one travel bag, and one carry-on women handbag. I can never travel like that. :p
I usually travel alone – yes, just like Ryan Bingham on “Up In The Air”. Here are some basic tips from me – especially if you are going to travel alone for the first time.
- Travel light – Yes, it is one of the most important things. If you want to have a fun trip, do not bring too many items (especially clothes). You won’t suffer wearing the same jeans, shoes, and jackets/coats everyday. It would be difficult to travel on your own if you bring so many luggages. Only bring what you can bring while traveling a far distance on foot. Before I pack, I always go to this website: The Universal Packing List.
- Research – Read a lot about the place you are going. Almost everything can be found on the Internet. You can also buy books about those places. Before I travel somewhere, I usually read about it on a number of websites. Here are my favourite websites: WikiTravel, TripAdvisor, and VirtualTourist. Also check about the public transportation and its costs.
- Re-check your documents – Read again! Do the names on your passport and ticket match? Do you need a visa to visit the place? If you do, have you applied? How long is the visa application process? Make copies of them and put these copies in all bags you bring.
- Prepare your cash – Some people choose to exchange their money abroad. Truth to be told, Rupiah is not that “internationally renowned”. It is never listed, therefore it can be assumed, people don’t ask for Rupiah and it makes Rupiah depreciated. We might lose much by exchanging our cash abroad. So, exchange your cash here (and not in the airport though)! I recommend Dua Sisi Money Changer (they have branches in Grand Indonesia, Senayan City, Plaza Senayan). They are very helpful, offer good rates, and sometimes have the currency others don’t. My family relative recommended Bali Inter, but they once sold CHF on IDR 10,000/CHF and wanted to buy my CHF for only IDR 8,000/CHF. What a rip off. Good thing Dua Sisi saved the day by buying my CHF at IDR 10,000/CHF.
- Prepare your cards, too – Your ATM card is probably accepted overseas. BCA is a part of the Cirrus and Maestro network, Mandiri is a part of Visa, and so on. Check your bank’s website to know how much will it cost to withdraw your money abroad (for emergency situations). However, I was advised that using credit card overseas is better than using debit card – because credit cards have fraud insurance. I once withdrew my cash using my Mandiri ATM card in London. I withdrew GBP 30. When I already arrived in Jakarta, I received a message (Mobile Banking), saying there is a debit transaction worth a few million Rupiahs for around 3 times. Apparently someone “recorded” my card details and used them to shop in Tesco, London. I lost my entire savings worth more than IDR 8,000,000. I then contacted Bank Mandiri in Jakarta and claimed, because I still had my card with me in Jakarta and had proofs that I was not in London; so then Bank Mandiri accepted my claim and returned my cash.
Last but not least… Have fun! What’s your traveling tip?