Top 6 Travel Tips

Travelling is a passion for one and many. Be it on pocket string budgets or an extravagant vacation off with family, it is advisable to read up for helpful tips at the onset of your journey to make it an unforgettable experience. Here are a few tips on the do’s and don’ts when you are literally on your toes !!!

A well planned itinerary is a must. If you are a solo traveller, you can wander off on your own and take impromptu decisions. But a vacation with your spouse and kids or friends becomes a memorable experience if you pay attention to detail. Equally important is knowing a bit more about the places you wish to see. Carrying a travel guide is a good way to familiarise yourself with a totally new environment. Just makes your travel more interesting and a fond memory to narrate.

Another ‘mantra’ often followed is travelling light. There is nothing worse than heaving and grunting under excess weight. Lifting bulky luggage from the airport baggage carousel or onto and off public transport can be quite a dampener. If you wish to explore on foot, the lighter the bags, the lesser the hassle.

If you are going to take time off family or you are on a business trip, you will need to make international calls either by using calling cards or from phone booths. You could even rent a mobile phone or a SIM card, or use VoIP applications on your laptop. With cheap international calling rates, staying in touch whilst travelling is easily manageable these days.

Protecting your documentation is very important. You would not want to spoil your travel plans by misplacing your identification papers and then having to visit the nearest Consulate/Embassy to procure the same. Not only is the process stalling but could even prove scarily expensive. Carrying your passport and other travel documents like Insurance on you all the time is on way to avoid such a situation. This is important as the brisk market for stolen travel documents makes it difficult for you to explain how your identification became involved in the commitment of some fraud on foreign soil.

Vis-a-vis the currency, it is economical to arrive with some walking around money rather than exchanging for local currency before you begin your journey.  Large financial institutions get a better exchange rate than an individual can secure.

And last but not the least, respect the culture of the place you are visiting. Travelling with an open mind and a clear understanding of the differences in people’s way of thinking and lifestyles not only helps you in exploring of new ways of life but also helps you in showcasing the uniqueness of your own culture. Keep your prejudices, preferences and tastes at home and have an experience truly enriching!

Geek Travel Tips from HostelBookers.com!

Want to feed your mind while on holiday, as well as top up your tan? Some of our favourite professional geeks have shared their top geeky places to hang out around the world, creating a destination guide that’s the perfect for piquing your imagination.  So, if you’re looking for an alternative to the uninspired tips in mainstream travel guides, check out these awesome new ideas below courtesy of HostelBookers.com

Mitaka, Japan

Geek tip: Ghibli Museum

A beautiful museum celebrating the output of Studio Ghibli, the Japanese animation house responsible for Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away.

Ryan Estrada, Comic Book Artist (including DC comics online) says:

“The artwork in the Ghibli Museum doesn’t hang on the wall in frames. Loose drawings sit in piles on top of desks, next to binders of storyboards for every film they’ve made. Film prints sit in hand-cranked projectors ready for you to explore them frame by frame. Watch original animation, or even see it created right before your eyes. The art is there to be explored, not viewed.”
Sonoma County, California, USA

Geek tip: Rancho Obi-Wan

The not-for-profit Rancho Obi-Wan holds the world’s largest collection of Star Wars paraphernalia, including every book ever published about Star Wars.

Amy Ratcliffe, Geek blogger at geekfemme.blogspot.com says:

“Rancho Obi-Wan houses the largest private collection of Star Wars memorabilia and is also the happiest place on Earth. Besides seeing over 200,000 collectibles from the saga, you get to hang out with the enthusiastic and knowledgeable Steve Sansweet. Take a tour! It will be a day you will never forget.”
Philadelphia, USA

Geek tip: The Mechanics National Bank 

This building was originally a 19th-century bank founded for manufacturers. Now a restaurant/bar, it’s a top hangout for Philadelphia techies and entrepreneurs.

