My personal top useful travel apps

Google Maps:

Download the offline map of the areas you are going to visit/stay at in advance when you have wi-fi. You’ll be able to use the app for directions and even as a GPS without needing data/wi-fi. You can also save some places such as your hotel or attractions to find them easily and quickly.

Tripadvisor:

In my opinion, this is the best app for getting reviews before deciding to book a hotel/hostel/guesthouse room, a tour, an activity or even to decide where to go shopping or eat. Give back to other travelers by writing your own impressions and reviews afterwards!

Yelp:

Don’t know where to go for dinner? Yelp has tons of suggestions with opening hours, menus, reviews and ratings and it can also show you which ones are the closest to your location for easy access.

Instagram:

Look up a certain location or tag of an attraction you would like to visit to see how it looks like from an average person or a photograph’s point of view. Also, why not take a mental note of photo ideas.

EX currency:

Keep this app accessible when traveling to check the exchange currency in a quick and simple way. Make sure to update the rates when you have wi-fi. Also, use this app to convert a certain foreign currency amount to your currency without having to use your calculator.

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Preparing for a hike

Mount Batur, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.
Mount Batur, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.
  1. Pick your destination. Decide if you’ll be going for a day activity or if you’ll spend the night there in camping or at an accommodation nearby.
  2. Pick the trail you’ll be doing according to how long it is and its difficulty. If the difficulty isn’t indicated, check out the elevation compared to the distance.
  3. Check the weather forecast on the day of your departure. Dress accordingly, in layers, and wear good hiking shoes.
  4. Pack light, wear a well adjusted backpack, and bring everything you need. Don’t forget …
    1. a wind/rain coat
    2. lots of water (and maybe some Gatorade)
    3. snacks, lunch
    4. a flashlight (in case you get stranded in the dark)
    5. some toilet paper and a “ziploc” bag (for the soiled paper)
    6. a first aid kit
    7. sun screen, mosquito repellent
    8. hand sanitizer or hand wipes
Mount Giant, Adirondacks, NY, USA. 2014.
Mount Giant, Adirondacks, NY, USA. 2014.

Things to know before you visit Southeast Asia

  • There are funky smells everywhere.
  • It is so humid your sweat won’t even be able to evaporate. You’ll get used to taking 3 showers a day to freshen up.
  • Traffic is chaotic, but you’ll realize it’s not a big deal after all. At busy motorbike intersections, just cross the street and walk at a moderate but constant speed while the motorbikes pass right near you.
  • Haggling in markets is a MUST. The prices are set higher knowingly. You can often get the items at half the asking price.
  • A few dollars go a long way.
  • Those temple pants that everyone have are actually super comfortable and worth a try… you might end up buying a half dozen to take home!
  • Renting a motorbike can be a great way to get around. Make sure not to touch the exhaust pipe; many tourists get horrible burns because they don’t know this and have never used a motorbike before.
  • Driving is on the left side of the road.
  • Locals drive very fast on those sinuous cliff-side mountain roads. It can be quite scary.
Typical busy intersection in Ha Noi, Vietnam.
Typical busy intersection in Ha Noi, Vietnam.

My take on how to pack for 2 months in Southeast Asia

As you might be telling yourself, it seems absolutely impossible to be able to fit enough clothes to wear for 2 months overseas in a reasonably sized luggage.

Here are some of my tricks and tips based on my experience.

Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia
Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia

Backpack

If you will be staying at only very few different places, then a standard luggage might fit your needs. However, if you are planning to move a lot, i.e. to go from one place to another repeatedly, it might be interesting for you to consider using a backpack. A backpack is much more practical in terms of carrying it up and down stairs, walking through crowded or dirty streets and being in a hurry to catch a bus/train/plane. The size of the backpack can vary in terms of volume. To choose the size of your backpack, consider that you should have to be physically able to carry it on your back for example for a 30 minute walk. Don’t forget to adjust your backpack, as this will make a huge difference in your ability to carry it. If you are not sure on how to do it properly, I suggest you ask the salesman to help you with it as he is probably more knowledgeable.

In my case, I used a 44L XS Osprey Rose Red Kyte backpack and a Lowepro Photo 22L Hatchback as my carry-on. Osprey backpacks come with a “All mighty guarantee” and will replace any product that was damaged for any reason. The price might look steep as mine was 200$CAD, but i have used it for 3 trips already and plan on using it some more later on. If it is too expensive for you, perhaps you have friends who might lend you theirs. The Lowepro Photo Hatchback is great for me as it has a removable compartment at the bottom which is padded and made to store and protect my DSLR camera.

If you are planning on taking the plane within Southeast Asia and choosing to go with budget airlines such as Tiger Air, Air Asia, … then also keep in mind they may charge you extra for checked baggage. Consequently, if you would like to save some money, you can avoid having to check your luggage by making sure it meets the requirements for a carry-on luggage in terms of size and weight.

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