Month: January 2018

7 Safety Tips while Traveling

Traveling is fun and it can be very fulfilling but one of the things that would be travelers should prioritize is their safety. Being prepared will make a world of difference in having a good trip as opposed to one full of troubles.

Here are 7 tips on how to be prepared and avoid trouble as much as possible.

  • Learn where your country’s embassy is and how to contact them

Knowing where your country’s embassy is can be very helpful especially if you find yourself in a sticky situation. You should know how to locate it and how to contact them by phone so if you ever need some assistance, you know what to do.

  • Try not to stand out too much

Keeping a low profile will make traveling so much easier and safer. If you don’t stand out, you are less likely to be targeted by lowlife robbers/muggers/pickpockets/scammers and the likes. Granted, not standing out is very hard to if you are the only foreigner in the specific area but there are things that you can do to keep a low profile. An example would be your outfit. If your outfit is very loud, it will attract attention, both wanted and unwanted. If you are obnoxious or rude, you are asking for trouble.

Basically, you just want to mind your own business but if you want/need to interact with people, be very courteous and respectful because remember, you are a foreigner and you are in their turf so act accordingly.

  • Be aware of your surroundings and don’t get easily distracted

It should go without saying that being in a foreign land requires attentiveness and being aware of what’s happening around you so that you won’t be a victim of theft crimes or encounter other problems. If you are used to walking around without a care in the world back home, you should know that that won’t fly when you are abroad. You should always be mindful of your surroundings and if there are unusual events happening when you are around, it’s fine to be curious but you should always be guarded.

  • Budgeting

Carrying just enough cash when going out is the way to go. Don’t go out with all your cash and always stash emergency funds in obscure places such as your socks, a hidden pocket in your jeans etc. so that you won’t have trouble if you should ever need it. Credit cards are also recommended instead of debit cards or cash due to the fact that if it ever gets lost or stolen, you can always report it and prevent problems and headaches.

  • Keep backups of important papers

A simple trick that I always employ whenever I’m going out of the country is that I email all the necessary papers to myself so that if I ever lose or misplace them, I always have backups. Of course, the best thing is to not lose or misplace them in the first place but just in case, it is always good to be prepared and have backups.

  • Keep in touch with family/friends back home

Keeping in touch with family or friends back home is necessary so that they will know that you are safe and it also gives them peace of mind. It is also helpful to you because if ever you are in trouble and you can’t contact them, they will know that something is up and they can get help or assistance for you.

  • Travel light

Traveling light is what I always do. I don’t bring unnecessary things/gadgets that I don’t really need so that moving is easier and the potential of losing something valuable is lessened.

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep While on the Road

I love traveling! However, one thing that I always dreaded when I am away from home is sleeping. Yes, I have difficulty sleeping whenever I travel but lately, I have been practicing some tips that I read online that helps me sleep.

Lack of sleep can be very problematic when all you want to do is enjoy the limited time you have. It can make you feel tired and irritated and it can result in an unsatisfying trip. Worse, it can even lead to health problems so forget about enjoying your trip and to add insult to injury, you will have to pay for medical bills. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to at least manage this problem.

Here are some tips that I have learned and I hope that it can help you if you are like me.

Try to replicate what you do at home when you are about to sleep.

This is a very simple thing that you can try to do. Of course, it’s not possible to replicate everything but do so with things that you can. For example, if you take a shower or bath before sleeping, do so as well when you are traveling as it can help your body recognize the patterns that you do before sleeping.

Make sure you are sleeping in a comfortable mattress.

If you are going to stay in a hotel, ask them before you check in what type of mattress they have and if you know the mattress type that you are comfortable with, you can request that particular mattress for your room. I have done this in the past and some hotels will gladly cater to your request but some will not. If you are in the latter situation, you can solve the problem by bringing a mattress pad with the materials that you like with you. This may not be very convenient but trust me, it will pay off big time as you will be able to sleep properly and enjoy your travels.

Mattress pads or toppers are very helpful especially if you have “needs” such as cooling, extra support, a particular firmness preference and so on.

I have a spring type mattress at home and I have difficulty sleeping on other types of mattresses because my body is used to that particular mattress. If you want to know the best mattress types and read up on some of the best innerspring mattress reviews, I highly suggest that you visit http://www.mattressreviewshq.net/

Be prepared and bring your “sleeping essentials” with you.

Things such as ear plugs or ear muffs, sleeping mouthpiece or your favorite sleep attire. This will help in lessening the distractions as you are trying to sleep. Remember, you are in a different place so the environment will be very different from your home. There might be barking dogs or cats in heat outside if you are staying in a bnb house or if you are in a hotel, the walls may be thinner than optimal and you might hear noisy children, arguing adults or couples that are having rough sex.

As for your sleepwear, it is very helpful if your body is very comfortable as you try to sleep as this will help you relax even more.

Reduce distractions.

When you are about to sleep, just close your eyes and relax. Don’t turn on the TV in hopes of watching a boring show to help you go to sleep, don’t continuously check your phone, don’t read books or travel brochures that may get you excited for tomorrow’s activity. Basically, don’t do anything that will deter you from sleeping.

Having difficulty sleeping while you are traveling is a very common problem. If you are experiencing it, it can really lead to lack of enjoyment and hopefully these tips will help you as it did me. Getting a good night’s sleep is essential in having a fun and fulfilling trip.

Philippine Cuisine – Foods you have to try

As I have written in my very first post, I am in love with the foods that the Filipinos have to offer. Of course, there are some that I wouldn’t dare to try, even with a gun to my head, well, you get the idea. Most of the foods that I have eaten here so far have been great but there are some misses as well.