Eric Smith, Geekadelphia.com co-founder says:

“National Mechanics is hands down the geek Mecca here in Philadelphia. Nestled in Old City inside of an old bank, it’s a great place to meet new people. Friendly servers, a great selection of beers and quality pub grub. Go there.”

To get more travel tips from celebrity geeks, check out the geek travel map on HostelBookers.com.

Updates! Job position at the BBPP on Bioko Island!

Hello World!!!

Excuse me while I come up for breath from my hectic, hectic, HECTIC life! :-)

Life has been crazy! Let me tell you – finishing up three research projects, trying to take examinations, packing up ones house, AND planning a long, long trip can be quite the challenge. However, I’m still here and still alive…I’ve only got 46 days until I graduate and 51 days until I leave on my trip!

In very important news: I got the Equatorial Guinea job!!!! I mentioned before that I applied for a three-month volunteer position with a researcher working through the BBPP (Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program) and after several rounds of applications and interviews, I was informed on Saturday morning that I had been picked for the position. For those of you who don’t know, Bioko Island is relatively unexplored (biologically) so it’s my weird biologist fantasy to trek around and be able to take it all in. Plus, I doubt I would ever get to see so many parts of the island, without help from the BBPP…and my in-country expenses are basically all covered by the program. It’s pretty much a win/win situation!

SO: As a result I’ve worked out the kinks in my happy dance routine, signed off on my volunteer contract, and am ready to book that RTW flight!

In other developments: my backpack (Eagle Creek Truist 45L) has been ordered and shipped, my international student youth travel card (ISTC card from STA.com) finally arrived (I ordered it two whole months ago…and it just got here, which makes me nervous to buy my flight through the site…but I digress), and I’m the closest I’ll ever be to having an “itinerary” for the first half of my trip.

It looks like the my trip (the first half) will look something like this:

December 2009 – Germany
January – March 2010 – Equatorial Guinea to work for the BBPP
March – June 2010 – South Africa to work on the Loskop Dam Reserve
June – September 2010 – Various African countries, including a one month volunteer position at an orphange in Tanzania
October 2010 – Egypt, Middle East
November 2010 – Middle East, Turkey, HOME!!!!

Also, I’ve been hard at work networking with other travelers through my twitter and through a new page I’ve created on facebook (you can visit that page by clicking on the facebook “badge” on the left hand column of my blog). Feel free to add me – I would love to hear feedback/comments/tips. Thank you (very much) to everyone who has taken the time to leave me feedback both here and on twitter – you’re comments have definitely helped me make decisions (something that is hard for me to do!) and have also given me more confidence in my trip!

:-)

 

Where the heck is Bamfield?


Berries ripening in the early summer.

This is the exact question I asked myself when I was offered a summer job working at the Bamfield Marine Station.

The first fact I discovered (courtesy of my long-term relationship with Wikipedia), was that the population of this “town” was a mere 251 persons. Two hundred and fifty-one? That’s less people than are present in my college classes! This astonishment was closely followed by the realization that there would likely not be any kind of restaurant/grocery-store facilities. The problem, you see, is that I don’t cook. And by “cook”, I really mean, I do not know how to create meals from scratch. In fact, if it wasn’t for my boyfriend’s willingness to feed me, it would be questionable where I would get sustenance.

Anyway, my eating habits are off-topic.

Bamfield. Obviously a very small place, but would it be fun? Exciting? Dare I say, interesting?

The answer is, Yes! It’s a beautiful place with SO much breath-taking scenery, wonderful hikes, great history, friendly people, and relatively quick access to civilization. If you are interested in seeing dozens of bald eagles, whales, bears, old growth forests (up to 800 years old!), 18th century shipwrecks, and Native American rock paintings, this is the place for you. A jaunt from Victoria, this is a great place to spend a couple of days and experience the wild side of Canada. (Read about my Bamfield diving experiences here or my experience with Canadian wildlife!)


My friend displaying some Bull Kelp at the Marine Science Center.

