3 Best Kept Travel Secrets

Tripbase has published a number of e-books containing bloggers' secret travel tips. Here are three of mine:

Try the Beaten Path for a Change
Whenever I turn the TV on to the Travel Channel or browse someone else’s travel blog, I am frequently advised that the best possible way to travel is to get off the “beaten path”. They then continue to describe their experiences in tucked-away corners of the world, far from any tourists, sampling the local goat’s cheese or taking pictures of obscure bars and restaurants. The inevitable result is that I change the channel or continue browsing, for although eating some unpronounceable and utterly unknown “delicacy” in someone’s backyard may seem like travel heaven to a few, it leaves me with a bad taste in the mouth. And I ask myself – what on earth is wrong with the beaten path? It’s beaten for a reason, after all. Yes, Venice bustles with tourists and taking a gondola ride borders on the ultimate travel cliché, but would you have experienced the beautiful sunset over the Grand Canal and the Rialto Bridge if you had refused to visit it? Yes, Rome is a sauna in summer and you have to stand in a kilometer-long queue to gain access to the Vatican City, but remember that tingling sensation running down your spine as you gazed upon Michelangelo’s “Creation of Man”? And Paris may be a foreign driver’s greatest nightmare and hopelessly overpriced, but is there anything more beautiful than the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower? Think of this the next time someone advises you to take a trip to who-knows-where to go see who-knows-what, and then be bold and take the road more often traveled.

Consider a Travel Card
If you’re a foreign visitor to South Africa, consider getting an SA Travel Card. This is a convenient prepaid Visa card that works exactly like a debit card, allowing you to pay for goods or services wherever debit / credit card facilities are available, eliminating the need to carry cash around in a country that is somewhat notorious for its crime rate. Should you want however, it is possible to withdraw cash from the card’s balance from any ATM. All transactions on this card is free of charge. Should the card get stolen, the holder can contact the 24/7 toll free number (0800 11 11 55) and request that the card be blocked immediately. A replacement card loaded with the remaining balance may then also be requested. This is a safe and convenient way of keeping foreign currency readily available, and might just help you stick to your budget!

How to Determine Relative Value
Ever paid a tour guide a tip of €20 and then shuddered an hour later when you realized how much money that actually was (if you’re thinking in South African Rand, it’s quite a lot!). The easiest way to determine how much a foreign currency is actually worth and to put it within context (and not what you’d be spending based on the current exchange rate) is to find out how much a can of Coca-Cola costs in the country you’re currently visiting. In South Africa, it’s about R5 and in Europe it’s in the region of 80c. So that means you can buy about 25 cans of Coke for €20, which means you’ve just tipped the guide an amount relative to R125! Makes you think twice about spending notes that for all intents and purposes feel like Monopoly money, doesn’t it?

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