So far, I have been doing an all Filipino food diet and I have to say, if I don’t control myself, I’ll be even more overweight than I currently am. Having said that, it really is hard to control my appetite, especially when it comes to the rice. What I found is that the foods are so flavorful so you really need to pair it with rice to lessen the flavor somewhat and this makes me eat more than I would want.

I don’t know why but I just don’t get full at the same rate as I do when I am at home in Cali. Anyway, it’s not really a big deal for me as I can lose weight fairly easily due to an active lifestyle but if you are planning on visiting the Philippines and you don’t control your appetite, be prepared to gain weight and work hard to shed those pounds when you go home.

Foods that you should try

  • Kare Kare
kare kare

This is one of my favorites whenever I am visiting my friends’ house back home. Kare kare is a stew with peanut flavored sauce, ox tail, tripe, lots of veggies and it is served with shrimp paste on the side. The shrimp paste makes a lot of difference because the stew is kind of bland on its own. I have friends in the US that don’t like this particular dish but I really love it, an acquired taste perhaps?

  • Bulalo

The perfect meal when it’s cold outside. I just loved this one when I was in Tagaytay. The weather there is cold and this is just perfect, in fact, I think I ate one everyday I was there, enough said. This is basically a beef soup using beef shanks and when they cook it, they let it simmer until the bone marrow dissolves into the soup. The result is a melt in your mouth beef with a soup that is full of beef flavor. Pair it with rice and I’m pretty sure you will ask for seconds.

  • Tinolang Manok

A chicken soup that has a gingery flavor. I love ginger!

  • Lechon
lechon

When I was in Cebu, the first thing that I wanted to do was to eat lechon. It is a roast pig with crispy skin and tender meat. It did not disappoint. In fact, I wanted to hate it because it is so unhealthy for you but I just can’t.

  • Crispy Pata

Another roasted pork dish that I wanted to hate due to its unhealthiness but I just can’t. I loved it and it is very similar to the Lechon but with subtle differences. The skin is super crispy and flavorful.

  • Tapsilog

This is my go-to breakfast everyday. It’s basically a full meal that has marinated beef, eggs and garlic rice. They call the beef “tapa”, the rice “sinangag” and the tagalog word for eggs is “itlog”. The taste of the marinated beef differs from one restaurant to another, fortunately, they all taste good.

  • Sinigang
shrimp sinigang

Who doesn’t know about sinigang? I don’t think I need to describe this dish as most people will have already known about it by now. It’s best when the weather is cold but even when the weather is hot, I still had it. My favorite is the shrimp version.

  • Dried Fish and Squid

Another breakfast food that I had regularly is the the dried fish or dried squid. They serve it with garlic rice and egg and it’s very filling. It might be too salty for some but for me, I didn’t mind the saltiness.

  • Longganisa

There are many variations of longganisa in the Philippines. It’s their version of a sausage and I won’t even try defining each and every one of the versions that I had. One version that I really loved was the “vigan” one.

That’s all that I can think of right now and I’m sure I’ve left out plenty of delicious foods off this list. I’ll be back after trying other dishes.

Being Prepared

Traveling to a different country is very exciting but it can also lead to a lot of anxiety, especially if you are traveling alone or if it is your first time. Being excited and anxious at the same time can lead to being improperly prepared for your journey and this can cause a whole lot of problems.

The best thing you could do is be prepared and if it helps, create a list of things that you need to do, things you need to bring and research ahead of time regarding the place you are visiting. Having fun is important but being aware of your surroundings and being safe in a foreign country trumps that.

Tips Before Departing

  • Research ahead of time

As stated above, you should definitely learn about the country you are visiting and take note of places that you should not visit alone. Be aware of the weather situation in advance so you won’t have trouble with transportation. For example, go to the tourist site for the country you are visiting, in my case, the Philippines. Of course, these sites will not list all the places that are dangerous, in this case, it’s up to you to do some web research of your own.

  • Don’t bring unnecessary things

Traveling light is very important, at least to me. I don’t want to bring things that are unnecessary because the more you bring, the higher the chances of losing them, especially the valuable ones. The less you have on you, the easier your movement and you won’t be a target for potential theft.

  • Prepare all the necessary paperwork ASAP

Get all your paperwork done as soon as you can and make sure that it is accessible. Also, you can scan them and send them to your e-mail or take a picture so that you have a backup if ever you will need it.

Tips When You are There

  • Credit cards are recommended

When you carry loads of cash or even a debit card, you are just asking for trouble. Thus, my recommended way to access your money is via credit card and having a little emergency cash on hand. If you lose your money or debit card, it’s pretty much gone but with a credit card, you can alert your bank.

  • When withdrawing cash, choose ATMs that have security guards

This means that you shouldn’t use ATMs that are in remote areas and you should always go for ATMs in the banks, malls or other stores. This way, you can withdraw your cash without having to look over both your shoulders for potential robbers. Also, when you withdraw, count your money as fast as possible and put it away immediately.

  • Be aware when in crowds

A crowded area is very dangerous especially if you stick out like a sore thumb. Be aware and be wary of pickpockets. A good idea is to put your money in your front pocket as opposed to the back.

  • Ask the staff in your hotel for help with transportation

Don’t hail a taxi by yourself, chances are, you will be ripped off. Ask the staff to call you a cab instead as they can ensure that you will be paying a reasonable fare. Also, ask them ahead of time if there are areas that you should avoid.

That’s it for now. I hope that these tips will be helpful when you are out and about. Remember, common sense is a powerful thing, make sure to exercise it.