What to do in Bamfield:

1) Hike the West Coast Trail: A 7-10 day hike, this trail winds through some of Canada’s most beautiful scenery including beaches, forests, waterfalls, lagoons, and the rocky intertidal. The rusting frames of century-old shipwrecks (known as the Graveyard of the Pacific) remain littered on the beach and Native American rock carvings are visible within a day’s hike from Bamfield. This trail ends/starts in Bamfield (whichever way you want to look at it) and runs its course up to Port Renfroe. Check out this short history of the trail, and this site which gives booking information. Free day trips (to an unlimited number of visitors) along the trail are possible starting either in Bamfield or Port Renfroe.


Hiking the West Coast Trail. In the picture (bottom), I was trying to capture some unbelievably green sea anemones waving in the light blue water.

2) Pachena Beach: Also a starting point for the West Coast Trail, locals often hit up this beach for evening bonfires and drinks. Whale sitings are common, and watching Osprey diving for fish passes the time easily.


Playing Bocce Ball (and consuming good, Canadian rum & cokes) on Pachena Beach.

3) Visit the Bamfield Marine Science Center and the Bamfield Museum: Free and open to the public, the Bamfield Marine Science Center has a small public education building where you can touch and learn about local tide pool ecology. The station also has a small monument to the British Cable industry, which you can view as you walk down towards “downtown” Bamfield, where you will find the museum. The museum is a small, but interesting, look at Bamfield’s role in the British Empire, as well it’s shipwreck past and its marine biology present.


Whale skeletons on display in the “Pub-Ed” building.

4) More activities include: Fishing charters, visiting the Native American reservation, mushroom and berry picking, the Bamfield mushroom festival, the inspiring Music by the Sea event, and exploring the rocky intertidal for cool critters.

5) For a complete listing of Bamfield accommodations check out this listing, although many of these are in the higher price bracket. For budget accommodation, it may well be worth contacting the Bamfield Marine Sciences Station (very visible when you arrive in Bamfield) for cheap beds in their dorms or researcher cabins (in the vicinity of $20/day). Cheap camping options abound, check out this site for more information.


An old fish-canning facility is background to Bamfield sunsets and chugging fishing vessels.

6) Getting to Bamfield: Bamfield is accessible by ferry, car, or plane. The Ferry travels to Bamfield on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from Port Alberni, and is a relatively cheap and scenic way of getting into town. Be wary of traveling in by car because the last two hours of the drive are on an unpaved logging road (no rental cars allowed), so trucks/SUV’s are highly encouraged. More information on water taxis from Port Renfroe to Bamfield can be found here. Lastly, flying into Bamfield (highly expensive!) is done by seaplane – information can be found on this site.


The Bamfield Airport :-)

Some important information:

  • There is one real restaurant in Bamfield, although this has sparse vegetarian options and closes at 5pm. Many of the B&B’s will likely have food options available.
  • There are two very small convenience stores (one in East Bamfield and one in West Bamfield), and from personal experience, I would suggest buying from the store on West Bamfield. Unfortunately, the East Bamfield store sometimes sells out-of-date items and seems to have less fresh fruit options.
  • There is no bank or gas station in Bamfield, so come prepared.
  • There is an ATM (although do not rely on this to have money in it) and a post office (which only accepts cash). Be aware the the post office sends out the post with the Tri-weekly Ferry, so take this into account when sending items. I have noticed that sending out items is relatively fast, although receiving mail can be very slow.
  • There is a public payphone in “downtown” Bamfield, next to the small grocery mart.
  • Groceries can be ordered online from Port Alberni (they arrive on the ferry, be prepared to pay a $10 convenience fee).
  • The only pub in town is closed until further notice. Locals will often convene in front of the West Bamfield grocery store in the afternoons, and every Friday afternoon students and employees at the Bamfield Marine Station will get together for “happy hour” (BYOB).
  • Despite its pristine waters, public Scuba Diving is not an option in Bamfield (only scientific diving through the Marine Lab is possible). However, I have heard it is possible to arrange private diving charters or hire boats for diving (downside: you have to bring all of your equipment, including tanks with you).